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Transitioning twins from cribs to toddler beds – in the same room!

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Converted bed with mesh crib bumper

Why am I even attempting this? I knew this task would be upon me soon and I have been dreading it for quite some time now. I have yet to find more than general advice about any kind of special technique to make the transition a smooth and successful one. This is unfounded territory for me. I’ve always had a book to give me some kind of guide about how to make it through this or that stage, event or obstacle. Thank goodness for my well read friends with previous experience! This was just another task that has been accomplished for many years, by many mothers, so I knew it could be done. For some reason it just scared/scares the crap out of me. My babies are growing up. They haven’t used a bottle in over a year. They are showing signs of readiness to potty train. And now, to prepare for potty training, they are making yet another HUGE step to being “big kids” and are moving out of their cribs.

I have no experience with this transition. I do however have a history of reading lots of books about how to care for twins and have my past experience with my own twins to draw on. That can’t be too shabby, right?

Why? We have decided to make this transition because when we potty train we will be using the “Potty Train in Three Days” method. This method suggests that you go for it. All or nothing. That means when you start training you don’t put a diaper on again – even for night time. If you communicate your expectations briefly and precisely to your children they should soon live up to these expectations with proper guidance and diligence. This also means that my “big kids” need to be able to get out of bed to go potty during the night if the need arises. Hence, the transition to toddler beds.

Closet lock

Day one of crib to toddler bed transition:

After the kids woke from nap we brought their post nap milk up to their room along with the supplies to convert their cribs to toddler beds. I explained that they are not babies any more and that they need big boy & girl beds so that when they learn to use the potty they can get out of bed to go peepee or poopoo. (Yes i’m giving you toddler language – sorry if it’s annoying – this is my life and how I talk for most of it!) We have been “potty playing” by letting them sit on the potty before bath time. This is part of prepping them for potty training. Anyways, we let them watch us put the beds together. After the beds were ready, we let the kids climb up into the beds. They played around a bit, bounced, and even jumped.

Changing table with strap to keep drawers closed

I explained that they are not allowed to stand in their new beds or jump because they could easily fall out. (Yes it is maybe a foot off the ground, but they could still get hurt from a small fall.)

I also want to acknowledge that the twin’s bed room has been super toddler proofed. We have outlet plugs on all unused outlets, straps that go around their entire dresser to prevent them from opening drawers and using them as stairs to climb endlessly, we have removed the rocking foot stool for our glider, have locked the glider in position, and have locked the closet doors shut. We have gates at the top and bottom of our stairs and have put locks on the doors upstairs. The kids can’t get out of their room when the door is shut. If the thought of locking them in their room makes you shudder with terror, please note that we have done this for their own safety. Their room is the safest one in the entire house. I don’t want them getting out of their room, wandering into the bathroom and deciding 1am would be a nice time for a self drawn bath. We also continue to use a baby monitor so that we can hear them if they are in need. (This is not really necessary, as our room shares a wall with the twins, but I’m over cautious, what can I say…)

After the introduction to their new beds we went on about our day. We maintained our usual bedtime routine and placed them in their beds with instructions not to get out of bed. I placed their pillow pets at the opening in the bed rail to partially “block” their exit. (Yes, you can begin laughing now, because we all know that a pillow pet will hardly stand in the way of a toddler with escape on their mind!) Their usual bedtime is 7:30 PM. We closed the door and stood outside. Yes, I really was hopping that they would go to bed like they usually do. No such luck.

My daughter felt the need to get up time after time to tell my son goodnight. He didn’t mind the first couple times and even giggled a bit. After that I think she scared him by getting up too close to him. Poor guy, he just wanted to sleep. I think he would have been fine, if she would have let him sleep. So I go into the room to tell them to get back in bed and go to sleep. This talk lasted 5 minutes and then my husband and I left the room again. This is when my son started crying. He has done this in the past when I have gone in during nap time to tell them “hush”. The problem was, now he was out of bed and crying.

My husband and I went back into the room with the lights off. I held my son and rocked him a bit. My husband directed my daughter back to bed repeatedly. He finally just started ignoring her, which worked better than telling her to get back into bed. I placed my son back in his bed and lay my hand on his back for comfort so that he wouldn’t get up again. My daughter kept getting up and walking a circle of the room. Whenever she came near my son’s bed, I steered her away.

Let me say that if she was a singleton, or was in her own room, I would have shut the door and let her fall asleep in her own time, as long as she was being safe and not crying for more than 15 minutes. Instead, I had to worry about her upsetting and /or waking her brother. Because my daughter was showing no signs of settling down, we wound up turning her crib around so that the half rail faced the wall. She screamed and cried about her loss of independence and freedom, but she couldn’t be trusted that night to leave her brother alone, and the poor boy wanted to sleep. So we sat on the floor in their room until my daughter stopped crying and finally fell asleep.

