Switching to a Big Girl Bed


My baby has been slowly morphing into a toddler before my very eyes. It has been gradual… toddling, walking, running, talking, and amazing me with her knowledge, just to name a few. All of a sudden, I realized although SG will forever be my baby, I really should start calling her my toddler, instead of my baby. Here are a few of the things that have happened in just the past few months that confirmed I truly have a toddler.

In January, I put SG down for her normal nap. A few minutes later, I heard the most sickening thud and knew that SG had fallen out of her crib. The Huzz and I ran to her, and thankfully she was okay. But I wasn’t. I knew change was happening that day. I wasn’t ready, though. The Huzz quickly converted her crib to the “toddler bed”. Toddler bed? Ha! Only if we would’ve pre-ordered the toddler rails two years ago… (I wish we had!!!) It was just her crib without the front rails. SG is a wild sleeper and flip flops so I knew this wouldn’t work. We rushed to Babies R Us and bought her a little plastic Dora bed. It has rails and is super low to the ground. Perfect! At bedtime we talked about sleeping in a big girl bed and why she had to do it (because she tried to climb out of her crib and fell). I laid her down, walked out, and not even 60 seconds later, she opened her door, peered out, and smiled. And on and on we went for over an hour. Exhausting. Not fun. Now repeat this process every day for naps and bedtimes.

We tried everything, from bribery to consequences and nothing motivated SG to stay in bed. Out of desperation, I offered her money if she stayed in bed. To my surprise, she stayed glued in her bed! So I went to the bank and got a roll of quarters. Add a special toddler alarm clock I found online, and she stayed in bed until “the cow gets out of bed.” Bedtime was a snap…for about two weeks. Then she was bored with money and we were back to square one.

We struggled for a few more weeks and I thought I would end up bald. I wanted to pull my hair out twice a day for hours on end. The entire day would be great- except for naptime and bedtime. So, we stopped naptime. For less than a week. I. Was. Exhausted. I really count on naptime to get household chores down and even have a little down time. Mama needs baby girl to nap!!! A friend suggested “quiet time.” I tried it for a few days and it worked well. Then, the idea of a quiet time bucket popped into my brain. (Or did one of my sweet friends suggest it? Those days were a blur…I can’t remember!) We bought a big bright blue bucket at Target and I filled it with brand new toys and Color Wonder markers. SG was so excited to use her new stuff- but she could only use it during quiet time. Guess what? After 20-30 minutes of her coloring/reading/playing quietly in her bed, she fell asleep. And we’ve been doing that for a week now and it’s still working. My goal is to switch up the items in the bucket so SG won’t get bored and loose interest in quiet time. Which she now loves, by the way!

At Target in the dollar spot (don’t you just love that section?) I also found a little booklet full of motivation charts. I bought it at the same time I bought the quiet time bucket. Wouldn’t you know SG loves earning stickers and is thrilled to peel them off and stick them on her chart “all by myself.” I came up with 6 categories: Night Night (staying in bed at bedtime), Quiet Time, Morning Waiting for the Cow (the special alarm clock that tells her when she can get out of bed), Eat Breakfast, Eat Lunch, and Eat Dinner. This little chart has also helped motivate SG to eat her food. What a blessing!

It’s not all tough stuff, though. My girl is very sweet. She randomly runs up to me and gives me hugs. She gives kisses just because she wants to. She sings to me. We have tea parties together. She snuggles in my lap before naps and bedtime and I read her favorite books. She “reads” to me. We laugh together. She is my miracle baby and I treasure her beyond belief.

It’s a wonderful and hard time, these toddler years. SG is stretching her wings, growing up, finding her voice (literally!!!), and learning and testing her boundaries. I’m choosing today to dwell on the sweet times and deal with the hard moments as they arrive.

How did you get through the challenges of toddlerhood, my friend? How did you motivate your toddler to stay in bed while making the switch to a big kid bed?

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