Big Boy Bed and Other Sleep Issues

About 2 months or so ago, Jasper went from lying down in his crib and saying “Byeeeeee Mommy” as I left his room at night to SCREAMING everytime I left when putting him down for a nap or bedtime.  He never cries for too long, but it was an unwelcome change nonetheless.

Then came the cape cod trip where he was unconstrained by a crib and we didn’t want him wandering around a strange unbabyproof room screaming so I would lie down next to him, rub his back and wait until he fell asleep to sneak out.  This actually worked ok because he wouldn’t wake until around 5am at which point  I would bring him in bed with us to sleep for another hour.

I’m sure you can see where this is heading..

When we got back home he would demand “Mommy lay down!” at bedtime and then once I was laying down he would say “Mommy lay down back!” which means mommy lay down and rub my back. Which of course I did, never mind that all the blood was draining out of my arm from holding it above my body and that I would have to twist it at the most awkward angle to get it through the crib bars.  Honestly, I’m so exhausted by 8:30pm that I don’t even mind being “forced” to lay down and take a cat nap while Jasper falls asleep at night, but this is clearly an untenable situation because a) The whole sleep routine time more than doubled and b) he completely lost the ability/willingness to fall asleep without someone in the room with him which of course started to extend to middle of the night wake ups.

So we knew we would have to referberize, but it wasn’t so easy because his crib bolts are stripped so can’t be lowered all the way.  His crib sides only come up to his lower chest which is way too dangerous. Our only other option was to convert the bed to a toddler bed which is what we ended up doing.

Because the mattress can’t be lowered all the way, the toddler bed is still a tad higher than it should be so I lay down blankets on the floor in case he somehow rolled out or stood up in bed and fell out.   We rigged his door so he can’t open it and shut the baby gate in the hall down the stairs just in case he DID somehow make it out. And then, we put him in bed and left.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH. Mommy Lay Doooooooowwwn! Mommy’s Bed… Mommeeeeeeeeeee lay dowwwwwwn!

Pulling on the door and screaming the whole time. Totally heartbreaking :(

Thank GOD he only has the endurance to be at this routine for about 10-15 minutes before he zonks out, the problem is that with the exception of the first night when he crawled back in to his toddler bed, he somehow ends up sleeping on the floor (with his butt in the air.)

This happens for naps and bedtime and I really don’t know what to do.. usually one of us goes in there and puts him in his bed, but I’m really hoping that eventually he will start going back into his bed.

For those of you that have made the toddler bed transition, did you have this problem with them not getting back into bed? If so, how long did it last? Also, did anyone else notice a sleep regression around 20-22 months?? I don’t understand why suddenly falling asleep became such a lonely/scary/traumatic experience for him when he used to just let it happen!

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Crystal says:

Thanks! You’re right – 2 days later and we’re back to no-problem-sleeping… albeit in the middle of the floor. Guess we need to make him a nest too. As long as he’s not sobbing and making ME cry for him, I think he can sleep just about anywhere! :)

ariana says:

LOL Crystal, (about the blank look part!)

So, an update of sorts.. Jasper STILL cries when we leave the room but it’s only for literally under a minute. And despite a 3 day period where he actually slept in his BED (which got our hopes up) he is back to sleeping on the floor.

I’ve just sort of accepted it as one of those battles that I probably can’t win. That said, we have made him a “bed” of sorts on the floor with a matress pad and a few blankets, so I don’t think it’s bad for him at all. Perhaps you would feel better if you made him a cozy spot on the floor too?

The crying thing though -that’s what makes it so unbearable. I think eventually that will get better for you too. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Crystal says:

I had to come back to this post to see what comments were here. We went on vacation last week (just like you did for Memorial Day) and Evan escaped the pack&play. So he slept on the floor (just like Jasper) – but only if one of us was there (just like you). “Mommy lay down!!” was the theme of the trip. So we came home and -wonder of wonders- he instantly launched himself out of the crib. We converted to the big boy bed, but, no surprise, he still wants us sleeping on the floor with him. Sadly we have creaky wood floors, and as soon as I tried to escape last night he caught me. He sobbed at the door, “Mommy open door!” “All done night night!” for nearly an hour before collapsing. Meanwhile daddy and I were laying in bed in complete torture for all kiddo’s sadness.

I see some folks said it took only a few nights to re-instate the routine… I sure hope so. I can’t take much more of his knocking at the door to get out!

