We FINALLY made the switch from cribs to toddler beds last month, and I’m here to tell you all about it! First of all, I have no regrets about how long I kept Romy and Piper in their cribs. They turned three in September, and I suddenly felt so much pressure to transition them to beds. While I’m glad I went ahead and did it, I do think I could have kept them in cribs a bit longer and been just fine. So all of that to say – don’t do it until you and your baby are ready! I say the longer they feel safe and comfortable in a crib, the better!
When you ARE ready to make the switch, here’s how I did it! A lot of the advice came from ongoing support and things I’ve learned from my girls at Sleep Shop (I talk about them here and here!)
Create a Safe Environment
Safety first! You are about to let a wild, previously caged animal loose in their room, alone. Here’s what I did to feel good about that…
- Remove any toys, loose items or furniture that you don’t need in there. Also remove anything from the walls that they may be tempted to climb for or tear down. Honestly, at this point Romy and Piper’s room looks pretty barren, but that’s just the stage of life we are in! It can be cute again when they learn to sleep safely ;).
- Anchor any remaining furniture (like dressers and such) to the wall (I used these!)
- Cover any electrical outlets (I use these), and use something like these cord covers for any cords you have to keep plugged in.
- Secure any closet doors. I used these! You can also use these to keep dresser drawers shut.
- Consider using a floating shelf to keep necessary items. I got this one from Target and installed it high enough that there’s no way they can reach it (and nothing underneath it that they can use to climb to it). I use it to keep their wake clock, sound machine, and tranquil turtle – I talk about all of these things below!
To Lock, or not to Lock?
This seems to be a hot topic among parents of toddlers! I’m going to go on record saying that I am now totally ok with locking the girls in their room, ha! I thought it would be a traumatizing thing but it honestly hasn’t been, and it helps me know they’re safe and not wandering the house (or yard/pool!) at night. The girls actually had a lock on their bedroom door in the new house, so I chose to flip the handle/lock around so that it locks from the outside. In the past, I’ve used these safety latches on doors to keep them in or out. I also have a lot of friends who swear by the Door Monkey. I don’t love this option because it actually keeps the door always partially cracked, but some people might like it for that reason!
Create a Sleep-friendly Environment
If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you’ve already been creating an ideal sleep environment for your baby/toddler! I’m still such a strong believer in doing so. I posted about the ideal toddler sleep environment here, and I’ve talked about baby sleep environment here. Here is what I still currently do to create the best possible sleeping situation. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – if you complain to me that your baby or toddler is not sleeping and you’re not doing ALL of the things below…I don’t wanna hear it ;).
- White Noise – I am still obsessed with this sound machine – everyone should have one! I have two going in the girls’ room in different corners.
- Blackouts – We actually have super dark shutters now, but Melissa from Sleep Shop originally recommended these to me. They’re cheap and they get the job done! I love that they’re easy to pull off the window if you want to.
- Room Temperature – make sure the room isn’t too hot! Temp should be between 68-72 degrees, and air circulation is important, too. We’ve loved this little fan (as long as you have a safe place to put it of course!)
- Nightlight – When the girls were smaller, the girls slept in pitch black and that worked best. Now they need a nightlight, so we have this pink Himalayan salt lamp that I love!
- Wake clock – I learned about these from Megan’s sleep guide, and I started getting the girls used to it a while before switching them out of their cribs. There are different options out there, I have/like this one. There are different settings, but you basically want a clock that will signal them when it’s ok to get up. For us, “Mella” turns yellow half an hour before it’s time to wake up and then turns green when it’s finally ok to get out of bed.
- Tranquil Turtle. This little guy is not a necessity, but it’s a fan favorite at our house! The girls are seriously obsessed, and I love it, too! I turn it on when I leave their room, and then it has a timer so it eventually turns off on its own. Makes the room feel like a spa!
Making the Switch
I started talking to the girls about switching to “big girl beds” a week or two before we actually did it. Obviously you’ll want to use things that you know will motivate your child, but here are some things I did:
- Let them help build or prepare the new beds. We have this crib that comes with the kit to convert it to a toddler bed, and they got to “help” convert it.
- Let them pick new/fun bedding. In our case, I surprised them with Toy Story bedding because I knew they’d love it so much they’d never look back ;). I swore I’d never have character sheets, but they were pretty attached to their huge Dockatots and Sleep Sacks, so I knew it had to be something they REALLY loved. It totally worked! Also, these Toy Story sheets are actually so cute and classic-looking. (Tip – you’ll need a “toddler” size pillow to fit the matching pillow case!)
- It was also important to me that their beds feel comfy and safe, like somewhere they want to be. Crib mattresses are traditionally firm for baby safety reasons, but for some reason I felt like ours’ were extra hard. So I got these mattress toppers to make it cozy, and this cozy comforter + duvet cover that they think is “just like mommy’s bed.” Their beds are honestly so cozy now, I want to curl up in them!
- Let them take/have a comfort item with them from before. For us, it’s always their lovey’s – “Hootie and Ra Ra”. For your kids, they might still have a binky, special blanket, or sleep sack they can hold or snuggle instead of wear.
- If there’s someone they look up to that sleeps in a “big kid bed”, talk to them about it. We talked a lot about how their cousins Estelle and Tae sleep in big girl beds, and how exciting it was that they were going to be just like them ;).
Getting them to stay in bed
- Stop Sign. The first couple nights, this really helped! I printed the stop sign from Megan’s Toddler Sleep Guide and taped it to their door. They would go to get out of bed and then say “STOP! And turn around and lay back down. It was really cute!
- Rewards/Consequences. Rewards work for my girls, but you HAVE to follow through. Meaning, if you offer a reward and they DON’T stay in bed, do NOT give them the reward. And if you threaten a consequence, be prepared/willing to enforce it. For example, I told my girls they’d get a special present after nap (something small I’d ordered on Amazon) and they didn’t listen/never took a nap. When it was finally time to come out of their room they were so excited for their presents, and therefore DEVASTATED when I told them they couldn’t have them because they didn’t stay in their beds like we’d agreed. The crying/fall out of that was awful, but because they know I’m serious now they will actually nap.
- Back to cribs. Because we just converted their cribs to toddler beds, I realized that I can actually make it a crib again by just flipping it around and putting the open side against the wall. I’ve done this a couple of times when they wouldn’t stay in their beds and it’s totally worked! They cry and cry but it works as motivation for the next week or so for them to stay in their beds!
- Charts. Megan has some other printable tools/charts in her sleep guide. My girls never really got into the charts, but it might be because I didn’t promote it in the right way, ha! If your toddler has the right personality, it might really help!
That was a lot! But I hope it helps, please feel free to message or comment me with any questions you may have! And good luck, it’s a rough week or two but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!!
Way to go! They seem to love it.
I’m terrified. My twin boys are 2.5 and I feel like they are nowhere near ready.
Do you make the room dark for naps too? My boys have always done the dark room and sound machine. I’m not sure when to start letting the room be light again. I haven’t done a night light yet. When did you know it was time for that?
One of my favorite registry things I always recommend is the Newton Baby mattress. This has helped so much! Now I’m just loving that it’s 100% washable haha. Newton Baby crib mattress (www.newtonbaby.com)! It has 2 different firmness sides so you can use it for the toddler years too.
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