From Crib to Big-Kid Bed: Five Moms Weigh In
Milestones with little ones (and big ones!) can be daunting. Whether it's potty training, taking a pacifier away, switching to a twin bed or the many things in life that follow, sometimes it's scarier for the parent than it is for the child.
We talked to five moms about moving their babies from cribs to twin beds and what helped along the way. As a few moms said, letting your child be a part of the process, like picking out a new bed or bedding can give him / her part ownership. We love the idea that some Lewis sheets or a duvet can help make the transition smoother.
Here's what they had to say!
As a twin parent, there are a few transitions that feel really daunting–the switch from cribs to beds was at the top of that list for me. Our boys share a room, so I had visions of them wrestling all night long (like they do all day long). I had read somewhere that if you can get them to age three in cribs, that is a win–so that was always my goal. When they were over three and a half, the twin beds I had been eyeing went on sale, so I took that as a sign and decided to go for it. Because we were able to hold off until they were older, they understood boundaries more, and as a result, the transition was seamless. I told them one day in advance, made a huge deal about how exciting it was to get big boy beds, and set aside enough time in our bedtime routine each night for plenty of bed jumping. One of the boys favorite spots is the stingray touch tank at the New England Aquarium, so the Lewis stingray sheets and comforters they got on their new beds were also a huge hit!
Sleep was a bit hard fought with my first baby so I found a sleep resource I trusted early on and then basically did whatever they said for the first few years! They encouraged waiting until three to make the transition to a bed, and we made it almost that long. By that time, my daughter seemed really ready. Letting her pick out her new bedding was helpful, and we waited to get rid of her much loved pacifiers for another month, so she wasn't losing two comforts at once. We had a few nights of her popping back out after bedtime, but I think because she was old enough to have real conversations with us about it, it didn't last as long as it might have!
Although my daughter’s move from crib to bed was purely to make room for baby brother, the transition was surprisingly smooth. Truth be told, she would still have loved to snuggle up in her crib, but she embraced the excitement of being a big girl in her new bed. We were so shocked a year later when she regressed into a complete refusal to go and stay in bed. After multiple nightlights, hundreds of glow in the dark stars, a canopy and countless sleepless nights, we sought the guidance of a wonderful child psychologist. She suggested 15 minutes of nondirective child-lead play each night--complete one-on-one time. The hardest part: we weren’t allowed to ask any questions! We could only share words of encouragement and a “sportscaster” dialogue of our play to reinforce our full engagement. Along with this playtime, she recommended a star chart of clear, consistent goals which warranted instant rewards. And thanks to the minor improvements in the quality of time spent before bedtime and positive star chart, our 4 year old was back in bed (and staying there!).
We moved from a condo into a house around our oldest daughter's 3rd birthday. While many would advise against too many changes at once, we felt it was the right time to both potty train her and move her into a toddler bed. We talked it up in the weeks leading up to the move and she helped choose her bed. We also used a toddler clock to help make sure she didn't get out of bed too early in the morning or too late at night, which was a big help. We were pretty lucky that she was a good rule follower.
I would like to say it was a thought-through process, but usually my “big” kids needed to transition to a twin bed to make space for another little one. My toddlers seemed “ready” and excited to move into the new big bed. The biggest challenge was a mommy-issue because I wanted control over when we started our day and I didn’t want them wandering through the house unattended. I loved hearing one of my girl’s cheery call “it’s the morning-time!” to alert me of a good night’s sleep from the safety of her crib. For another little one, moving to a twin was a safer choice because he was climbing out of the crib regularly and I was worried he might get hurt or get into trouble. Each child was so different, so the timing was a balancing act of my enjoying a little more control and safety (as well as convenience or necessity) and the child’s interest in being a “big kid”. My tips for moms in any milestone is try to think through the different outcomes before you transition into anything. At this age, it’s a lot easier to stay ahead of the game. There will be plenty of time to try to catch up to them later, when they can figure out anything technologically or un-program your devices in a heartbeat!