Once we transitioned my little one into a “big bed”, I thought she would play in it with her toys and, in the morning, I would wake her up and all would be right with the world. But reality is far from my dream. The reality has been fraught with a toddler snuggling at the foot of my bed in the middle of the night; wedging herself between my husband and me; tears at the very idea of sleeping in her bed; and much frustration on our part as parents.
1. Emphasize the importance of Mommy and Daddy sleeping in the same bed.
She would frequently get into bed and then, literally, kick my husband out of the bed! We couldn’t have this happen nor could we have a little one in the room when Mommy and Daddy needed time to themselves. Although this one was difficult for a little person to understand, we put our collective feet down and told her Mommy and Daddy’s relationship was important too.
2. Emphasize sleeping somewhere safe.
Funny story: Our house, a rental, has doors that do not lock at all. Our daughter was a genius at opening doors with toys and stacked books. We would shut her in her room safely and she would open it and wander in the middle of the night. She would see no room in the bed, remember what we told her, and then sleep on the floor behind a chair in the living room or under the rocking chair in our room. We were scared on more than one occasion when we were unable to find her. So we emphasized sleeping somewhere safe and offered our small love seat in our room instead. That clicked with her.
3. Do not push the envelope at first.
We let her sleep on our couch, tucked her in, and she slept well. After a few nights, we would encourage sleeping one night in her bed, And, yes, we bribed her with a trinket or one of those free cookies at our local grocery store.
4. Firmly emphasize healthy choices.
There came a time when we were at a standstill. I finally just told her because she was growing fast and strong, it was a healthy decision to sleep in a bed. It was not a healthy decision to sleep on a couch where soon she would not be able to stretch out completely. Yes, there were tears and a look as if she didn’t think I loved her at all, but we held to our position
We still aren’t where we need to be, but we are making progress. Mommy and Daddy still get our alone time, we still have a stowaway on our couch around 5:30 each morning when big sister wakes up for school, and she still tries her best to negotiate. But I always remember that I am the mommy, she isn’t. And this stage won’t last forever… right?
Let’s Talk: How have you transitioned your toddler to a big bed?