Cribs! Those sweet sweet cribs were my best investments. They allowed me to read bedtime stories to the girls from a safe enough distance to turn the pages. I also attribute MANY wonderful nights of sleep to those cribs. But at some point, I knew that I would have to transition them to big girl beds and I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t lose my quiet kid-free mornings in doing so.
Every parent has their gut feeling that it’s the time to make the switch. Sometimes it’s another sibling needing the nursery or having a climber that makes staying in a crib unsafe. For me there were a couple things that influenced my decision. First, Chloe fell out of her crib and caught herself with her poor face & bloodied her lip. It was awful and I wanted to cry as I consoled her. Second, their 2nd birthday was quickly approaching, and I wanted to think about potty training. I’m the mom that thought it would be easier to go cold turkey and night potty train from the start. (Spoiler Alert: It worked so stay tuned for how we did it in Transitioning Twins Part 2: Hasta La Vista Diaper!) And Third, I found some adorable beds and comforters on sale and wanted to redecorate their nursery into a Big Girl room.
As ready as I was for the transition, I was also really nervous. My biggest fears were losing sleep or having them wake up early and come out of their room. I did it in steps and for the most part it worked like a charm.
Step 1: Teach them to wait for the green light
My cousin had mentioned a red light/green light alarm that she used on her kids, so I decided to give it a try. I got on Amazon and found this cute puppy dog alarm clock. I set this up in their room and used it for 3 days before I changed anything else. Those first 3 days I made sure that I was outside their room precisely at 8am and when it turned green I would barge in and exclaim, ‘yay, the light is green’ and I’d really ham up that they were such good patient girls for waiting. After 3 nights and 3 naps, they were starting to catch onto the system. I truly believe this is the most important step in transitioning kids to beds. Teach them to listen to the red light because Lord knows, they often won’t listen to you.
Step 2: Think Safety
I’m guessing that all kids fall out of their beds at least once. They are used to rolling until they can’t anymore without any repercussions, so we have to teach them to recognize that boundary. There are various things you can do. Some cribs come with toddler rails that run half the length of the bed. There are also the little fences that fit up tight to the mattress to prevent falling out. Or there is the old pool noodle trick. I opted for the latter because it seemed like the least aesthetically intrusive. All you do is cut the pool noodle in half and tuck it right under the fitted sheet on both sides of the bed. This serves as a bumper to help their body know the edge of the bed is near.
Note: try a bigger pool noodle, our girls kept rolling right over the pool noodle, but they eventually learned and were never hurt since their beds were low to the ground.
Step 3: Introduce the mattress
I got out the mattress and their new bedding and set it up on the floor in their room, right next to their cribs. This would allow me to put them in their cribs if I really needed to in the middle of the night. You could remove the crib the same time you add the mattress, but since I was worried about losing sleep I decided to wait at least 1 night.
Lo and behold, I tucked the girls in and told them they needed to stay in their big girls beds and they did! They didn’t wake up once and they stayed in their bed until the light turned green. All that worry for nothing. Just like pulling their pacifiers, they were apparently more ready than I was.
Step 4: Remove the Crib
Like I mentioned above you could do this with step 3, or wait a while. I gave it one night and then wanted the extra space in their room.
These are a couple pictures of when they fell out of their bed. Nothing cuter than twin snuggles
Step 5: Add the bed frame!
This again is up to you. I waited a couple weeks in hopes that they would quit falling out of their beds. It wasn’t every night, but it still felt frequent enough that I wanted to give it some time. Usually they stayed asleep after a fall and just crawled back into their bed. But after 2 weeks, I was anxious to set up their cute kids bed frames, so I decided just to do it. They still fell out on occasion but even with a little longer fall, they were never really phased.
The night we added the bedframe, C fell out of bed and then just rolled underneath her bed. I laughed so hard, but went in there and pulled her out by her feet so that she wouldn’t be too alarmed in the morning. Another night she fell out and, in her fog, crawled into K’s bed, which K wasn’t a fan of so I had to split them up.
And that’s it! 5 simple steps to a quick and easy transition to big kid beds.
We didn’t have tears, fights, or even lose sleep. After a while, they started to realize they had more freedom and got some extra sass/independence. So, we did run into rougher bedtime routines and a stent of them crawling into our bed in the middle of the night. But with consistency and sticking to a routine, they are still generally 8-8 sleepers!