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Transitioning To A Big-Girl Bed

When Cora was born, Maddie was three weeks
shy of two years old. I’d been thinking for months of how to
transition her to a big-girl bed because we’d need the crib
for the new baby. I didn’t want it to look as if we were
kicking Maddie out to give the crib to the new edition, and so I
spent a lot of time making the transition smooth.

First, Cora went into a bassinet for a few months, which gave us a
bit more of a breather. Then I bought a toddler-sized aero-bed and
put it on Maddie’s floor, talking up the “big-girl
bed” and getting her excited. While Cora still slept in the
bassinet, Maddie moved quickly to the aero bed on the floor of her
own room, right next to her crib. A few times she asked to move
back to the crib – bad dreams and the illusion of safety
behind bars – but we always dissuaded her, and finally I
broke down the crib and set the pieces casually in my room, where
Cora slept. About a month later, we put the crib together in our
room and Cora moved in, with absolutely no comment from Maddie
except, “Yeah, the crib is for babies.”

By that time we were getting ready to
move, so Maddie spent the rest of the time in New York on the air
mattress on the floor. We saved a full-sized bed up off the ground
as a treat for moving to Texas, and she was ecstatic by the time
she climbed up in that thing for the first time.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because
Cora’s two and a quarter and it’s about time to move
her out. Not because she’s climbing out of the crib or
anything, but because she wants to be just like Maddie and begs to
“sleep over” with big sister in a big-girl bed.
We’re also going to be traveling a bit this fall and need
Cora ready for a hotel bed, possibly sharing it with Maddie.

I started stalking Craig’s List about six months ago, knowing
it might take several months before a frame I liked came up. I
finally found a lovely vintage frame at a fantastic price –
seventy-five bucks – and bought it, storing the frame in the
garage. We’ve shown it to Cora and chatted up the big-girl
bed thing quite extensively.

So the gun is loaded; I just need to pull the trigger. I’ve
put it off for a couple of reasons: first, Cora isn’t the
docile obedient toddler that Maddie was, and I shudder to think of
Cora unrestrained in her room. Maddie would lie in her bed awake,
and simply wait for someone to come get her. If she wasn’t
tired at bedtime, she’d just lie there singing or telling
herself stories until she fell asleep. It’s only been about
six months or so since she started getting herself up in the
morning and coming to find us. And I have enjoyed that greatly.

Cora, I know, will not be such a passive child. There are times
when I put her down for her nap and she’s awake, and as soon
as I leave she stands up in her crib and starts tossing all her
stuffed animals around while crying out, “Mommy! Come get me
now, Mommy! Mommy! Come in here right now! Now, Mommy!” This
may go on for twenty minutes or so, and I fear a future in which
she’s on the loose and rampaging through her room while she

The second reason we’ve not switched to the toddler bed has
been completely selfish: I really really really need my sleep. And
since Cora’s not the best sleeper anyway, I’ve been
unwilling to find out how putting her in a new bed will make her
sleep habits any worse. There’s always seemed to be something
going on this summer – Mommy traveling, Maddie starting
school, that sort of thing – and I’ve always said,
“We’ll do it when things settle down.”

Well, things are as settled as they’re going to get, and I
know I’ve got to bite the bullet and do it before we have to
travel. We blew up the toddler mattress yesterday –it’s
got a great little lip around it to encourage the kids to stay in
bed – and checked it for holes, and Cora can’t wait to
get in it. We’ll do exactly what we did with Maddie –
mattress on the floor against the crib, then move the crib out,
then a big mattress on the floor, then a frame – and
I’m guessing this will go much faster this time around.

So tomorrow night’s the big night. Wish me all the best luck,
and pray my kid 1) sleeps through the night; and 2) stays in her
bed. Heck, I’d settle for her staying in her room.


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