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.