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Transitioning Major To A Toddler Bed

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

Before I had a second child, I always expected that saying “every child is different” to be kind of cliché.  I mean how different could two babies be? They’re babies.  Oh boy, is our boy different from our girl! And this has been proven the most true in those emotional (for me) transitions.  If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that Major weaned HIMSELF off of milk and bottles at one year old, sending me in to a semi-existential crisis.  Ok maybe that’s a slight exaggeration– but I definitely cried in to multiple glasses of wine once I realized I would NEVER feed him another bottle.  I should have known that another early transition was just around the corner!

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

About a month ago, Major started unzipping his sleep sack and throwing it out of the crib.  If he wasn’t tired, he would fool around in his crib– pulling himself up on the railings, practice putting one foot over the side, and giving me a heart attack while I watched the baby monitor.  I started putting his sleep sack on backwards.  Then about two weeks later, he figured out how to get out of that one, too.  He’s so tall that he can easily climb out of the crib, even on the lowest setting, and Kyle and I were worried that he’d try to climb out in the middle of the night and fall over the edge to the ground. 

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

Marlowe also wore a sleep sack and NEVER tried to remove it, let alone at under two years old.  We transitioned her to a Big Girl bed at two and a half, and even that felt a little young.  I knew that we had to get Major a toddler bed, but it just felt so premature.  I truly didn’t know how he would react.  As soon as he had started taking off his sleep sack, I had ordered the Toddler Alarm Clock that we used to big-bed-sleep-train Marlowe.  You decide on a time that you want the clock to turn Green, you set it to Red at bed time, and then you teach them that red means they have to stay in bed until the light switches to green.  It’s such a genius idea, and it really does work– but you have to be totally regimented about it and take your time drilling the idea home! It took Marlowe a couple of weeks to adjust to the concept– and we had started while she was in the crib as well, so she’d be ready by the time we put her in Big Girl Bed. I worked with Major for a few weeks with the Toddler Alarm Clock before his toddler bed arrived, and it definitely helped the transition! My method below:

My Tips For Implementing The Clock…

  • Start when your child is in a crib for best results, and wait until they are comfortable with the system before removing one side of the crib or switching to a Toddler Bed.
  • Explain the clock (and go over the explanation) at a time of day when your child is most focused.  For me this is first thing in the morning and after bath time when they’re ready for bed.

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

  • Sample Explanation: “Major this is your new clock! It’s so special because it’s for big boys, and it helps let you know when the time is to wake up and start the day.  Do you see this red light on the clock right now? This red light means that it’s bed time and it’s time to stay in your bed and rest.  When this red light is on, you can not get out of bed. Ok? When it’s morning time, the light will turn green! It looks like this! (turn the clock green) When this light is green it means you can wake up and start the day– and see Mommy and Daddy! What do you say when it’s time to get up? You can say “I’m up!” Or you can say “Good morning Mama and Daddy!” And then we’ll come and get you! But Remember: if you try to get up when the light is still red, we will bring you back to your bed.  Do you understand that? “
  • Make the reminder of the clock a daily thing.  Have the child explain to you what the red light means and what the green light means. 
  • Set the green light for a time in the morning that is attainable for your child.  For example, if they usually wake up naturally between 6am and 7am, set the clock for 6:30 so that the most they’ll have to wait for the clock is 30 minutes.  You can always move the time up a few minutes each day once they have the system down if you need them to stay in bed longer.

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

  • For the first week of using the clock, watch the monitor like a hawk. If your child even gets out of bed for a moment, go up, place them back in bed and calmly explain that the light is red, so he must stay in the bed.  Say “I love you and I’ll check on you soon like I always do”.  Go back in there and do the same thing a hundred times if you have to.  Consistency is key!
  • When successfully stay in bed until the green light is on, make a big celebration out of it in the morning! Jump around! Dance, shout with joy, offer congratulations, hugs, kisses, etc.
  • Stick with it! It won’t happen overnight, but it is worth it!

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

When we switched Marlowe to a Toddler Bed, we were able to just take the side off of her crib and turn it in to a toddler bed with a conversion kit.  Major’s crib was from Land Of Nod, which no longer exists– it has become a part of Crate & Kids! Welp, Crate & Kids no longer makes Major’s crib, and so the toddler bed conversion kit was not an option! Since we had to buy a new bed anyway, I decided to go right to a toddler bed.  Toddler Beds are the size of a crib ( you can use the same mattress) and are a bit lower to the ground than a typical twin bed.  I felt more comfortable getting him a bed that still felt cozy and small-ish.  As soon as I saw this intricate black wooden bed, I knew we had to have it! I love how it looks in his room.

