Friday, March 27, 2009

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

Since my little girl is just 16 months old, I don't plan on moving her to a toddler bed quite yet but I wanted some feedback from other moms who have experienced this so that when we do decide to make the switch I have a plan :) So, we are hoping to move into a house this summer (likely not for about 6 months) and I have been thinking about whether it would be easier to move my girly girl to a bed before or after the big move. There will be a change in her environment either way, but I am still debating.

Also my SIL moved her oldest son to a toddler bed just before her second little boy was born but he had a really hard time with it and she said she wished she would have waited a few months and kept him in his crib a little longer since the new baby slept in their room in a bassinet for the first few months anyway. On the flip side, I have also heard moms say that they prefer to move their oldest to a toddler bed before a new baby comes so that they don't feel like their new sibling is taking their crib from them.

I've also been wondering about a couple other things in regards to this topic, so...

Please share!!! ...

  • Do you think it would be better to transition to a new "big girl" bed before or after moving to a new house?
  • What has worked for you in regards to moving your oldest out of the crib so that your second can use it? Before or after the new baby comes? (Also, if you gave me time frames that would be great-how long before or after did you make the switch?)
  • What have you done to help your toddler not fall out of the bed? Have you used the rails? Let them fall and put a pillow on the ground?
  • What about if they get out and come out of the room? What did you do to encourage them to stay in their bed and go to sleep?
  • Did you get a toddler bed or a twin bed that they can use pretty much until they move out?
  • What other things did you do when when moving your child to a toddler bed that made the transition easier?


Erin said...

1. I would say before. I think the point is to have them surrounded with familiar things when big things change to help ease the transition. If they are already used to their bed, then they will feel more comfortable in a new house.
2. I wanted to move Hayden about 6 months before the baby came in case he was too attached to his crib. I didn't want him to get mad that the new baby was using it. He just wasn't ready though. I decided to wait until a few months after she came so he could be used to having a new baby in the house, but that didn't happen either. I ended up moving him a week before she came, because he could jump out and it was really scary for me to leave him in there alone. So he moved to a toddler bed when he was 21 months. He actually transitioned really well. We took the crib apart and put it in another room. Almost three months later, I think it has been plenty of time so that when we put it back up he won't be upset that his sister gets his bed.
3. Our toddler bed is only about a foot off the ground, so I wasn't really worried. If he fell off he wouldn't really get hurt. He never fell off though (well he did last week actually... he only cried because he woke up on the floor. it was kinda funny actually). The toddler bed does have little rails, but he often sleeps at the wrong end where there are no bars, silly kid.
4. Hayden couldn't open the door, so we just shut it. At first, he was a little confused and would get up and bang on the door and whine, sometimes cry a little. I have no idea if he was actually sleeping in the bed or on the floor next to the door. But after a while he learned that the bed is more comfortable. Now that he can open doors, we put a child proof thing over the door knob so he can't get out. This is more for his protection so he doesn't fall down the stairs in the dark in the middle of the night.
5. My sister-in-law gave me their old toddler bed, so we took the free option. I might have gotten a twin bed that they can grow with, but now that I have it I actually like it better this way. I'm not so worried about him falling out of bed because it's so low to the ground. They also use the same size mattress as a crib. You could always get a gender neutral one so your next baby could use the toddler bed when your toddler needs a bigger bed.
6. We kept the bedtime routine the same, and even put the bed in the same position as his crib was in, so it would all be as familiar as possible. He also thought it was really cool that it had cars on it. He also can't sleep without his special teddy bear, so having a comfort item helps too.

chelsea said...

We received a twin bed from my SIL and put that up about 3 months before we had my son. We talked about it a lot with my daughter letting her know it was going to be her bed. About one month before my son was born she asked if she could take her nap on her big bed. She napped on it from then on...never getting up until after her nap (yeah we lucked out) I put pillows on the floor for the first while. We got a bar, but it didn't work and she has only fell out twice ever...not bad. She started sleeping in the big bed once my son came home...her saying she needed to give the crib to little brother. She is a very giving girl and it has been nice to see her want to progress...not forcing it. Also as for helping her stay in the bed...well it has had its moments, but overall praising the good, and slightly disiplining the bad seems to work. Also my aunt suggested pennies. Her son got pennies for his piggy bank for about the first 3 month while she was trying to get him to stop fighting bed time and naps...varied from 1 to 5 pennies....helped him learn to count and was enough motivation to get him to realize that sleep wasn't a bad thing. When she felt like they had progressed enough not to need a reward she went back to just giving the kids a few pennies every time she went shopping...about once a week to help build up there piggy banks! Good luck!

Erin said...

P.S. I think you guys should make a button for people to put on their blogs :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

So here is the key - your kid is different - just remember that. Advice is good, but keep in mind the it might go easy or hard depending on your little one's temperment.

1. I totally agree with Erin. AMEN! Don't push too much on her at once.

2. We moved Claire into her toddler bed about a month before Linus was born. She had no problems with the transition. We did take down the crib because Linus slept in a our room in a cradle so that can make a difference. He didn't start sleeping in the crib until about 5 months after she had stopped sleeping it it.

