This week we had the bright idea, or maybe not so bright idea, to take the sides off James’ cot making it into a toddler bed. I recently read that its beneficial to keep children in a cot for as long as possible, but generally by three most will have transitioned to a bed.
The problem with having James in a cot is it makes it harder to go away. At home he has a cot bed, which is larger than your standard cot, but if we go away he will have to sleep in a travel cot which we already know he has outgrown.
On Monday morning I decided to just go for it and took one of the sides off his cot. I don’t think James really clicked as to what I was doing as he thought the side was a ladder to climb, it wasn’t until I put it under the spare bed that he became upset. I couldn’t work out whether it was because I had ruined his game of using it as a ladder or because I had taken it off the side of his cot. I decided to see by getting the side of the cot out from under the bed. He dragged it straight away to the missing side indicating that he wanted it back on. At this point it would’ve been easy for me to give in and just put it back rather than listen to his screams and sobs. Instead I decided to take him out to distract him.
We went up the hill and had a great time. There was even a big puddle that James could splash in which made him very happy and it seemed like he had forgotten all about the cot drama. The real test as to how this was going to play out would be nap time. Any sleeping changes we want to implement we start off by introducing them at nap time so in theory he gets used to them by the more important bedtime.
Nap time started with tears, which I ignored. I knew he would probably settle within 5 – 10 minutes and he did. He then started being his normal self, chatting away but with the added ability to be able to run around his bedroom, which he took full advantage of. I sneaked a peak in a few times to see what he was doing. At one point he was just standing by his bed with his bunny and at other times he was throwing himself around on it, which was the typical thing he would do in his cot before going to sleep. I left him in his bedroom for an hour and a half before he actually fell asleep. James can be hit or miss with his naps but at the moment he seems to be in more of a routine of having them. He then slept for an hour and stayed in his bed until I went to get him.
Bedtime started with tears but again we ignored them and he was back to chatting to himself within about 5 – 10 minutes. We could hear him pottering around in his room and it seemed like he finally settled into bed at about 8:40, which isn’t bad considering he had a late nap. I took a peak at him before I went to bed and he was asleep in bed with his toy bus, which was rather cute.
We are normally very lucky in the mornings because whatever time James wakes up he will happily stay in his cot chatting to himself until I go in after I have got myself ready. This can be 1 – 2 hours after he has actually woken up. We weren’t quite sure how this would work when he wasn’t confined to his cot.
James woke up at 6:45 and not long after he had worked out that he could not only get out of his bed, but get out of his bedroom. He then decided he would run around on the landing, play with his toys, run into our bedroom, stare at my husband and then run out again. At one point I tried to move him towards his bedroom in which he just pushed me away as though he was playing and not to disturb him. Luckily he was happy playing and didn’t attempt to come into our bedroom again, so I was able to continue to get ready as normal. When I did go into his room to get him he was actually lying in bed again.
Nap time on Tuesday took me a bit by surprise. I put James into his bed and immediately he decided he was just going to run around upstairs laughing at his new found freedom. I attempted on numerous occasions to tell him to go to bed and shut his door, which he did, and then he would open his door again and give me a cheeky look as I was in another bedroom. I then decided to lead him back to his bed each time he came out of his bedroom and tell him to stay in his bedroom. The thing is I’m not actually bothered whether he has a nap or not because I know he is at an age where he doesn’t always need one, but I do want him to have some quiet time in his bedroom.
I could see that me leading him back to his bedroom was just becoming a funny game to him, so I adopted an ignoring tactic. I just sat in another bedroom keeping myself busy while he ran riot. After about an hour he actually took himself to his bedroom, shut his door and lay on his bed. I peaked through when I thought he might be a sleep, he saw me and I shut the door again. Shortly after that when I checked again he was actually asleep.
Bedtime on Tuesday night went fairly well. We could hear him running around in his bedroom but he wasn’t constantly running in and out like he had done at nap time. He fell asleep at about 8:45 and woke at 6:45. Upon waking he ran around the landing for about 20 minutes but then took himself back to his bedroom and shut the door. When I went in he was on his bed chatting to himself.
Nap time today James ran around the landing giggling. He stood in the doorway of the room I was in watching me for ages, as I ignored he was there. He obviously didn’t like that he was being ignored so started climbing on me and trying to press the keys on my laptop. Eventually he gave up and took himself off to his bedroom. He didn’t nap but he did spend a good hour playing nicely in his bedroom which I am happy with, and at least he should go to sleep quickly tonight.
We are very much in a stage of whether to let him nap or not. I really like having the time during the middle of the day to allow me to get some things done. I know that if he naps he won’t go to sleep until about 8:30 – 9PM, which I don’t mind as long as he stays in his bedroom. I think if he starts coming out of his bedroom at bedtime then we will need to drop the nap so he is really tired and will go to sleep earlier.
The transition to a bed has actually gone a lot more smoothly than I thought it would. James likes his sleep and he doesn’t have a problem with going to bed which I think has helped. He is still using a Gro bag at bedtime because whenever we have tried him with a duvet he just throws it out of bed, so we will tackle that at a later date. The real challenge will be getting him to sleep in a bed when we go away somewhere, as I’m not sure that will go as smoothly.