Four weeks before I was due with my second baby, my then 2-year-old decided he was done sleeping in his crib. As though he knew his world was precariously close to being flipped on its axis, the closer my due date got (and the bigger I became), the more challenges my toddler threw my way. The timing was not ideal, to say the least. Did this mean he was ready for a toddler bed?
When I say he decided he was done sleeping in his crib, what I mean is we tried every method our pediatrician recommended to keep him in his crib. We moved the mattress to the lowest level, dropped the mattress to the ground, kept him in a sleep sack, the list goes on—and still, he climbed out every night.
In the span of a few months, bedtime had gone from storytime and snuggles with my sweet little guy to a full-out battle that ended with tears on both sides. When my toddler made it abundantly clear that he no longer wanted to be contained in a crib, and I could no longer ignore the safety hazard of him climbing out of a crib while wearing a sleep sack, I finally caved. Leave it to kids to push us out of our comfort zones when we thought we’d be the ones pushing them to grow.
Leave it to kids to push us out of our comfort zones when we thought we’d be the ones pushing them to grow.
Though his crib had an option to convert to a toddler bed, my husband and I opted to skip the toddler and the twin bed and go straight to a full-sized bed. I’m certainly not saying this is the right choice for every family, but after weighing the different options, it’s what was best for us.
How I Went Straight to a Full Bed for Our Toddler
Transitions Are Tough
Transitions are hard for toddlers, which means that they’re hard for parents too. It seems like every time you settle into a solid routine or think you have things figured out, something changes, and you’re navigating through a new adjustment.
If we first moved from a crib to a toddler bed, my husband and I wondered how long we’d have until we’d then be transitioning from a toddler bed into a twin-sized bed? And then how long would it be until we transitioned into a bigger bed? Would we go through the same bedtime battles all over again within the next six months? One year? Who knows? We weren’t looking to find out.
With the transition to becoming a big brother looming, we decided we would minimize disruptions when we could (especially when it came to bedtime and sleep).
Snuggles Are Easier in a Bigger Bed
In thinking through a twin bed or a full bed, you want to keep in mind logistics. What is your bedtime routine? Ours includes reading books, talking about our day, and snuggling for a bit. This used to take place in the glider chair, but my squirmy toddler stopped being into it, so the bed became that place for us.
A twin-sized bed simply would not have been big enough for me, my husband, and my toddler to read or snuggle together. Also, middle-of-the-night wakings—and there will be middle-of-the-night-wakings—are much easier when you can crawl into bed with your scared/sick/lonely/whatever-it-is-now little one.
If your child isn’t a snuggler or feels safer in a smaller bed, there’s definitely nothing wrong with going from crib to toddler bed to twin-sized bed—or any other variation. The most important thing is doing what’s right for you and your child.
Beds Are Expensive
OK, I know there are some inexpensive and cute options out there, but hear me out on this one. It’s always my goal to get the most bang for my buck, so when it comes to my kids’ rooms, investing in furniture and décor that will grow with them is my go-to strategy. Personally, I’d rather buy a piece I really love so we will have it around for a long time.
Also, it’s not just the bed to think through. There’s the mattress, the comforter, the sheets. It all adds up quickly. The longer we can make the same pieces work, and the more use we can get out of them, the better.
Despite my toddler’s disdain for his crib, I knew the transition to a bed might still be tough for him—here’s how we made it easier.
We Talked About It in Advance
Toddlers do better with adjustments when they know what to expect, but the delicate line between something that’s exciting and something that’s anxiety-inducing is a tricky one to navigate. We wanted to get him excited about his new bed but also keep from overwhelming him with the change. The week before we planned to take down the crib and put up the big boy bed, we told our toddler the plan.
We gave him the basic facts that we would be taking down the crib and setting up a new big boy bed for him to sleep in. We talked about how his older cousins sleep in big kid beds. We talked about how it would be a fun new adventure, and it would be OK if he felt a little unsure at first—we would help him adjust. We discussed it was going to be exciting to have a big bed without putting too much emphasis or emotion into it.
We Enlisted Help
Once we made the decision to go with the full-sized bed, we wanted to get our toddler excited about it and also familiar with our expectations—meaning that he would need to stay in his bed even though he no longer had the barrier of a crib.
My little guy worships the ground his older cousins walk on, so we asked our 6-year-old nephew to give him a little pep talk about sleeping in a big boy bed … emphasizing the staying-in-the-bed part. My son was so excited to think of himself as more like his cool older cousin that he was more than willing to stay in his bed and make the transition. Things took a downturn with a sleep regression after his little sister was born, but that’s a story for another day.
We also enlisted help from some of his favorite stuffed animals and a few new ones who we promised would be there to keep him safe all night. All he needed to do if he felt scared was give them a big hug.
We Let Him Show it Off
Back when getting together with friends and family at our house was a regular occurrence, a very simple but helpful thing was for my toddler to give everyone who came over a tour of his room with his new bed. He was so proud to show people what a big boy he was and how he didn’t sleep in a crib anymore. The fun and happy reactions of friends and family made the transition easier and more exciting for him.
Ultimately, I’m glad we moved him out of the crib when we did, even if it was sooner than I’d planned. Kids have a way of showing us what they need when they need it. Bedtime went from a never-ending battle of putting him back into his crib to a relatively peaceful routine of reading, snuggles, and sleep. Certainly, there are nights when we still battle it out, or when he just won’t stay in his bed, but those are few and far between.
In the end, my best advice is to listen to what your kiddo is trying to tell you, trust your gut, and do what feels right for you and your family.