3. We do use the rails, but like Erin said, the bed is close to the ground. I have never been worried about it. We put a childproof handle on the door so she can't get out (just like Erin said) this is perfect!

4. We have a toddler bed and I really like it. If she had her own room then I think we would have gotten a twin, but where she has to share there is NO ROOM. The toddler bed is a nice easy transition in my opinion.

5. We built up the toddler bed A LOT so she was SUPER excited to go into it. Seriously, we had no problems at all.

JeriLynn said...

I transitioned Liesl when we moved out of Logan. She was 18 months old, and I think a little young. She didn't understand the lack of boundaries. I would have waited, if I could have, but when we moved to Virginia, it was a temp move, and we couldn't fit even a playpen.

Liesl has always gotten in and out of bed. We switched the doorknob so she's locked in, for my sanity's sake. Surprisingly, it helped keep her in bed when we gave her a book or two and a quiet toy. Now she doesn't nap during the day, so usually she's too tired to get up much.

Don't go into it with high expectations. And it's okay to lock your kid in her room. :D

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh yeah, Claire was about 23 months. . . something like that. So I think she was a perfect age.

Tannie Datwyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

I don't have any experience with this and can only share the advice I've been given by my sister and SIL. Make it sounds like it is a new exciting experience and try to make it as fun as possible. If you can get her excited about it, it's supposed to go easier. Also, if you can take the crib down, that helps because then they don't have the option of moving back into it. That's the only things I know, sorry I'm not much more help Kelly!

Forward With Fun and Faith said...

We transitioned our oldest at 23 months.

We moved into a new house in July and his little brother was due to join the ranks 4 months later.

We figured with the house move and baby coming one right after another it would be a good idea to make everything one big transition. We put our son in his room in a pack-in-play when we first moved in to our house mid July so he could get use to his surroundings and completely took the crib out of the picture.

We got him into a great habit of laying down on a pillow in his pack-and-play and tucking him in with some of his animals that he sleeps with. That proved to be a key factor in our transition because he would stay laying down and realize that that is what you do while going to bed.

We didn't make a big deal about anything, like most websites and books tell you to, we just got rid of the pack-n-play and set up the sleeping guard rail.

We put a safety doorknob thing on the back of his door so he couldn't get out, making sure that if he did try to get out of his room he would quickly realize that he doesn't even have the option, hopefully making the connection right now that we stay in our room at night.

We also made sure he didn't have any toys in there either so he would get into the habit of thinking that his bedroom is a place to play versus sleep.

We have kept the routine exactly the same pretending like nothing has changed. He stays in bed and if anything just plays with his animals before he falls asleep or after he wakes up.

We have had varying responses from him depending on the night. Lately he has been scared of the dark. So we got him a night light and just keep emphasizing that his animals are there with him. I am all about stuffed animals for that reason.

There have also been a handful of times in the middle of the night that he has woken up crying for one reason or another. We go in a comfort him get him settled again and leave. We don't even give the option of coming into our room on the floor, sleeping with us, etc.

Most of the time he goes done just fine. But there are times when he wants us to stay for one reason or another. We have just let him cry during these times. If he is still really upset we will see what he needs. But other times he just cries for a bit a then quickly realizes that we are not going to stay with him.

It was just a few months ago that he started trying to postpone bedtime (needed a drink, one more book, bathroom). We would somewhat appease the requests but eventual just stick to our guns and say "lights out."

I guess my big advice is consistency. Just stick with it to help them realize their boundaries and what is expected.

And remember...every child is different.

Forward With Fun and Faith said...

We didn't do a toddler bed. He is in a huge trundle bed that we were given from my grandparents. We debated just doing a mattress on the floor or something. But he did really well and isn't too crazy when it come to jumping off things.

Forward With Fun and Faith said...

P.S. 6 months prior to moving into our new house we moved 3 times and our boy went back and forth between his crib and a pack-n-play.

Jared and Delia said...

I guess I don't have really anything NEW to add. I must say that I agree that every child is different. Personality is a major factor in how you approach this topic (most topics for that matter) and how long it will take to make the transition successfully.

If you want my opinion about whether to do it before the move or to wait. I would move first and then worry about the toddler bed afterward...unless a sibling is on the way ;). That way your daughter will be older and will have gotten used to your new place.

My children are so far apart I have not had to worry about moving him before a baby came, but I did switch him at 19 months. He climbed out of his crib and fell hard and was afraid to get back in. He switched to a toddler bed without a hitch (no crying or being scared of it). I think it helped that he WAS afraid of the alternative of using the crib as well. I tried to find a railing at KMart, Walmart, Shopko...and NO ONE had one. I couldn't believe it. I used a big bean bag as a temporary fix and we ended up keeping it to catch him if he fell.He would often fall asleep on the bean bag. :) We just switched his crib to the toddler bed option. I wonder if this was also a factor in helping him transition. It was still his crib but without the side railing. It was familiar but still different (enough that he wasn't scared of it).