All vacation I kept telling my husband, “This is EXACTLY like Jasper!” which got me a blank look, but I was certainly thinking of you and hoping it has gotten better. Because if Jasper is back to normal, then there’s hope for Evan yet…

Kristy says:

Ugh! Jonas can officially get out of his crib WITH EASE! Its not even dangerous, he has figured out how to safely lower himself to the floor. Luckily, he ONLY does this if we are in the room or if his door is open…if the door is closed and we are out of sight, he stays in the crib FOR NOW, but I know this won’t last too long. My biggest worry about the toddler bed is the safety of his room. There is toddler-proof and then there is JONAS PROOF. I’m just freaked out about all of the things he can get into at night. I plan to take a weekend soon and clean out the entire room in hopes that he will be safe in there once we make the transition.

On another note, when JoJo turned 2, he had big time sleep issues for a few weeks and was up several times a night again. We did the cry it out thing again (which can I note is MUCH worse with a toddler than a baby!), and it worked after a few nights. But I had to laugh when I read this because now, every night I have to rub his back as well. He stands there screaming “Back! Back”. Oh what have I done LOL?

Jane says:

My daughter had a sleep regression at 19 months where she would be upset when she fell asleep and have middle of the night wakings. One of the things that worked is this soothing seahorse. http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-M5664-Soothe-Glow-Seahorse/dp/B000W3XEQM. It glows slightly and plays a very soothing music for 5 minutes. She loves, loves, loves it. I think she likes the fact that it offers some light in the dark crib and it’s kind of a buddy for her at night. We practiced turning it on and off during the day and we play it before we go to bed. So after I sing a song, it’s still playing and lit when I leave the room. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’ll groggily crawl over to the corner where it usually is and turn it on and fall back asleep. Good luck!

SarahD says:

We had problems like that closer to 2.5years of age when we did potty training, took away the soother and transitioned to the big bed (all within months). Right now my son needs me to fall asleep beside him for naps, as I started doing it when he kept running out and just needed to settle. But that has now become a bad habit as he won’t sleep without us. (He’s already three though, so I figure we’re almost done with naps soon.) Night time is a little easier as he shares a room with his brother who sleeps next to him. But we have to be super strict and bring out the threats to keep him in his bed at night. Sometimes a tape to listen to will do the trick.

Tracey Hudson says:

We have 23 month old twin boys who we are considering changing to toddler beds soon. Some advice I was given by a professional was to try and treat the bedroom as exactly that – a room for sleeping only. Playing, reading, even bedtime routine should be done elsewhere for a while so that when you leave them in there they understand exactly what to do. As far as the separation is concerened, we went through a phase of them screaming when we left the room a couple of months ago. The only thing that worked quickly and has continued to work is sadly the hard line – let them cry. It only lasted for 3 or 4 nights though …
Good luck.
Love reading your blog.

jbhat says:

I recall moving to the toddler bed being a difficult transition. But in retrospect, I think I just wasn’t firm or consistent enough, because I remember giving in to the sweet requests to stay with our kiddo as he fell asleep. I think by staying with him, I wasn’t doing him or me any favors, because he was relying on me or his dad to be there while he fell asleep, and frankly, that’s just not always realistic. Maybe you have to prepare yourself for a few nights of crying it out, whilst checking in on him every few minutes? The Ferber method eventually worked for us….I know there are haters out there, but it worked for our family.

Good luck.

jbhat

Melanie says:

We’re having major sleep regression now at 26 months. She’s still in a crib though, so when we get back from vacation we’re going to change it into the toddler bed and see if that helps. If he’s only crying 15 minutes I wouldn’t even worry about it. Zoe has gone 2 hours, that’s usually when we give up and let her sleep with us :-( We’ve created really bad habbits over the last few weeks, but we need our sleep too!

Jus says:

Can’t really help you here, but I’m with Stephanie on the floor bed. We actually use a normal single sized mattress in Jude’s room like how its recommended for Montessori, and plan to transition him to the mattress when he’s bigger. It’s good since it also doubles up as a reading area for him… All the best for the sleep issue!

Susan says:

I’ve found with my 20 month old, that if I deviate from the routine…if I cave even a little…that’s when she has trouble at night/naps. We went on vacation last week, and instead of putting her to bed (in a crib) and walking out like usual, I went back in to check on her. It’s like she had never considered this an option. This is what I imagine she thought:

“What? Mommy still exists after she puts me to bed? She could come back in? Why hasn’t she been doing this all along? Why isn’t she in her with me right now????!!!!”

