From Family Bed to Big Kid Bed, Without Tears!
I was just jolted out of my sleep from a roundhouse kick to the stomach, a soaked diaper inched up under my nose and little hands with razor-sharp nails clawing longingly at my chest. For the past nine years, our bed has resembled a clown car more than a king-size sleigh bed. It has been a revolving door of infants, babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The bed rail and our lack of big comforters are dead giveaways that our bed houses more than just the two adults in the family. We have enjoyed our family bed, but it’s time to move them to their big kid beds!
I have loved having our little ones close. I will never regret our time together, offering them comfort throughout the night and getting extra cuddle time. Thanks to our family’s viking genes, the “babies”, although still young(ish) take up a lot of real estate in our bed. It is time! It is now time for them to sleep in their own beds. They must migrate from the family bed to the big kid bed – and hopefully without tears!
As with most childhood transitions, I seek advice and support from friends who have “been there and done that” and I arm myself with time-tested products. I reached out to my good friend, Melissa Perry. She is the owner and President of The Cradle Coach, in other words – she helps families through sleep transitions. I am SURE my questions and her advice are helpful to other families trying to move their bed-sharing kids from the family bed into their own beds.
[bctt tweet=”Move your #toddler out of the #familybed! Expert help from #VTechBaby and @TheCradleCoach”]
I also outfitted the babies’ room with a state-of-the-art VTech VM343 monitor. (I of course use the term “baby” loosely). I have no doubt that I will be able to hear their cries, but with the video monitor I can make sure they are safely in their beds, and not roaming around – and getting into toddler-trouble.
Q&A With Melissa from the Cradle Coach:
- How do we get the kids to go to bed in their toddler beds – and then STAY in there?
- First of all, set the stage for their big sleep performance. You want their room to mimic yours.
- Shop with your child and have them choose their favorite bed sheets or comforter. Create an environment that they WANT to be apart of.
- Make it dark in their rooms, but if they request for the lights to be on – let them choose a fun dim nightlight.
- Keep the temperature similar to yours – if you use a fan, make sure they have one.
- When siblings share a room and are use to sleeping in a bed with other people, I often put their beds together to make one big bed for the kids to share. They are use to it and can make the transition easier on them.
- Once, their rooms are ready to go, choose a night you want to begin and discuss with your child what is going to be happening that night. Prepare them so they know what’s expected.
- Next, have a plan in place for yourself! I prefer to move slowly as sleep is a process and old habits can’t be broken overnight.
- One common technique we use at The Cradle Coach for a very gentle transition from co-sleeping is the sleep lady sleep shuffle.
- I suggest starting off by bringing their mattresses to the parents room and for three nights have them learn to sleep out of the bed you are in.
- Once three nights have gone, move the mattress to their room and sit in a chair next to them.
- Every three nights you will slowly move farther and father out of the room, until eventually you are sitting outside their door and out of sight.
- If they wake during the night, you will walk them back to their beds and sit back down in the chair at the same place you left it at the start of the night.
- You can incorporate a reward/sticker chart if they sleep in their beds all night for a week – but make sure the reward is something they have been REALLY wanting.
- Also, once you have been able to move out of their rooms, I like to give them a Bedtime Pass – a pass that can be used one time only a night for an extra glass of water, an extra hug from mommy or daddy, or just to be used for an extra tuck in.
- Here is the link to print off your own pass.
- Is it a bad idea for ME to lay down on the floor next to their beds the first few nights?
- No, it’s definitely not a bad idea for you to lay down with your child at the start of the night. If you do, I would suggest starting off in their rooms instead of yours.
- But remember, once three nights have hit, grab a chair and move a few steps away from them.
- They will try and get you to lay down with them – stay strong mama – stay put in that chair.
- What are your best secrets of success?
- It’s easy to put them back in your bed, even for one night. But it doesn’t teach them anything more than you will do it again if they handle themselves that same way.
- It’s all about having your actions reflect what your words are saying. Be consistent and your consistency will pay off in the end.
- Build them up in the day. Celebrate their accomplishments and tell them throughout the day what a big boy/girl they are for sleeping in their own room!!! Encourage them. Be proud of them.
- You are building their confidence each and every night, and hearing that in the day will only make them want to do it again.
- At which age “should” we have transitioned the kids to their beds – to avoid this debacle?
- Ultimately, the earlier you can transition your child into their own room, the better. But that doesn’t work for everyone and that’s ok! If the parents don’t mind bed-sharing, by all means continue on. But if it’s not working for you anymore, create a plan, choose a date, and stick to it – no matter how hard it is.
- This is a process – it will take a good month to really work on the transition. If you don’t have a month and want it to be faster paced, you can always change your approach. There are a bunch of different methods out there, so find what’s best for your child’s personality and your parenting philosophy.
- If you are overwhelmed, we can help!
- In the end, remember that bed-sharing is all your child has ever known so give them time to adjust. Remember to be consistent!!!
Update on our progress!
I am thrilled to report that I sat NEXT to the kids’ beds last night, while they quietly drank their milk and fell asleep. Melissa’s advice gave me the confidence to stick to my guns, since her method is such a sweet and gentle approach.
I captured this adorable picture last night of Jansen (4) and Jonah (2) fast asleep in their big kid beds next to each other. It was great to watch them from a safe distance without having to go in and check on them before they were fast asleep.
Favorite Features of the VTech VM343 Monitor:
- The large 4.3” LCD screen on the VTech’s Safe & Sound VM343 Expandable Digital Video Baby Monitor with Pan & Tilt Camera and Automatic Night Vision allowed me to catch the two little ones in action, transitioning safely to sleep in their own beds.
- The VTech 343 pans up to 270 degrees side-to-side and tilts 120 degrees up and down. This makes it a perfect parent companion when the kids are playing in their room.
- The camera movements are easily controlled from the parent unit.
- The range on the VTech 434 reaches up to 1000 feet, giving parents the freedom to confidently move around the house without losing touch with their babies.
- Through the parent unit, you can speak to your baby, reassuring them that you are on your way when they call.
At what age did you move your kids into their own beds? What is your best tip for other mothers going through this transition?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.