Moving to a "Big Girl" Bed

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It's only 10 weeks until my due date now and this week I finally got around to doing some things in preparation for when the baby arrives; the major one being moving my 2 year old daughter from her cot in the nursery to a full size single bed in her new room (so that the baby can have the nursery when she arrives). We started the process in March when we cleaned out what was then the guest room, sold off the queen bed in there and bought some new bedroom furniture. The aim was always to get Sophia settled into her new room sometime in June so that she has plenty of time to adjust to it before the baby comes in August, but the time has crept up fast. I've been somewhat dreading this change too, to be honest, mainly because I've been worried about the effect it will have on Sophia and the sleep routine we've established. Anyway, it's something that we've had to do and this is what's happened so far.

FIRST NIGHT IN A NEW BED

We first tried Sophia in her new bed six nights ago. It did not go well. Everything was fine at first - she was quite happy to get into her new bed with Teddy and Piglet (her two favourite soft toys) and get tucked in. She even asked for the lights to be turned off, so our hopes were high that it would all go smoothly. A couple of minutes after we left the room however, I heard a tentative cry: "Mum-mum? Mum-mum?? Mum-mum?????" I went back in and reassured her, then tried to leave again. She started crying. I sat back down on the side of her bed and soothed her but she did not want me to leave. I decided to sit next to her bed for a while as she settled down and (hopefully) got used to her new sleeping arrangement. Twenty minutes passed and she seemed happy (although not very sleepy) so I stood up, said goodnight and made my exit. Sophia started crying again but this time I decided not to go back in, but to wait it out for a little while and see if she calmed down on her own. She did not. I eventually went back in and calmed her down - it took longer this time and I could see she was becoming more and more anxious. One last time I left her room to consult with my husband and hysterical crying followed me. As it was an hour past her bedtime by this stage we decided to call it quits for that night and moved Sophia back to her cot in her old room. She fell asleep almost instantly.

I GOOGLED IT

In the twenty minutes that I sat next to Sophia's bed waiting for her to settle, I searched the internet for advice about the cot to bed transition. I hadn't expected Sophia to feel scared about being in a new bed (I was more worried that she would be overly excited) so I really wasn't sure how to handle it. I don't know if I was looking at the wrong websites, but there was literally NO helpful advice about this. The biggest tip seemed to be to wait until your child was 3 years old to move them into a bed because by then they are often more developmentally ready - not really an option for us with a baby arriving in a couple of months and the process of moving Sophia into a new room already begun. The other advice was all about safety and preparing your child for the move, but nothing dealt with what to do if they felt scared or anxious once you left them in their new bed, other than to put it off "until they're ready". Not helpful!

MY SOLUTION

I wanted to be gentle and patient with Sophia with this transition as I could definitely understand her reluctance to embrace change (wonder who she gets that from?). At the same time, I wanted to help her feel more comfortable in her new bed, without taking away the opportunity it was for her to overcome her fears and realise that she was in fact able to do something she initially thought she couldn't. So after Google failed me, I talked to some other mums about it at playgroup the following day. Unfortunately (for me!) they hadn't experienced similar issues with their kids so didn't have much to say on the subject. The only thing that was suggested that I thought may work was staying with Sophia until she fell asleep, but I didn't want to trap myself into having to do that on a long term basis. I was also concerned that if she went to sleep with me next to her, she may be alarmed if she woke up later and realised I wasn't there anymore. I decided to compromise and try sitting just outside her bedroom with the door open a crack. That way, she could still get used to being physically alone in her new bedroom but hopefully not feel so alone since she could hear that I was very close by.

The next day I tried out my plan at Sophia's nap time. The expected tears came when I left the bedroom, but I sat down just outside the door with the baby monitor and started talking and asking questions about anything that would distract her from feeling afraid - her lovely warm blanket, her comfortable mattress, her soft pillow, the rain that we could hear falling on the roof, what she had done earlier that day and what Teddy and Piglet thought about her new bed (I insisted that they loved it). It worked! The crying gradually stopped and I could tell she was listening to me and thinking about what I was saying. She started talking back and answering my questions and when I told her that I thought Teddy and Piglet wanted a kiss and a cuddle, there was a brief silence followed by her telling me "I did it!" It was still another 40 minutes after the crying stopped until she eventually got to sleep, but at least she seemed to be happy during this time, being convinced that I was very close by. Thankfully she did not get out of bed at all, which was something I had been worried about.

