October 30, 2012

the big bed transition

Transitioning Ryann to a 'big girl' bed has been a huge fear of mine for quite some time.  She first attempted to climb out of her crib at 21 months.  But I scared the crap out of her and she didn't try it again for a while.  So we put off the issue.  Then when she started to try and climb out again threatening to take away her sleep friends did the trick.  But with Baby Sister on the way, and no reason to have a three-year-old and an infant both in cribs, it was time to suck it up and get her in a real bed.

post last nap in the crib

About a month ago we ordered the Sleep Buddy training system.  We figured it would be good for when she was out of the crib, and at the time she was waking up butt early and wanting to get up for the day.  So we started before she was ever out of the crib teaching her that the Sleep Buddy indicated sleep time versus wake-up time.

Now the Sleep Buddy isn't cheap.  Just under $40 + shipping.  There are several similar sleep training products that cost a lot less.  But we liked the simplicity of this product.  The parent sets the sleep and wake up times on the under side of the light, there is no clock feature or pictures or anything for the child to look at.  When it is a designated sleep time, the light turns on.  When it is wake up time the light turns off.  You are able to set separate times for night and nap.  Some of the other products we looked at seemed as though it might be difficult for the child to differentiate between the two times.  This was incredibly straight forward.

awake time on top, sleep time on bottom

The Sleep Buddy system also comes with a little story you can read to your child, sort of describing the concept, as well as a rewards chart you can use to encourage staying in bed.  We have never used the rewards chart, but the story was kind of nice.  I think it helped Ryann grasp the idea a little better than us just telling her.  Granted at the time we read it she was still in the crib, and it is geared at actually staying in bed, but it gave her something to go with.

While Ryann was in her crib, we were hoping the light would teach her to be quiet when it was on, and try to go back to sleep.  Yeah, not so much.  She stopped asking for me at 5am, but was still having a party in her crib, which of course equaled me not sleeping.  But nonetheless, she stopped asking for me.  So even if I was just laying in my bed praying that the 23rd round of itsy bitsy spider would be the last, she wasn't needing my attention.  Sometimes as soon as the light would go off she'd stand up and yell to me, "Mommy!  It's wake up time!"  Eventually she stopped waking up so early, so I'm assuming that was just a phase (although her wake-up time does seem to be affected by how much she naps, if only she didn't nap so freaking well... what are you going to do, right?).

playing on her bed after we had it all set up

Well, back to moving her to a big bed.  We were still dragging our feet, so one afternoon I decided we were going to the mattress store and not leaving until we had purchased a new bed.  We found one that we all agreed was comfortable and was in a price range we were willing to pay, and placed our order.  The delivery date was set, October 23rd, and we had our 'deadline' so to speak.  The weekend before the bed was going to be delivered Ryann and I were staying with my parents.  So I thought it might be a good time to give the big girl bed thing a try (while I had someone to help me during the day and save my sanity if she didn't sleep).  They had a mattress on the floor in the room she slept on.  We got all pumped telling her "hooray!  you're big enough to sleep in the big bed!  woohoo!"  "No, I don't wanna.  I'll sleep in the baby bed."

Say what?  That wasn't what I was expecting at all.  For the last couple of months she has been begging to sleep in that bed on the floor.  We finally offer up the goods and she turns me down?  Well that scared me even more.  I was worried she was going to push back on anything involving being big, and try to stay the baby.  We decided not to push the issue and let her sleep in the pack 'n play that weekend (even though she doesn't really fit in the darn thing anymore).  The bed was coming and that was that.  I kept reminding her that her big girl bed was going to be there Tuesday.  We picked out sheets at Target, all that jazz.

Tuesday when the bed came around 4:00 in the afternoon, I tried to get her all excited for Daddy to set it up that night.  She wasn't interested.  When Christopher got home he wasn't sure we should do it.  He didn't want her to be anti the bed and really resist the transition.  But I had my mind made up and if we didn't do it then I knew we'd put it off more and more.  So I made him take down the crib.  Once we got the bed all set up (we just put the boxspring and mattress on the floor) and the sheets on we brought Ryann in her room to show her (we didn't let her watch him taking apart the crib because we thought that would stress her out).  And she was excited :o).  We made a huge deal out of how the bed was just her bed, not mommy's or daddy's or baby sister's.  Told her she could tell everyone about her new big girl bed and how awesome it was.  She started to get pretty pumped.


That night when it was time to go to sleep I could tell she was a little apprehensive.  But she pulled through and surprised the heck out of us.  It was funny to watch her trying to go to sleep, because she didn't know what to do with the sheets (I probably should have just started with a fitted sheet and a blanket...).  We could tell she was frustrated.  But eventually she got settled in, and stayed in her bed all night long.  Well, almost all night anyway.  We knew that she had dropped an animal or two out of the bed before she fell asleep, and when I went to get her in the morning they were back in the bed.  So she must have gotten down to get them.  And she slept in really late for her that first morning (7:30) so I'm guessing she was up in the middle of the night, but I didn't hear her.  Or the bed is just that awesome.  One of the two.

But really the transition has been a breeze.  The second night she sat on the edge of the bed for a while, swinging her legs, considering the possibility of getting out.  I could see the wheels turning while watching her on the monitor.  At one point she stood up on the floor.  I called into her, "Is the sleep buddy on?"  She scrambled right up into the bed and hasn't gotten out again.  And she stays in bed until the sleep buddy light goes off, sometimes after.  She has become pretty obsessed with her bed, always wanting to play on it and sit in there and read books.

love love LOVE having a video monitor so I can spy on her

Even while we were at my parents' house this weekend without the Sleep Buddy Ryann did great, not getting out of the bed until we came back in the room to get her.  So I'm not sure she really needs the Sleep Buddy, but I still think it is a great tool.  It is great for us to be able to reference it if she is having a particularly tough time settling down for bedtime or nap ("Sleep Buddy is on, do you remember what that means?").  It helps her to not have any wiggle room as far as when the appropriate quiet times are.

I love the amount of light the Sleep Buddy puts off.  Not too bright, but enough light to provide some security for those kiddos who might be scared of the dark.  We do still use a second night light in the room, because one morning when hers wasn't on and the Sleep Buddy went off, she freaked out because her room was pitch black.  So something to think about.

I frequently catch her sleeping sideways

Whew, that was a novel!  But I had a couple of requests for info on the sleep buddy and how the big bed transition was going.  Overall?  Way way WAY easier than anticipated.  I hope it stays this way!  I think between the Sleep Buddy, and the fact that she has been sleeping on a cot at MDO (helped teach her boundaries in the bed while she was sleeping) she was prepped for the transition.  So I'm glad we waited.  If you have any other questions about our experience so far ask away!


Baby Shopaholic said...

I have never heard of the sleep buddy! I need to check that out. I was just saying how the baby doesnt know what time it is and wants to get up at 3am! I am about to transition to big girl bed in spring! I hope it goes as easy as yours.

MommaBird.net said...

Thanks for writing this! I was so curious as to how it went.

I have some friends who are transitioning their kids (about 1.5 years old) into a big bed since they had another on the way (which made sense) and other bloggers who transitioned at 18 months. Was feeling like I should be too (my guy is 20 months) but glad to see that you waited until Ryann was almost 3 to do it and it went so well.

And looks like I should get a video monitor

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