Let me preface this post by saying that I probably did everything “wrong” when I decided to transition Evelyn into her toddler bed. In fact, I know I did. After we made the transition, I looked at all the advice out there and realized I did it all wrong. I didn’t set a date and mark it on the calendar. We didn’t have a conversation about it ahead of time. I didn’t take her shopping for new bedding. It happened as a result of ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ parenting. First of all, I didn’t even really decide to do it. I did it completely on a whim. I had been contemplating the change for a few months but was actually afraid to take the leap. I was worried that it would take a lot of work and I would lose a lot of sleep. However, on Saturday afternoon, about a week ago, I was desperate for Evelyn to take a nap. Lately, she’s been refusing to nap on weekends, even though I know she sleeps every day during the week at daycare. I guess I thought that if I took the front slats off of her crib, I could sit on the floor next to her bed and pat her back (like they do at daycare) and maybe, just maybe, she would fall asleep. I probably don’t have to tell you that my plan backfired but…
In a moment of weakness, I asked her if she wanted me to turn her crib into a “big girl bed.” Her response was a resounding “yes!” So, I did. And she was so excited. The look of surprise and delight on her face was priceless. She giggled and squealed and crawled up into her bed…but she didn’t stay there. I pulled a “big girl” pillow from the extras in our closet and put a pink pillowcase on it. We arranged her favorite blankets. Her bed was all ready to go. But she wasn’t. Suffice it to say that she didn’t nap that day. Go figure.
That first night it was pretty easy to get her to sleep. She hadn’t napped after all, so she was pretty tired. I read her a few stories while she rested in her new bed. When it didn’t seem like she was going to fall asleep easily in the bed, I rocked her and sang a few songs to her, like I normally do, and when she seemed almost asleep, I put her in her bed and patted her for a few seconds until she was out. Pretty easy. However, around 3am, she fell out of the bed. Despite the fact that I used the pool noodle under the sheet trick that I’d seen on Pinterest, I woke up to a thump and then a cry from the baby monitor. In hindsight, I probably could have rocked her for about 5 minutes and put her back into her bed, but my mommy guilt (instincts…whatever you want to call it) made me bring her into bed with us. The first night was kind of a fail.
The good news is that since then, we haven’t had a problem. I am happy to say that she is sleeping all night in her toddler bed, and hasn’t fallen out since that first night. Despite going against all the tips out there, I think there is one major thing we did right (and several ways we just got lucky) to make this work.
I think the most important thing we did is that we set up a really consistent bedtime routine from a very young age. Evelyn started sleeping in the crib in her own room at about 2 months. Around that same time, she figured out how to suck her thumb, so she was able to self-soothe, put herself back to sleep, and it was at that point that she began sleeping through the night. I have no illusions about the fact that Michael and I have been extraordinarily lucky in the sleep department. In the beginning, we did spend quite a bit of time “tag-teaming” at bedtime, basically taking turns rocking, singing, holding, etc until she went to sleep. But what does any of that have to do with her sleeping now? I guess the point is that she has always slept in the same bed, gone to sleep around the same time, and had the same routine (brush teeth, read books, sing songs or hear music, sleep). She is used to her bed and since her toddler bed is really just her crib with the front piece removed, it was an easy transition in that respect.
Ok, well I guess that really is the only thing I can take credit for in easing this transition for my daughter. The rest is pure good fortune… blessings from heaven. Most of the “big transitions” have been harder for me than they have for her. I always anticipate that it’s going to be a huge issue and she always makes the changes almost effortless. But don’t hate me, folks. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here. So, after this it’s onto potty training. What are the chances she’ll continue the trend??