The time has finally come for my 2.5 year old to move into his big boy bed. Many people seem surprised to learn that he is still even in his crib. When I mention his current sleeping environment, people seem to raise their eyebrows as to why I haven’t moved him already, as if to say… why am I stalling his development or trying to keep him as a little boy? Our society wants our children to grow up so quickly. I’ll tell you the truth as to why he’s still there…..I’m just a practical person. It was working for us, so why would I change it? I love my sleep, and this crib and I were well teamed in creating a healthy sleep environment for our whole family! Experts recommend not moving children into the bed until the age of 3, when their cognitive development is able to understand the consequences of not staying in their bed at night. That was all the reinforcement that I needed to keep him there, until recently.
I owe a lot of the longevity of his crib stay to my partner in crime, the sleep sack. The sleep sack prevented him from being able to climb out of his crib at an age where many of his peers were scaling the walls defiantly and getting moved up to the bed. This was resulting in interrupted sleep for their parents as they had frequent nighttime visitors and long drawn out bedtime. Not for me, just yet, I would think. And then when he learned to unzip the sleepsack and potentially climb out, we learned how to put it on backwards . We did a victory lap around the crib when we figured this out. It was only recently when he climbed out of the crib with the sleep sack on backwards … that I knew that he had finally outsmarted us, and the good times were over and it was time for a change.
So far the move into his big bed has gone fairly well. He’s excited to be sleeping in the new bed in general, although his dislike of bedtime has not really changed. His love of PLAY seems to overpower his love of sleep when bedtime rolls around. Without the boundaries of the crib, there are some adjustments going on as he explores his new found freedom. This can result in me holding his door closed, to prevent him from playing in the living room, and saying through the door, “let me know when you’re ready for me to tuck you in”. With consistency on our part, and a little help of his rewards chart, where he gets to put happy faces on the nights that he stays in bed and on the mornings where he waits for the “sun to come up” on his clock, we will adapt.
Tips on keeping your child sleeping well through the transition:
1. Keep your child in the crib as long as there is no safety risk to them. It will save you aggravation and sleepless nights. If possible, wait until close to 3 years to transition, when their cognitive development has a better grasp of consequences. It is tempting to want to free up the crib for another pending sibling, but consider buying another crib or using a pack and play or bassinet for your newborn until your child is ready to move up.
2. Use the sleep sack to contain those little legs from climb up too soon. Put it on backwards if you have to.
Tips for making the transition to the big bed:
1. Wait as long as you can. ‘Nuff said about that!
2. Now that the walls of the crib are down, a clock with the sun and the moon is helpful to set boundaries for your child. He must stay in bed when the stars are up, but can come get you when the sun comes up.
3. Set up a rewards chart to create new habits for your child in their big bed.
4. Be prepared for delay tactics.
5. Be consistent. If you chose to set up a strategy to deal with getting out of bed, stick to it. Your child will want to engage in his new freedom, discuss with your partner how you plan on handling it and present a united front.
If your child has trouble making the adjustment, go back to your basic bedtime routine and reinforce it. The bedtime routine includes calm environment, proper sleep associates and maybe even a little earlier bedtime to accommodate for the delay tactics. Make sure the steps are in the same sequence every night to reinforce consistency and so he knows what is coming. Continue to stand your ground as the confident loving momma that you are. If there is one thing in life that is consistent, it is that change is inevitable.
While we may be on track to conquering this milestone, I’m sure there is another one just around the corner, but for now, there’s no more… chillin in the crib for this toddler. We out.