Long-time readers of my personal blog know this is a topic near and dear to my heart. We made the insanely foolish mistake of transitioning our twin boys out of their cribs at 16 months. It is the one parenting mistake I wish I could take back. I polled The Moms behind the scenes for their top three tips on the crib transition advice when multiples share a room.
Tip #1: Wait as long as possible to transition.
Tip #2: Wait as long as possible to transition.
Tip #3: Wait as long as possible to transition.
Critical to understanding why this is the overwhelming advice from other multiple parents is why the transition is easier as children age. Before the age of 18 months, children have very little impulse control. That is why most experts recommend a discipline strategy of redirection before the age of 18 months. Around 18 months, children are ready to start a discipline strategy such as simple short time outs, because they have started to understand rules and boundaries. And most parents can tell you that although they start a discipline strategy, it takes months for younger toddlers to learn better impulse control and respect the rules and boundaries you have set up.
I want you to imagine taking two children with no impulse control and putting them in a room together, unsupervised, for 12 to 14 hours a day. The image in your head should now be something similar to WWE Smackdown with smaller wrestlers. That would be my house, for months.
Age two is when some experts recommend you can move on to a more solid discipline strategy such as 1-2-3 Magic. As children age from two to three, they gain a significant amount of impulse control and they have acquired enough understanding about boundaries that they can (and will) follow rules. They can stay in their beds. They can stop themselves from poking their twin in the eye. They respect other people’s personal space.
Looking at it from this perspective, you can see why transitioning multiples to beds earlier than two can lead to disaster. And many parents who transition between two and three report their children stop napping because it becomes playtime when they are alone together. This happened to us as well. Eventually we separated our boys during daytime so they will take their much-needed nap.
I can’t say what age is the perfect age to transition for every set of multiples. The Moms agree waiting until after three was easiest on everyone. At that point, you can hype up the “big kid” beds. You have a different level of communication with your children to help them through this transition. They are more likely to physically leave their twin alone. If they don’t feel like sleeping, they can entertain themselves. They can tattle on their twin.
In the meantime, The Moms recommend crib tents to help keep children safely in their cribs if you have a climber. And if one of your kids starts climbing out at 16 months and you start considering transitioning, shoot me an email. I’ll help talk you of it with all the juicy details that I kept off my blog.