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

When we showed Major his new bed for the first time, he was SO excited– it actually made me tear up.  He always loved snuggling with Marlowe in her bed at night, and when he realized he had his own bed, he got the biggest grin on his face! I could tell he was really proud of himself. 

The first night in his new bed, he sat up for a while, and kind of rolled around in bed testing it out.  He put his legs up the wall for a bit, and eventually fell asleep with his head towards the foot of the bed, and his legs sticking out the slats of the headboard.  LOL.  I flipped him around when I went up to bed, and stuck him back under the covers.  He’s been in his bed for a week and a half now, and he’s slept the whole night every single time! I truly believe that the work we put in with the clock before we switched him really paid off. 

Eva Amurri Martino unveils her son Major's new toddler bed at their home in Connecticut

If you have any other tips for transitioning a toddler out of a crib, or if you have questions for me, please share in the Comments below!

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Photographs by Julia Dags.

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11 Comments

  1. Tracy L says:

    Yay, Major! We switched our 2 year old to a toddler bed and his brother lays in it with him. My 2 year old loves it but I suspect it is because it is big brother approved.

    09.27.18Reply
  2. Jamie says:

    Thanks for this post! We’ll be transitioning my son soon. He’ll only be 19 or 20 months but I’m due with our second in January and want the transition to his ‘big boy’ room done before the new baby arrives. How did you handle blankets? My son is just in pjs in his crib now and I’m not sure if i should do full bedding or maybe a lightweight blanket? He moves so much I don’t know that he’d stay under a blanket!

    09.27.18Reply
  3. Michon says:

    Starting them with the clock while they’re still in the crib is such a good idea! I used a clock, but started the clock when we introduced the big kid bed and it was too much change at once.

    09.27.18Reply
  4. Sarah McCord says:

    SO sad to hear that crib (& conversion kit) is no longer available. We just bought the same crib in January for our son. We love it and I will be sad not to be able to keep it through the early toddler stage!

    09.27.18Reply
  5. Sarah M. says:

    SO sad to hear that crib (& conversion kit) is no longer available. We just bought the same crib in January for our son. We love it and I will be sad not to be able to keep it through the early toddler stage!

    09.27.18Reply
  6. Diane W. says:

    I’m so glad I got the conversion kit for our crib when we bought everything. I knew with my luck they would discontinue it (and they did). I transitioned my son from crib to daybed, and it was a nightmare of screaming and crying, by both of us, for a month I swear. He wasn’t ready, but he was so tall (off the charts) and climbed out of the crib, falling once. We had little choice. The nightmare ended when I bought him The Tot Clock. I love the color coding, he loves the stories and music that lull him to sleep and wake him in the morning. He’s now almost 7 and still wants to listen to stories every night.

    09.27.18Reply
  7. Tina says:

    That is so Great!!
    My daughter Also had a toddler Bed just after her crib (she was Also climbing out… 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️😱😃) and before her really « big girl bed » because my stepsons grandfather made one for them (so beautiful and homemade so very special…) and WE Also used it for Her it was really special because her brothers were so Happy to give her their old bed and i loved the transition…
    enjoy Major!!

    09.28.18Reply
  8. Robyn says:

    Great post!! We are about to transition our daughter and I love your advice re: the clock! I saw mixed reviews for that clock and I was wondering if you find it to junky? Thanks for all you do! Xx

    09.28.18Reply
  9. Brigit Rotondi says:

    This is great. I really like the alarm clock idea. Children learning think with consistently. It sounds like a great way to teach children. I really like Major’s bed also!!

    09.29.18Reply
  10. Natalie says:

    Great post! Two questions: 1. How do you handle if the child needs to use the bathroom (after they are night trained)? It may be hard for some whose child uses “having” to go to the washroom as a stalling technique or if they really need to go when they first wake up in the morning. 2. Would you consider allowing the child to just play in their room when they woke up, but they aren’t allowed to leave their room?

    10.01.18Reply
    • I have a potty in the room for children who are potty trained! Marlowe uses her potty first thing in the morning if she has to before her light turns green and also in the night if needed!

      10.03.18Reply