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Cribs, Toddler Beds...and New Siblings

Cribs, Toddler Beds…and New Siblings

By Amalah

Advice Smackdown ArchivesDear Amy,

We have a 21 month old son and are expecting baby #2 (a girl this time) a few weeks after his second birthday. I am trying to figure out where my children will sleep after the second one arrives. Currently, our son sleeps in a crib and it is great. He doesn’t try to climb out, we put him in there wide awake and he plays for a bit and then goes to sleep on his own. He usually naps for about 1.5 hours in the afternoon and then sleeps through the night with no problem. Don’t worry, he does lots of other ridiculous toddler things so I am willing to take the good sleeping as a gift from the parenting gods.

The pending arrival of baby #2 means we will have to buy another piece of child-sleeping furniture. The question is, what? Should we buy another crib for the new baby so we don’t have to mess with our son’s situation? Should we transition our son to a bed now because we’re going to have to do it someday anyway and it doesn’t make sense to buy a second crib now and then also have to buy a bed a few months later? If we are going to transition to a bed, do we need to do it ASAP to separate the bed transition from the new baby’s arrival?

I should probably add that we are not going to co-sleep, so we do need a new sleeping space for the baby. Also, we intend for baby #2 to be our last, and are planning to give away our baby stuff after this.

I would really appreciate any advice you or your readers could offer. With all the other expenses associated with a new baby, I don’t want to spend the money on another crib if I don’t have to. On the other hand, I am expecting to be sleep deprived enough with the new baby and really want my son to be sleeping through the night. Help!

Thank you,
– R

p.s. I love love love love your blog and advice column and calendar etc. The pregnancy calendar is the first thing I send to a friend after I learn she is pregnant. Thank you for doing what you do, and congratulations on your new pregnancy (except for the puking part)!!

This is one of those dilemmas that I think a TON of soon-to-be-second-time parents face, particularly when things work out so nicely for that two-years-apart sibling spacing. Without the new baby on the horizon, you imagine you wouldn’t even be considering moving your eldest out of the crib, so…is it wrong to push them into the big kid bed because you need the crib? Are you setting yourself up for nighttime wanderings and disaster and a big-time resentment of the new baby? But then again…do you really, REALLY want to buy another crib?

My first two children were three years apart, but Noah was already in a bed before I found out I was pregnant — about three months after he turned two. Bedtime was a challenge for a few days, and naptime for about a week. It seemed terrible and unending at the time, but really…it wasn’t. It definitely required a lot of extra patience and extra trips back up to his room to escort his little butt back to bed, but it was not at all the endless tug-of-war and middle-of-the-night wakings that I’d braced myself for.

(I highly recommend putting a video monitor in the room, if you have one or plan to get one for the new baby. That way you can see when they actually get out of bed and order them back without even opening the door. We’d holler up the stairs for Noah to get back in bed and he’d stop and freeze, like…whoa, THEY KNOW EVERYTHING…right before scampering under the covers. It was awesome.)

But oh, I am personally so happy we did the transition BEFORE there was a newborn in the house. I personally was very happy to have that whole thing settled and out of the way, so I only had to worry about one child’s erratic sleep patterns. We moved the crib and nursery furniture into a spare room and closed the door — in no time, Noah forgot about it completely and no longer viewed it with any attachment, so I never sensed he felt like the baby had claimed “his” things and bed.

Ezra will be two-and-a-half when the next baby arrives, and I absolutely plan to move him out of the crib before then — probably in a month or two. He and Noah will be getting bunk beds and sharing a room, and even though we do plan to co-sleep or room share with the new baby, I want to get the transition and any difficulties as ironed out as early as possible. Like your son, he goes to bed easily and sleeps through the night beautifully…I understand not wanting to mess with that, but at some point in the near future he’ll need to transition out of the crib anyway. I know some kids stay in the crib until after their third birthday, but most of the kids I know personally made the switch between 18 months and two-and-a-half. And many time it was completely prompted by the arrival of a new sibling. It happens. Don’t feel guilty about it. It’s just the circle of life and furniture use.

So no, even if I was convinced that Ezra wasn’t ready to move to a bed (and I think he’s been ready for awhile, I’m just lazy and like having him confined) I absolutely WOULD NOT buy a second crib. Even if you do keep your son in the crib, you WILL need to move him at some point…like maybe six months after the new baby? Give or take a few months? A year at the absolute MOST, if you’re not planning to potty train? Even an inexpensive crib will cost you hundreds of dollars, and then you’re still buying the toddler or big-kid bed mere months after the purchase. Buy a bassinet for the first three or four months, and then use a Pack-n-Play after that until you deem your older son “ready” or until he seems to have fully adjusted to the new baby. Or borrow a crib from a currently non-pregnant friend with an older toddler for a few months. (I’d say Freecycle or Craig’s List, but you’ll need to be extra diligent about all the recent recalls.)

Of course, then you ARE starting to run the risk of your son dealing with a big transition after the baby is here, and watching that baby get the bed that he still may view as “his.” And also going through the whole bedtime/naptime wandering routine while sleep-deprived and cranky. Which is why I vote for making the move before, if it’s at all possible. At least six to eight weeks before you’re due, so you have time to move the crib out of sight and away for a little while before introducing the nursery as the new sibling’s room. Remove toys from the room, if you can (we left only books). Get the video monitor and a low bed with a safety side rail and put a padded carpet next to the side anyway. (I really loved our Ikea “junior” bed — it was as low as a toddler bed but used a mattress that was longer than the usual crib-sized toddler bed, so Noah was able to use it for a lot longer AND we weren’t left with two crib mattresses. He’d still be using it if we hadn’t given him our old bed once we moved to a king.)

And don’t forget — you can always TRY the big boy bed now and if it absolutely doesn’t work and you both hate it, you still have time to work out Plan B and get a bassinet. Then try the transition again a few months after the baby arrives. Sometimes the baby can even work out in your favor when it comes to big kid stuff. Sometimes the older sibling decides that “I’m NOT a baby like THAT baby, so I want big kid bed/pants/cup/dinner/ etc.” And boom, you’re done.


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Published October 29, 2010. Last updated April 17, 2018.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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