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I'm a Big Kid Now

Saying goodbye to the crib is indeed a rite of passage. Chari asks:

How do you choose the first bed for a toddler? We're starting to transition Miles from his crib to a bed. Has anyone done any research and/or heard about what kinds of mattresses are good or bad for toddlers? We are thinking we'll put him in a bed by the summer or fall. Just starting to do some shopping. What I've found is HUGE prices differences, and a range from super firm to plush and soft mattresses. What's best for a first bed for a little one?

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Just found this through the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas. We bought our son a toddler bed at KMart for just about $50. Since we're expecting our second child, we know it will be used twice and thought transitioning to a toddler bed would be easier than a twin. We just used to same crib mattress he's had all along (we'll buy a new one for our second child) and popped it into the toddler bed. The transition has gone pretty well.

We moved when Kate was about 2 and left the crib behind and she slept on the crib mattress on the floor. At about 2 1/2 we bought her a twin bed and both transitions have gone surprisingly well. She's rolled out of the twin bed a couple of times, but it's on a short frame with a bunkie board rather than a box spring, so she didn't roll far. It's a lot easier to cuddle and read books on a twin than a crib mattress. We bought the twin mattress with the idea that it would possibly be used by guests, so it's nice & comfy but not expensive, I don't think it matters whether it's a specific brand or specific softness.

We knew we were going to have another kid, so when it was time for the big bed, we got a bunk bed. Most of the stuff we saw was either junk or super expensive, which left one alternative: IKEA!

We found a nice, simple, all wood bunk bed there. We did not get the Ikea mattresses, though. We decided on futons instead, which we got at that place on Broadway...Cotton Cloud? We didn't do any research about this, other than sleeping on a good futon ourselves for the last 15 years. Also, we knew that the world of regular mattresses is fraught with difficulties, expense, and beds that are not what they seem after a few years. The twin-size futons fit perfectly in the Ikea bunk bed, have worked great and are really comfortable.

The kids are 3 and 6 now and love their bunk bed. (And even if we'd stuck with one child, I think we still would have gotten a bunk bed, for sleep-overs and other guests).

Here's my question:
Our 21 month old will sometimes wake in his crib and babble and mess around for a while, and then fall back to sleep. It's not a problem for us, of course, because he can't get out of bed. Did anyone find that once their toddler was in the toddler or other big-kid bed, the magical 12 hour night of sleep was gone forever? How will I know if he's ready to understand the concept of "go back to bed?" Trial and error, or is there a generally accepted age?

I want to get the transition timing right so he won't feel even more put out when baby #2 takes over the crib.

I would skip the toddler bed...we did one because my daughter's crib converted but ended up with a twin bed quickly...even with small railing she fell out alot.(did not get hurt but would startle her enough to cause her to cry and wake up) We then bought a twin bed and used a mattress and boxspring we had for guests. We did buy rails (I did research get ones that go on both sides for safety reasons) and used them for about 6 months.(you need to have a mattress and boxspring to use rails) We found that the extra room in the twin bed gave her lots of room to move around and she never fell out. I think since toddlers are so light the type of mattress is not that important but if you buy a good one it will probably last throughout childhood and into the teenage years. As far as getting up after transistioning we did it around 20 months (our daughter was climbing out of her crib at 1) and even though I was anxious she would get up alot that did not happen. I think if the child is a good sleeper who puts them self back to sleep in a crib they will do the same in a bed. We did put up a baby gate at her doorway for a while because I was concerned about her getting to the stairs if she woke up at night and did not come straight to our room. And we continued to use a monitor so I would be able to hear her if she did get up.

Betsy, our 2.5 year old was sleeping through the night (with us) when we transitioned him to the bottom bunk. For the first several months in his own bed, he would wake in the night and get into our bed again. It didn't bother me, as long as he went right back to sleep (which he did). And after awhile, he just started sleeping through the night in his own bed.

I think you've got to expect a certain amount of transition time, but the thing to remember is that your kid will "get it" eventually; it just may take some time. My younger son (3) just recently stopped getting out of the bottom bunk at 3am and is now happily sleeping all night there. For me, the important thing was that my sleep was interrupted as little as possible. So I didn't care where he went when he woke up, as long as he went back to sleep for the rest of the night. A parent whose priority is getting a child to stay in his own bed when he wakes up might have to be willing to get up through the night repeatedly to ensure that.

Our son sleeps far better in his crib than he did with us (we co-slept for about 4 months when he was an infant). In fact, he's such an independent sleeper that I know he's really sick when he falls asleep in my arms. I don't know if climbing into our bed to go back to sleep would appeal to him, but playing with his books and rambling around the room sure might. Thanks for the insight!

Ha ha, playing with books and rambling around the room is exactly what my boys do before they fall asleep at night! And as long as they stay in the room, I let 'em read and ramble...

We turned our 17 month old's crib into the toddler bed, using the same matress to get ready for baby #2 who will be here when she is 22 months. It took her about three weeks to "get it" and she really loves it. I agree, you have to have patience and a good, no talking technique to put them back into bed at first. She messes around in there before bed sometimes, but isn't tall enough to open the doors yet herself. Ha ha. As long as she's in there and not crying, I try not to care, she'll go to sleep eventually.

I'm so glad to read all these suggestions! Getting the boys out of their cribs is my next step with them and, as usual, there's something relevant here. Thanks all.

I'm shopping around for a big-girl bed for our almost 3-year-old too. She's been sleeping in her crib-turned-toddler-bed but baby #2 is due in Oct. and we want to use the crib for him/her.

We've decided to splurge on something she'll use through her teenage years, with a trundle for sleepovers. We're also hoping to splurge on the mattress. I'm pretty worried about formaldehyde and other gasses that get emitted from traditional mattresses. There are plenty of reports about the dangers. The alternatives are cotton/wool/natural latex mattresses. My husband and I sleep on one from European Sleepworks (based in Berkeley, CA) and love it and feel good about it. We want the same for our kids. However, I don't know if there are issues because they're NOT covered in fire-retardant chemicals. I don't want to break any laws and I don't want to put her at risk. So, we're looking into it and looking for a store in the portland area with mattresses we can try out. If anyone has any insight, please let me know!

I think splurging for a trundle/day bed is a great idea, I've actually seen quite a few nice ones on Craigslist. I wasn't aware of the chemicals in traditional mattresses, though I'm not surprised by it. Since you'll probably have to use a waterproof mattress pad anyway, maybe you can find one of those hypoallergenic mattress covers that will at least reduce the off-gassing?

The off gasses in mattresses and even flame-retardant clothes is so scary. Check out this web site if you want to know more.

http://www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden/

The paper I worked at did a big story on this about a year ago that woke me up big time. Apparantly, these chemicles are even in our breast milk now. The question is, how much is too much? No one seems to know. But I figure if I'm going to the trouble to feed my daughter organic food, etc., I shouldn't skimp on the thing she's going to lay her whole body on for as many hours as she's awake.

I looked into it more and many of these mattresses are covered in wool, which makes them naturally flame retardant. Also, I've seen wool mattress covers that are designed to keep moisture from penetrating. So, I'll probably get one of those too. Here's a link to two places that have a variety of natural mattresses in case anyone is interested. There a bit more expensive than traditional mattresses, but not by much. At least not for the premium ones I've seen.
http://www.earthsake.com/mattress.html
http://www.ecomattress.com/

Sorry to take so long to reply. I did end up with the one with the innerspring and find it to be very comfortable (yes I spend a lot of time on it myself!). We had a standard mattress that came with the crib for a couple of weeks and when the organic mattress finally arrived I was amazed at the difference. It is very comfortable.

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