Pass the tissues, please. I know I make a big deal of every “first” (first movie! first wagon ride! first popsicle!) and make milestones out of nothing, but I promise this one is legit. My tiny peanut of a baby (who I swear I gave birth to yesterday) is actually a big, independent 2-year-old that has officially moved out of his crib.
I have agonized about this particular milestone for at least six months, mostly because I knew it was something that was going to happen out of necessity and convenience (short story: little brother needs the crib) and not necessarily because he was showing obvious signs of being ready. He climbed out once several months ago, and while it hasn’t happened since, I knew the days (or months) left in the crib were numbered anyway. I went back and forth–toddler bed or twin bed? mattress or bed frame? before the baby comes or after? My husband learned to ignore me as I second-guessed and changed my mind over and over again.
We ultimately decided to wait until after Graham was born, as it allowed Cullen more time to adjust and bought us some extra good crib sleep. That was the hardest part and the thing that made me wait the longest–Cullen was a rockstar sleeper (note the use of the past tense). He slept from 7:30 PM to 7:30 AM every night, and took consistent three- and sometimes even four-hour afternoon naps, every day. These are the things dreams are made of, no?
And then, all at once, the nap disappeared and I had a wild toddler flinging stuffed animals, singing songs, and doing just about anything other than sleeping from 12 to 3 every afternoon. This lasted almost two weeks, and at the same time, baby brother had not only already arrived–he was already eight weeks old! I was itching for the empty space in his room to finally have a crib so that he had a place to kick his legs and “play” in there. And Cullen’s amazing naps–the main thing I was holding on to, tightly–had all but disappeared. After that, I felt like I had nothing to lose.
So, after months and months of over-thinking and agonizing, I impulsively decided on Sunday afternoon that today was the day. After Cullen’s afternoon nap–which he ironically did take–the whole family loaded into the car and caravanned to the mattress store just an hour after I tearily declared to my husband (thank you, hormones) Graham needs a crib! And we need to stop procrastinating and actually do this! And do it we did. Hilarious that I had Amazon-ed and Google-d my heart out for so long, and when it came down to it I decided on a whim that we would get a twin mattress and and put it on the floor and that was that.
We went to the store, let Cullen help us pick one out, talked up the “big boy bed” and made it a huge deal, and set up free next-day delivery. After that, we went to Target and let him pick his own sheets–which of course he loved. A few people asked me if I was nervous, how we were going to do it, how we were preparing him, etc. And what it really came down to ultimately was that I felt like I knew my kid, and I knew what would (and what would not) work for him.
Of course the actual decision to do it came out of the blue, but the concept was old news. I had been talking about big boy beds for a while. He knew what it meant. He also had a few friends make the jump recently, so I had him check out their beds and talked about them a lot when we visited their houses. It was definitely a topic of conversation in our house in the weeks prior. I know Cullen loves making choices and having (the appearance of) control. So picking the sheets was a huge win for him, and he was pumped about his yellow and orange selections.
The day the bed came, the mattress hung out upstairs in the hallway until dad could come home and take apart the crib. Cullen had fun flopping on it and checking it out all day long. Once dad was home, we all headed to Cullen’s room to move the crib out and set the mattress up in its place, and he seemed to take to it pretty instantly. He loved flopping down on it, and I was amazed at how big a twin bed seemed for such a little guy. It was close to bedtime by the time we were all done, so there wasn’t much time to overthink or obsess over the next steps. We explained to him over and over again that he needed to stay in the bed until mom and dad came into his room in the morning, and he seemed to understand that (since he’d repeat it back to us). We all curled up in the bed together and read books, and then it was lights out and goodnight kisses.
Casey and I huddled outside his room with the video monitor watching intently, having no idea how it would go. The first night he sat up and down for a while and rolled around a bit, but never called out or got out of the bed, and slept all night through with no issues. He stayed put in the morning just like he said he would, and got lots of hugs and praise when we all woke up. Knock on wood, nighttime has been a breeze so far with zero wakeups or escapes (currently on night four!) and he seems to fall asleep easily.
Naps have been a bit more challenging, as I expected. You have to love that toddlers are so literal–I told him that he was not allowed to get out of bed until I came back in, but I missed the huge oversight that his toy/bookshelf is in reach of his bed. So instead of getting out of bed, he just brought the party straight to him. I have come in twice to find basically everything he owns piled into the bed with him–hilarious, but unacceptable. He has, eventually, napped–but they are much shorter. Still, each day gets a bit better and he still seems excited and not at all nervous about the new bed. I’m pretty hopeful this transition will continue to be smooth.
Still, I look at how little he looks on that giant mattress and I can’t really believe it. It really truly feels like yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital and put him down in the crib all swaddled up like a burrito, and couldn’t believe how enormous it looked around his tiny peanut body. And then the baby became the one that looked enormous, and just like that he became the tiny peanut again.
I was scrolling back through old photos to try to find the first picture I ever took of him in the crib, and ended up being sucked down the rabbit hole of memory lane–tearing up at all the old photos of him in his crib, and finding it hard to believe how much one little person can change in two years. If you are a sap like me, help yourself to a retrospective of Cullen’s journey into and out of his crib…
2.5 Months 1 of 24
This was the first picture I found of Cullen in the crib, although he is clearly not actually sleeping. He slept in our room for the first three months, so in the earlier months it was just used for sorting laundry and baby entertainment. As a side note, I also spent a painful amount of time researching and choosing a crib, and for some reason picking one felt like a HUGE deal. I remember going to the store to look at them in person and saying to Casey, "Why are they so BIG? No baby could ever fill this thing up!"
