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    Childrearing #13

    December 5, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Assess an individual child’s maturity before moving them from a crib to a big bed. There was a time when I would have rushed my children {or, conversely, held them back} because I had predetermined the way I expected our family to progress. Having a miscarriage between E. and A. gave E. a lot of extra time to grow up before a sibling finally arrived, and I learned a lot from that. I would have wanted him in a Big Boy Bed before the baby arrived, but if I had forced the issue, it would have been too much for him.

    As it worked out, E. graduated to a big bed when he was exactly two-and-a-half. At that stage, he was almost done with potty training, which meant he had a need to sometimes get out of bed and use the facilities. He was taller and more able to help with making his bed {able to take some responsibility for the new privilege}. He had also stopped sleeping up against the crib rails, which I took to mean that he wouldn’t fall out of bed all night long. The most important part was that he was trained in obedience to the point that our word alone could keep him in bed. He has never gotten up at night without permission.

    Many people expected us to move A. to a Big Girl Bed as part of our preparations for the new baby. And we seriously considered it. But this time we assessed the situation based on whether A. could handle it, rather than whether it was convenient for the rest of us. She would definitely get out of bed without the crib holding her in, I think. Freedom tends to distract her from the sleep she needs. She isn’t potty trained enough to worry about using the restroom. There really aren’t any indicators that it is time to leave the crib behind.

    So we have two cribs. Now, if we were in the business of buying very expensive cribs, this would have been a major issue, but both of our cribs have been given to us, and this second one was actually one I picked out second-hand for only $75, and then a family member purchased it as a gift for us. Some folks in our position could probably even borrow a crib because it is likely the need for two cribs {this time around} will last less than a year.

    Some children are ready for big beds earlier than mine have been. Some are ready later. There was a time in history where the crib was called the “Five-Year Crib,” so one can imagine how long some children once slept in cribs.

    Really, this philosophy of making decisions based on the individual child can apply to many areas, like potty training, graduating from the high chair, getting to eat without wearing a bib, etc. Sometimes, life’s details will stand in the way {like when I had to delay some of E.’s potty training because I was on bedrest to preserve my pregnancy with A.}. Each child is ready in their own time, and as long as the family is able, I find it much easier to defer to wisdom and insight into the child’s readiness rather than my own personal vision of how I thought it all would go.


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    1 Comment

  • Reply Kimbrah December 7, 2006 at 6:39 am


    My mom and I just purchased Bobby’s big boy bed today. It was more so she wouldn’t have to sleep on an air mattress for three more days, but I really agree with your idea. Bobby has been on a crib mattress on the floor for about 6 months now and goes right to sleep when we put him down without wandering. I think we are going to arrange it to make it less likely for him to roll out on accident (he’s a sleepwalker on occasion) but he’s fairly ready.

    I really think its a good idea in all situations with our kids to see what works best for the individual child instead of giving in to pressure from those around you to do what they feel is best. Good for you! Thanks for the tip. I love this series!

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