I really dread this part of parenting.
Lately we’ve been transitioning our youngest from a crib to a toddler bed. Usually we put this type of thing of until the absolute last minute, but this time our daughter ripped off the top layer of the mattress, then peed inside it. It was at that moment, my wife and I decided instead of buying a new mattress it was time to move her out of the crib.
The timing of it all worked pretty nicely, her brother was outgrowing his toddler bed by the day and he needed a new bed as well. We were able to give her the toddler bed and get my son a new bed.
With our daughter, we’re trying the approach of walking her back to her bed each time she gets out of it until she eventually falls asleep. We’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, and the bedtimes have been going pretty well, but nap time is still a nightmare at times. It may take an hour to get her to fall asleep and when she does it’s usually with her body on the floor and her head on the bed or next to her bed, or in the corner of her room, anywhere really. She basically resists being put back to bed so many times that she just falls asleep wherever she decides to give up the fight. After she finally falls asleep, we put a baby gate in her doorway (basically to keep her from wandering around the house getting into stuff in the middle of the night).
Like I said, things have been going well. We think one reason things are going as well as they are is we didn’t wait too long to make this transition like we did with our son. He was a few months past his third birthday we we finally got him out of his crib. We didn’t get him out sooner because there was no need, he wasn’t potty trained or trying to climb out. He would jump up and down in his crib, bouncing until his knees were at the top of the crib rail, but he never climbed out. Well, I guess there was that one time when I put him in a crib timeout, closed the door , heard a thud, and went in to see him startled on the floor. So he was able to climb out once, in a fit of rage.
There are many methods for getting your kids to stay in their rooms (and eventually fall asleep). I’ve heard of parents reversing the locks on the doors so their kids can’t get out, which seemed a little drastic to us. We did something similar though, we took a thick sock and folded it over on itself, then wedged it between the door and the door jam, to keep out child from continuously walking out of the room while we were trying to get her to sleep. We would then remove the sock after she fell asleep.
We’ve used video baby monitors to observe what our kids are up to while they are trying to fall asleep. I’ll never forget the one night I looked at the monitor expecting to see a sleeping child, but instead saw my toddler’s face pressed right up against the monitor camera. It looked like something straight out of the Blair Witch Project.
Whatever methods you choose, good luck. If I were giving advice on the topic I would say make sure you muster up as much patience as you possibly can (having some wine on hand doesn’t hurt either), and try to start the process when you are going to be home for several consecutive nights, not right before a weekend at grandma’s house.
Best of luck. Cheers!