There are basically three reasons why kids are transitioned into a big kid bed.
1- They have a sibling coming to take over their crib.
2- They are jumping out of their crib.
3- They are just too old to be in a crib.
I have dealt with numbers 1 and 2. My first son was perfectly content in his crib. He never jumped out or even fussed about being confined. I could put him in his crib at night, and he would easily snuggle up and put himself to sleep. It was wonderful. When our first son was just over a year old, I got pregnant with our second son. I knew I didn’t want to purchase another crib so transitioning him to a big kid bed was a must. I decided to wait until after the baby was born to officially move him, since I knew the baby would sleep in our room for a while anyway. I did, however, get the room fully set up before his little brother joined the family.
Rather than go out and purchase a toddler bed, only to have to transition him to yet another bed down the road, we decided to put him in the queen sized bed we already had. We only have 3 bedrooms in our house, so his new room was previously our guest room. My mom made a really fun quilt with a road on it where he could zoom his cars. I made sure the room was bright and fun so he wouldn’t miss the fun aspects of his nursery. We spent a lot of time just playing and reading books in his new room before he ever slept in it.
Soon after our first son turned 2, we decided to start letting him sleep in his big kid bed. The baby was 2 months old and the newness had worn off for him. I was prepared for lots of tears and crying, but he surprised me and loved it! He had the ability to get out, but rarely did. He loved that we could lay down with him and read a book or zoom cars on his bed. We did put rails on his bed so he wouldn’t roll off the sides. The key there was buying the extra long rails. The standard rails are way shorter and meant for toddler sized beds. The long rails stretched the full length of the bed so he was only able to get off at the foot of the bed.
The only problem we had was stopping him from getting out of bed so early in the morning! We ended up buying the Onaroo Teach Me Time clock. This clock not only reads the time to the child, but you can also set it so a light will turn on when it is OK for them to get out of bed! We set the green light to turn on at 7:30. Our son would lay in bed just waiting for the clock to turn green! He loved the clock, but we loved it even more!
Our boys slept great until our second little guy turned 18 months old. All he wanted to do was be by his older brother… at all times! At 18 months, he began scaling the side of his crib and jumping out at night. I resisted the transition until I realized that once he tasted the freedom, he wasn’t going back. I attempted to have him sleep in a pack ‘n play in his brother’s room, but he would climb out of that too. He wanted to be “big” like his brother. At this point, I was 5 months pregnant with our third son so I figured it would be best to just get the transition done a few months before the baby was born.
Again, we only have a 3 bedroom house, so we had to get creative. We went out and purchased 2 twin size beds so the older boys could share a room and moved the queen size bed into the room with the crib. It’s not a perfect set up, but it works for us. When purchasing beds, we really thought about our boys. They are wild and crazy and that is only amplified when they are together. We chose memory foam mattresses solely on the fact that it’s basically impossible to jump on a memory foam mattress.
We also got space saver bed frames so we could store things under the beds.
The transition for our second son was a little more difficult. Because he was a “jumper” we didn’t have the ability to slowly transition him. We purchased the beds and set up the new room in just a couple days. Thankfully our oldest son didn’t need rails any more, so we moved those to our younger sons bed. Since he is a very wild sleeper, we also purchased a set of Magic Bumpers to put under the sheets at the foot of the bed. This way he was protected from rolling off on all 4 sides of the bed. The Magic Bumpers are easy to crawl over since they are foam, but it would be very difficult to roll off.
Even after everything was set up, he frequently got out of bed to play. Many people will put a baby gate on their bedroom doors, but we decided against it since our oldest son was working on potty training and needed the ablity to use the restroom freely. With the help of my oldest son, we were able to convince him that staying in bed was the “big boy” thing to do. We would spend time during the day reading in the bed and praising him when he would stay in his bed all night. After 2-3 weeks, he was no longer getting out of the bed.
Now we only have one more child to transition, and I’m guessing it will be because our youngest will just be too big for a crib. For me, it’s sad to think that no more babies will need our crib, and it will eventually get packed away in the attic. The transition to a big kid bed is a big step for a child. It is one of the first big steps into them having freedom and the ability to really do some things on their own. Make it a big deal, and make sure they know you are proud of them!