All of our children have graduated from a crib to a regular bed (albeit lowered a bit) around 18 months of age. I was delaying doing so with R, as she is the first toddler I’ve had to train who didn’t have a room of her own. She had other plans, however, and around 18 months, she learned how to climb out of the crib. A few scoldings later, and we compromised with her staying in the crib…..most of the time. I knew I had no choice. If I was going to be hanging around outside her door anyway, I might as well be training her to a big girl bed–of sorts.
There was only one problem…I didn’t have a bed to move her into. Since we are moving next year, I decided to delay a bed purchase until after we moved. Which left me having no choice but to convert her crib into a toddler bed of sorts by removing the front rail. It worked like a charm. Amazingly, after the conversion, she hardly ever gets up without permission. It’s as though she knows she CAN escape if she wants, and she is happy with that, so she stays put! Go figure. I should have done it 2 months ago!
So now, for the first time, I am officially done with cribs, and have no idea if I will ever use one again. This is the first time in 7 years that I’ve had a 19 month old, and no pregnancy or pending adoption foretelling of a new babe to come. Totally bittersweet!
As a side note, I often get asked how we train our children to a bed so young. Here’s how:
First we move them to their bed in the middle of the day (usually afternoon so their first time in it is at night). We make a big, excited deal about it, put them in it, and talk about it. Then, if they want to play for awhile on it, they can, if not, that’s fine too. I don’t really worry about it again until bedtime that eve. Then, at bedtime, we follow their normal routine, lay them in bed, put their covers over them, and walk away–just like we do when they are in a crib. Then, unbeknownst to them, one of us stands outside the door peeking in for a while. As soon as their feet hit the floor, we quietly and calmly walk in, pick them up, and place them back in bed. I have only had to do this a handful of times with R, but some of my other children were 10 times an evening for a week or more. The key is to give no reward. We don’t hold, cuddle, or converse. If we say anything, it’s something simple like “Go night-night.” Then we repeat the process until it is clear they are done trying to escape. After about a week, we will progress to actual discipline if necessary. Most of our children haven’t required too much of that step though, as they figured out pretty quickly that there is no fun gained from getting up. For the record, we go through the same steps at nap times, but naps can be a bit more of a challenge since there is often more light coming in the windows. Committing to hang around outside the door and act immediately seems to be the key. I guess they just begin either to assume that you are watching, or that you have some 6th sense and just know when they get up. Then, they just quit getting up. At least that’s essentially what my kiddos did, though some just took a bit longer than others.
When they wake up after nap or in the morning, they are free to get up and play in their room (which has been child-proofed), but they may NOT come out of their room, lest they wake everyone in the house at 4 a.m. Typically a simple baby gate or latched door will ensure this.
It’s really simple as that. It can be a trying time, depending on how obedient you have taught your children to be by this point, but it has worked for us for 5 kids, and I love being able to let the toddlers feel like their big brothers and sister. It also allows a lot more flexibility when staying with others or in a hotel! No porta-crib needed!