Meet Me at My Crib

Friday, September 21, 2012

We've had a challenging week around these parts. It seems that with a 2-year-old, we have good weeks and bad. There are weeks that she is an easy-going, fun-loving, delightful little girl. And then there are weeks when she is a meltdown-having, screaming, uncooperative banshee.

This week, we had the latter. Nearly everything was a battle.

Nora really seemed to be trying to assert her independence this week. She started fighting us on things that are completely routine. Getting in her chair to eat. Washing her hands. Leaving the house. Taking a bath. But the one that was consistently a problem--EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.--was getting her out of bed in the morning.

Yeah. I didn't think we'd be dealing with this until she is in middle school.

But it wasn't that Nora still wanted to sleep. She was awake, and was given the usual amount of time to "wind up" to getting out of her crib to start the day. She just literally did not want to get OUT.

Every morning, we've tried handfuls of different tactics. Distraction. Incentives. Praise. Reverse psychology. Force. None of them were particularly successful. On the days that we removed her from her crib without her consent (so, every morning...after other tricks didn't work), we were faced with a tantrum-throwing mess. One (two?) of the mornings, she stood outside the crib and screamed for 15 minutes.

After another "episode" this morning, I started to really try to think this through. What's her problem all of a sudden? I started thinking about how we managed to solve many of the other freakouts this week. And it was by putting some control in her hands. Or, at least letting her THINK she had some control in her hands.

Fighting us to go into her seat to eat? OK then. We didn't force it. We put her food on the table, and simply said, "OK, Nora. It's OK if you're not hungry. But here's your food on the table. You let us know if you want to get up in your chair and eat it." Sure enough, within two minutes, she would "ask" (nonverbally) to get into her chair. She ate breakfast/dinner without incident. She just needed to feel like it was on her terms.

Thankfully, we had Nora's 2-year pediatrician appointment last week (she weighs 26 lbs. now, by the way!) and our doctor spent the majority of the appointment talking to us about behavior and how best to handle the typical toddler challenges. The way we've been handling our problems this week have been right in line with her advice, and hey... it's worked.


What makes this different? And then something struck me. Maybe she's freaking out because she literally cannot do it herself. Nora cannot get out of bed without us. It sounds kind of ridiculous--and maybe it is, I could be off-base here--but I started to wonder if maybe this is a sign of readiness to make the transition to a toddler bed.

*cue music of DOOM*

I don't know; this is not something I've been in a hurry to do. We don't have another baby on the way, so we don't need the crib. She's not climbing out like a monkey, putting herself in danger. And really, those are the only two reasons I've ever heard someone give for moving their kid to a toddler and/or big kid bed.

Michael and I have talked about it. I've asked some mom friends for opinions. And I don't know... we're tempted to give it a try. I figure it can either go really well, or it can go very badly. And there's only one way to find out. We have a convertible crib, so it seems like the transition would be as easy as it CAN be... it's the same bed, but with a different front on it. Worst case scenario, she FREAKS THE HECK OUT and we can just convert it back to a crib.

But man, I'm scared. Right now, she's contained. When we put her in there, she can't get out. There are no bedtime or naptime battles. When we're being a little lazy on the weekends, she hangs out happily in her crib while we doze a few extra minutes. And in the meantime, we know exactly where she is.

Do we really want to uncage the beast??

The more I think about it, though, the more I see the pros and cons. Nora's just two. She hasn't fully grasped the art of being a complete pain in the ass. :) In other words, she doesn't "stall" bedtime. She's unlikely to get out of bed a million times just because she can (knock on wood). She can't use stalling tactics like asking for a drink of water, saying she wants one more kiss, or one more story. In some ways, it seems like it just *might* be easier to make this transition with a 2-year-old instead of a 2.5- or almost-3-year-old.

Still, I worry about messing with a good thing. But then again, she can't stay in a crib until she's 5. At some point, we have to rip off this band-aid.

Moms, what do you think? How old were your kids when you made this transition? How did you know it was time, or why did you do it? How did it go? Any tips or tricks before we give this a whirl?


basebell6 September 21, 2012 at 9:31 PM  

so what all advice did the pediatrician give that you have been using that works? please share! i need advice! i always want to ask my pediatrician advice for the monster tantrums [which somedays happen 3 per hour] but blaine cries and screams so much at the doctor that not much talking can ever occur. he cries and screams the minute we pull in the parking lots and doesnt let up until we leave. :(

we transitioned to the big bed at 8 months; nora will be fine and love it!! good luck!!!!!!!!

