When in quarantine, am I right? We have tossed around the idea of transitioning Knox to a big boy bed for months. Then, about a month ago, we were hanging out in the kitchen during his nap time… and before we knew it Knox was chilling with us like it was nothing. We knew he definitely needed to get a big boy bed now if he could just climb out of the crib without a sound or any evidence of “struggle.”
I wanted to share with y’all the routine we started him on (cold turkey… not so great hehe) and then what we would have done in hind-sight after some trial and error. I hope this helps you with your own attempts to transition to big beds. Remember, it is only a season! YOU WILL SLEEP AGAIN. It really is like having a newborn those first few nights all over again, but if you stick to a routine and rules then I PROMISE it will pass quickly.
What we did (the bad plan):
We transitioned cold turkey pretty much to begin with. We had him help us pick out his sheets and quilt and talked about it a lot leading up to the first night… but, we just went for it right away in general. Knox helped us break down his crib and said “bye bye” to it. And he helped us make the bed, seemingly stoked about it. Oy. Then night one, we laid him in bed, sang songs to him for about an hour, and left him… every 30 seconds. Literally… We had no baby gate or lock or anything to keep him contained. So, he came running out crying every minute or less for hours. We basically didn’t sleep for 4 nights straight. He would finally fall asleep after hours of saying “We love you Knox, but it’s time for bed.” And even still, we had a baby in our room at about 1 or 2 AM every night. Then, we finally broke down and rebuilt the crib, put it in the middle of his room, and ordered a baby gate to contain him. And, we bought a Nooie camera. (We hadn’t had a camera in his room ever! We did the Owlet sock until he was about a year, and then just haven’t felt the need for a camera.)
For a couple of nights while we waited for the gate, we would go into his room at bed time and ask him which bed he wanted – the crib or his big boy bed. This seemed to soften the blow of a quick transition, and it’s when I realized we maybe should have done this from the start!
Our baby gate arrived, we broke down the crib again, and tried round 2 of big boy bed… Operation CONTAIN THE KID. The issue with him getting out and coming to us (other than the obvious of no sleep for any of us hehe) was that we weren’t getting to comfort him in HIS bed. And, the excitement of having freedom was keeping him awake. These combined gave him free reign and control to do whatever he wanted. So we wanted to keep him in that room at all times- us going to him when he woke up or called for us. Make sense?
All this to say, the baby gate was a massive win. Night 1 was a little rough and he sat in front of it crying for a bit. We would come in and place him back in his bed, sing a bit, and then leave. (There was a couple nights I sat in front of the gate singing and talking to him but not going into the room once he felt okay enough to stay in bed even though he was still tearful.) It was a major win to have him stay in his bed! Then eventually, we just didn’t have to stay! The first night that he fell asleep right away and didn’t cry was our MAJOR WIN. We are convinced the baby gate made him feel like his room was just a big crib now… lol. The bars like the crib… who knows. But it made sense to us. 😉
The Plan We Will Suggest Now:
- Start talking about “Big Boy/Girl Bed” in advance! Any time they want in your bed, say something like “Oh how fun! Would like a big boy/girl bed of your own?!” We did this a lot beforehand and he would say, “Oh yessss, so excited!”
- Let them pick out their sheets and bedding/bed with you! They will love feeling excited for it. We picked out his options and asked him if he wanted the Buzz sheets… the obvious answer was yes. So, every day while we waited we would bring them up and how excited we were for them to arrive for his Big Boy Bed!
- The mattress arrived first and in perfect time for week 1 of quarantine, hehe. We just put it out in the living room and let him get acquainted with it. He loved it and it felt like breaking rules to have a bed in the living room. If it isn’t quarantine when you’re doing this… lol… then I would suggest putting the mattress on their floor and letting them get used to it and explore it on their own!
- Put the bed together entirely in their room and offer one of the other a couple of nights in a row. Say, “Are you so excited for bed? Would you like to sleep in your crib or your big boy/girl bed? If they say one, but then don’t want to stay in it, be gracious and switch them back and forth during this time. Let it be okay to them that it’s unfamiliar and they don’t have to be comfortable with it yet. If it lasts just 5 minutes even that they chose their big bed, then that’s a win!
- Tear down the crib together and make it a big hoopla! Talk about how tonight’s their first night with their Big Boy/Girl Bed. Make it a celebration! Have them help with everything – from tearing down crib to placing the bed in the right spot, to putting up the baby gate.
- Implement your sleep routine. Everybody has a different routine, but whatever it is do it just as you would with the crib on any normal night!
- Night 1 and 2, if you lean more toward the cry it out method like us, go in as needed every 5 minutes to place them back in bed and reassure them how much you love them and how excited we are to sleep in our big bed. Check on them and let them know you’re there. You can sit in front of the gate if you wanted to just to let them know you’re there! There is a lot of grace those first nights for sure to just let them know they’re safe! This is the MOST important!
- Night 3 and on- try not to enter the room. IF they keep getting out and coming to the gate, only come every 3-5 minutes to say “I love you, it’s time for bed.” Kiss them, touch them, love on them, sit for a few with them, and then walk away. Eventually Knox just started crying a minute or two and then would literally go tuck himself in bed!
It’s hard but WORTH IT to put in the effort of transitioning well. I truly believe empowering your child to know they can comfort and self soothe is important, but do this how YOU feel is best for you and your child. Everybody will have a slightly different approach and that’s GREAT. I am always and forever team “Do what is best for you.” Good lucky, mommies and daddies!
**We haven’t found a bed FRAME we love yet. So a mattress on the floor is what we have right now… hehe. BUT, I think it’s worked well with the transition!