Some milestones can be extremely difficult for us moms. It's super exciting when your child hits a milestone but with it arises other issues. Once your baby learns to crawl, you now have to make sure they do not come across any choking hazards. Once your baby learns to walk, you have to chase them around and make sure they are not falling and hitting their head, etc. Transitioning into a toddler bed has been an exciting milestone but also the one that has made me grow a few extra grey hairs over the past couple nights. This has been our experience. I know some toddlers do extremely well but there are probably some of you that can relate to this bog post so I thought it would be something I should write about.
I was dreading this transition! I wasn't planning on buying a toddler bed for my two year old any time soon. He was so content in his crib. He hadn't learned to climb out yet. He slept 12 hours straight with no issues. Why fix something that's already perfect, right? Well, we are definitely a frugal family, so when someone offered us a really cool bed for our son, we took them up on the offer. Generously, we received a bed in excellent condition with a ladder to climb up to the bunk. Underneath the bed has room for storing toys and curtains to hide the mess which is a bonus! It was such an awesome bed so we thought we would give it a try.
Initially, we kept the crib in his room just in case the bed was a major fail. Our two year old can be very unpredictable. Amazingly enough, he was so excited for his new bed. On the first night he happily climbed up the ladder himself, waited to be tucked in and went to straight to sleep. This continued for the next 5 days in a row! We were so happy but also very confused because our son is not the type of child that is "easy" by any means. Most things are a struggle for us lately. They don't call it "the terrible twos" for nothing!
I thought he was doing so well, so I asked my husband to disassemble the crib. Well, that was big mistake. On night 7, everything took a turn for the worse. He all of a sudden realized that he didn't have to stay in bed like he used to have to stay in his crib. He started climbing down the ladder about 2 minutes after we tucked him in. My husband probably put him to bed again over 20 times that night. He was not giving up. His eyes were so tired but he was one dedicated little guy. Eventually, we caved, and I laid with him in his bed until he fell asleep and then I quietly tip-toed out. The next night this happened again. I was staying strong. I parked myself right outside his door and every time he came out of his room, I put him back into bed without saying a word. We did this for an hour and 45 minutes! It was extremely hard for me. I wanted to get upset. I wanted to give in an just lay with him because I knew that after about 5 minutes laying down with him, he would just fall asleep because he was so tired. I did not do it. I didn't want to create the habit. Eventually though, he gave up and fell asleep. On the third night of this craziness, I did the same thing. I never allowed him to get out of his room. He tried to get out for about 20 minutes before giving up. I think we are making progress. I am thinking another night or two of this, he will give up on trying to get out of his bed.
Through this very stressful experience, I thought I could give some tips if you are having some of the same issues.
Really think about whether or not your child is ready for a toddler bed. Clearly my 2 year old was not ready. Had we not received this bed, we likely wouldn't have transitioned him into a toddler bed until he learned to climb out of his crib.
If you think your toddler is ready for the bed, make sure there are guards around the bed so your little one doesn't fall out. If they are used to a crib, chances are they will roll off at some point. Make it FUN for them. Bedtime should be a happy time. Maybe, buy them some new bedding they can be proud of or a new stuffed animal they can sleep with. We read a story in our son's bed now as part of our bedtime routine. He also sleeps with his favorite teddy.
3. BE CONSISTENT
If having your toddler sleep in their own bed independently is something you want to enforce, then be consistent with it. Once you give in, those little buggers know you're a softie and will take advantage of you. Be firm! (Actually, if you know me, I am definitely a softie. I tend to sometimes give in to my babies because I love them SO much. Who wants to be the mean mom, right?) It is a work in progress - haha! I always try to tell myself, it is for the best. If they get a good sleep and I get a good sleep, that benefit alone makes it all worth it.
4. WHEN THEY GET OUT OF BED - MAKE IT BORING FOR THEM
If they come out of their room, it is best to make it boring for them when they get out. Turn all the lights off and don't communicate with your toddler. Simply place them back into bed. Eventually your toddler will get tired of coming out of their room because the game is not fun anymore. We made this mistake the first couple of nights. My husband and I were laughing to each other because it was kind of funny how determined our little guy was to keep up his game. Once we had straight faces and were not speaking to him when he got up, he got bored real quick. I found raising my voice did not work. Our toddler loves attention and actually thrives off pushing our buttons. He's a little devil - I'm telling you! He can be very sweet though, I swear!
So overall, my advice to you is to stay calm and be consistent and patient with the process. If all the above fails, well... my secondary advice would be to open that bottle of wine, pour a hefty glass and pray for a miracle.
GOOD LUCK!! XOXO