My baby finally moved to a big girl bed, five days after she turned three. It might seem super late to some, but since she never gave us any indication of wanting to get out of the crib, we waited. My mind played out every horrible scenario that could have happened during the transition, but she managed it like a champ. There was no need for me to worry.
Looking back, all her milestones have gone in a similar fashion: me freaking out about the “what ifs”, and her just showing me that she’s got it. The key? Waiting for the right moment. We waited until she had enough maturity and experience to understand what we asked from her.
Milestone #1- Sleep Training
My fears: Hours and hours of crying, losing even more sleep, extra anxiety for baby
Reality: It was time. She was ready to fall asleep on her own. I tackled it one weekend when my husband was gone. She cried eight minutes the first night, five the next and none the third night. Being alone made it easier to stand my ground, and gave her one less person to turn to.
Milestone #2- Ending Breastfeeding
My fears: She would go hungry, losing our bond, her nutrition and health would take a hit, trouble falling asleep
Reality: She gave me no choice. A week before her first birthday she decided it was time to go cold turkey. This milestone was definitely harder on me because I wasn’t ready emotionally. During our period of adjustment, we learned how to bond in different ways. She’s now my shadow in everything I do.
Milestone #3- Dropping the Pacifier
My fears: No soothing “holy grail”, travel nightmares, how was she going to sleep?
Reality: This was hard. We simply waited too long. By two, she only used her pacifier during naps at home and bedtime (she didn’t use it at daycare). She understood her dependence on this outside source of comfort and now she was expected to spend her alone time truly alone. We made a whole story on what was going to happen to the pacifier for weeks before we got rid of it (we were going to send it to a baby in need). The day came and she was soooo heartbroken because she didn’t have it anymore. Lots of crying and soothing ensued for a few days. One night it clicked, she said she was happy because the baby that got her pacifier was happy. She got extra hugs and stories that night, and it was a thing of the past within two weeks.
Milestone #4- Potty Training
My fears: All the pee everywhere, refusal to go diaper-less, constipation from being scared, what about trips?
Reality: She was ready. We did the naked weekend method and she rocked it! She was fine going in the big potty with her tiny seat. We only had two accidents the whole weekend and lots and lots of treats (stickers for pee and small M&Ms for poop). For a while I wouldn’t leave the house without an extra set of clothes. Eventually, she was able to tell us when she needed to go and I got really good at remembering to take her to the bathroom as soon as we got anywhere and before we left. Thanks to daycare, she was exposed to potty training already and fully supported our decision.
Milestone #5- Bye Bye Crib, Hello Big Bed
My fears: Sleepless nights ahead, free-roaming in her room/house, late night visits to our bed, getting up and playing vs actually falling asleep
Reality: Again, she was ready. We waited until three for no other reason than she never ever showed any signs of climbing out of her crib. She was perfectly content with her tiny real estate. We got her ready for the change with big girl bed talks and bedding items for her birthday. She was so excited that all her stuffies fit comfortably with her with no compromising. We established some ground rules; no getting out of bed after reading books and/or before we came to get her in the morning. We followed the same routine for bedtime and waking up than before, and she has handled it like a champ. So far, she hasn’t tried to get up by herself and has waited for us in the morning or potty breaks (*knock on wood*).
We didn’t need to force any of these transitions on her (other than the pacifier), which was a major factor in how well she managed them. She understood what the expectations were and adapted easily because it made sense.
In our case, waiting for her developmental maturity has been the key to success managing these milestones.
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