I first asked for input on transitioning Nora from a crib to a toddler bed way back in September. We were having a very challenging time with getting her out of bed in the morning and I wondered if it would help. But alas, it turned out to be a stage and we kept on keepin’ on with the crib, not wanting to “fix” what wasn’t broken.

But it kept eating at me, knowing that it was on the horizon. We needed to do it at some point—I knew that. And I didn’t think that Nora would ever be one of those kids that scaled the crib sides to climb out (thus signaling an automatic need to transition). For the most part, she’s not a risk taker. She’s not a climber. It seemed stupid to wait for something that was likely never going to happen. So I knew it was up to us to pull the trigger on the change. But I was chicken.

Then, on a weekend in early December, it just kind of happened. I don’t really remember the catalyst for it all. I know we spent an hour or so child-proofing Nora’s room that evening—tethering her dresser and bookshelf to the wall, getting rid of the changing pad on top of her dresser, opting instead to move her space heater (which had been on the floor) onto the surface, out of her reach. The whole time we were doing this, Nora was “helping” with her own set of tools. Because she was so involved in the process, we talked up the reasons for it all.

“You’re a BIG girl now! We’re going to make your crib into a big girl bed! Do you want to sleep in a big girl bed?” She enthusiastically said, “Yeah!”

And the rest is history. Next thing I knew, we were removing the side of her crib and attaching the toddler rail.

I began to get that sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. My BABY. She is so clearly not a baby anymore. It’s a realization that is so heartbreakingly sad but so prideful and happy all at the same time. She’s no longer a baby. But my gosh, she’s such a fun and sweet little girl.

It was such a small change—just one side of the crib was now shorter—but it seemed so much bigger than that.

But as far as the transition? She did great. We kept our bedtime routine the same. I still read her books, rocked her and sang. And then I laid her down in the toddler bed just like I would’ve done with her crib. I left the room, and watched curiously from the video monitor. It was hilarious at first, because she sat up and was looking in the direction of the crib side. I saw her arm outstretch, and she started feeling around in the air with her hand. Looking for that long-lost crib side, clearly. She traced the new outline of the side of the bed with her palm, and then she laid back down and went to sleep.

It has been about six weeks now, and for the most part, things are still good. We’re currently in an “I don’t like bedtime OR naptime” phase, which we’ve been through before, but is made a little more challenging now that we can’t just dump her in the crib and leave the room. But we’ve been lucky in that—as long as we follow our bedtime routine of three books and three songs—she stays in the bed. If we deviate from that… if we try to leave before those things have been done (like, say, if I’m fed up with her protesting and try to use “no books” or “no songs” as a consequence), she will absolutely spring out of bed, crying, and go over to her door and pound on it until we come back and give her another chance. And sure enough, when we finish the routine and leave again… she is good.

I do, however, really look forward to the day when she will once again go to bed without a battle. I realize that I may very well be waiting until her teen years, but… *sigh* I suppose that is to be expected with parenthood.

Within a week or so of making the transition, we changed up bedtime a little bit. We no longer rock in the chair. Instead, we read with her in her bed. And she literally insists that we lie with her IN her bed. I am scared every time I climb in there that the thing is going to buckle under my weight, but it’s holding up so far. So now we are thinking about getting her into an ACTUAL bed by springtime, which brings a whole ‘nother set of anxieties for me. I just have to hope that she’ll take it in stride as she has with this. (And this also presents an opportunity to redo her room for her “BIG GIRL ROOM,” which is both exciting—hooray for something new!—and overwhelming, because OMG, so many choices.)

The other thing is that we still need to teach her the awesomeness that are BLANKETS. Well, she likes blankets, but doesn’t understand the beauty of lying all cozy UNDERNEATH them. And she still moves and flips around an awful lot. I don’t know how/when that goes away, but for now, I will sometimes find her in weird positions.

What a goof.

That’s the story of Nora’s transition from crib to toddler bed. Thanks to all who offered up tales of their own experiences, or advice. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I can be one of those people who says—to all of you who haven’t been through it yet—that it’s really not as bad as you’re imagining. In fact, it may go really smoothly.

I’m not going to lie: I miss the crib sometimes. It was a huge symbol of her being my baby. I loved rocking/snuggling with her before putting her in there, with her head resting on my shoulder. I don’t get that anymore. We still get in a little snuggling in her bed while reading, but it’s different. Not bad; just different.

My baby is growing up.


4 Responses to Crib —> Toddler Bed Transition

  1. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you posted this today. Mike and I talk about this all the time. Ryan is in one of those hates-naps-and-bedtime phases now, too, and we keep wondering how on Earth we’ll get him to stay in there when he’s in a bed. The best we’ve been able to come up with is exactly what you said – reading to him in bed and sticking to a strict routine. I never thought he’d be one to try to climb out of the crib, but he’s finally attempting to throw his leg over the side when he gets really frustrated, so time is ticking. We’re trying to hold off for a couple more months (we’re getting ready to move across the country) but we might have to cave soon. Anyway, thanks for the post – very helpful for those of us who are right behind you.

  2. Jamie says:

    Glad it went smoothly for you! My daughter just turned 20 months today so I know we’ll be thinking about doing this really soon.
    I have a question about her pillow. Is it just a regular one? My dd has this owl pillow that she sleeps on (but she ends up looking like Nora though throughout the night) & I didn’t know if I should get a special “toddler” pillow.

  3. jolizie says:

    I was amazed at how easy it was when we transitioned our daughter to a toddler bed… and now that she is three years old I am thinking about moving her into a big bed. Seems like a good excuse to update her bedroom and be able to cuddle in bed with books more comfortably. My daughter also doesn’t understand the concepts of blankets or pillows no matter how much we try with her. I am just hoping she embraces them one day.

    Glad this transition went well for you!

  4. […] made the transition to a toddler bed a few months ago without issue. All we had to do was take the front off of her crib and add the […]

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