Around his second birthday, Oliver went Shawshank on us and climbed out of his crib. It started with a gleeful cackle from the top of the stairs followed by the gentle patter of footy pajama’d feet. Mark and I chuckled, and I went online to order a crib tent, only to discover that THEY’VE ALL BEEN DISCONTINUED. The reality of the situation hit.
At my sister’s house over Thanksgiving, I rigged up a way to keep him in the crib involving a bed rail and some plastic cable ties. (If you want details, drop me a line.. in order to avoid a visit from protective services, I’m not going to elaborate.) Long story short, my MacGyver rig worked for a month or so. Until it didn’t work, and the melodious sounds of a toddler’s knowing chortle were once again echoing down the dark staircase.
All to say, Oliver moved into a big boy bed on New Year’s Day. We already had the bed on hand (the 2nd bunk to Eleanor’s bunk beds) and thanks to New Year’s Day hours at Ikea, we were able to pick up a new mattress to replace the one we lost in Hurricane Sandy. By 2:00 nap time, a trucked out (pun intended) big boy bed was all
made up and ready for some sleep.
Obviously, we talked it up big time with Oliver. “Oliver, you’re so lucky! Today you get a new BIG BOY bed!” We brought him up to his room to show him the bed and he was moderately interested. But when we made the bed with his new $19.99 Vitaminer Bil sheets (Ikea slang for cars/ trucks/ buses), he got it. He lay down like it was a Weston Heavenly Bed with Egyptian 500 thread count sheets.
The first nap was a success. I ran him for 45 minutes down by the beach so he was good and tired. Had there been a dollar for every time we jubilantly declared ‘big boy bed’ yesterday, we’d have enough for a bottle of mediocre wine. Bedtime? Not quite as smooth, but he had the added presence of his sister to throw a wrench in the big boy bed gears. Whether the nightlight should stay on or off was issue #1. He dropped his favorite green truck over the edge of the bed a couple of times. And he was sitting with all of the dress-up wands when I went in to check on him an hour after lights out.
In the morning, Eleanor wakes him up too early especially now that he’s free game in his real bed. Again tonight there was some after hours dollhousing and train tracking but…we’re cautiously optimistic.
We don’t have any real tips or tricks, but there are a few things that we do to hopefully make the crib- bed transition a little smoother.
1. We go straight from crib to twin bed- no toddler bed. Mostly because by the time we moved our kids into a bed, they were too big for the crib/ toddler bed. But… for both Eleanor and Oliver, they were so proud of their new grown-up beds and there was no sense of their old ‘baby’ crib. With Eleanor, we had an extra long bed rail so she couldn’t fall out and Oliver’s bed has a built in rail. (I’ve heard many instances of a mattress sitting straight on the floor if the height of a real bed is of any concern.)
2. As we did with potty training, we talked up the big boy bed big time. When Oliver’s within ear shot, the first thing we tell anyone is how exciting it is that he’s in a big boy bed. Judging by his attempts not to smile from ear to ear, he’s psyched.
3. For both kids, we gave them something special to go with their new beds: Oliver got his motor vehicle duvet and Eleanor got a matched set of Yo Gabba Gabba beanie babies.
4. FYI, Eleanor didn’t get under her covers for 6 months, Oliver’s already shopping for goose down comforters- he’s into it.
5. For nap time, we’ve put a doorknob guard on his room so he can’t get out. (At nighttime, we need to make sure Eleanor can get out to use the bathroom if she needs… she comes to our room for some reason.) If he’s really making a racket, I’ll go up and put him back into his bed without saying a word. If I can tell that he’s awake, but quiet, I just leave him. When he was still getting out of his crib, there were naps when he’d fall asleep in the middle of his train tracks. Oliver’s nap times are as much for me as they are for him, so if he’s letting himself be quiet in his room, then mission accomplished. The longer he’s in his bed, the more he’ll hopefully learn that bedtime is for sleeping.
6. If Oliver gets totally unhinged, we let Eleanor sleep upstairs in the daybed so at least one of them will get some sleep. We expect that Oliver will be tired for the the better part of two weeks as he learns the toddler equivalent to self control, but eventually he has to sleep. We make an effort not to give him ANY attention for the giggles or the jumping or the playing… a straight faced transfer back into bed is all he’ll get. Sure, playing in his room has some benefits to it, but he can only play quietly by himself for so long in my experience!
We like being able to all lie down and read bedtime stories together! Any tips that you all have for the ‘big bed’ transition?
p.s. Now I just need to move around the art on his side of the bedroom…
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