We had a rough night. And then another. I had to get back on routine and be consistant. Luckily for me, we were really firm about getting back to normal, and she seemed to take the hint. It was a rough couple of nights, though.

Em’s still in a crib, though. I’m terrified of toddler bed transition. Is it terrible that I’m considering putting her large playyard gate around her toddler bed (when we are ready for it) to keep her secured in one part of the room?

ariana says:

@marybeth, misery loves company right? :)

@KaiRayne, I don’t think it’s that he wants to play so much as separation anxiety.. he’s tired and wants to all sleep, he just doesn’t want to do it alone!

@Aimee, I’m so glad that it finally resolved at age three, but oy, I hope it doesn’t take that long for us.

@Stephanie – I’m not aware of any Waldorf sleeping rules but those floor beds are adorable! If his floor sleeping continues we may just have to try that – unfortunately though due to the stripped screw situation once we take down the todder bed to get it out of the room (IF we can get it down without destroying it!) there would be no going back!!

Stephanie says:

Reusing the crib mattress is a pretty inexpensive way to go, but if you felt like shopping, how CUTE is this????

http://www.pkolino.com/Toddler-Bed-Orange-p/pkffborg.htm

:)

Stephanie says:

I don’t know if the Waldorf method talks about children’s sleeping environments at all, but since he’s interested in the floor anyway, how about a floor bed a la Montessori?

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/dc/07%20finnian%20montssori%20bedroom.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3550/3459534823_01d299436c.jpg

You don’t even need an actual bed – you can just use his crib mattress for now and when he gets a little bigger either move him to a bed then or into a bigger mattress/futon.

http://modernhomemodernbaby.com/montessori-floor-bed-in-action/

Aimee says:

We had to put Cole in a big boy bed at 16 months because he too started screaming when we put him in the crib. But then is exclated into head butting the crib and he was going to hurt himself. It took almost a year to get out of his room at night before he would fall asleep on his own. At his 3rd birthday we told him how big boys go to bed at night just like they do for nap times and it took two nights and he is great about it now. I don’t suggest staying in his room until he is alseep but it was the only thing that worked for us.

KaiRayne says:

I remember my oldest have the same problem around that age, but only for naps…. I think its because they are more aware that even though they may go to bed, that mommy and daddy are still awake, and they might miss something fun. (This is my theory anyways.)

I we never really had the transition problem though, because we co-sleep.

I’m pretty sure this will sort itself out soon. Any time there is a change it will disrupt things. Maybe try putting some toys on his bed and let him play himself to sleep?

Haiden is almost 23 months and he’s going through a big sleep regression right now! I was actually happy (in a nice way, not a mean way) to hear that Jasper is going through the same thing…at least I know it’s somewhat normal. He’s in a crib, and after I put him down, he cries and cries for “Mama, Bed.” Of course, I usually give in and bring him to my bed for some snuggling before he’s ready to go back to his crib. I really don’t mind, since the snuggling is really nice, but I also keep thinking about how I might be hurting his future sleep habits by not allowing him to fall asleep on his own.

Ugh…sorry, I don’t have any good advice, except you’re doing the right thing by letting Jasper cry it out for a bit. It’s nice that the crib converts to a bed, so he’s familiar with where he’s SUPPOSED to sleep. I’m sure it will happen soon! In the meantime, I need to work on my resolve to stay out of the room once I’ve put Haiden down to bed!

kari says:

good timing on this SOS… looking forward to the responses.

The toddler bed transition was rough for not quite a week for us. And to be honest, I just toddler proofed the heck out of his room, and let him be. There are times he’ll get out of bed, get a book, read on his rocking chair, but he always puts himself back in bed. The first few days, he fell asleep on the floor a lot, or would halfway roll out of bed. He’s much better at it now, though. We’re actually going to transition to a full size bed in a month or two.

A big thing for us has always been routine. We have to do the same routine every night to get him to go to bed. Also, around that age, he started to go to bed later :( Maybe Jasper is not tired when you put him down?

ariana says:

Thanks Jill, that gives me hope!!

Our routine is very much the same every night, books, singing, bed. He actually is super sleepy by the time we put him down.. if I stayed for like 5 minutes and rubbed his back he’d be OUT. But obviously it’s the habit we are trying to avoid. But I’m really glad to hear that he’ll start crawling in his bed eventually (or maybe never leaving in the first place?)