This past summer we switched our two-year-old out of her crib and nursery and into a new, big-girl-room complete with a twin size bed. I’d like to say that everything went smoothly and I have with you 5 tips of everything we did right. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as we’d hoped and I have for you more of a what-not-to-do and some of the things we finally did figure out after a season of trial and error.
We were thoughtful in the fact that we wanted to make some of the changes early as we were expecting a new baby. We didn’t anticipate the growing pains that would ensue. Change is very difficult for little ones, it takes time, adjustments, and a little help.
I’m happy to report that we’ve made it. Our little one finally feels at home in her new room. She feels safe and comfortable and now falls asleep easily and stays cozy all night long. My hopes in sharing our trial and errors and what ultimately worked is that maybe your transition will look a little differently than ours. Or maybe we can share a little in the hardship of toddlerhood and changes.
what not to do & what to do
when switching your little to a big bed (& room!)
what not to do: make a bunch of changes at once
I kid you not, in one weekend we moved Ruby out of her crib, into a twin sized bed, into a new room, stopped giving her a bottle to fall asleep, and tried to potty train. I know just reading that sentence you must think we’re idiots, and you’re right, it was a very poor choice. You see, not that it makes it any better, but with Jordan’s crazy schedule and a busy summer, we only had one full weekend. In that weekend we wanted to cram everything on the to-do list.
As you can imagine, it didn’t work out in our favor. And in fact, I’m pretty sure there was a little trauma involved on top of mama expecting a baby.
what to do: slowly incorporate big changes
I think it was a little of expecting a new baby and realizing that our little one was ready for these changes. We realized that she still liked being a baby, she loved her crib, her bottle, and her nursery. It was a big mistake not to ease her into these changes. We decided to take a few steps back and ease up on some of the changes. We already started so many, that we were afraid to take too many steps back and settled in for a tough month. In hindsight, I would have spaced out some of the changes. Dropped the bottle first, then switch to either the new room or bed.
what not to do: jump to a much larger bed
We already had this twin sized bed, so it made sense for us to have Ruby use it instead of getting a toddler bed. She never seemed to feel safe in it on her own. “Sit with me,” she’d say after we said goodnight. And many nights we did, we’d sit right on that pouf until she fell asleep. And then she’d often wake up in the middle of the night and want to come in our room.
what to do: make a smaller jump, or use a DockATot
Since I was pregnant at the time I was using a pregnancy pillow and we all know just how wonderful they are. They surround you, support you, and are incredibly cozy. Ruby would sneak in my pillow any chance that she could. If she was having a particularly tough time falling asleep during nap times she’d ask to sleep in mama’s room. She’d fall asleep almost instantly in my pillow.
My due date was quickly approaching and we were still having trouble with getting Ruby to get to sleep and stay in her room. I decided to look into the DockATot Grand Dock hoping it would have the same effect as my pregnancy pillow. It arrived within a couple days before we went to the hospital.
We opened it the day it arrived and immediately put it on Ruby’s bed and talked up her very own pillow. “My pillow! my pillow!” she exclaimed and jumped in and snuggled right in. It made her feel instantly safe in her own big bed, she had her own little cocoon to keep her snug. That night she went to bed easier than she has before and stayed tucked in all night long. It was a crazy difference, I wish I would have gotten one sooner!
And perfect timing. I was nervous to leave Ruby with my parents, I have never been apart from her at night. I didn’t know how she’d do with all her sleeping troubles. She did just fine at night for the 3 nights we were away.
If you’re reading this and are wondering what a DockATot is, it’s what Ruby is sleeping on in these photos. This Swedish company truly thought of everything to make a wonderful environment for little ones. Check out their mission to provide a comfortable and snug environment for babies. I’m a sucker for anything European, I love how they’ve created a beautiful, luxurious, and practical product for littles.
And I’m a total convert. The quality is remarkable and they’re so incredibly cozy for a little one. It was just what our toddler needed to feel safe in her new big bed. They are designed with comfort in mind.
Recently we had family over and needed to use her bed, so she slept in our room. We just needed to bring over her DockATot and she was able to sleep just fine on the floor next to us. I can see us using this in the future for travel to bring the piece of familiarity and safety with us.
