Eviction from the Crib: Sanity-Saving Tips for Transitioning to a Big Kid Bed

My biggest tip for transitioning from a crib to a “big kid bed”–don’t do it! No, I’m kidding. But really, this was not an easy transition for us, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way to hopefully save you a little sanity.

Tips for Transitioning from the Crib

{talk it up} About a week before we made the switch, we made a really big deal about Jona getting a new bed. We told him it was because he was such a big boy now, and that it was a really cool bed. He got excited about it because we were excited about it.

{make him part of the process} We took Jona with us to shop for sheets for the bed, and let him choose (I gave him some options). I also let him pick out a new stuffed animal to sleep with him in the bed, too. I wanted him to feel like it was his bedand not something we just forced on him.

{expect some setbacks} Honestly, this was a very difficult transition for us. Although Jona seemed excited about his bed, he wasn’t comfortable in it right away, and he had lots of night-time wake-ups. Eventually things improved, but just when I started to breathe a sigh of relief, we were back at square one when we brought home Jona’s baby sister. Just like there are lots of phases that babies go through when it comes to sleep, this transition has brought a few phases as well. Just remember, it won’t last forever. Eventually there will be a day when it will be hard to get him out of bed! At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

{problem solve} Jona would get out of bed multiple times at night, and really early in the morning. We realized that since it was dark when he usually got up, he really didn’t have a good sense of when he should be getting out of bed. So we bought an OK to Wake Owl, which is a little stuffed animal alarm clock that turns green when it’s time to get out of bed. It works really well for us, and Jona loves the owl. There are lots of other similar options out there, I really recommend something like that. It has been a lifesaver!

{have a plan} I noticed that when I was consistent in my response to his nightly and early morning wake-ups, they became less frequent. At first, I would get really frustrated in the morning if Jona got up really early, while I was still trying to get ready for work. Eventually the owl solved that problem, but before that I had to come up with a plan so that I could still get ready and make it to work on time. When Jona had a consistent plan for what to do in the morning if he got up before I was ready to get him dressed, it was less stressful for everyone. It was the same for nightly wake-ups, we did the same thing every time–just walked him back to his room without much fuss or cuddling.

{keep the end goal in mind} In his crib, Jona slept fine with the lights off and the door closed. However, sleeping in a bed brought out all his fears, and darkness became the enemy. While I would prefer his room to be a little darker and quieter, I want him to feel safe and comfortable there, so he STAYS in there. So I’m okay with the bright lamp (because the night light just wasn’t enough) and with leaving the door open, at least until he falls asleep.

{be patient} This is probably the most important thing, and the thing I struggle with the most. Bedtime sometimes feels like a battle of wills and not one I frequently win. When I take deep breaths and stay calm, things usually go a lot better. The more worked up I get, the harder he fights.

We’re still trying to figure this out, but it is getting better. I would love to hear your tips for making this transition–share them in the comments below!

Shea lives in Olathe with her husband Aaron, children Jona and Violet, and their spoiled mutt Ellie. She’s a busy working mom who finds her balance in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes that her picky toddler won’t touch. At the end of a long day, you’ll either find her curled up on the couch with a good book, or busy writing posts for her life and style blog, Shea Lennon, where she hopes to inspire women to look good and live well on a budget. Whether she’s reading or blogging, she’ll likely be accompanied by a bowl of ice cream (the chocolatier, the better) or a glass of wine. And on a good night, both.