Day two:

My daughter woke crying because her big girl bed was turned around to face the wall. I had a terrible time going to sleep myself, worrying about my son falling out of bed! In the morning we turned my daughter’s bed back around and explained again how important it was to stay in your bed at night night time. I also decided that putting the mesh crib bumper along the rail side of the bed might make them hesitate, just a bit, when thinking about getting out of bed. The mesh bumper also stopped me from worrying that they would fall out of bed.

Nap time came. They were in bed at 1 and I shut the door to a quiet room. It was very quiet until 30 minutes later. I then heard the giggles and mumbling that sometimes come early in nap time. Usually the chatter dies down after half an hour and they drift off to sleep. This chatter grew into play. At 3PM the play was outrageous. We got both of them up with out having slept a wink.

Bed time came again. The difference this time is that both kids were so tired they could hardly keep their eyes open for their bath. We put them to bed, continuing our nightly routine of bath, book, bed. We closed the door to quiet twins. The quiet stayed quiet. I haven’t heard any little foot steps or any giggles. There have been no excessive “goodnight brother” ‘s.

As of right now I am hopeful. I will update the blog with a follow up post to give more details of this mother of all transitions! Keep your fingers crossed for us! This transition is huge. The kids will have to lose their cribs, sleep sacks, and  footsie pajamas before they are ready to potty train. Slowly but surely!

For an updated post on this subject click HERE.

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10 Responses to “Transitioning twins from cribs to toddler beds – in the same room!”

  1. Amanda says:

    I did all of the locks in our kiddos room that way they couldn’t get into anything or hurt themselves. They both loved playing at first, but that ends after a few weeks. We just stuck to our routine and if they got out of bed we put them back in and said it was nap or bedtime and it eventually worked.

  2. Alyssa says:

    What a great post! We have twins also and even though we have 3 older kids then the twins and I have done the transition from crib to bed before how to do it with twins in the same room will certainly be different! Our twins are also boy/girl and will be 2 in Nov. Although I am sure it will be our son that doesn’t want to stay put. Ellie lays down and sucks her thumb and stays quiet even if she is still awake. Eli occassionally screams bloody murder for two mins the falls asleep. Oddly enough middle of the night and early morning screams drom him do not wake Ellie.

    • janice says:

      It’s definitely a process Alyssa! Best of luck when you transition. Our twins are 8 mos apart! :-) I think we have similar kiddos but my quite thumb sucker is my son.

  3. Jeff King says:

    I believe that the transition of baby furniture from the crib to the toddler bed can be stressful for both parents and child. With patience and time, I do believe that you will accomplish the task sooner than later.

  4. gayle says:

    Today was our big day. My Twin girls are 3 and 3 months old. Nap time didnt work at all, they didnt sleep and tonight they switched beds.
    Did that happen with anyone else.
    Do we just leave them in the others bed?

    • janice says:

      When mine were first transitioning I let them sleep wherever they went to sleep. With DS it was often on the floor. As long as they sleep, I say let them switch beds!
      Once they decided not to let each other sleep, that’s when I had to put them in separate rooms. I hope your girls settle down nicely soon!

  5. Jennifer says:

    I have 18 moth old boys who decided to jump out not climb out of their cribs 1 week ago today. I made the trasition to toddler beds that day. My experiences are similar but I am taking the approach that if nobody is crying due to being hurt (of course, their room is the safest and they can’t get out) I am not going in. It is still taking about an hour for them to calm down,they are not crying, for their nap but only a half hour for bed time. I also don’t stress if they sleep on the floor, together, etc. I figure they need to learn how to fall asleep on their own. I just wonder how long this phase will last before they get bored with it and just go to sleep? Anybody know?

  6. kat says:

    i have boy and girl twins that are probably going to have to transition to toddler beds soon. i was googling about this and came across your site! my boy and girl twins sound so much like yours were at that time. my son will suck his thumb and fall asleep as soon as i put him down for bedtime (naptime is a different story), but my daughter does NOT want to go to bed. i can’t comfort her until she sleeps because she refuses to sleep when i’m around (they haven’t fallen asleep with me since they were newborns – they are just hyper kids) and wants to play. no matter how quiet or calm i am! so i’ve been doing the cry it out method for geez…over a year now and she will cry EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before bed and EVERY SINGLE DAY before nap time (they have to nap in separate rooms or they will NOT nap – or my son will wake my daughter because he just takes much shorter naps than her). the amount of time varies, but rarely ever is there a night where she doesn’t scream. so i was just imagining what it’s going to be like when we try to transition them to toddler beds. reading your post was helpful and encouraging. i’m sure it will happen eventually, just not sure how much hair i will lose in the process. thanks for posting! :)

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