Speaking of cribs, I started this post on November 17th. I quickly abandoned it for no good reason. I realized tonight it was due to an unbelievable heap of procrastination. No, I wasn’t procrastinating about the writing. It was the act of moving O from crib to toddler bed. We’ve done this before, about 2 years ago. It wasn’t pretty. F had climbed out of the crib one day during his nap and greeted our nanny. I was on strict bed-rest with O. 3 weeks later I delivered and we had a newborn at home in concert with daily 2 hour stand-offs with F at bedtime. Staying in bed wasn’t his plan. He’d empty his entire closet, climb on top the chairs, look out the window, ask for water. Sing his repertoire of songs. Repeat his repertoire of songs. Consequently, for about 6 months we agonized in the reality that we’d moved F to a “big” boy bed prior to him transitioning into a “big” boy. Toddler-two’s-torture. Crib jail had been so nice.

For O, I knew it was time to move him to a bed back in November. Just couldn’t bring myself to follow through. Toooooooo, tired. A fairly lame and indefensible (yet understandable?) excuse. We got away with it. Sans a trip to the ER, we took off the front of the crib today. He’s been out of his bed all evening tonight. Let the games begin.

We still shouldn’t have waited. I wasn’t taking my own advice. I’m here to confess…

On November 17th, in a draft of this post, I wrote:

O greeted me this morning, first thing, with a “Good Morning, Mommeeee.” Trouble was, I was still in bed. The husband is in Africa doing research this week, so I’ve been flying solo. Between work  and my inexperience as a single mom, the boys have to wait for me to get my act together in the AM and fetch O from the crib after he awakens. This morning was different. You know those moments in life when you start talking out loud even while alone?  I was muttering to myself before 7. I heard O approaching my bedroom and something about it just didn’t seem right as I awoke. And then I realized, goooood grief, he’s climbed out of the crib. So.not.okay.

Present day: O has been climbing out of the crib for four weeks now. He showed me how he did it, I watched again and again and despite any good sense, I decided he was remarkably skilled at the dismount. I liked the idea that those high walls still impeded the typical exodus (he stayed in until naps were over, etc). Everyone around here went along with this. I have no idea why. Suddenly things changed this weekend. O has been joining me in bed around 2, 4, and 5 am every morning for the last 3 nights. I’m tired. Clearly the walls of that crib are now serving no purpose except a dangerous, early morning steeple-chase.

Tonight he’s exploring the limits of the house (and our patience). But I’m entirely less worried about his safety. We all love the safety and security of a crib due to its jail-type confines. We rest easier knowing our children are safe and will rest. Until the climbing begins…

4 Golden Rules on When to Transition From Crib to “Toddler” or Floor Bed:

  1. If your child demonstrates he/she can climb out of the crib, ditch the crib. Hands down. Don’t do what I did this past month in waiting. Although most kids will do well,  I’ve cared for a number of children who have broken arms and legs falling from the crib in a desperate exit-attempt.
  2. If your child is actively toilet-training, ditch the crib. If you’re actively training your child to pee when they need to, that last thing you want to do is have them confined in a crib (and diaper) and dependent on you helping them out to pee. Truth be told, if you’re really going to hand over the reigns and abandon the diapers, the crib needs to go, too.
  3. If your child is about 3 years of age and has never climbed out the crib, it’s probably a good time to transition to a “big boy/girl bed” or mattress on the floor. Developmentally, they are certainly ready to be in a big bed and will welcome the independence. Discuss the change ahead of time. Have your child assist in picking out the bed or the sheets. Then set a date. Do a countdown on the calendar. Practice. Don’t look back…
  4. If you or another caregiver is unable to lift your child in and out of the crib, it’s time to transition to a floor mattress or toddler/child bed. Once a child is over age 1, there is absolutely no reason you can’t use a standard bed with a bed-rail for your child’s sleeping spot. The unfortunate reality is they may be able to escape!

What’s your story? How did your transitions go?