ADJUSTING TO THE MOVE

When Sophia woke up from her nap that afternoon, I went in promptly and gave her lots of praise for sleeping in her new bed. She seemed almost surprised that she had done it but also rather pleased with herself. For the next few days I followed the same plan of staying outside her door at naps and bedtime and talking to her until she was calm and settled. The cries and grizzles have gradually become shorter and the last couple of occasions I have only needed to stay for a minute or so. Sophia still isn't 100% enthralled with her new sleeping arrangement but she is definitely adjusting, an event for which I am grateful and relieved.

THE FUN PARTS

I'll end this post on a lighthearted note - the fun parts about moving Sophia into a new room! I have  totally indulged my love of pink, feminine and pretty with choosing her bedroom decor and have had the most fun choosing her bedroom furniture, a new quilt cover (that's the picture at the beginning of this post) and some pictures to hang on the walls. Not as pretty but still fun to pick out have been a nice snuggly blanket, a quilt/doona, bed sheets and curtains. We are still yet to hang up the pictures and curtains, but other than that the room has come together quite nicely. Every change has its perks!

The pictures I chose to hang on the walls - I thought they were just so sweet




9 comments

  1. Well done mama!! Transitions can be really fraught, but you handled that beautifully. Good on you for finding a gentle, comforting, thoughtful way through xx

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    1. Thanks Sue, despite her initial response, it hasn't been that bad a transition after all. It's a week tomorrow since she moved and I just put her down for her nap for the first time with zero grizzling or crying! Hopefully that's it now. xox

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  2. I love those pictures! And well done for figuring a way through the bed moving crisis. I don't remember either of our kids struggling with the move - but also they had their bed in the same room they'd slept in as babies - so maybe the double whammy of a new bed and a new room were what caused the upset? So glad all's going well again xx

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    1. Yes I think that may have a lot to do with it. If everything else had stayed the same and it was only the bed that changed, I think Sophia may have coped a bit better from the beginning! Anyway, she's done incredibly well to have adjusted in less than a week. She even helped me get the extra pillows off her bed in preparation for her nap today (so sweet) and fell asleep without any tears in about 5 minutes! Winning :-). xox

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  3. Hi Hannah,

    In my case, our son (the only child, by the way) wouldn't fall sleep unless we I carried him and walked. My in-laws suggested that we don't encourage this, since he might get habituated. They used to say put him on the bed, even if he cried for a while, it's okay, he would fall asleep after a few minutes.

    But just placing him on the bed, and keeping toys, and talking to him, didn't work. He used to keep crying, and we couldn't take it, beyond a point. So, we carried him, and we placed him on the bed only after he had fallen asleep.

    Actually, he got so conditioned to it (and obviously enjoyed it), that he would gently tap us with his legs if we stopped walking! He wanted us to not just carry him, but walk also!

    It was okay for us, though it was of course, some extra effort on our part. But we didn't want to deprive our son of some emotional comfort when he fell asleep.

    And, just as we hoped, he soon outgrew the habit soon, without any difficulty. He wouldn't want us to carry him, and he would just sleep when placed on the bed, with his favourite toys.

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    1. That sounds very full on! I imagine it takes a lot of patience to keep up a habit like that. I'm sure you were thankful when he eventually outgrew it! It is true though that they stay little for such a short time and sleeping troubles do pass like every phase. Just seems like a long time when you're in the thick of it!

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  4. I love the bedspread and the pictures are so cute. Glad that you worked it out. Those pictures are so nice, I wonder if it would have helped to have her love the pictures and then put them on the wall for her look at from her bed. Anyway, well done.
    KATHLEEN

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    1. Funnily enough, she was very keen on her room before we asked her to sleep there! I think it was just the unfamiliarity of it that made her feel fearful for a little while - fair enough too, as she had slept in the same place for the previous two years of her life. I'm glad she has been able to adjust relatively quickly, it is hard for my mummy heart to see her upset. Thanks for your comment.

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