3 Months 2 of 24
We ended up moving Cullen into his crib not because I felt ready, but more because I felt like he was about to roll over. We ended up quitting the swaddle and moving him in the same week, and within just a few days I came in and found him like this.
More at 3 Months… 3 of 24
With all that swaddle-less freedom, my peanut made it clear that on his back was not his preferred way to sleep. Of course, this petrified me so I watched my monitor like a hawk.
3.5 Months 4 of 24
Eventually I gave in and accepted that he was going to sleep however he was most comfortable. Check out that amazing old man hair and ridiculous socks!
4.5 Months 5 of 24
This picture kills me. So much of that chubby little baby grin is exactly how he still looks today (and he still wears that diaper!). Also, this is apparently when I deemed it safe to sleep with a lovey blanket.
5 Months 6 of 24
Ah yes, see all these things I had forgotten about! This is good to look through so I can remember to do these things for Graham now. I completely forgot that I used to hang toys off the side of the crib for entertainment. Cullen loved that butterfly!
More at 5 Months… 7 of 24
Why do babies sleep like this and why is it so unbelievably adorable!?!
6.5 Months 8 of 24
One of the first times I came in and found him sitting UP in his crib! Surprise!
6.5 Months take 2 9 of 24
How can anyone sleep like this? Also, I see we've upgraded to two lovey blankets...
7 Months 10 of 24
More toys hanging from the crib, and it looks like we moved down a notch to the lower setting. Also, first crib picture taken in our new (second!) house!
7.5 Months 11 of 24
We must have been moving into summer at this point, and apparently I was finally feeling comfortable enough to upgrade to sleeping with full sized blankets!
8 Months 12 of 24
I belive this was the point at which I finally ordered that crib rail teething guard. Spoiler alert: it was too late.
More at 8 Months… 13 of 24
I have a very distinct memory of loading Cullen up into the Ergo on one particularly gloomy afternoon and walking to Fred Meyer to buy some new pajamas. This was the pair we came home with and as soon as I put them on him I realized they were already too small. Also, I spy a stuffed animal.
9.5 Months 14 of 24
This was the kind of thing that I was never quite sure if I should fix and risk waking him up, or if I should just let it be...
10 Months 15 of 24
This is one of my favorite pictures of him taken during that age, and also one of my favorite onesies. I loved once he was standing and I'd find him looking out waiting for me when I came in!
More at 10 Months… 16 of 24
Hi Monkey! Our beloved monkey (actually monkey #2--the dog ate the first one but please don't tell) still remains in the
cribbed to this day.
1 Year 17 of 24
Another favorite picture of mine--those big beautiful lips and lashes! By the time Cullen was walking, I took advantage of the crib as one of the only places I could get a picture of him that wasn't a complete blur.
14 Months 18 of 24
I like to look back at this early toddler phase and call it "that time when my kid had a major mullet and I didn't realize it." Also, I see an addition of a glowing turtle and another blanket to the crib. The army is growing...
15 Months 19 of 24
Wow, does he suddenly look enormous or what? Definitely not fitting across sideways anymore!
18 Months 20 of 24
At this point it became almost impossible to get any sleeping pictures of him, as I wouldn't dare disturb a precious toddler nap. I remember having to do a rare wake-up on this particular day and just standing there staring at him for several minutes before I did. He has the collared shirt and Gymboree stamp of a seasoned toddler, but the paci and sweet sleepiness he's had since the very beginning. Sniff.
26 Months 21 of 24
Which brings us all the way up to two years old--and this past Sunday night--his very last night in the beloved crib. I snuck in and took a picture so I could remember what he looked like during this stage, once I've long forgotten. A few months ago I started him with a toddler pillow, and started offering to cover him up with his blankey at bedtime. I hoped it would help him get used to the look and feel of a "real" bed, and I think it helped. Also, he now sleeps with two monkeys, puppy, Elmo, and Cookie Monster. Oh, and this is house number three.
First night in the big boy bed! 22 of 24
First night in the big boy bed! How cool that all his buddies became big boys on the exact same day! Those are the orange patterned sheets that Cullen proudly picked, and that is the toy shelf that I so foolishly put directly next to his bed.
Storytime 23 of 24
Ultimately, I'm really glad we ended up choosing a twin mattress over a toddler bed since Casey and I can get in it with him to read books or cuddle (most toddler beds have 50lb weight limits). Some day we'll upgrade and get a bed frame but this a great solution for his current age.
Big bed, tiny toddler 24 of 24
I know he feels big and proud and independent, but I just can't get over how little he looks on that big mattress. It's sad to see the crib era come to an ends, but I'm also just so proud to be raising such a sweet kid that is (so far) taking all these big changes in stride. And while it's bittersweet, it's also really fun to start a new era of baby Graham's turn in the crib! My husband suggested that we move Graham to the crib the same night that we moved Cullen to the bed, and I suggested that I was going to have a heart attack. It seems that baby steps are not just for big boys...