It seems like as soon as you finish teaching toddlers one thing, there’s another milestone or stage you have to tackle! I feel like as soon as we finished potty training, Elliott outgrew her bassinet and we had to jump right into switching Reagan to a toddler bed.
Reagan wasn’t showing any of the signs of being ready to make the transition, but I didn’t want two kids in cribs so we decided to go for it and see what happened. I figured I would give it a shot and if Reagan resisted then we would figure something else out!
We had received a second hand toddler bed from some friends a few weeks earlier and just had it sitting in Reagan’s room while she was still in her crib. Every night we would ask where she wanted to sleep, and she always said her crib haha. Eventually, Elliott outgrew her bassinet and we needed to make the switch, so we moved the crib out of Reagan’s room and told her she was going to sleep in the toddler bed that night.
At first she just wanted to play in the bed, and didn’t grasp the concept of laying down and staying there. She wasn’t trying to play with the toys in her room, she was just intrigued by her new freedom to get out of bed whenever she wanted. The first night she fell asleep behind the door and we had to move her into her bed, but then she stayed there the rest of the night!
Around the second or third night, she was sleeping in her bed no problem but she learned how to open her bedroom door and would come wake us up in the middle of the night. We ordered some child locks on Amazon which successfully kept her in her room, but also stressed her out a lot. She was sleeping really well at night, but naps were not happening during the day and she would climb out of bed almost immediately to bang on the door and cry to be let out.
The first technique I tried was just going into her room every time she got up (every 5 minutes or so) to tuck her back in and tell her it was time to sleep. Sometimes this worked and she would stay in bed, other times she’d fall asleep while banging on the door, but most of the time she just cried and I’d give up and skip her nap. This happened for weeks, and I’d say she was taking a short nap maybe once or twice a week. I was getting so exhausted, and accepting the fact that making the bed transition had ruined her and she’d never nap again.
Determined to not give up completely yet, I started trying some different things to get her to nap! First, I moved her nap time an hour later so she was going down at 1pm instead of 12. This helped tire her out a little more, and was super effective from the beginning! I also started feeding her earlier so it wasn’t lunch time and then immediately nap time, and I let her watch a show in between lunch and nap to help her wind down. When I put her in her room, I was sure to be super quiet in the rest of our apartment. I stopped watching T.V., and if Elliott was awake we would hang out in the master bedroom because it was farther away from Reagan’s room.
The last thing that really helped and that I’m still doing with her is staying in her room until she falls asleep. She doesn’t always need this, and sometimes it isn’t possible because Elliott is awake, but Reagan recently entered a bad separation anxiety phase and leaving her during nap time led to serious panicking and anxiety on her part. I found that if I go in her room and sit in the rocking chair, she falls asleep in 5 minutes or less and stays that way for her whole nap! It’s worth it to me to spend those 5 minutes in her room and have her take a solid nap even though it’s a sleep crutch and probably going to bite me later on (survival mode y’all).
My biggest piece of advice with the toddler bed transition is to not give up! I was SO done on days two and three of no nap that I was ready to drag the crib back into her room and keep Elliott in the small bassinet haha. I’ve found with most parenting things that just sucking it up and sticking it out for a few days is always best because eventually they learn and then everyone is so much happier! It was the same with potty training, sleep training, and picky eating. It was difficult in the thick of things, but I’m so glad I kept up with it! So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel I encourage you to hang in there for a little longer and see what happens!
I hope this post was helpful! Thanks for reading along!