Updated: Feb 12, 2019
It was inevitable. We had Willow co-sleeping with us for over 6 months and enough was enough. We have a massive bed so there was always sufficient space for all of us in the beginning but then little miss started practicing her yoga poses and somehow the bed was no longer big enough for the 3 of us. Greg would sleep on the couch, I would sleep right on the edge and Willow would take up the majority of the bed.
There was no way in hell that she would sleep in her cot. Every time I went to put her in it she would scream or lock her arms and legs so straight that it looked like she was playing 'the floor is lava'. It wasn't worth it and we all needed the sleep. I think it also came down to the fact that she hates being confined (maybe a little claustrophobic like me), so having the sides of the cot surrounding her would send her into a crazy panic (which I totally get). So what were we to do? We wanted our own bed back but wanted Willow to feel comfortable enough to sleep on her own.
Now, in no way am I a sleep specialist, actually I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm hoping that these little tips may help you like they did for us with transitioning your babe to a 'big bed'.
If you can (and space/budget allows), opt for a bigger bed rather than the standard single (or toddler bed). We found that these sizes were quite confined for Willow (they may be perfect for your babe however), she really needed to space to move around. We looked at King Singles but thought, why not get a Double?? She can use it for years to come which means we don't need to be spending more money on a bed later on AND if we do find ourselves in with her, it would be comfortable for us as well. We bought a padded bed head so if she did move around she wouldn't hurt herself and there would be no hands/feet/head stuck in any areas. We also removed the 'feet' so that the bed sat super low to the ground so that if she did fall out, it would be closer for her and she wouldn't hurt herself.
There are so many brands of bed guard rails out there, so you really need to do your research. We bought one for our bed originally as the pillows just weren't cutting it anymore so we got a 137cm guard rail (in length). It is extra high so even if she does roll into it, there is no way she is rolling over it (if a pillow should find its way underneath her).
As much as we want to make the bed look like a Pinterest worthy edition, keep it simple. Yes we have cute cushions and toys but they NEVER stay in the bed at night time. Pillows, Quilt and 'Lala' (Lulla Doll). That's it and that's all she needs.
BED TIME ROUTINE
We have always done a routine with her, for all her nap times. It has worked for us and she understands what it means once she has had a shower and her bottle is ready. BED TIME BABY!! With her new bed, it did take a good week or two to get her used to sleeping in her own bed/room. She would cry and wouldn't settle, she would wake any time between 12am and 4am and cry while pointing at her door and saying 'mummy bed'. I knew what she wanted and I had to find a way to get her used to the new 'norm'.
We would spend more time in her room, reading books, laying on her bed singing, playing hide and seek with the covers, so that she understood that it wasn't a place to make her upset and it can be a fun place. The routine was - dinner, bath, book, bottle and sleep.
I lay with her the whole time (which is more of a perfect excuse for cuddles - got to get them in while I can) and then I would reassure her how exciting it was to sleep in her own special bed. We always hold hands to go to sleep and I let her know that I will see her in the morning and we are right next door. They need to know we aren't leaving them and that their room and bed is safe, just like mum and dad.
We are very lucky, she hasn't left her bed during the night (yet) and she stays in her bed until we wake up (she hears us from the other room). I can't give any advice to help with roaming babes, but from other mums advice, you have to pop them back into bed and reassure them. It's all about the reassurance. This is new to them so do anything to make sure they know they are safe.
LET THEM HELP
If your babe is anything like mine, she is all about helping. If they have a responsibility, they feel in control and it helps them feel included. I get Willow to help make her bed and put the cushions back on the bed in the morning. If she feels like she is doing everything, she is more comfortable in spending the time in her room. She is happy to lay in bed, talking away to her dolls and looking at her books and that's what we love about it. She doesn't feel that it's a place where she is 'confined' or stuck in, it's a relaxing and calming area for her. Like I said, it works for us and we have had success in doing this but hey, it could be a massive fluke haha.
We hope you have some success with transitioning your mini to a big bed, its not just a scary time for the babes, but for us also. They are growing up. Packing the cot away is a heart squeezer and tears will be flowing.
Embrace the change and take it as a positive move for your mini human!