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Project Big Girl Bed

Temple is officially in a “big girl” bed! When did my baby grow up?!?

It’s important to remember, there is definitely no one-size-fits-all strategy for this transition. Like almost anything related to our babies and their milestones, you have to trust your mama instincts, because you ultimately know them the very best! However, there are some common cues you can put on your radar.

Here are some of the ones I took into consideration:

  1. At around 18-months, Temple started trying to escape her crib by pulling herself up the side and making mama real nervous! She never actually fell out but came really close a few times.
  2. Temple is approaching her 2nd birthday, which is in January. Not every child is ready at this age, but my sleep coach (Jessica from Sleep Happy) says that in most cases, you should wait until as close to 2 as you can! This will get you better results than if you try to transition them too early. That being said, I’m pregnant and due early March, so I knew I wanted to get Temple started before Baby Girl #2 arrived.
  3. Temple has always been a great sleeper, which I knew would help us when ditching her crib! We had a great foundation for all of her sleep transitions, schedule changes, etc thanks to our work with Jessica and Sleep Happy. If your baby is a great sleeper in general, that can only help you in making this transition! (NOTE: Don’t forget to check out my past “Schedule Updates” posts. I have shared several updates since she was a newborn with lots of tips!)

When Temple was around 20-months, I gave Jessica with Sleep Happy Consulting a quick call to get her thoughts on moving to a new bedroom/bed. I didn’t want to transfer her if Jessica felt it was too soon, but luckily we were totally on the same page! She felt that especially given Temple is on such a great daily schedule with her one nap and sleeping through the night, she was ready to make the switch whenever I was.

Here are the steps I took and some tips from my sleep coach to help make the transition a smooth one:

  1. The first big step was getting rid of Temple’s sleep sack. I was pretty worried about this one because she’s always loved it. I started slow with nap time – she’s down to one per day, and you can read about that milestone here. My sleep coach told me to replace the sleep sack with a blanket made of similar material. That way, you’re not robbing her of that comfort she’s so used to. And, on a more practical note, it gets her used to using a blanket in bed! I was shocked at how easy this step went. She didn’t seem to mind not being in her sleep sack and loved the blanket addition! I just made sure to keep socks on her feet so that she didn’t get chilly. Once nap time without her sleep sack went seamlessly, I started leaving it off at night, too. The first step down!
  2. Add a pillow to the crib. Adding a pillow will help your LO feel more comfortable when they move to a bed. One thing I regret is getting a “toddler pillow” to start. Total waste of money IMO because they are seriously TINY. I recommend going straight to a standard pillow. I should have listened to my sleep coach on this one, but you live, and you learn! We bought Temple this organic pillow, and she loves it! Also, use a pillowcase you’ve slept on to add an extra level of security for your LO when they make the move to the big bed.
  3. Make their new bedroom as similar to their nursery as possible. This is obviously a non-issue if you’re simply swapping the crib out for a bed in LO’s existing space, but we moved Temple into a whole new bedroom to prep for Baby #2. Little Sister will take over the nursery, and they will share a Jack-n-Jill bathroom in between their rooms. Eventually, they’ll share a bedroom, but in the meantime, we’re using the same night light, sound machine, pillow, and lighting- we have blackout shades installed through Three Day Blinds
  4. Make sure LO’s bedroom door has a lock and keep the decor as simple as possible to start. Jessica told me that the first week they are likely to get out of bed and explore the room. If you have a bookshelf or toys lying around, then they will try to play instead of sleep, so a minimalist approach is best while they’re transitioning!
  5. Use bumpers and/or side rails on the new bed. This is totally up for you, but we went with the bumpers and have loved them- Temple looks so much cozier and more secure in her bed.
  6. My personal opinion…when you go for, GO FOR IT! AKA, don’t do the whole “nap in the big bed, crib at night” routine. I do think you have to trust your gut on this one, and I’m sure the slow transition has worked for some of you. But, I’ve found with all our transitions- dropping a nap, taking away her sleep sack, etc. that once I start, it is easier to just stick it out and not go back and forth, which can make your LO confused. This may mean a few tough days, but I do believe it is easier in the end.
  7. If your child is a bit older,  a “Sleep Rules Chart” could be a great technique! To learn more, reach out to Jessica with Sleep Happy.
  8. Have your child help with the transition. Let them help decorate, put sheets on the new bed, etc. I 100% think this helped in Temple’s case. We had the bed and sheets all ready for about 2-3 weeks before we transferred her. She helped put her unicorn sheets on, and we even moved all her clothes into the new dresser, so we were often in the room changing and getting familiar. I would always act super excited when we went into the new room to get her pumped up and build the anticipation – just silly things to make her proud of her new big girl bed!
  9. Temple’s bed frame is low, but if yours is higher you may consider starting with the mattress on the floor before graduating to the frame.
  10. Don’t be surprised if your LO sleeps on the ground at first. My sleep coach said it’s super common for kids to get out of bed, cry at the door, explore, and eventually fall asleep somewhere on the ground. Just let them sleep there, and eventually they will stay in their bed. She said 3-5 nights of exploring is typical.
  11. If you have an older toddler, a clock with light could help keep them in their bed until a certain time each morning. I’ve heard wonderful things about this clock.