LisaJ September 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM  

We transitioned in August (my son is 5 days younger than Nora) because #2 is on the way in October. Our son LOVES his bed. He can get in and out on his own but often calls for us in the morning or after naps. Bedtime is a piece of cake. Nap time can be hard if he isn't quite ready for nap or tired enough. However he does at least stay in the room....knock on wood that I don't jinx our luck.

One thing that may help is picking bedding of something she really likes. We got Jake and the Neverland Pirates bedding and some Jake stuffed animal. He was so excited about that!

Erin September 21, 2012 at 9:53 PM  

We transitioned right before Annie turned 2 (or right around then?) and it was so easy. Zero problems - and even now she doesn't even get out of bed until we get her. (but she is the one who physically gets out of the bed, we don't lift her out) She lays there awake for a good long time after she wakes up from her nap especially. The only issues we had was that she fell out of bed pretty regularly at first but hasn't for at least 4-5 months now. I say to give it a try!

Nicole September 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM  

Are you familiar with Janet Lansbury's website? Her ideas about parenting and toddlerhood have totally changed my views and my ways for the positive:

Highly recommended- check it out if you have a few minutes.

I'm interested to see what you guys decide and how it goes. Amazing how these little creatures tell us when they're ready for the next thing!

Robin September 22, 2012 at 7:46 AM  

My son is a week younger than Nora... we actually converted his crib a few months ago. We were having trouble with him throwing his panda bear, burp cloths (he uses them like a blankie) and pacifier out of the crib several times a night and then screaming his head off until we would go back in and give them to him. So, we decided to convert his crib. BEST think we have done, and I think its like you said- he just wanted some control. Now, he walks upstairs by himself most nights, climbs into bed by himself and lays down and pretty much goes to sleep and stays asleep. He doesn't get out of bed either, which is so funny. Even in the morning, we hear him awake and give him 20 minutes or so to wake up and he stays in bed until we go up there to get him. I say go for it!

Erin September 22, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

We potty trained before two for all of the reasons concerning transitions with a stubborn toddler you mentioned. We also did the bed switch then as well without issue.

Catherine September 23, 2012 at 3:09 PM  

I guess I am the odd one out, but my son is three months younger than Nora and I have absolutely no plans to move him! Our goal is actually make it until at least this summer. I feel the same way you do - he's not trying to climb out and we aren't expecting #2 at this moment.

I think my son has a similar temperament to Nora, and he is also a bit delayed with talking as well so I think that causes further frustration. I think if we had the same issue as you with the crib, I would ride it out a bit longer before making a big change. My son likes to make a big deal of things for a week or so, and then gets over it. Maybe Nora will do the same?

I'm a first time mom too, so obviously am no expert. But so far I've learned that once you solve one issue (like your crib problem) another one will just crop up. It's like they need something to fight about to prove they are independent and always find something!

Jo September 23, 2012 at 4:31 PM  

We transitioned Riley between 2 and 2.5. We didn't have any major issues. There have been a few times she stayed up reading her books, but rarely ever does that now. We put a safety doorknob cover on so she couldn't open the door on her own and that's been helpful as well.

Good luck with the transition when you make it. We found it just wasn't a big deal... And Riley loved it.

jduda September 23, 2012 at 8:49 PM  

We follow a more Montessori philosophy at home and Eli has always slept on a mattress on the floor from about 3 months on. He is now 17 months old and essentially his room is his "crib." We read him books and lay him down on his floor bed and he falls asleep. If he isn't tired then he plays for a little while and then puts himself to sleep. In the morning he gets up and plays quietly in his room until we go in and get him or he will sometimes bang on the door because he is ready to get out. I think it sounds like Nora wants to be more independent and there are safe ways to set her up so she can be.. so I say go for it.

Susan,  September 24, 2012 at 1:53 PM  

Hi Heather...i'e been following your blog for awhile. I have a two year old daughter born 9.22.10.

We transitioned Genevieve to a twin bed when she was 23 months old. One Friday during nap time she figured out how to climb out of her crib. It was a battle for the rest of the weeekend after that to get her to stay in the crib. By Sunday evening her crib was in the attic and her crib mattress was on the floor. She slept like that for a week until her new bed was delivered. We had planned on transitioning her to a bed after her birthday but she had other plans so we didnt have a bed ready yet! SHe loves it. I was ready to spend some nights with her to help her transition but she didnt seem to need me. We double checked her room again for baby proofing since she would have access to roam and other than that we didnt do anything special. We contemplated getting a video onitor to watch her but we havent even gotten around to that yet. Since you already have one, that might help ease your mind.
I was horrified to have her sleep on the mattress on the floor at first but i actually think it helped!
She as able to easily get out if she needed us and she got used to sleeping without confinements.
WE do use a side rail on her twin bed and we are pretty happy with that.Good luck with whatever you do!

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