Moving to a big kid bed is something I have avoided for as long as I possibly could. However, when my daughter turned three, I felt that it was the right time to finally make the move. Here are all the tips and tricks we have learned (and are still learning)!
When to Move
I am a firm believer my child would have stayed in her crib until she went to college. She never had a single desire to escape her crib and has always been a fantastic sleeper. I was even told by my pediatrician that you should hold out on moving them as long as you possibly can. It is by far the safest place for them to be.
However, at some point, moving to a big kid bed would have to take place. Our decision revolved around a few things. One, Evelyn is potty trained, and we wanted her to be able to use the restroom during a nap if she woke up. Another reason was slightly selfish, but we were are OVER packing the pack-n-play for vacations. Since we have kids 18 months apart, we always have to bring two. We were ready to move to one. The last reason was to space out our bed training between our two kids. We have no idea how long our second child will stay in her crib, so, I rather have our oldest fully adjusted before the second one decides it is her turn.
I also know there are many other reasons for moving to a big kid bed. One of my best friends has a climber, so he had to be moved well before his third birthday for safety reasons. Also, some parents may have co-slept, so going straight to bed might make the most sense. As we all know, every child is different!
Moving to Big Kid Bed
Before we made the move, we made a big deal over our daughters new “big girl bed”. My dad built her crib and also was traveling down to help with the conversion. This gave us a good amount of time to keep talking about her transition and allowing her the opportunity to say “goodbye” to her crib. She was very excited about the change, but I know some kids struggle a bit.
When my dad was able to make it down to assemble the bed, it was beyond cute to see her excitement. We also let her pick out sheets so she felt like she had some ownership over the move. We also wanted to continue to hype up the situation.
Her first night in the bed was an extremely easy move. When we converted her cirb, it ended up being a full size bed. It was so crazy seeing my tiny little baby in that big old bed! I do feel like skipping the toddler bed is the best idea if you can. We are fully prepared to have our daughter sleep in her bed until she heads off to college. So, when you are crib shopping, definitely look at cribs that convert to a full size beds. Might as well get as much use as you can out of the furniture you buy.
Evelyn did not even attempt to get out of her bed that first weekt. I think there is a little bit of fear mixed with not even being aware that you can get out. We would read her a book, brush her teeth, cuddle and she was out for the night without a single peep. We thought we just had the biggest parenting win … until night two.
Moving to Bed Week Two
We approached week two the exact way we went about night one. When we closed the door, she went to bed without a single peep. However, at 2:00AM the doorbell to her room went off and the chaos began. For weeks, every morning like clockwork she would leave her room and come to ours. Sometimes it took hours to get her back to bed. I have never been a parent who wants a kid in our bed, because selfishly, I do not end up sleeping. So, I much rather give up a couple hours of going up and down stairs to at least finish the night off with sleep.
This was something we could not keep doing. Thus, the introduction of the sleep chart began! We essentially wrote the numbers 1-5 on a poster, and would cover a number with a sticker every night she slept in her room. Once she reached all of her stickers, she was allowed to pick a toy out at the store (within reason). However, we were so desperate for sleep we might have bought her anything she wanted!
The other thing we purchased is an alarm clock that changes color based on the time of day. I have it linked here! We were convinced she was waking up super early because she did not know what time it actually was. The alarm clock opens its eyes and turns green every morning at 7:00. It also closes its eyes every night at 7:30. This lets our daughter know it is time for bed. You can also add in a grace period before it turns green where your child is allowed to get out of bed and read or play in their room. However, we made it VERY clear that she could not leave her room until the light is green.
With both the sticker chart and the alarm clock, she has slept in her bed every single night for a month now! I wish I could tell you which strategy with the real root cause of her sleep change so we can tell others, but I am not complaining!
Moving to a big kid bed is so different for everyone. We have had a mostly okay experience with this whole change. However, the key takeaways I had are:
- Don’t be afraid to create an incentive. It’s not bribery, it’s creating a good habit. That takes time and repetition, and rewarding positive behavior is not a bad thing.
- Kids don’t understand the concept of time. Finding a way to help them know what time it is could really help!
- Don’t let your kids start sleeping in bed with you because you are tired. This is only a phase and it will end. Stay strong and create a good sleep habit!