Making the Switch: Leaving the Crib Behind

If you’ve been following my posts or Facebook, you’ve probably gleaned that NR is no longer in a crib.  I want to share how we came to the decision to leave the crib behind and hopefully it will help if you’re thinking about making the switch, too.
Nora's Bed Today
A lot of people say that when your kid starts climbing out of their crib you know it’s time to make the switch.  For us there are two major flaws with this logic.  First, NR is a good sleeper and a mild child.  I think if we waited for her to climb out of the crib we’d be waiting till she was four.  Second, I didn’t feel like risking a serious fall was the best idea.  Seriously, waiting for climbing is like saying, “when your kid shimmies up the sides, takes a head dive from the top, gets a foot stuck in the rails, breaks a leg and busts their head open, you’ll know it’s time”.  No thanks.  I’d like to make the switch pre-hospital visit. 
Here are two readiness signs that helped us make the decision:
1.       She slept well in her crib.  She put herself back to sleep easily and rarely needed us in the night.  This implied that she would stay in bed instead of getting up and getting us every time she woke in the night.

2.       She played in her crib.  We would often check the video monitor and find her playing in her bed in the morning before hollering for us to come get her.  This made me see that she was growing out of being a baby and was beginning to act instead of react to her situations and surroundings.
We made the jump when we moved.  I know, experts say to stick to one traumatic event at a time, but it just seemed the perfect opportunity.  She was going to have to adjust to the new place, why not adjust to a new bed at the same time?  It would save her just getting used to our new house and then having to adjust to something else new.  The first day we set up her room complete with her new bed.  Then we let her sleep in her pack n play in the middle of the room that night.  She was very out of sorts all of moving day (she was about 12 1/2 months at the time) so I thought a familiar sleep place might help that first night.  Then, the next day we started naps and sleeping in the bed.  We were very blessed and she did great. 
NR just before waking from her first night in her big girl bed.
Part of the reason she did great was that we did not put her in a toddler bed.  We put her straight into a twin bed.  It is low enough she could climb into it by herself and while she could climb down, too, it was no easy feat.  I think this helped her stay in bed those first days.  Now, at 14 ½ months she can climb up and down easily, but she knows she needs to stay in bed.  We have some troubles keeping her in bed at nap time if she’s not particularly tired and have found her on her bedroom floor a couple times (not from falling, from climbing down to play and then falling asleep), but overall she does well.
We skipped the toddler bed because we found it to be an unnecessary expense that only lasts a short time.  Zach and I didn’t die from going straight to a twin bed, so she probably wouldn’t either.  Toddler beds do provide a level of security that a twin bed doesn’t, though, since it’s short like a crib.  At first we found NR all over the bed, even over on the edge sometimes.  Then, I put a heavy memory foam pillow at her feet and it worked wonders.  Now she doesn’t end up at the bottom or the edges because the pillow gives her the illusion of a boundary. (see the pic at top)  So I’m not anti-toddler bed.  They are a fine idea (especially if you already have one).  But I also don’t think they are a necessity for successful toddler sleep.
Cognitively, I think 12 ½ months was great because NR wasn’t pushing boundaries just yet.  She accepted the bed as a good thing because Mommy and Daddy put her there.
On a personal level, I feel that we as a society make our babies stay babies too long.  We often read and are told all the things a child isn’t ready for or shouldn’t do and just take it as gospel truth.   I believe in looking at NR and seeing her potential, the things she’s on the cusp of doing and what she CAN do if I just let her.  Sure, it means some falls and bumps and bruises.  But it also means greater triumphs.  It also means an independent, resilient kid who’s not afraid of the world.  There’s a delicate balance to find between babying our kids and making them grow up too quickly, but I think it’s worth working to find the balance.  If you feel this way, too, I recommend checking out Free Range Kids.  I agree with a lot of what she says and how our laws and society are actually oppressing our kids (and parents) in the name of safety.  Progress is good.  We know to put our kids in car seats, to sleep on their backs and about diseases that used to get kids written off as “bad”.  Some things make everyone’s Mommy Nerve twitch—a big dog, swimming pools, stairs and glass top coffee tables—but we need to teach our kids how to safely handle these situations, not shield them from them.  I know, my toddler is too young to handle some of those, but she’s old enough to learn to hold Mommy’s hand in the store, not to pull the dog’s tail or the cat’s ears and practice eating with a spoon.  OK, I’ll get off my soapbox.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about what we have done or how we’ve dealt with hurdles, hit me up in the comments!  Is anyone considering making the switch?  What big feats are your amazing kids working on?  Anyone else out there trying to raise a Free Range Kid?


Krista said...

I love Lenore Skenazy, she's such a level-headed writer. I don't think it's ever too early to read her book or blog and start thinking about how you're going to prepare yourself for the later years. The little things you do when your kids are babies and toddlers will play a role in how they grow up and see the world.

I also don't think it's too late to read her stuff and decide that your kids are too bubble wrapped. I'll be raising our boys to be pretty free range.

Zach and Joy said...

Krista, I actually first found Lenore as a link on the sidebar of the playdatecrashers. So glad there are like-minded Mommies out there...hopefully there will be more and more of us so we and our kids won't have to deal with some of the things parents and kids do now!