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Thursday, July 21, 2011
How I Knew When My Toddler Was Ready for a Bed
This article, (c/o Circle of Moms) is relevant in my house right now. To crib or to bed? Comment with your opinion....
We hear it all the time: Babies grow at different paces, get weaned from the breast or bottle at different times, start eating solids at various ages. The same, of course, is true for the question of when to transition your toddler from a crib to a real bed. Should you wait until he can climb out of his crib? Or until she no longer wakes you up in the middle of the night asking to get in your bed? Or is it a simple matter of practicality, as it is when you need the crib for a newborn who's coming soon?
Circle of Moms members' thoughts on the timing of this transition vary widely, with a range that starts at six months and extends to three years. The lack of a single, definitive answer to this question can be frustrating — or at least it was for me. I didn't know how to decide when to move my toddler out of his crib, so I wound up doing what I usually do: waiting for my son to give me a sign.
Why Risk Life and Limb?
Olin's on the small side for his age, so he wasn't able to climb out of his crib until about 18 months. At 20 months we decided to float the idea to him. We told him that we were going to take the mattress out of his crib and put it on the floor (knowing there would be no risk of falling out because there would be nowhere to fall). He seemed to like the idea — until it came time to make the change. He seemed very disoriented by the rearranging of furniture, and he refused to even try it.
We didn't push the issue. (As Circle of Moms member Tiffany G. says, "why mess up a good thing"?) It was true: we had a good thing. Even though Olin could crawl out of his crib, he never seemed interested in actually making a break for it. If he wanted us, he called us, and we came. Why risk life and limb when your parents are at the ready?
"I Am a Big Boy"
Everything about our current situation had, indeed been working fine. But when Olin turned two, I figured he should be in a "big boy bed." I'm not sure why this arbitrary marker seemed compelling to me, but it did, and I decided to up the ante.
After more discussion with my toddler (who loves to discuss everything), we agreed that we would leave his crib as is, in case he ever wanted to go in it, but that we would say goodbye to it as the place he slept every night, and start "going night-night in the big boy bed." This language resonated with him because his mantra had become, "I am a big boy," meaning, "Don't hold my hand down the stairs," and "I can walk across the street by myself." Needless to say, he jumped on the idea of sleeping in a bed as a way to demonstrate what a big boy he was.
The problem is that he would sleep in this bed only once he had fallen asleep somewhere else and was transferred. He wouldn't go down there from the outset.
It finally dawned on me: He'd never gone to sleep in his crib, either. He always went to sleep with a book while cuddling with me on the couch or on our bed. Why should this transition to a big bed change that part of the routine? Once I returned to our ritual of retiring with a book after bath — we call it "getting cozy" — he suddenly was fine when he woke up later in the big boy bed.
Now I transfer him after he's fast asleep, and if he wakes up, he's more readily able to put himself back to sleep than when he was in the crib, maybe because he no longer feels (and literally isn't) trapped. He still sometimes calls out for us or comes into our room, but he isn't frantic when he does so. He just wants to get cozy.