I’m not an expert at this.
In fact, I would probably caution you against proceeding in the same way. Our daughter is a month away from turning two and we will be due with our second in just four short months.
It was now or never in my mind.
And on Tuesday evening, just 30 minutes before bedtime, with my husband away at softball oblivious, I ran with my crazy thought to take the crib rail off and install the toddler rail.
That folks, is definitely a what not to do. But for us it worked.
At least for the past two days.
Elizabeth helped me unscrew the crib rail and screw in the toddler rail. We played a bit on her bed. I stealth-fully slipped the crib rail into the next room and shut the door. And then we went about our bedtime routine. And when I went to tuck her in, she clung and whimpered.
I had a feeling in that moment that the tools were about to come back out. But then we cuddled a bit more and talked about the bed and few minutes later she climbed on in and let me tuck her in.
Knowing that we were in for a potentially crazy night I just stayed really close. And of course with the newfound freedom she came right to her door within minutes. I opened it, led her back and we talked again about staying in bed. 10 minutes later I intervened when she brought her books into bed. And then she fell asleep.
Transitioning her out of her bed has been on my mind for months. I’ve read countless stories of people making the transition at her age and heard countless tales from families that have waited. The hardest part about the waiting was the cost. I’ve seriously turned into a bit of a miser. Alex would agree. Even though our second crib would be free we still needed to buy another crib mattress ($100) and paint it ($$). I knew by three we would transition Elizabeth out of her crib because she has been pulling her leg up and over the rail for the past few months (although never attempting true escape). All the rigmarole associated with two cribs seemed like a waste of money when we would just have to buy a twin bed in a year and in the back of my head I always wondered if she could do it. I know most people wait because of the “if it’s not broke, don’t change it” mentality.” I totally get that, but it wasn’t enough to sway me!
Our daughter, though she has her strong willed moments, is actually a fairly good listener for her age. She’s pretty mellow and for whatever reason I didn’t think we’d have any issues. In fact I almost dreaded switching things up later. Usually with decisions like this one I think of the worst case scenario. This to me was having to put the crib rail back on in a couple of days if all hell broke loose. It’s just a couple of screws. Didn’t seem like a horrible scenario to me. And that’s why you found me late Tuesday evening unscrewing a crib rail, spontaneously.
For the past few months, Elizabeth has stirred at night looking for her pacifiers. So it was no surprise the first night that she stirred twice in the middle of the night. This was normal. At midnight she was stuck because she was unable to turn around with the crib rail gone. At 3 am a little voice called out “help please, help please, help please” and I ran into her on the floor in the dark searching for her pacifier on the floor. It was comical. I tucked her safely back in bed and she slept until 7:45 and then we heard her doorknob twisting. She hasn’t quite caught on to the “stay in bed until mommy comes” part in the morning but at least she’s contained in her room and cannot escape.
The second night we didn’t hear a peep until 6:15 when we heard a thud and a cry. Somehow she did twist her way out of the bed. Oops. Nothing some cuddles with mommy in her bed couldn’t fix. Both naps have been super successful. She has stayed in bed and remained in bed until she wakes. No playing with toys or anything.
I know fully that this could be early success and we could be in trouble next week. But I also know that she could succeed and be ready for a twin bed next week. In fact, I think if we had a side rail on a twin bed she would actually do better than on a toddler mattress. But we are taking this one day at a time.
In the end I’m thankful, in a way, for my spur of the moment thoughts. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever know what she’s capable of if I never give her the chance to try something.
She may be ready for a big girl bed…but I would have never known until we tried it.
I’ll keep you posted if the crib stays put and everything falls apart:)