Parenting Advice: Time to transition to toddler bed?

Our 20 month old son just last night figured how to climb out of his crib (well, climb up one side, fall down the other). Up to this point, he’s always been pretty good at going to bed on his own. We do our bed time routine; read some books, place him in his crib, say goodnight and are out the door. He would then fall asleep, play for a bit and fall asleep or fuss for a bit and fall asleep.

For the past week or so, with a terrible-two temper, he’s been screaming bloody murder when I leave the room. What’s he’s angling for, I’m certain, is for either my wife and I to stay with him and rub his belly or back until he falls asleep (this is something we’ve done very sparingly with trouble sleeping his whole life). As long as the screaming didn’t last too long, we were content to let him scream it out and go to sleep without our help. The idea of laying and comforting him every night isn’t very appealing to us. Now though, with his new found climbing skills, we don’t know what to do.

Any advice out there?

Our only thoughts include making his crib escape proof or moving on to a toddler bed and trying to referberize (I’m not even sure how you do this with a bed). We don’t believe he’s ready for a big boy bed.

Please consider that the Hallkids are much older now (22, 21 and 12), but I recall from when they were young that as soon as they begin climbing out of the crib, the immediately went into a regular twin sized bed. (We usually placed the box spring and mattress on the floor until they got used to it.)

I would highly discourage staying with a child until he/she falls asleep. Hallboy always had difficulty falling alseep, but one trick I learned early on was the magic of Books on Tape (Winnie the Pooh was his favorite). EVERY time Hallboy went to bed (naps included) he would listen to books on tape. Usually by the first half of the book, he was completely asleep. The rules were:

  1. You can listen to the book as long as you are in bed.
  2. You listen to it by yourself.
  3. It only gets played once.

This was only done after the bedtime ritual (bath, teeth, 2 story maximum and light snack), but it seemed to work.

Good luck!

There are net systems you can zip over the top of the crib, but they’ll probably drive him bonkers, and he’ll figure out how to open them soon enough anyway. I think it’s time for a toddler bed.

As for the screaming thing: that don’t play in the WhyHouse. We did three nights of sleep training at 6 *weeks *old, and she’s been able to put herself to sleep ever since. We might hear her for about 90 seconds, but that’s it. I’ve helped a dozen other parents, and all of them were successful in the end, though toddlers are harder than infants. I posted details in another thread about how to do it, let me see if I can find a link.

Ah! Here you go.

My vote would be for the toddler bed, of the given options.

My anecdotal information: I don’t know how my niece was about going to bed, but when she was in her crib, she would wake up in the morning and stand in her crib screaming bloody murder until someone came to get her. When she turned two, she transitioned to a bed, with more or less appropriate lectures on staying in her bed/room at nap time and bed time. (Naptime staying in room has largely been enforced by a babygate at her doorway–I’m not sure that’s a tremendous success story). The true success was in how differently she reacts to waking up in the morning. As soon as she started waking up in her own bed, she would get up, and go wake up her parents with cheer. There have been some speed bumps since then, but she’s much happier in the morning since she can get out of bed on her own.

A bit of a hijack, but it may become useful soon:

When WhyKid started not napping, we changed it to “music time”. I’d tune a clock radio to a soft station and set the “play music before sleep” timer on it for 30 minutes. I told him if he needed to lie still and listen to the music until it turned off, then he could come play with me. 9 times out of 10, he’d fall asleep, but since there was no alarm or timer ring, just the music shutting off, it wouldn’t wake him up. I got some bonus time!

Agreed that with this kid, the net system would drive him bonkers.

We did the sleep training, ferber method, very early and it worked like a charm up to about a week ago. We know he’s trying to manipulate us, that’s why we were content to let him scream until he figured out we weren’t coming. With a bed, though, I guess he’d have to gate him in or close the door and let him scream standing there. I guess I’m just not sure how to get him to stay in a bed and fall asleep. He has very limited language skills so far (he’s a little behind in speaking), so reasoning with him is out.

Do Ferber again. Seriously, he learned it once and now he’s testing you to see how serious you are. (I am assuming, of course, that he has no new physical problem which should be dealt with by a doctor.) Like I said in the linked post, you may have to sacrifice a night or two and just keep putting him in bed, but it *will *work. You just have to make yourself more stubborn than he is. Pick a weekend and devote yourselves to re-training.

Frankly, I think sitting there with no eye contact, putting him back in bed without a word whenever he gets out, is kinder than letting him scream for more than a few minutes.

Also, while he may not be verbal, he’s doubtless understanding more than he’s speaking. But reasoning with *any *toddler is about as useful as hitting your head on a post. Don’t bargain, don’t plead, just tell him how things are going to be. He’ll get to decide these things for himself when he’s older, but right now you have to do it.

Or, if you really feel he isn’t sleepy, you might have to change bedtime. But he can still be trained to stay in his room for a reasonable amount of time before and after bed so you can get the peace and quiet you need. You may not be able to make him sleep, but he CAN stay in his room quietly between the hours of 8PM and 7AM, or whatever you decide is appropriate. Make sure the room is well baby-proofed, of course. It won’t kill him to fall asleep on the floor when he’s tired - but he has to have the self-soothing skills to fall asleep on his own.

Kids change very quickly at that age- very little works “once and for all.” That means (at least it meant with my kids) that they’d go months or even a year or two without waking in the middle of the night, then go through periods when they were restless sleepers again.

I’d agree that the crib days are over. A mattress on the floor prevents falls, or you can get those side rail things for a regular bed if your child is an active sleeper.

I’m not not a child psychologist, but I’d cation against interpreting what your kid is now doing as manipulation. There’s a negative motive implied with that word that may not be warranted.

If your crib mattress can be lowered a bit, you could try that first. Otherwise, I’d go with a big kid bed. We went straight to a twin for our oldest, now 4 1/2. He fell out a couple of times, so we moved the crib right up next to the bed so he couldn’t fall out. He told us when he was ready to try sleeping without the crib right next to him.

We never did Ferber. We did the American Academy of Pediatrics version, with modifications. Let them cry 1 minute, comfort (without taking them out of the bed) for 30 seconds, go in again after 2 minutes, comfort for 30 seconds, etc. until you get to 10 minutes. The AAP recommends never letting them cry for more than 10 minutes because you don’t want them ever to believe that no one will answer them. My husband’s cousin, who’s a pediatrician, says that whenever you try to change a child’s sleep habits, expect 2 nights of hell. I find that’s usually right. We have to retrain our 2-year old occassionally, like when he’s been sick and gotten comforted at night by taking him out to hold him. It always works.

Our 4-year old’s having trouble gong to sleep now. The doctor thinks it’s because he thinks he’s missing something by going to bed. We turn on music for him, which he likes. If he really can’t sleep, he’s allowed to turn on his bedside lamp and look at books or play in bed. The music really helps though.

Here’s a little bit on an update. We started last night with the re-ferberizing. Following WhyNot’s advice, I put him back in bed everytime he got out without a word and avoiding eye contact. It lasted for over an hour and I must have put him back in 60 times. I finally ended up sitting on the end of the bed and he fell asleep at almost 10 pm. He woke up a 3 am and my wife put him back in bed and sat with him until he fell back to sleep. Same thing at 6 am. We feel it’s a little progress, at least we aren’t rubbing his belly/back.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to be in his bed, he just desperately wants someone to stay with him. I was putting him in bed and leaving the room, leaving his door cracked. He’d come out in the hallway and I’d scoop him up and put him back in the bed. I’m thinking that tonight I might try the same but stay in his room (not in his bed). Then each night I’ll sit further and further away.

Thanks everyone for the advice. Aren’t kids grand?