For a child, the transition to a toddler bed can be incredibly scary, and for a parent it can be a very frustrating. It takes ALOT of prayer, patience, and an understanding that change is not going to happen over night.
We began this transition with our little one just over a week ago. We’ve learned alot in this past week about what works and what doesn’t. Our patience has definitely been tested, although it helps to go into the process knowing that it’s not going to be easy at first, but it will get better.
We tried to get her excited about sleeping in her new bed. We bought her a new Frozen blanket to go on her bed and gave her a pillow. She was super excited about her “Elsa-Anna blanket!” The only thing we changed in her room was converting her crib into a toddler bed and adding her new blanket and pillow. We didn’t want to switch rooms or repaint her walls yet in order to cut down on the amount of change happening at one time.
So here’s how it went for us:
NIGHT 1 (Friday):
The first night was surely out of the norm. We went through our normal bedtime routine then layed her down in her bed. She didn’t cry or get out of bed once. She even stayed in her bed the next morning when she woke up. We were so proud of our girl, but we knew that it probably wouldn’t continue to be that easy.
DAY 2 (Saturday):
Our first nap time in the big girl bed was a difficult one, as anticipated. I figured nap time would be more of a challenge than bedtime because it’s light outside so she can see all her toys and want to get up and play. So it was no surprise that she cried and cried the first time we tried to lay her down for a nap. I ended up rocking her to sleep, but once she was asleep she napped for about 3 hours.
Bedtime on Saturday was also a challenge. She cried when we left the room after our bedtime routine so I went back in and sat beside the bed until she fell asleep. However every time I would get up and leave the room she would hear me and start crying all over again. I knew that these first nights would be scary for her so I wanted her to know that Mommy was there for her and that she wasn’t alone. After about an hour of this cycle of getting her back to sleep, trying to leave, and her waking up again and crying, we decided what we were doing wasn’t working. She ended up laying in the floor by the door and crying herself to sleep. We tried a couple times to move her from the floor to the bed but she would wake up and start crying again. She ended up sleeping in the floor all night.
DAY 3 (Sunday):
Nap time on Sunday was easy. She fell asleep on the way home from church and took about a 2 hour nap.
That night at bedtime we decided to try the back-to-bed method as taught by Supernanny. We watched her on the monitor and every time she would get out of bed one of us would go back in, direct her back to bed and tuck her back in. At first she cried but eventually she got tired and began to understand that she was supposed to stay in bed. As soon as she’d hear the door open she’d run back to bed and climb in (it was actually kinda hysterical and made it hard to keep a straight face.) After about 45 minutes she finally gave up and fell asleep.
DAY 4 (Monday):
She fell asleep in the car on the way home from lunch and stayed asleep when I layed her down. She slept for 4 hours that day!
Bedtime went better that night. We used the back-to-bed method again and was asleep after about 20 minutes.
DAY 5 (Tuesday):
Both nap time and bedtime on day 5 were a struggle. I tried the back-to-bed method for about an hour at nap time. She was becoming increasingly frustrated and I saw no end in sight so I ended up rocking her to sleep.
At bedtime we tried for 40 minutes before she finally decided to give up and fall asleep. This day was especially frustrating because David was at work during the day and then class that night so I was doing it all myself. It wasn’t just sleep time that was difficult – it just seemed to be a day where every single move she made was to test my limits and my patience was wearing very thin by the end of the night. By the time she fell asleep I was in tears and just crashed in the bed before David even got home from class. (BTW, I don’t know how single moms or military wives who have to do these things by themselves every single day do it. I have a ton of respect and admiration for you guys.)
DAYS 6-8 (Wed-Fri):
I worked these 3 days which meant she was with my mom all day, so she took her naps at Mimi’s house. Bedtime though was a complete turnaround! Each night she got out of bed once, stood there for about 30 seconds, then climbed back in and fell asleep. We didn’t have to go back in once. We were super proud of our big girl!
However, at some point during the night she is getting out of bed and sleeping on the floor somewhere in her room. We feel like at this point she will eventually learn that the bed is more comfortable than the floor and stay in bed all night.
A FEW TIPS (I am by no means an expert, these are just a few things we’ve learned/read about)
- Get them excited. Get them a new blanket, stuffed animal, pillow, etc. that they can sleep with to get them excited about sleeping in their new bed.
- Praise them. Give them tons of praise and tell them how proud of them you are. Maybe even make them a special breakfast in the morning when they wake up in their new bed.
- Talk about the bed. Remind them how comfy the new bed is. We’ve been trying to do this with Raley. She’ll randomly say “Comfy in my bed” and she wants to tell everyone she sees about her “Elsa-Anna blanket in my bed.”
- Make a plan. Come up with a plan and stick with it. You and your partner need to be on the same page so that little one doesn’t get confused.
- Patience, Patience, Patience. You will need tons of this. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a breather. It doesn’t help things if you are taking out your frustration on your child. They need to know that you mean what you say, but also that you love them and that you are there for them, therefore you must try and stay calm.
- Don’t forget to pray. This is most important. When you feel hopeless or upset, turn it over to God. He will guide your hand and help you through. I feel like I’m constantly praying for patience, understanding and guidance these days. There is a comfort you gain when you know He is watching over you and your family.
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The Bedtime Struggle: Update (How we broke Raley’s “getting out of bed” habit)