I am so glad that I am not the only one that closed my toddler into his room. I got such grief about it from my family. I just considered it like a big crib. He was so young and was not capable of understanding the concept of staying in his bed and such. We tried putting a gate at the door when he was older (about two) and that just made it more of a struggle. He went through a daily bedtime struggle that was really just a power struggle phase that he grew out of...which is another topic entirely. Anyway...I eventually took all toys out of his room because he would just play and play and not sleep. At about three years old we put toys back in his room and just set the no toys at bedtime boundary. He was three so he was developmentally capable of understanding and listening. (Some kids can do this earlier I guess, but three is the magic age for understanding rules and following them for most kids - I didn't use to think so but now that I have had a three year old I do). To encourage him to stay in bed, we offer him to let him take a book or one toy to bed. If he gets out of bed, that special privilege is taken away. This is a pretty good motivator for him to stay in bed.

Another help is making sure that they are tired enough. If they are getting too much sleep during the day, nighttime can become a huge struggle. My four year old doesn't nap anymore but will sometimes take one and I can count on bed time being a little more of an issue that day since he is not as tired.

When my oldest was two-ish we got a twin bed since we figured we would need the crib/toddler bed for a baby eventually. We just got one from a garage sale for $20 which is why we got it. If we found a cool deal on a toddler bed I am sure we would have gotten that. In retrospect though I am glad that we got a twin bed, because a toddler bed is almost too small for my son and he is only four. You just have to decide if you want to include another transition step in there or skip it because you will have to switch them to a twin anyway in a few years.

Other tips:

If your child is younger, like mine was, be aware if you are using a night light. Not all children do this, but mine was obsessed with the night light. It became a danger. He actually pulled it from the wall and gripped the bulb until it popped. We kept a dim lamp on until he fell asleep and then turned it off. Those plastic character glow things might be better. Sorry I don't know what they are called.

Remember to keep the bed away from a window. I just felt like I had to mention this since I just saw a news story of a child jumping on their bed and crashing through their window and falling to the ground below. I am paranoid about it and try to keep the bed as far away from the window as I can.

Last...we got my oldest a pillow with cars on it - he was obsessed. Giving them a big boy or big girl bedding set or bedding item with their favorite "big" kid character or thing can help them get excited about the move.

Sorry this was so long. This is what has worked for us for our oldest. I am sure it will be different for our second. Do what you think would be best for YOUR little girl and don't forget to pray about it. :)

Jessie said...

The only thing I can add to this conversation is that we switched our oldest to her toddler bed a week before her little sister was born--and even though it was two big changes pretty much at once, she did just fine. We talked up her toddler bed like crazy, and actually had just painted her room the week before, too, which she thought was pretty great. All the changes seemed to just get her excited about her toddler bed, and being a big sister, I think. We put the crib away for about 2 months, and when we got it out again, she did want to sleep in it, but we told her no, which she accepted once she realized her baby sister was going to sleep in it. Also--our toddler bed doesn't have rails on it, so at first we just put down extra blankets and stuffed animals on the floor to catch her if she fell off (which she did, a lot). She rarely seemed to wake up from her falls, though. Eventually, she learned to sleep through the night on her bed, under her blankets.

If I were in your situation, I'd actually probably move my daughter to the big girl bed before moving to a new house, so it would just be one change at a time (and you wouldn't have more stuff to deal with once you got into your new home--you could just put the crib away to begin with).

I'd like to second Delia's concern about the nightlights--we still use one, because my oldest daughter loves to sit by it and read books after we put her in her room (we use the childproof doorhandle things, too). At first, though, she was very intrigued by it, and wanted to pull it out of the wall, which was a huge risk, in my mind. We had many talks about how she could read with it, but shouldn't touch it, which worked with her (she was 23 months).

Kaylyn said...

We just moved and I was planing on keeping my 19 month old daughter in her crib a lot longer because she isn't that great of a sleeper. When I was putting her crib back together I put the mattress on before the front and she climbed right in. She was so excited. We found the side rails to put on. The first couple of nights were hard but we didn't keep bed time the same at all. Last night we did our usual bed time and she slept great. She also loves to get on the bed a read a book or play, and before she hated the crib.
So sometimes it comes up unexpectedly and works out.

Roeckers said...

As my children have grown I have watched for the signs that they were ready. Sometimes need (addition to the family) speeds up the process but usually my children have adjusted well to a new bed. Our biggest challenge was always they shared a room. So we had to train the older child to set an example for the younger child.

The first sign that they were ready was they would put them self to sleep at nap and bed time (not have to be rocked, soothed, and snuggled).
They had a limited understanding of yes and No.
And that they wanted to sleep in a big bed. (My oldest and my youngest wanted, begged to sleep in a big bed.)
With #2 we had to set up the pack and play beside the toddler bed. We gave him three chances and then he would go in the pack and play. Took a week before we had no issues.

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