Our successful crib to big bed move

How to move a toddler from the crib to a big bed

About 2 weeks ago, I shared my interview with Dr. June Liu on how to successfully move a toddler from the crib to a big bed without the whole family going insane.  

I wanted to share my, "from the front line," story on how we transitioned my kiddo to his bed in 2 nights. Now he's sleeping like a champ and even waiting in his bed for us to get him in the morning. Whew!

To back up a bit and be totally honest, my interview with Dr. Liu was self-serving because my little guy was just itching to make a crib jailbreak. He hadn't done it yet, but I knew it was in the mail. 

I looked online for tips and everything was very vague, not from a Pediatrician or Safety Expert.

I felt just like so many parents do about this transition, I was worried about child safety, but I was also terrified that sleep would become a figment of my imagination and my child would be roaming the halls of our house, climbing into bed with us at all hours of the night. Kiss that REM goodbye!

And let's face it, by the 1.5 - 2.5-year mark, chances are you and your tot only recently got into a solid sleeping rhythm and solidified some routine that translates to a full night of sleep for you.  

You somehow got through those torturous sleep regressions, those never ending molars coming in and just when things were settling down... THUMP/WHOMP/WHAAAAAAAAAA! Your kiddo wants to do a crib escape.

I am right there with you!

Within days of my interview post with Dr. Liu, my little dude swung his leg over his crib railing!

I wanted to do a step-by-step recap our story because even with some curveballs, my son has been sleeping through the night after only 2 nights!

Make sure to download Dr. Liu's tips (that work!) on how to make this move easy-peasy, just click on the button below. 

Last Saturday 1:00pm

After having a blast at the zoo, we left a little late and my dude fell asleep in the car 10 minutes before we got home for his nap (strike #1) and he still hadn't had a proper lunch (strike #2).  To top it off, he's potty training right now, or what I like to call, "Yeah, that's pee you are smelling," phase, so after falling asleep on the ride home, he wet himself in the car seat (strike #3).  

So far, standard issue weekend material here. Nothing shocking. Nothing to worry about.

So I wake little man up, get him changed and he's a complete terror. I don't blame him, he just fell asleep and then I'm poking and prodding him. He does not want to retake his nap.  

As I'm putting him in his crib, just like that, he swings his leg out over the crib railing and looked at me as if to say, "No big thang mom!"  

So it's ON like Donkey Kong. The dreaded crib-to-bed transition is happening NOW.

Saturday 4pm:

After his nap, which was very poor (strike #4) I start to go through Dr. Liu's recommendations for setting our family up for a successful transition.

We have a convertible crib that changes to a toddler bed so I thought making my son part of the conversion process would be fun!  And Dr. Liu was right, he absolutely LOVED helping mommy and daddy remove the side rail (hit #1). He got right into the bed and brought some of his stuffed animals (hit #2).  We talked about being a big boy in a big bed and he seemed really excited and proud (hit #3).

I knew I also had to do another round of childproofing with my son's new potential unsupervised "range". In his room I removed his rocking horse, the rocking chair, checked all the outlet covers, made sure no furniture was close to the window, double checked the door knob protector was working well and did a quick sweep of his changing table baskets to make sure there wasn't anything toxic lying around. For the house, I double checked latch settings on the wide baby gate (we don't have stairs but please make sure you have a hardware mounted stair gate at the top of your stairs!). I made sure the child proof door knob protector was on the front door, checked window guards and made sure nothing toxic was accessible.

My house was already childproofed so this walk-through took 10 minutes tops and made me feel tremendous peace of mind. I highly recommend doing this walk through!

OK, so are you keeping count? We've got 4 strikes and 3 hits. I still thought my odds were good. 

Saturday 7pm (Bedtime)

Because the nap was so poor, my dude had a complete meltdown around 6:30pm. Everything was SOMETHING.

To make it worse, we got out of rhythm and didn't go through our bedtime routine completely (strike #5).

As I tried to get him to go to bed, it just wasn't happening. He would throw a tantrum every time we got even close to the bed. He kept asking to sleep on the ground.

Then I physically placed him in the bed and he lost it completely.  It was clear this new bed just wasn't going to work... tonight.

So I remembered Dr. Liu said that for some anxious children, moving the mattress from the crib out to the floor could be helpful. It worked!  He climbed right on! (hit #4).  He ended up sleeping on the mattress on the floor that night (hit #5)

He rolled off one time but didn't wake up (?!!?).

Throughout the night, he did wake up a few times and was very disoriented with the new set-up, so we took turns comforting him until he went back to sleep. Honestly, I think part of this was that the mattress was in a new orientation in the room. But all-in-all, we probably went in there 4 different times and although no one slept well, he got through the night. 

Sunday 1pm

The next day I was determined to make his bed more comfortable and inviting. It seemed like having the side of the crib removed made him feel exposed. I wanted to recreate the barrier on the missing side plus not have another, "roll off the mattress event," because it would be about a 6 inch drop from his bed frame, so I went and bought a guardrail to fit our toddler bed. 

BUT, I couldn't get to the store until after his first nap as we had playdate plans that I couldn't cancel.

So when my guy went down for his nap, I rushed off to the store to get the guardrail.  My husband laid on the floor with my son as he took his nap on the mattress.  Just like that night, it wasn't a great nap. 

My son's converted crib to bed and lots of friends!

My son's converted crib to bed and lots of friends!

Sunday 3pm:

With a newly purchased guardrail in hand, I used Dr. Liu's advice and made my son a big part of the process of installing the guardrail. He helped as much as a toddler can help on these things and we mainly talked about what we were doing throughout the process.

I kept telling him he was a big boy and he was such a helper to mom!

That being said, it was clear he was struggling with the change. As we attached the guardrail to the crib, he flopped on the ground and said: "I want my crib mommy!"

I'm not gonna lie, I wanted that crib back too because my little baby boy clearly was growing up! My heart sank a little, but just then, he grabbed his favorite stuffed animals and got into the bed to play a little (hit #6)!

Sunday 7pm

That night, we made sure to do every last bit of his routine and that seemed to be a big helper. Pretty easily, he got right into his bed (hit #7) and we comforted him until he went to sleep.

He slept completely through the night and at 7am the next morning, I heard a little voice, "Mommy, come get me!"


It's still early in our transition but it is Wednesday and he's been a rockstar sleeping through the night and staying put in his bed until we get him.  I think a big part of our success is the confidence I gained from following Dr. Liu's amazing tips!  We did the crib to bed transition in two nights! Wowsers!  

You can do it too, swearzies! Share your story below and if this post was helpful, please "like" and share it below.