We also have the Deluxe+ for our newborn, you can see her using it in this photo here. We use it mainly as a safe place for her to hangout and take naps during the day. In the very early days when she woke up every hour, I used it in the bed with us. I kept falling asleep while nursing her and that was a little scary. It felt safer to me to have a close and easy place for her to sleep. We mostly keep her in a bassinet by our bed. It was also a nice place for diaper changes in our room in the middle of the night. The raised sides keep them in the same spot.
what not to do: non-structured bedtime routine
We do have a typical bedtime routine, but since we did this switch in the summer, it was a little more relaxed. We were staying out later and Jordan was working odd hours and coming home late. We didn’t quite stick to the normal plan.
what to do: have a solid bedtime routine, especially when making a big change
Repetition is key for young kiddos. Once I realized this wasn’t going to be an easy switch, I began focusing on our routine. We started sacrificing some of those summer activities for bath time, reading books, and prayer. We were very intentional with bed time, calming down before, diffusing lavender, reading a couple extra books.
what not to do: make a sudden change
We made the switch one random weekend when my parents were visiting and we had help. We talked about it beforehand, but didn’t adequately prepare Ruby for such a big change.
what to do: prepare your child
Talk it up! If your child is moving rooms like ours, because of another sibling, just leave that reasoning out. Focus on them growing and needing their own space. We also facetimed family and brought it up her new room in conversations. She started telling everyone about “my room” and it started to sink in that it was her very own space.
what not to do: wing it
I used all of my thought energy on the design and purpose of the room. I didn’t think through how the whole sleeping situation would go. Ruby had been sleeping so well before, we didn’t have a plan for what to do if it didn’t work the way we thought.
what to do: have a game plan
Switching from a crib to a bed that is open is a whole new ball game. It’s important to have a plan on what to do when your little one gets out of bed. We did not have a plan at all and it was not helpful for our toddler. Granted, it also took time to figure out what worked for her. After trying out several different approaches here’s what we settled on:
- Consistent bedtime routine
- bribery (she gets a marshmallow if she stays in bed)
- instead of leaving her room, she can call for us if she needs something
- we try our best to always answer to remind her that she’s not alone
- if she does get out, we take her back in her room and remind her it’s time to sleep
- if she keeps getting up, we continue to pick her up and put her back in her bed without saying anything
- this is exhausting the first night or two, but it worked the best
We have a baby gate on her room and have tried just closing it, but found that didn’t work. Her struggle was not feeling safe and comfortable in her own room, so that just seemed to intensify those emotions. It was best to find ways, like the DockATot, a nightlight, a stuffed animal to calm her down and make her feel at peace in her own room. In the very early days we moved from sitting right next to her to out in the hallway where she could see us.
Some other things that work for us:
- Make their room special:
I worked very hard on creating a space that I knew my daughter would love.
- Don’t make the room overwhelming:
I followed many of the montessori principles and paired down her room so that it could function well. I wanted her to be able to reach things, get out toys and know where to put them back. I’ll share the rest of her bedroom and my intention behind it soon.
- A nightlight & OK to wake lamp
The hatch rest lamp is a new addition, and has been helpful for us in providing structure and a nice reading light.
- Toddler proof the room
It was scary to me to leave her in an open room by herself. I made sure that her room was safe for her to roam and explore on her own.
- Use a lock or baby gate
Similar to above, you’ve created a safe space for them, you don’t want them to be able to roam the rest of the house. We shut the baby gate once Ruby has fallen asleep at night.
- Remember that it takes time
It takes a while to get used to change and form a new habit, be patient with your little one and the process will go much smoother.
It was a long journey, but we’re finally in a place where she is happy in her very own room and sleeping well. I didn’t anticipate that it would take months to get here, but now we know what not to do for the next kid! 😉
How did the switch go in your home? Did you make any of these mistakes as well?
If you’re about to make the switch to a big bed or new room, I hope this helps! And know we’re all in this together!
Thank you, DockATot for providing your Grand Dock and beautiful Lush & Fern cover, so that my little one can feel safe and cozy in her new big girl bedroom. They sent me this product so that I could share my honest review with you. You can check out their docks on their website here & they also have a beautiful Instagram account.