Monday, June 13, 2011

Big Boy Bed

I've been talking about it for ages, it seems, but I decided that it was finally time to do the big boy bed transition with Jacob's third birthday on the horizon.  I hadn't bothered until now because he hadn't tried climbing out of it (other than once when he fell out during a tantrum at 18 months) and conventional wisdom dictates that you keep them in there as long as they will stay!  However, I'll admit it's getting harder to pick him up and get him over the side rail, and it is nice to think of him being able to climb into bed when he wants to sleep or read or grab an animal.  I also know that I'd like to get him accustomed to a big boy bed in a familiar setting before we someday have to make the switch to a real big boy bed in a big boy room.  And if the goal is to make the latter move sometime in the next year, now seems to be a good time.  I didn't want to tackle it alone, so I had to work around Craig's schedule of games and all that...so here we are.

After we got back from our errands and dinner on Saturday, I got to work.  I assembled the bed rail that I got that seemed to be one of the few that works on convertible cribs...supposedly all convertible cribs.  I got it together fairly quickly, but in looking at the installation directions, it became apparent that "all" might be a bit of an exaggeration.  Jacob's crib is apparently one of the few with a solid mattress base.  Most seem to have a metal grid type base, whereas Jacob's is a thick, dense particle board type material.  When we ordered the crib over three years ago, who would have known that would be an issue?  Not that we'd have picked anything different, but still...annoying.  Also, the board that had to be installed across the front that holds in the mattress and stabilizes the frame made retrofitting it nearly impossible.  Ugh.  Hopefully they'll take back an open box.

Anyway, by this time it was too late to change the crib back, so we had to do what we could to make it work for the night.  I was deathly afraid of Jacob falling out (it's a good foot and a half at least), and after wracking my brain a bit, I had a brainstorm.  I dug into a bin of baby stuff in the crawl space--I had already been in there to get his bedskirt, which I needed since it looked funny without it once the base had been raised--and grabbed his breathable bumper.  The short side was too short, but the long part worked.  I strung it across the opening to provide a bit of a buffer to keep him in the bed.  While it's far from ideal and not foolproof (more on that in a second) it seemed like it would at least contain him a bit...better than a wide open mattress, anyway.

There was some debate about whether or not it was safe.  Hard to say if it's safer than falling out of the bed, but yes, it does create a gap.  However, it's breathable material, it's secured with velco, and it can easily come off if enough weight fell on it.  Also I think Jacob would be more likely to fall through than get stuck, and let's not forget we're dealing with an able-bodied child now, not a helpless infant, and I think if he got caught up in it somehow, he'd be able to either get himself out or be aware enough to scream for us.  I can't say it all with 100% certainty, because I know stranger things have happened, but in this case I think the odds are small enough to warrant giving it a try.

Here's a picture of our big boy in his big boy bed, complete with the bumper.  
You can barely see it, but we did put half of his stuffed animals on the floor as a crash pad in the event he fell out.
Jacob is still under the threat of going back to a crib if he doesn't act like a big boy, and if this just turns into a huge disaster for any reason, we'll either have to go back to the crib or think about moving him to a big boy bed in a big boy room sooner than originally planned.  He'll have more room to roll around in a twin size bed anyway.  But I'd like to take it one step at a time.  Ideally I think it would be cool to make the switch when a new baby is on the way, to make a big deal about a big boy room for a big brother...you know, make it all a part of the preparation process, so he gets that big changes are afoot, but that cool things are coming out of it as well.  However, if we have to do it early, I guess the bright side is that he'll get a little separation before a real baby is coming, and might not feel like the baby is taking over "his" room because he's happily settled in one of his own. I guess we'll spin it how we have to when the time comes.

Anyway, he's gone down pretty well for two nights and one nap so far.  He did some of the usual stalling, but that's par for the course.  He's also woken up early the last couple mornings, and creeped into our room very early Sunday morning after I forgot to close his door completely Saturday night.  I have a safety thing on the knob so he can't get out without help--basically trying to prevent him from wandering around at night, falling down the stairs, or playing with his toys--which is fine until he's potty trained, I'd say.  Still, he's allowed to look at books or play quietly if he wakes up early (though Sunday, considering how early he was up and how late he went down, I encouraged him to go back to sleep--no dice).  I've always been a little worried about the morning creep, just because prior to this it would mean he figured out how to get out of his crib.  Fortunately this time it was okay and I heard him coming, but it was still weird to open my eyes and see him there.

I did discover that my little system wasn't foolproof, however.  He did fall out in the middle of the night that first night, but although he was scared, it was brief.  I held him for a bit and suddenly he was falling asleep sitting up in my arms.  He also fell out during a brief tantrum pre-nap yesterday, a tantrum which had more to do with other factors, not with napping itself.  But that was him just being crazy, and I hope he learned a lesson from it.  Last night was fine, so hopefully he's getting the hang of it.  And hopefully one of these nights we can take the bumper off and he'll be fine.  But for now we'll see how it goes.  Another milestone down...maybe.

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