Meet the Sullivans: Toddler Bed Switcheroo

February 19, 2015

Toddler Bed Switcheroo

The transition to a toddler bed has not been an easy one, and I have a lot to say about it, so I hope you're ready for a long winded tale -- if you're not I don't blame you for clicking away!


We had no intention of switching O out of the comfortable confines of his crib until A.) we had another child who would need the crib or B.) O started climbing out of the crib, putting himself in danger of a fall in the process. Obviously B became our motivator.

He's been climbing out of his crib for a while now, but very rarely, and had only done it a small handful of times before the final cluster of climbs that sent us over the edge.

It was about a month ago when Keith and I were drinking coffee in bed on a Sunday morning, delighting in the bliss of coffee in bed together at nearly 7:30 am, which is really late in our house, when I heard O's door open. At this point we had heard nary a peep from him on the monitor, so the noise stopped me in my coffee sipping, blog reading tracks. It was a beat before it occurred to me that either O was breaking out of his room or that my worst mommy fear was happening and someone was breaking into our home and creeping into O's room.

I jumped out of the bed, and swung open the door to find O standing  there smiling, holding his elephant blanky in his little footie pajamas. He must have seen the look of surprise on our faces, because he jumped up and down and said "I got out myself!" He was very proud of himself.

I should have seen this coming because earlier that week upon waking from his nap he told me I "have to teach him to get out of his crib on his own". Red flag, mommy! I must need someone to knock me over the head in order to believe something is true, right? He straight up told me he wanted to climb out on his own. Silly, me for not listening to him.

Luckily I had already purchased the toddler bed switch necessities months and months before, way back when we thought the switch may help the sleep problems we were having, so we had it all on hand.. the pillow and pillow case, duvet and duvet cover, sheets and a bed rail.

(That bed rail didn't end up fitting, so I bought this one a few days later at Toys R Us in desperation.)


We started the first night of The Transition by just taking the front of the crib off, and hoping and praying he wouldn't fall out of the bed over and over again all night long. Bed time was rough. Our usual routine was dependent on him not being able to chase after us out of his room after the usual routine had come to an end and we'd said good night.

Previously he would just settle in because he had no place to go, but now he could get right up and out of the bed and go straight for the door, which he did. We had placed the safety gate right outside his bed room door so he couldn't go any further or fall down the stairs that are around the corner from his room. He stood there crying, calling for me and shaking the gate. We also realized this meant there would be no going up stairs for us until he went to his bed. This was NOT working out well at all. Eventually I went up to his room and rocked him to sleep. He rolled out of the bed once and fell onto the cushy dog bed and blankets and pillows we had place there just in case. He rolled until his head was under the crib, which scared me, so I knew we had to come up with a better solution. 

The next night I made a blockade with blankets inside the bed as a sort of bumper to keep him from rolling out. This worked well and by the second night he returned to the bed on his own after doing his door / safety rail dramatics. He was only halfway in the bed, with feet dangling on the floor when he fell asleep, so we just rotated his little legs into the bed. Luckily, that didn't wake him.

By the third night I had gone to Toys R Us and bought the mesh safety rail. I bought too big a size, but it works for now, so we're keeping it. It keeps him from falling out and I think it also discourages him from climbing out most nights, although that still happens on occasion. He still climbs out when he really wants to and there have been two or more nights when he falls asleep on his own, rocking himself in the rocking chair. Sometimes he'll get out of bed and hold the monitor camera up to his face and try to convince me to come up stairs. It's hard to resist the cuteness at that point, but exhaustion usually helps.

Our pre lights-out routine is much shorter now because by the time we get O into jammies all he wants is to get into bed and hold my arm while listening to stories on the iPod (The Little Engine That Could, Clifford the Big Red Dog or Curious George). I stay with him for one or two stories and then go downstairs. He usually just calls for me a bit and then settles in.

It has been a long journey making the transition and getting it to work for us. Last week, after a month of transition (mixed with some illness), we are finally back to getting a full night's sleep and waking around 6:30-7am.

Isn't it crazy how much a semi-small change can throw everyone in the family for a loop?

PS. Can I please take a moment and makes some excuses for the yellow-ish dresser in O's room? It was mine from my room when I was a baby and I wanted so badly to include it in O's room too, so my sweet and loving husband painted it white for me 3 years ago so it would match the rest of the furniture (looking back we should have done some shabby chic looking chalk paint) -- it was originally an oak dresser. Well, it looked perfect until the polyurethane was applied and then it turned yellow-ish. So sad. I was about like 38 weeks by then and did not give a flying whatever about a yellow dresser and my only focus was surviving the next few weeks. Anyway that's why it's yellow. It is on my list to sand it down and repaint it something nice, but who knows when or if that will ever happen.

