Going Back to the Crib

going back to the cribOnce a child hits a milestone, the world of parenting seems to look down upon regression. It’s often seen as a moving back instead of a part of living.  With each child we’ve “stepped away” from something. In the case of our first, it was the transition to the toddler bed.

Our oldest was 19 months old. We were ready to transition his infant brother to the crib. By ready to transition I mean, boy howdy, it’d be convenient if we didn’t have to invest in another crib. Older brother hiked his leg atop the crib in my presence and I took that as the catalyst, or rather the excuse, to transition him to a toddler bed. We talked it up. He helped us put the bed together.

The first week in his “big boy” toddler bed was a success. Then came the reality underneath the illusion of success. Each night endless tears began when he used go to sleep with just a book and a song. By the time he fell asleep he lost two hours of his typical sleep pattern. We were up multiple times in the night walking him back to his bed. Again, more tears. We stayed firm. We were consistent. We tried offering incentives. We tried ignoring. We tried comforting. We tried… everything. Believe me, we got plenty of advice from those who knew of our struggle. With every passing day I was more determined that our efforts not be in vain.

Six weeks after the transition to the toddler bed we moved him back to the crib. Sanity instantly returned to our home. He went to sleep and stayed asleep all night. We all looked forward to evenings again instead of dreading them. He was comfortable. He still needed the secure confines of the crib for whatever reason. I spent all of those nights trying to force something when it served all of us better had I tried to listen.

Back to the Crib 3Of course, some were highly critical. “He’s manipulating you,” they said. “Way to let him win,” they said. We were all cranky and sleep deprived and uncomfortable–I’m sure no one was winning.  One night I set the critics aside and listened to the heart of my child as he softly asked to sleep in the crib again. Up until that point he mostly had tears and excuses. Had I opened space for him to communicate, perhaps I’d have heard his underlying fears earlier.

Wouldn’t you know it, three months later we tried again with great success. We didn’t do anything different really. One day he asked about the big boy bed we temporarily placed in the corner of our bedroom. That day, he initiated the interest. No one called that manipulating, as they did when he tried to express his interest of staying in the crib, but I digress. That night he transitioned easily to the toddler bed. We all won.

Lynette is a mom of three children from newborn to age four. She appreciates the idea of staying connected but also that some seasons of life, like this one, leave her sleep-deprived and some days without shower. 

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