I have heard some people transition their children from crib to toddler bed without much struggle. That was not the case with us. I can always hold out hope for my daughter, but my boys were a terrible nightmare that lasted almost 6 months.
When my twins were 16 months, we heard some thumps over the baby monitor and then hysterical laughter. It is never good when you hear that laughing from kids in the same room. It means trouble. We walked in the room to find our twins in the same crib. I was not sure whether to cry or laugh. I was not ready to move to toddler beds. The idea terrified me. I really liked being able to leave them in their crib and know they were safe and secure. We tried telling them no and putting them back in their cribs. It only turned it into a game. Soon we came to find both twins had jumped into their older brother’s crib. After a bit of a struggle we finally got them to fall asleep and knew that we were going to have to move them to toddler beds soon.
We had two beds that we got as hand me downs so we only had to go out and get one more. We bought each boy a special new big boy blanket, pillow and stuffed animal for their new beds. We brought them in and told them that they were big boys now and didn’t have to sleep in cribs. They were so excited. They picked which blankets they wanted and jumped into bed. They snuggled up with their new stuffed toy and fell asleep. The first few nights they did OK. It took a few times of telling them to stay in bed and then they would fall asleep. My twins would often fall asleep in the same bed. Then we had 6 months of horrible bed time and nonexistent naps.
Three little beds all set for three little boys
It started off being fairly harmless. They would get up and knock on their door and cry for mommy and daddy. When I would open the door they would run back giggling and jump into their beds. I know that it seems like it was very defiant behavior. For most people transitioning to a toddler bed this would be unacceptable, but they weren’t even a year and half old yet. I wasn’t sure how I could really change their behavior. I talked to my sister who recommended just letting them be, but going in every 5 minutes. So that’s what I did. I would sit in my room and listen to them giggling and calling for mommy then running back into bed. I would go in and tell them to get back into bed. It would take 1-2 hours to get them to finally fall asleep. By the end of those two hours I was a frazzled mess and I thought it couldn’t get any worse.
I was so very wrong. A few days later they started upping the stakes. They started taking their mattresses off of the beds and flipping them around. They would prop them up and make slides or stack all three and jump off of them. I continued to sit outside the room and go in and reprimand the behavior. We tried rewards, sticker charts, sitting in the room, sitting outside of the room but going in frequently. It was a mess. I have to admit some of my worst mommy moments were during this time. I can’t believe how frustrated I was and how much I yelled. I was dreading bed time and nap time and it was turning me into a mean mommy which I didn’t want. Since they were too young to really understand punishments and rewards, we just decided to change their environment a bit.
So on we marched into the next chapter of little boy-proofing the room. The first thing we removed from the room was the dressers. They were balancing the mattresses on them to make slides or tents and I was worried that they were going to come toppling down. When we took those down, they started pulling all the books from the bookshelves. So then we took out all of the books. We had a very tall book shelf that was bolted to the wall so we left it in but we took all the shelves out.
That left us with three beds, three mattresses and an empty bookshelf. How much trouble could they get into now? Well they found a way. They started tipping the actual bed frames up on their sides and jumping off of them. One night when my husband was away they drove me completely mad, and I took all the beds out of the room. He came home to find the three boys lying on their mattresses on the floor with nothing else in their room.
Looking back now, this is really where we should have started — three mattresses in a bare room. Although I’m not convinced it would have helped much. Another day my husband came home from work to find the boys taking a nap on nothing but the floor because I had taken their mattresses out as well. I did give those back for the evening because I just couldn’t let them sleep on the floor for bed time.
We were planning on moving in a few months so I told my husband that they just were not getting their beds back until we moved. I couldn’t take any more craziness. I couldn’t take anymore three hour bedtimes full of me screaming and yelling about them hurting themselves or each other. So that’s how it stayed. The boys cried and asked for their beds back but I just wasn’t ready. I decided I would set up their bedroom in the next house. And we could try again.
I don’t know what the difference was in our new house, but we did set up their beds and dressers again. The only thing I can figure out is that they were old enough to handle it and understand good and bad behavior. We still had tons of bed time issues, but they stopped taking the mattresses off and tipping the beds up. I am not sure how I could have done things differently besides just putting mattresses on the floor in the beginning. I also don’t know if we had this terrible time because there were three little guys in there egging each other on. It makes me dread the day my daughter learns to get out of her crib, but I will cross my fingers and hope we don’t have to relive this same thing again.
Did you have behavior problems when you transitioned your child out of the crib?