One of the big changes that went along with our move was that Ben switched from his crib to his toddler bed! Yes, he was three years old and still in his crib. Every kid is different and I wouldn’t change a thing about our transition. Here are a few thoughts on how we did our switch and how it worked for us.
To start out, why did we have Ben stay in his crib for so long? We had a few big reasons.
1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t mess with sleep. If something is working, why change it? Ben adored his crib. He was happy and comfortable there. He slept well there. He never tried to climb out and didn’t seem to mind that it was still a crib. Why change something that was working? I don’t think age alone is a good enough reason to make a big change like this. We bought Ben’s crib because it converted to a toddler bed, and with twins coming we knew we would end up either buying a a new crib and a toddler bed for Ben, giving his crib to one of the girls, or we could buy two new cribs. Almost all the cribs these days transition to toddler beds, so would cost us the same either way. We would have to buy two beds, so why take Ben’s bed, which he loved, away from him? Keeping him in the crib just made sense.
2) I liked how safe Ben was in the crib. Ben never tried to get out of his crib on his own. (I know, I am very lucky and so thankful for this.) He was contained all night and couldn’t get into trouble. We had planned to have all three kids sleeping in the same room for a bit at our old house. I liked the idea that Ben couldn’t get up at night and mess around, potentially waking up his sisters. Our old house wasn’t very big, so Ben’s/the girls’ room became a storage site as we got organized before the girls were born. It also became a giant box zone while we were packing. Ben being in his crib meant we could have these things in his room and he would still be safe. Yes, this is a bit of laziness on my part. But what can I say? Ben was safe and happy in his crib.
3) We had a lot of changes going on from when Ben was about two and a half to three. First of all, the girls were born. That is a huge change for anyone, but it is especially huge for a toddler. The girls took a lot of my time and attention and I wanted Ben to have his literal comfort zone in his bed. That was his space and his alone, no babies in it. Besides suddenly having two little babies taking up his mommy’s time, he also was no longer going to the office every day. His entire routine was changed. I wanted to keep anything consistent for him I could. Then once we got settled into our new routine we up and move across the country. Packing was chaotic and again, I wanted to give Ben what consistency I could. I think it worked, Ben slept really well despite all that we threw at him.
4) Ben is old enough to really get what is happening now that we have made the switch. Ben understands that he has to stay in his bed. This isn’t to say he couldn’t or wouldn’t have understood at a younger age, but at three years old he for sure gets it. He knows he needs to stay in his bed and he understands consequences. We really played up how exciting a big boy bed was, and we also spoke about how important it was to stay in the bed. At three he is old enough to call out for us (loudly) at night, and he is old enough to understand when we say wait or just a minute. Along with understanding the need to stay in the bed, he also was old enough to be really excited about the change. This made moving more enjoyable for him, he got to upgrade his bed! Anything that would help make him happy about our move was a good thing in my book.
So why a toddler bed? Why not a twin or other regular bed? There are lots of options when it comes to moving beyond a crib. We thought about several things and looked into different options. But when it came down to it our decision was pretty simple.
1) It was the cheapest option. We bought our kids’ cribs planning on switching them to toddler beds as they got older. As I said most cribs these days transition and are not a ton of money. All we had to do to make Ben’s crib a toddler bed was take one of the sides off. We didn’t need to buy a new frame or a new mattress. It was really easy (of course I didn’t put the bed together, so Pat may have other opinions. 😉 ) We don’t like to spend money we don’t need to, so this was big.
2) We had an easy fix if Ben didn’t stay in the bed. If Ben gets out of bed too much in the short term we can just turn the bed around so the open side is against the wall. Get out of bed, lose the privilege of the big boy bed. So far we haven’t had to do this. If it gets too bad we can always put the side completely back on. We would have to have some major issues to do that, but I like that we have concrete, relatively easy ways to have natural consequences to misbehaving.
3) It fit the space we had. Ben has his own room at our new house, but that doesn’t mean it is a huge room. We could fit a twin in it. The toddler bed is smaller and gives Ben more room to play. We wanted this more than for him to have a bigger bed. He isn’t very big, he doesn’t need a giant bed to sleep in right now.
4) It was still Ben’s bed. Ben has always loved his bed. This was still his. So while he was excited about all the new changes we had going on, he still had a place that was familiar and his to sleep in. I’m sure it can be scary to a little kid to be in a new room in a bed that suddenly has a big open side on it when it used to be enclosed and secure. But this was Ben’s own bed, a place he has always been safe. That’s a good thing.
I don’t think there is one right way to make the change from crib to toddler bed. Each child is unique and has his own needs in this situation. But I am happy with how we handled Ben’s transition. I hope to keep the girls in their cribs as long as possible, but we will make that sort of switch as we need to. Overall Ben’s sleep has stayed solid, he made a great transition in the move, and he is happy. That is the most important thing.