Okay, now let’s talk a little more about how Temple’s transition actually went. Again, resist the urge to compare. Each kiddo is so different! I transferred Temple a few weeks ago when she was a little over 22 months. I finally had our blackout shades installed and it was go time. I was SO nervous and thought for sure it would be a major struggle, at least for the first several days. The tips and tools above definitely played a major role in the seamless transition. The environment is the same, we don’t have any decor or toys out, and we use the same sound machine, nightlight, pillow, etc. We made sure she was excited about her new room, and comfortable in the bed itself – both major factors! I cannot thank Jessica with Sleep Happy enough for helping this Mama & LO feel confident and ready to go!

Jessica & Sleep Happy are offering a great deal for all of you mamas wanting a little help with sleep!

  • If you mention me, Mada Leigh, you will receive a free written summary with your 1-hour phone consultation (a $50 value).
  • Check out Jessica’s full list of offerings and corresponding pricing here, or click here to schedule your consultation here

Bed and Pillow Details:


Our current monitor of choice is our Nest cam. Might seem overkill, but we wanted to see the full room, just in case we had an escape artist on our hands!

Temple’s Current Food/Sleep Schedule + Nighttime Routine:

  • Wakes up around 6:30am
  • Temple wakes up ready to eat, so I usually wake up before her (around 5:30-6am) so that I have her breakfast started and prepared for when she wakes up. So, I’d say she typically eats breakfast around 6:45am.
  • 7:40am– we leave the house for her half-day school program.
  • 10:30am– She has a snack at school. Each week a different mom is in charge of snacks, so they are always different. I will say that the school does not allow unhealthy food. Each parent is given a detailed grocery list but can make a special snack for one of the days. The only rules are that it can’t contain nuts or chocolate.
  • 12:00 pm- she is home from school.
  • Around 12:15 to 12:30pm– Lunch
  • Around 1:30pm- Goes down for her nap
  • Around 3-3:30pm- Wakes up from her nap
  • 3:30-4pm– Snack #2 of the day.
  • Around 6-6:30pm: Dinner
  • Around 7-7:30pm: Bedtime
  • Bedtime Routine: After dinner, I either bath her, or she takes a shower with me/us. Recently, Temple is loving showers with her horseys + I get my shower in for the night, which is nice! After bathtime, we put our lotion on (I either use this or this on her), and we put on her PJs. Depending on the time we either play in her playroom for a little, or we go straight into brushing our teeth. I try and brush her hair while she brushes her teeth- it’s the only way she’s distracted enough to let me brush her hair out. Lastly, we grab her water cup, and she lays in her bed. Caleb or I read her a book or two, she has some water, we say a prayer, and it’s nighttime! Lights out typically by 7:30pm!

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