Another thing that persuaded us to keep Jack in his own bed is Jack's violent reaction to changing the things he's grown used to. If I forget to turn on the humidifier in his room before we sit in the rocking chair to snuggle, he tells me that I need to turn it on and cannot concentrate on our snuggle time until I do so. One time I was running late with the laundry and his crib sheet wasn't dry in time for his nap, so I tried to use a plain white sheet in his crib rather than the sheet with the barnyard animals that he was used to. He screamed and cried and pointed at his sheets, yelling at me "That's not right!!!" (needless to say, he didn't take a nap that day).
Jack has never once tried to climb out of his crib- he's always been very content to wait for mommy and daddy to come and get him and we definitely did not want that to change. Having lived with a very colicky infant that just did not sleep for the first 7 months of his life (and never truly got the hang of it until much later), Dave and I learned that in our family, and especially with Jack's personality, it was very important and very necessary to be lovingly strict about bedtime and sleep habits. Because of that and because we had always planned on buying a new crib for This One, we didn't feel any pressure to make Jack switch to a big boy bed.
However, The Belly had other ideas. Did you know how impossibly hard it is to change the sheets of a crib when you have a huge baby-belly in the way? By the time I was 4 months pregnant I realized that it would be nearly impossible for me to continue to change Jack's sheet every day as the pregnancy went on. I mean, if I could barely do it at 4 months pregnant can you imagine how hard it would have been at 7, 8, or 9 months pregnant? So I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and convert Jack's bed to a toddler bed. Yikes!
Dave definitely thought I was crazy. But he couldn't deny that I was having a hard time changing Jack's sheets, and so he said that if I could wait one more week he would make sure not to pick up any overtimes so that he could be home to help me during the sleepless nights that we were so certain would follow. Both of us were picturing having to get up multiple times at night to console our son who abhors change and were definitely expecting him to take advantage of his new-found freedom by escaping his bed, and probably his room, when he didn't feel like sleeping. We were convinced that this would be the end of naptime, as well. But, there was no way around it! We had to make the switch, and it had to be soon.
To prepare, I started telling Jack about how pretty soon, we were going to take the front of his crib off, and we were going to turn it into a big boy bed! He sounded excited when we talked about it, and a few times he even brought the subject up himself, reminding me "We change the crib and I get a big boy bed and we take the front off!" Also, my mom made Jack a special pillow case and gave it to him, along with a new pillow (he would not use one because it wasn't part of his 'normal'). We told him it was his special big boy pillow and he could use it in his new big boy bed. He loved his new big boy pillow... but when it came time to go to sleep he refused to let us put the pillow in his crib with him! You see why I was afraid it would be a difficult transition?
Finally the day came, and as soon as Jack woke up from his nap (I definitely wasn't going to start the transition with a nap, so it had to wait until after that!) I came in and showed him my tool and told him that I was going to make his crib into a big boy bed! He thought it was pretty cool, and he stood over my shoulder to supervise very closely for the whole 5 minutes it took to take off the front rail.
As soon as the rail came off, Jack yelled "It's my BIG BOY BED!!!" and climbed up and started jumping on his bed like a madman! It was absolutely hilarious!
Of course, I had to properly document the occasion ;)
(please ignore the diaper- I was so excited to 'fix' his bed that I forgot to fix that!)
Of course, knowing that it was inevitable for Jack-the-klutz to fall out of the bed, I added a short bed rail that I could easily lower for sheet-changing purposes.
Dave and I were completely anticipating a difficult night ahead of us, so in order to do whatever was in our power to avoid that, we stuck very strictly to Jack's bedtime routine that night, adding a short little speech about how excited we were about his new big boy bed as I was getting his PJs on. Everything was going smoothly, and we had made it all the way to snuggle time without any incidents! Then I said it was time for bed...
Me: You get to sleep in your big boy bed tonight! Are you excited?
Jack: Yes, I get a big boy bed!
Me (laying him down): Do you want the big boy pillow that grandma gave you?
Jack: Yes, please I want grandma's pillow!
Me (putting the pillow in the bed): Okay, it's time to lay down now.
Jack (laying down as high as he can on the pillow): Um, how do I get out of here?
Me: When you wake up in the morning I will come and get you, just like every morning!
Jack: I like the big boy bed! (looking at the new safety rail) It has lots of white circles on it!
Me: It does have lots of white circles. Okay, here is your ducky, and here is your blanket, and here is your kiss goodnight! I love you, big boy! I'll see you in the morning! Sleep well!
Jack: See you tomor-ning!
I came back out in the living room and Dave and I sat on the couch with our eyes glued to the video monitor to see what he was going to do.
And we waited...
and our wonderful, well-behaved, incredibly handsome and smart big boy...
FELL ASLEEP! Without making a peep or a protest, and only minimal wiggling around to try to get comfortable! We were amazed!
He slept all night long, and even 30 minutes later than usual the next morning! When he woke up, he stayed in his bed until we came to get him, just like I had told him to! And the next night and morning went just as smoothly! We were so excited, and so proud of him!
Two days later Jack got his first opportunity to take a nap in his bed (we were really busy and were forced to skip naptime for a few days), and I was really nervous. Jack usually does really great at naptime, even when he decides not to sleep. He usually would stand up and walk around in his crib, singing and talking to himself, and when he decided that he was tired he'd lay down and fall asleep. I was very interested to see how that would translate into naptime!
When our pre-nap snuggle time was over, I stood up to carry Jack to his bed... and the second I finished singing our special song Jack blurted out "Now I take a nap in my big boy bed!" And that was it! He did perfect at naptime! And when he woke up, he waited for me to come in and get him before getting out of his bed!
All that preparation, delay, and anxiety for nothing- Jack took to his big boy bed like he'd been in it the whole time! Amazing!!!
That was about a month ago. Dave is currently working on getting the nursery set up, and next we're going to redecorate Jack's room. I'm very anxious to see how Jack handles that! I bought new bedding for him, and I've told him that as soon as we paint his room he's going to get to use his new big boy sheets (we'll see how he handles me taking away his precious animal sheets)! I'm going to rearrange the furniture- one of his dressers will probably go in the baby's room, and I want to put his bed in the furthest corner to cut down on the possibility that the baby and I will wake him up at night.
It's funny, most of my nesting instincts have not revolved around preparing our home for the baby so much as it has revolved around preparing Jack to be a big brother.
And now, without further ado... my big boy in his big boy bed!!!