Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Transitioning Walker to a Big-Boy Bed | How We Did It

When we found out I was pregnant with Baby #2, we knew immediately that Walker would move to our guest room and Baby #2 would use the nursery that Walker was currently occupying. 

It was easier for us to move Walker than to take down a crib, move the parts next door, and put it back together again, along with moving all of the 5,001 necessary baby things. In addition, I knew I didn't want to transition Walker once the baby was here, because having a baby is such a huge transition anyway, and I was afraid to throw one more thing in the mix for him by moving rooms and transitioning to a big-boy bed. {And selfishly I didn't want two babies up in the middle of the night if I could help it.}

So, rather soon after we told our families we were expecting, we began the arduous process of moving Walker next door to his new room. I say "arduous" because it was so many steps and definitely not the immediate result I was wanting -- cue the nesting instinct! 

The first thing we did was sell and/or store the furniture we had in our guest room. Once that was completely cleared out and the room was cleaned, we started purchasing the big-ticket items for Walker's big-boy room: mattress, box springs, headboard and bedding. During this entire time, we were explaining to Walker exactly what we were doing: moving him to his fun, new room so the baby could have his old room. We explained that babies sleep in cribs and big boys sleep in big-boy beds, and we had him go along with us for every purchase we made in-store -- and made the biggest deal about what we bought. 

During the month or so we were getting his room ready, he slept in his nursery, but we would go in his new room to play, sit on the bed, etc. Again, we made the biggest deal about this new room and how cool it was: pointing out the airplanes everywhere, crawling around on his bed, and showing him all the nooks and crannies. 

Once the room was finally done, we started transitioning him to the big-boy bed with a nap. We explained that he was saying "bye bye" to the baby bed and "hello" to the new big-boy bed. We started referring to his room as "Walker's room" and the baby's room as "Baby ____'s room," and that was that. The nursery was no longer his. 

So, the first time he slept in his bed was for a nap. We read a few books in the bed, I turned on his sound machine, kissed him and walked out the door. And let me tell you: it was pure torture for both us. He hated that bed, refused to nap and cried for a good 30 minutes before passing out facing the opposite way…and slept for about 35 minutes. 

All of that to say, I wasn't letting the fact that he hated it and barely slept at nap time keep us from having him sleep in the bed that night. So, we hyped it up all during bath time and then did our nightly routine that we did when he was still sleeping in his crib -- except we read a book in his bed together as opposed to in the rocking chair and then laying him in the crib. That night, we started our rules {that we still recite every night to this day}: 

{1} No getting out of bed unless there's an emergency.
{2} No yelling for Mommy or Daddy unless something is wrong.
{3} Wait until the light on the Toddler Wake Clock turns green to get out of bed.
*If he follows these three rules, he gets a sticker in the morning.  

That night? Awful. He got out of bed, tried to get out of his door {and had a meltdown when he realized he couldn't open it due to the childproof door guard we placed on the inside} and yelled out for us. Once he was finally asleep, I was up half the night checking on him on the monitor. 

But we pressed on and tried again. He slept in his big-boy room for a nap the next day with slightly less fit-throwing than the day before, and the same goes for that night. And after the third day? He was totally fine and transitioned wonderfully! There are still nights that he wakes up and tries to play with his toys; get up and get out of his room; or is awake before 7 a.m. But overall, it was a smooth transition -- much smoother than what I was preparing myself for. 

A few things I think helped us? 

{1} We transitioned him before the baby arrived to help limit the trauma of so many changes at once. 

{2} We transitioned him when we knew we'd be home for a few weeks/weekends in a row so as to not mess up the process. 

{3} We started the "rules" {mentioned above} and reiterate those every single night. So much so that he can recite them with us, which is hilarious. 

{4} We purchased the Toddler Wake Clock. Seriously, that is the best money I have ever spent. Basically, it's a funny-looking clock that has a yellow nightlight that glows when you activate it, but the parents can set the time that it's okay for the child to wake up. When the clock strikes that time, the clock turns green. We tell Walker that once it turns green {7 a.m.}, Mommy or Daddy will come in his room and get him out of bed. But until it turns green -- whether he's awake or not -- he must stay in his bed. 99% of the time, he follows this rule! #allthepraisehandemojis 

{5} We started the sticker system. We know that Walker loves stickers, so we used them as motivation. If he follows the rules, he gets a sticker the next morning. If he yells out, or gets out of bed to try to open the door or play…no sticker. And it totally irks him in the morning, but 9 times out of 10, he does better that night in order to get a sticker the next morning. 

The thing that you have to know about me and this process is that it was rather the "cold turkey" approach. I'm pretty much an all-or-nothing type person, so once we got started, there was no looking back. Please understand that this is our take on the matter and we are still learning something new every day. What may work for us may not work for you, but this is what worked best for us. 

My crib transition necessities: 


  1. Seems like a very successful transition! Props to you for getting this out of the way before baby! I'll have to save this post for the future, that clock seems awesome!

  2. We are in the throws of the transition to big girl bed. We put a twin bed in the playroom as a daybed and then a twin bed in her room. She has slept in the playroom without a problem since Thanksgiving. I am terrified to try to put her back in her room. You are giving me hope that I can rip off the band-aid and do it!

  3. I think playing up the fact that they are getting a "big boy" bed really helps them get excited about the transition. We also purchased all new bedding that our boys helped pick out so I think that added to the excitement as well. Glad he's now happy in his big boy bed!