18 comments:

Christina said...

Yes, all transitions are so hard. You never know what to expect! Sounds like bedtime has been exhausting. We've had a hard time in taking away the pacifier this week. What a hard transition that has been, with a dragged out bedtime routine, and our daughter not wanting us to leave the room. I'm glad it's getting better for you all!

natasha said...

OH NO!!! we are moving CC to a big girl bed in the next few weeks and based on this, i am DREADING it... hoping i can learn some stuff from you and make this transition easier on us... oh heavens

Sarah C said...

ugh, we got so lucky with our first, transition to a big boy bed was smooth. To this day he still won't come out of his room until he gets permission to leave his room. My daughter, I know will be the one to escape. Right now we have the sleep sack on her, so that makes it impossible to escape, but I know once that comes off she's going to high tail it out of her crib...NO! At least you're all settled with your new routine...so hard to switch stuff up.

Elizabeth said...

Oh no! It sounds like it is going better though and he is doing better and understanding the concept of staying in his bed. We transitioned Mason at the end of December (because he climbed out and woke us in the morning with a loud THUMP) and I blogged about it in January. Ours went surprisingly well and most of the time he stays in bed and sleeps just fine but when he doesn't want to sleep... all hell breaks loose. He bangs on his blinds, knocks all his books off his book shelf, throws his clothes on the floor and slams his dresser drawers. Fun times. But thankfully that happens infrequently and he is pretty good. Hope things get better!

Annie {Home of Malones} said...

I am definitely dreading this transition!! I feel like our attempt will go a lot like yours. I hate the thought of them just being able to crawl right out of bed as soon as we leave the room!! Way to stick with it though because it sounds like O already has the hang of it!!

Sara McCarty said...

I am SO not ready for this milestone! I don't know whether to buy the rail and convert or just buy a bigger bed for his room. Surprisingly he's still never tried to climb out. I don't even know how that's possible.

Hannah M said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear you've had a rough transition. Hopefully things will calm down and O will start loving being in and staying in his big boy bed! I was so scared to make the transition, so much change! We've had a few rough nap times: banging the blinds, getting out of his bed two second after I lay him down and running after me, pulling the changing pad down onto his bed... fun times. But for the most part he does really well. Those rough days though... man. I was so fed up with it that I bought a bunny clock to help him see when he is supposed to be in his bed and when he's allowed to get out of his bed. He was pretty excited about the clock and so far it's been a wonderful addition. He's always so excited when I come get him or when his bunny lights up. Anyhow. I hope things stay in a good sleeping way for you all!

Colleen said...

I was scared too, and as much as I thought we were prepared, we were not. think that eventually O will learn to just get right out of his bed in the morning too and I will definitely be getting one of those clocks when he does! It sounds so cute (and effective!)!

Colleen said...

I would keep him in there for as long as you can! And I guess if you have to make the transition it might be easier to just go right for the bigger bed to avoid having to do two transitions -- or maybe it IS better to break them in with the toddler bed first before going to a full fledged bed? I have no clue, obviously. Hastag learningasIgo

Colleen said...

I was dreading it too and it has been a challenge. I'm glad we stuck to it too -- we thought of giving up and going back to the crib, but I knew if we did that we'd have to start at square one again someday.

Colleen said...

I remember reading your post about switching Mason! And I totally agree with your advice to stick with the crib for as long as you can!

Colleen said...

I hope she surprises you and stays put -- fingers crossed! :) I think life with kids is just a roller coaster! lol

Colleen said...

Hopefully you can keep her in a crib for a looong time? Maybe just until college? Hahah

Colleen said...

I will be praying for you, friend, that she makes a SMOOTH transition to her big girl bed!! Something tells me she'll love being the "big girl" in the house!

Colleen said...

At least the transitions are further and fewer between than when they were babies, right? They're still so hard no matter how you slice it!

Laura Keenan said...

That is such a great lenten sacrifice. I feel like a terrible catholic because I rarely give up anything. It always sneaks up on me as well.

hello erin said...

I can picture o rocking himself to sleep in the rocking chair and it's adorable. BUT I'm glad things are going smoother now! It kinda sucks when they get their freedom and SLEEP is affected. Like everyone's sleep (which is just annoying!). I'm hoping for smooth sailing from here on out for you guys!

HauteMommy said...

I'm taking a photography class in March. Really, just a "figure out your camera" class that I'm excited about. It's ridiculous that I've had a nice camera for 4 years and have never taken it off auto.