On November 26, two days before his 19 month birthday, Andrew wasn't happy about going to sleep. First, he wanted daddy to put him to bed. Then he didn't want daddy to leave. While he was being upset, he actually got his leg over the rail of the crib and sort of hopped into my arms, but I didn't really think anything of it - I just put him back in and told him "It's night night time." We left him in the crib to see if he would calm himself down better without us there and went downstairs. A few minutes later, we heard a *THUD* and the crying stopped. We ran upstairs as fast as we could, and when we got there, Andrew was knocking on the door from the inside, saying, very calmly, "ummm.... ummm...."
That's right, he had climbed out of his crib. With the mattress on the lowest setting. So that was how I found myself at 10:30 at night, taking the front rail of his crib off to convert it to a toddler bed. Now, this was super exciting as you might imagine, and sleep for the rest of the night was all but nonexistent, especially for Travis, who is on Andrew duty at night.
The next morning, I posted to every parenting forum I frequent looking for advice on how to transition to a big boy bed. Some said get a crib tent to keep him in there. Some said just put him back in the crib - he probably scared himself jumping out. Some said to go to a fun, cartoon character themed toddler bed. Some recommended the twin mattress on the floor approach.
For the second night, we talked a lot about the bed through the evening. Andrew showed me, daddy, and grandparents his big boy bed. He was super excited about the turtle that projects stars on the ceiling (which we haven't been using before).
We did the whole bedtime routine like normal. We went up and initially he just wanted to stand by the bed and play with the turtle. When I started to sing his lullabies, he crawled into bed, slurped on his bottle, and cuddled his blanket. I was like, "YES!" Then after the second song (normal), I said, "Okay, goodni..." and he was up.
I kept the door shut and sat quietly. Occasionally I said things like, "It's time for night night. Why don't you get in your bed now?" in a calm voice. He got mad at me. He wanted to explore and play with every single thing in the room, but while he did it he was crying a growly, angry cry. I only took action when he went to the door and knocked on it or fiddled with the knob. Then I went over, picked him up, said "It's night night time," kissed him on the cheek, and put him back in his bed, which he promptly slid out of. This went on for almost an hour. Then he laid down on the floor next to the hutch and assumed a sleep-like position. He got up twice - once to get his blanket off the bed and once to get his bottle off the bed - and laid back down on the floor in front of the bed. Within 10 minutes, he was asleep. This was all with me sitting quietly in the room.
I waited 10 minutes, then I picked him up and put him in his bed and put his other blanket on him. He stayed asleep.
I went to tell Travis my triumph, and while we were talking we heard a thud, then cry. I ran upstairs. He had fallen out of bed and was laying on the floor whimpering. I put him back in bed (closer to the back rail) and patted his back. He went right back to sleep.
I was up at 2am and heard motion, so I checked the video monitor. Andrew had climbed out of bed (not fallen) and went back to sleep on the floor right in front of his bed. So not too bad of a night.
It so happened that off all times, we were traveling to Phoenix for that weekend, so it's not like we could establish a really strong new pattern before we left. The first night we were at a suites-like hotel (Hyatt House), so Andrew was able to have a "room" of his own. We ordered the pack and play, but I intended to let him sleep in the middle of the king bed that was in there. He didn't want to. He wouldn't settle down, not even on the floor. Eventually, I put him in the pack and play and he slept in there all night. I thought, hey, maybe we'll just put him back into the crib when we get home, and this was all a fluke.
Nap on Thursday happened on an airplane.
Thursday night, we were again in a Hyatt House with the same set up - Andrew with his own room. I put him right into the pack and play, assuming he'd want to sleep the same way. He climbed right out of it. O_o At that point I was pretty convinced that we were never going back to the crib again. So I went in and put him on the king size bed, and laid down on it myself. To my shock and surprise, he laid down with his blanket and bottle , held my hand, and went straight to sleep. He slept on the king bed all night long!
For Friday nap we had moved hotels. This was a standard studio hotel room. I ordered the pack and play but after he climbed out of the one, I took the "mattress" out of it and put it on the floor with some pillows, his blanket and his stuffed toy. I laid on the floor next to his pallet and Travis laid on the floor in another part of the room. We turned all the lights off and drew the curtain. We had quiet time for an hour, but he just wouldn't settle. He napped in the car for about 10 minutes on our way to dinner.
Friday night, we tried the same strategy as the nap, only I was in a bed with Clara, and Travis was on the floor next to Andrew's pallet. Andrew settled pretty quickly, within 10 minutes, and Travis was able to move to the bed for the rest of the night.
Saturday, nap happened on an airplane.
Saturday night we were home again. I moved the crib over by the platform in his room, and I moved the twin mattress Clara has been on so far into his room in the "bed" space. Travis and I laid down in his room with him until he fell asleep. He thought it was SO MUCH FUN that we were there, and took about 45 minutes to settle down. But eventually he fell asleep on the twin mattress on the floor. I could tell by the video monitor that he moved off the mattress (to where?) and then back on to it during the night.
The next day for nap, we were upstairs around 1:30, and he wanted to hang out in his bed with his animals. I asked him if he was ready to nap and he didn't argue, so I got the bottle. I said, "You try to go to sleep or have some quiet time, and I'll be back to check on you." And then I left the room and closed the door. He tried the door knob, but didn't really protest. No crying at all. Within 5 minutes he was cuddled up with his blanket and within 10 minutes more he was asleep. He had to be woken at 5pm.
And then Sunday night, he again seemed ready to hang out in his bed, so I put his jammies on. I asked him if he wanted to go downstairs to read books and see daddy, but he didn't really want to. So I got his bottle and came in the room and closed the door. I asked if he wanted to read a book in his bed, but he was ambivalent. Then he asked me to turn the light off. After a few minutes he came and laid down next to me (I was sitting) on his mattress. I sang him a song, and then said, "okay, goodnight." He got a little upset, but not bad. I told him I was going to leave but I'd be back to check on him if he needed me, then left. He cried and tried to open the door. After about 2-3 minutes of crying he settled and pushed the button on his glo-worm about 8 times. Then he laid down with bottle and blanket and fell asleep on the mattress.
After that, we dismantled the crib and moved it into the master bedroom for Clara to use for awhile, leaving only the twin mattress on the floor in his room. For the first few days, it went pretty much like that - we assured him that we were nearby and would come if he needed anything, and then he would cry for about two minutes before settling down. After that, we got to where we are now.
Sometimes it takes him 10 minutes of listening to glo worm and lighting up his turtle. Sometimes it takes him an hour of wandering around his room, playing, singing, hugging his stuffed toys. But he's sleeping in the big boys bed now and is really proud of it. And I can't believe how grown up it makes him seem.