We tried transitioning Chloe to a toddler bed last summer. It was a traumatic experience for everyone involved, including lots of tears (not all were shed by the tiny person) and exhaustion. She had been trying to climb out of the crib and we already had the mattress lowered to the lowest possible setting. It wasn’t even that she was trying to swing her legs over the railing; she piled her blankets in the corner and used them as a stool to get out of her bed. I applaud her creativity, but have to admit that sometimes she’s too smart for her own good.

Now that we’ve got another baby on the way, Chloe gets promoted to Big Sister and gets the boot from her crib. I wish we’d have put more thought into what type of crib we bought.  We wanted a convertible crib, but didn’t take into consideration child spacing. Knowing that she’d only be using this toddler bed temporarily, our original plan was to give her our existing double bed. It’s from IKEA and it’s low to the ground, and it matches the furniture in her bedroom. We originally bought her dresser to match the finish of the bed, so we bought the crib to match as well. I wanted to buy her a mattress over President’s Day Weekend to take advantage of the sales, but my husband convinced me that this was going to be a $200 experiment. If it failed, where were we supposed to put the mattress?  And he didn’t really feel like taking apart the crib to assemble a new bed, only for her to decide she hated the bed and have to do everything over again. As a compromise, we decided to turn her crib into a toddler bed instead.

The first time we attempted the transition, we had Chloe be a part of the entire process.  She got to pick out her own pillows and covers, and she helped us clean up her room and take apart the crib.  This time we just did it, then made a huge deal about how big sisters get a big girl bed.

Naptime Day 1 wasn’t a success.  Actually, naptime didn’t even happen. I was worried that this was a glimpse into our future! Papa Jumper tried laying in bed with her (that was a sight!), reading all of her favorite books, bribing her with toys and chocolate, telling her how awesome big girl beds were, and bribing her some more.  Nothing worked and by 3:30 in the afternoon, we simply gave up.


Reading her favorite book & trying to get her to nap

That evening I made up a ridiculously lame big girl bed song (uh, it’s to the tune of the NBC chimes…) and she bought it.  Just before we’d normally tuck her into bed, she looked at me and said, “Momma, I’m sleepy. Big girl bed.  Bye!” and ran into her room.  Was this really happening?  My husband read her The Lorax just as he does every night, and she fell asleep with no problem at all. We told her that she could not get out of bed until mommy and daddy said it was okay.

She slept soundly through the night and the next morning, she yelled out for us to ask if she could get down.  It was a miracle!  I was skeptical and thought this was a fluke, but at 1:30 the next afternoon (a half hour before her normal naptime), she told me she was sleepy and climbed into her big girl bed.  She slept soundly for two hours before waking up and asking me if she could get down.

She had slept at my parents’ house that night so I was a little worried that our lucky streak was about to come to an end, but the next night at home went as smoothly as the first.  The next day at nap time I overheard her singing to herself that she was a big girl, in her big girl bed because she’s the big sister and when she woke up daddy would be home.  She melts my heart!

We’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but it is a big transition for such a little person, so we really are thrilled at how smoothly this has actually gone this time.  In the end, here’s what worked for us:

– Talking about her big girl bed like it’s the best thing in the entire world
– singing a silly big girl bed song
– following our normal bedtime routine and reminding her that soon, it was time to sleep in her big girl bed
– making bedtime a bit more fun — Papa Jumper has started asking Chloe how she’d like to go to her room.  Sometimes she’s Cinderella and they waltz to her bedroom.  Other times she pretends to be a frog, and they hop and ribbit down the hall. I am not even joking. He’d kill me if I shared the video of this.  On a few occasions she’s been a mermaid and they swim.
– Reading her a bedtime book, as usual, and having her help us turn the pages. It’s what big girls get to do.
– Good old fashioned bribery. I told her if she sleeps in her bed for one whole week, she’d get a Palace Pet.
– and finally, telling her she can’t get out of her bed without asking us first.

Did you have to try to transition twice?  Was it easy or hard for you to make the switch?