Its always a special moment when the time comes for your child take that step from sleeping in their cot to sleeping in their 'big bed'. For me that moment came just over 2 weeks ago when my daughter let herself into my room before I'd even had the chance to fully get out of bed. On one hand it was sad to see that my little baby was growing up, but on the other hand I was so proud that she had finally reached that iconic milestone.
So that evening, down came the cot side and my daughter was free to roam her room. With her having slept peacefully through the night since she was 10 weeks old I believed my only worries to be her turning her bedroom furniture into a nocturnal assault course. But to my surprise a whole new problem erupted. One I was really not prepared for.
My sweet, happy daughter who would usually wave to family members as she went to bed and hold my hand, smiling as we walked the stairs was now screaming at the stair gate and hanging off of my leg. She had suddenly become terrified of her room. And at first it would seem that nothing would console her, no reading or cuddling or self soothing.
I felt so guilty. I had stolen her safe haven from her, somehow making her room into a place of terror and fear. But, not wanting to take any steps back we powered on through, fulled with advice from online forums and family friends who had recently also taken the plunge. Thankfully, I found that this was quite a common occurrence with toddlers suddenly feeling exposed from the lack of cot bars and wanting to be comforted.
So if you are going through a similar situation, believe me you are not alone! And it will get better. It took my daughter just over a week to understand that once I put her in her bed she would need to stay there, and another week or so for her to begin to sleep through the night again. We are now at a point where she is beginning to entertain herself when she wakes in the morning so I can go in once I am ready. (However this is not everyday, but it is getting more frequent).
Here are a few tips which i found to be really helpful when we made the transition:
1)Cot Guard - I wish we had bought one before taking our cot sides off. This helps to give just a bit more security back to your child as they are less prone to feeling exposed. (And also less likely too keep falling out in the night and therefore waking themselves up... Or just sleeping on the floor)
2)Cot bed/Single Duvet - Even after my daughter had stopped fighting her night time routine, I still found that she was waking during the night and not wanting always staying asleep. It suddenly dawned on me that as there was now more space for her cover's to move, so she may have been getting cold during the night. We bought our cot bed duvet and pillow set from Mothercare (Purchased for £13.99 + £12.99 for cover set). This has really helped to reduce the amount of times a night I have to go back to tuck her in and is definitely something that I would recommend for as soon as you make the transition.
3) Persistence! - For me personally this is the most important step! No amount of guards or duvets will help you if your child is sleeping in your child is sleeping in your bed. (I am not trying to criticise any parenting techniques or co-sleeping, however ideally If you're child is still sleeping with you then the chances are that neither of you are ready to make the transition just yet)
The first night my daughter was in her bed she got out no less than 6 times. And with each time I felt so guilty. She cried. I cried. Wondering if I was doing the right thing, feeling unnecessarily mean as I tugged her from my leg and silently put her back in her bed. But low and behold, (just as my family and friends said it would) it started to work. I was so shocked! Night after night my daughter started to stay in her bed and if she did wake up she would go straight back to sleep when I tucked her back in. I'm not going to lie it was tough. If felt like having a newborn again I was having so little sleep but I was so proud when she started sleeping through and being happy with her room again. Knowing that I hadn't forever ruined that lovely bonding time we'd had was such a relief.
So if you are going through this tough time at the moment and feeling that despair! Please don't give up! You are doing so well and will get there in the end, probably sooner than you think. (Even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment.) Please feel free to let me know how you tackled this transition, I would love to hear your stories! Or if you think I have left something out please don't hesitate to add that in the comments as well! I hope you have enjoyed reading.
Day of Knights