Thoughts on The Toddler Bed Transition

Arthur’s first night in a toddler bed. After hour(s?) of screaming. :(

When we moved to Indiana, we put Arthur in a toddler bed. Which is something no one is supposed to do. ever. For a good reason. Moving is hard and scary for all involved and it’s even harder and scarier when you move to a place where you don’t get to sleep in a familiar bed.

Unfortunately, we didn’t figure all of this out until Arthur had been in his toddler bed for about a week and Lucy had finished adjusting to the crib. So, we couldn’t go back.

Arthur could not fall asleep. Our usually chipper boy who would almost put himself to bed suddenly became a screaming terror at naptimes and bedtimes. Naps stopped abruptly. We couldn’t get him to calm down and sleep unless I was running and pushing him and Lucy in the stroller. (Good for my body, bad for his sleep habits.) Our strategy had been to keep our normal bedtime routine (brush teeth, read books, pray, sing) and kiss him and leave. After which he would now scream and cry and pound on the door. We would hold the door closed and try to console him.

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We tried appeasement by giving in to all demands for water, potty, pretzels etc. That didn’t work. We tried holding our ground. That was even worse.

Then, last night, while listening to him scream another night and agonizing over it, I remembered my dad telling my siblings and I stories when I was a kid. At bedtime, he would sit in our rooms, in the dark and tell us stories that he would make up. As I remembered this strategy, I felt prompted to try it, so I walked into Arthur’s room and tucked him in and sat at his bed telling him stories about Arthur and Lucy. He was exhausted and dropped off rather quickly.

So, really, what I’ve learned through this transition adventure is that toddler bedtime routines might need to be different than baby bedtime routines. They might require more compassion and more time. The thing about cribs is that they confine babies, so really the baby/toddler can play until they pass out. But, toddler beds expand the area the child can roam in to the entire room and that is too big (for Arthur). I realized that in order to have success with this transition, we needed to teach him (again? or in more depth?) how to settle down and fall asleep.

It’s day two and he actually was able to calm down enough to nap this afternoon, not very long, but it was huge progress. We don’t have everything figured out, but progress means something. 

(The only problem now is that he sleep-walks out of his room?! Multiple times a night. Any tips on this?)

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