9 Big Kid Bed + Sleep Training Tips

It wasn’t easy. Those first few nights drove us absolutely bonkers. BUT, I think it was easier than most people have it. When I asked for tips on Instagram, I received so many comments, direct messages and emails about their experiences with the “big kid bed” swap. And boy, sometimes it can be tough. It is sleep training all over again! So after receiving so much great feedback and help, I wanted to return the favor and share what worked for us… because any advice in this matter is worth sharing! This is what we did:

Made it exciting:

Ezra came with us to pick out his bed, he tested it out in the store, “helped” put it together… we made a big deal. We talked about his “big boy bed” with excitement several times a day until he was excited about it too. We encouraged him to show any guests that came over his new big boy bed and he did just that! Soon he was crazy about it!

Bed Placement:

Ezra was used to seeing his bedroom from a certain perspective. He has been in that crib for a long time! For us, putting his bed in the exact spot as his crib wasn’t possible, it just didn’t fit. We think this is what caused some jarring in the middle of the night: waking up, not recognizing his space right away. So if possible, place the child’s new bed in the same spot as the crib once was.

Stuck with our bedtime routine:

Clay has been putting Ezra down every night since he was just a wee one. It’s their thing… their bonding time (and my time for some peace and quiet alone for a few minutes.) So we didn’t want to switch that up. Every night: brush teeth, Ezra chooses a book, they get a cup of water, find the binky and bear, give mama kisses and go to bed. Every single night. So when we switched they did just that, nothing else changed.

Gave him a choice:

Now that he was “a big boy”, Clay decided to let him choose: “do you want me to carry you to bed or do you want to go get in bed by yourself?”… he asks that question every night, and every night Ezra chooses to walk himself to bed (with Clay following behind). This makes him feel like it is his decision to get into bed.

Introduced a new (or old) stuffy.

Ezra was never really into his stuffed animals. But when he moved to his big boy bed, we started giving him his bear. Now he always wants bear in the bed with him, I think it gives him that little extra comfort. If they already have one, of course, they’ll be there by their side already! 🙂

Talk through it:

Although they may only be 2-3 years old… they understand so much. Talk to them and let them know why you are switching their bed! We asked Ezra several times if he was happy with his new bed and addressed his concerns. 🙂 (he had many.) This was a big change for our little one! So we tried out best to make him know we realized that and cared about his feelings.

The no eye contact, no emotion bed return:

This is a tip from a few people on IG and it totally worked. I think it has a name, but can’t find it and don’t remember. If you know, please comment and let me know! So this was used when he figured out, “hey! I actually don’t have to stay in this bed if I don’t want to!” and would wander around the house at night. Every time he would get out of his bed, we would pick him up gently, without eye contact or words, and put him back in his bed, tuck him in, and walk out. He did this a few times a night for two nights, cried every time we would return him to his bed. But that’s ok! He was learning! He only did this for 2 nights and on the third night, slept all the way through.

I had also talked about our schedule: (he has been sleeping in until about 10 every day). He has not always done this, and I am starting to believe he is going through a growth spurt because this kid is sleeping like crazy! But, a few things that has always helped with extended sleep:

Black out shades:

We got ours at IKEA mainly because we have little/no AC in our house and it kept his room cool. But we have found that they work great for nap time and bedtime as well.

White Noise:

With such a small house, white noise is a must. Constant sound, blocking out noises from inside and outside, will help in longer sleep sessions!

And just FYI because some of you asked: Ezra goes to bed at around 8:30-9 and sleeps until 9:30-10. He still naps from around 3-5.

I would be happy to answer any questions! I am no expert… but I know what is working for us! Best of luck to you mamas! Things can be tough sometimes, but we are tougher! 🙂headedsomewhere signature

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  1. I love his room it’s so cute!
    We still cosleep with our little and he’s almost 2! I’m excited for him to get his own bed but at the same time so so scared, when the day comes it will be a huge adjustment for both of us but definitely taking notes from this post for when it’s our turn.


  2. Leslie says:

    Oh man. Love these tips. I have a young one and we are almost ready to make the dive! Also, my boy loves road map rugs. Where did you get yours?

  3. Christina Sarno says:

    Hi. My little one is 18 months. Thank you for sharing the big boy tips. Sure will incorporate them into our lives once he time comes to change his crib to a bed.
    I am having trouble with getting my son to transition fully to a cup. Hr has been drinking from a cup for months now. Problem is he will only drink water from a cup. Nothing else. No juice, fruit water, or milk. He will only drink nothing but milk from his bottle. I’m not worried about him drinking juice. He doesn’t like it right now and that’s okay with me. I would just love for him to ditch the bottle now and drink milk from a cup. I would be so happy if you have any tips or advice about transitioning from a bottle to a cup. Thank you!

  4. Kaolee says:

    We just switched over my 2-year old to a big boy bed as well! The first three nights were tough, but the following two nights were really good, and now I think we’ll just take it day by day. We also got him some car bedding because he just loves cars so I’m hoping that he’ll start to feel like it’s his bed.

  5. cheryl says:

    Lauren,I still remember your little 2 year brother getting out of his big boy bed in the middle of the night and walking into his Mom and Dad’s bedroom, then just standing there by the side of the bed until I finally sensed his breathing.”This isn’t working,” (wooking)he said. I was so amused that I couldn’t help sweeping him up and tucking him between us. Oh, the memories.

    • Mary Lauren says:

      HAHAHA!! I remember this story. I also remember him waking me up in the middle of the night when we were in our bunk beds, asking me to walk him to the bathroom. We had to run past the front door which was VERY scary. 🙂 haha

  6. Kristen says:

    Oh my goodness, this is SO HELPFUL. We are about to embark upon this transition with our two-year-old, and I keep getting mixed advice from people. Some are like, “Leave him in his crib until he’s climbing out!”, or “Why move him?! Leave him until he’s 4!”. We have another baby on the way in December, so I want to make this transition well beforehand, so that he feels like a big boy by the time his sibling arrives. Thanks for sharing what works for you! PS your baby is sleeping until 10am. You are a unicorn mom.

  7. Making it so exciting is such a good tip!

  8. Kate says:

    Can you tell me what his bedding is? So cute!

  9. Hännah Johnston says:

    Hi Mary Lauren!

    I am wondering if you sleep trained your son when he was a baby as well? We have a 9 month old (also named Ezra!), and he still sleeps in our bed. We never really intended to cosleep, but it ended up becoming a routine out of exhaustion. If you have any tips on how to transition a babe into his crib (which is in our room – wondering if that’s an issue, too), we would be so grateful!


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