Time for a Big Kid Bed?

Healthy Little Sleepers

So, I have a confession to make.... My recently posted piece on how to stop a crib climber may not be so simple. I was able to stop my daughter from climbing during her twos, but threes ... well, she was really just ready for a big kid bed after all. After I posted on how to stop my daughter for climbing, my little monkey started climbing new heights!! The perfect night with no coming out at all was followed by lots of jack n' the boxes! So, I decided to add the sleep to wake clock. We also got in a little bit of a habit over winter break where she woke up in the morning and started coming out of her room and climbing into my bed. Usually, I'm already up in the morning, but I decided not to get up and get ready before them to give myself and little more r + r in the morning too. On top of that, she was actually waking and coming into my room at an acceptable hour (6:45am), so I wasn't opposed to the situation. Until...

School started! She continued to come into my room super early, and by the 2nd week in, there was one time it was 4:00am! Oh crap... what have I done! I created my own little sleep monster! So, there I was now doing silent return in the morning too... she was just not getting the sleep to wake clock. It was starting to dawn on me that I needed to put together my own real sleep plan with all the bells and whistles for her. She used to never come out at night when going to bed, even when she could climb out. And now she's doing that and waking up early too! I really needed to be my own specialist here.  So, I actually sat down and wrote out a plan... for ME! I needed to tell myself what to do... you know, all the if this, then that. 

The more I thought about it, she really just was ready for a big kid bed, so that's what we did! I'm so sad that my baby is not a baby anymore (even though she will always be). This clearly wasn't one of those moments where you wished they were older already... this was finally one of those don't grow up moments (heavy sigh). So, here's where I was shocked... I asked my son (almost 5) if he wanted Olivia to sleep in his room. And he said, "yes, let's bring in the crib". I said, "Well, not the crib, I was thinking she was ready for a bed and that we need to buy her a bed". I told him we have an extra full mattress in our storage closet. He wanted to see it immediately... it was really cute. So, I told him which closet to look in, and he was off. 

I continued making dinner, and Tyler was doing something in his room. He comes out and says, "Mommy, I moved the big monkey!" I just said, "Oh great! Where's the monkey; Is he hiding?" (thinking he was doing a hide + seek game). He says, "I moved him on the other side of the room, and I moved all my toys out of the way to make room for Olivia's bed". Ummm, heart melt. This is all really new love expressed for his sister. He, for the most part of her first 3 years, did not want to play with her or have much to do with her. 

Tyler wanted me to take out the mattress immediately, but I told him we needed to get sheets first. So, we asked Olivia what kind of sheets, comforter, and pillows she wanted for her big girl bed. Pink. Pink. Pink. (I could have predicted that). So, I showed her some options online that included: rainbows, fairies, butterflies, hearts... "RAINBOWS!" she squealed so excitingly. And off we went the next day to get her rainbows.

To set the stage, we put our sleep rules together, talked about the importance of sleep, and what is going to happen if anyone comes out of the room. I knew this was going to take some time to come together, as sharing a room can be lots of fun! My goal was to have them in bed each night by 6pm since I knew there was going to be lots of excitment.

Night 1 - Bedtime routine done... rules discussed ... and off I went and closed the door behind me at 6:00pm. I sat next to the monitor like it was a TV show! They put on a really good one actually. I was laughing so hard. For all the Lights Out = No Talking we discussed and Tyler repeatedly telling Olivia this rule ALL DAY LONG, Tyler got out of his bed and decided he was her protector and showed her where the rules were and went over them with her. She just sat quietly in her bed starring at him. Fifteen minutes later I went in there, and Tyler says to me, "She won't stop talking Mommy. Tell her to stop." This happened two more times. I finally told him that his only job was to get his body rest and go to sleep. My job was to make sure Olivia is ok. And off to sleep they went. Phew! It was now 7:15pm, and they woke up at 6:30am.

Night 2 - The second night Tyler decided he wanted to sleep in Olivia's bed with her. So, off they went to share a bed (6:00pm), but this time Olivia kept Tyler awake. So, I moved Tyler back into his bed. Now, for some reason they were up from from 1:00am to 2:45am that night. Most likely from the combination of bad sleep the previous night and the excitement of sharing a room. Needless to say I had to wake them both for school the next day at 7:15am.

Night 3 - They again started in the same bed, but Tyler quickly moved to his own bed realizing Olivia was just going to bother him. Over the first hour, she came out 3x saying she had to poo. She didn't. I'm falling in this trap again... ugh! After the 3rd attempt, I repeated our sleep rules to her, and she didn't come out till morning (Tyler: 6:15pm-6:40am and Olivia:7:15pm-6:40am).

Night 4 - This night Tyler got smart and started in his own bed. He fell asleep with in minutes and Olivia came out to "poo". She actually did this time! There was just one more door open where we did silent return, walked her back in and off to sleep she went (6:45pm-6:40am).

Night 5 - This was a crazy night. Both kids were sick and up all night coughing. No one came out in the beginning until 12:00am. I kept checking on Tyler to make sure he was ok. Olivia was up on and off and it was around 4am I had little visitor again. Rough night to say the least... but all bets are off when the littles are sick. 

Night 6 - Olivia came out 1x. She said she had to go "poo poo". Of course, she didn't. Silently walked her back to bed. I really needed stop indulging this need for her to try and go to the bathroom. But it's very tricky when sometimes she does. In the morning she woke up about 20minutes before her sleep to wake clock. I walked her back to her bed. Just whispered wait for the clock to wake up. And she did! (slept 6:30pm-6:20am)

Night 7 - So today, there were no naps. Everyone was in bed at 5:45pm (I know, I know, you think I'm crazy). Within 5 minutes of me leaving the room, Olivia opened the door 2x. The first time she gave a little whine as I walked her back to her bed, and she said "My tummy hurts. I need to go poo poos". (Pattern from previous days doing this, but this time I KNEW she didn't have to go cause within a matter of 2.5 hours, I had her got potty 3x). I just directed her to the bed without saying a word. The second time she came out, she just opened the door, and I quietly walked her back to her bed. Tyler asked why she kept coming out. I just looked at him and put my finger to my lips (as in no talking) and closed the door. No one came out. (6:15am-6:40pm)

Fast forward several weeks, there were lots of good nights and some hiccups along the way, as expected. The key was to be consistent. I ended up adding in a bedtime pass for Olivia, so if she really had to go to the bathroom she could use it. It's working great! One thing I continuously have to remind myself is that any time I talk or reply to either one of them, it only encourages them to pop out of the room more often. I also have to continuously remind them of their sleep rules before bedtime (especially if we get off track) and why it's important for their body to get rest, AND I have to remind myself how I easily influence their actions. Sleep is not always perfect, but it should be pretty good for the most part. If it's not, you might want to rethink what is going on.  Oh, and one more thing... if your kids are going to share a room, you might want to consider bumping up bedtime 30 minutes because there is going to be some banter back and forth. 


Susie Menkes, PhD is a Certified Infant + Toddler Sleep Specialist through the Family Sleep Institute (FSI), and she is dedicated to helping families get their little ones to be healthy little sleepers. As a mom of two, she knows and understands what you are going through and is here to support, educate, and guide you on all matters related to sleep.

Susie Menkes, PhD is a Certified Infant + Toddler Sleep Specialist through the Family Sleep Institute (FSI), and she is dedicated to helping families get their little ones to be healthy little sleepers. As a mom of two, she knows and understands what you are going through and is here to support, educate, and guide you on all matters related to sleep.

Susie Menkes