Sleeping arrangements for twins – the toddler update

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A few weeks ago, with no preparation, I decided to move our girls from their cribs to beds. My sudden decision occurred because when I got them up from their naps, S had her leg caught between the crib bars for the third time in the last few weeks.  I decided that it would be safer for them to move to beds. So, we took down the cribs and set up the beds in their share bedroom that afternoon. So, without talking to the girls about “big girl beds” and without reading any stories about sleeping in beds or any other preparatory activities, we made the move. We moved the cribs out – one to go back to my sister-in-law, the other to go to a friend expecting in a few months. There was no turning back.

Obviously, we, as parents, had discussed this potential step before since we had single beds, mattresses, sheets, Bed Bug Bumpers and everything else we though we’d need already. But, we hadn’t quite intended to do it so soon or so suddenly.  Even at 20 months old, the girls were still happy in their cribs, so there hadn’t been any need to change their sleeping arrangements.  Besides, they’d had plenty of different sleeping arrangements in the early months of their lives but the 10 months or so everything had been stable.

Night 1: The girls wanted to climb and stand on their beds, so we talked about how beds are only for sitting and laying down. The girls both went to bed without any problems. They were probably exhausted from the excitement of moving furniture, cleaning their room, getting everything set up etc.

Day 2 Nap: S fell out of bed. I hurt the thump, then silence, then the scream.  She wasn’t hurt or too scared to go back to bed. I think she fell over the foot of the bed not the side. I kind of hoped this would discourage anymore standing up in bed. In hopes of keeping the from climbing, we told their big brother that he wasn’t allowed in their beds. We thought this would keep them from trying to climb in and out, especially since they are too short to get in by themselves.

Night 2: We repeated the talk about sitting and laying in bed. Again they settled to sleep fairly well… at least that’s what we thought.  When we checked later, R’s bed was covered with hand-me down clothes that had been in a box at the foot of her bed. I moved the box out the room immediately.

Day 3 Nap: The nanny settle the girls for nap time.  She was quite concerned about them falling out of bed, but everything went alright.

Night 3: R fell out of bed once but she wasn’t hurt. Both girls settled to sleep.  We started to think that maybe the transition period was over.  I hoped that I could relax and sleep a little more soundly without listening for anyone falling out of bed.

Night 4: 7 am – I rolled over and shook my husband awake.  We listened to the sound of little feet coming down the hallway to our room.  S had figured out how to get out of bed, and she was sure proud of herself!

Day 5 Nap: We set up the playpens to help our nanny feel more comfortable and to give us a chance to figure out what to do next.

Night 5: We put the baby gate across the door to keep S in her room.  We also left the playpens set up as a back up.  When S climbed out of bed, we put them both in playpens for the night.

Nights 6, 7: we were away visiting family for the weekend so the girls were their playpens.

Week 2: When S climbed out of bed, we’d respond by putting both girls in their playpens for the rest of the night.  At nap time, I’d use the same approach and the nanny would use the playpens. By the end of the week R had figured out how to get out of bed too. The first thing they would do when the got out was take the laundry out of their laundry basket.  I tried hiding it under the bed, but they could drag it out.

Week 3: Bedtime was going better. They knew they were supposed to stay in bed.  If they got out, then they were in the playpens. But now mornings were the issue.  At  6:30 am I would hear little feet hit the ground. So, I had to get up and put them in their playpens until we ready to get up.

Week 4: They now know what’s coming when we open the door.  If they are out of bed, they head to their beds in hopes that we won’t put them in their playpens. I’m looking forward to the day when we can take the playpens out of their room because it is crowded with two beds and two playpens.  I’m not looking forward to the day they discover they can take clothes out of the dresser, too.

When did you make the transition from cribs to beds? What worked for you?

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18 thoughts on “Sleeping arrangements for twins – the toddler update”

  1. Now that pacifiers were gone I was just discussing this with my husband and we are totally fine keeping them in their cribs indefinitely (they are 2.2 yrs). I have heard from many moms that they felt like in the end they moved their kids out too early and it affected naps and bedtime and uninterrupted sleep/rest for the whole family. Some sleep experts note that falling out of the crib is unlikely to be harmful (see Weissbluth) and mine are still in sleep sacks so they don’t try to climb out even when they are upset. Once we do nighttime potty training we will consider switching them out of their long-since-recalled-side-drop-cribs-on-rollers. Heee!
    Mommy, Esq. recently posted Security Blankets Are For The WeakMy Profile

  2. Wow, you’re a braver woman than I! My two are a few days from being two, and I’m pretty much hoping they’ll stay in cribs forever! A lot of my friends are having their second baby and moving the toddler, and frankly the whole thing sounds exhausting. Then again, they haven’t climbed out yet, so maybe I’ll change my tune!
    Bekki recently posted July Photo BacklogMy Profile

  3. My girls are 3.5 and still in cribs! But the sides are down and they crawl in and out – one has a rectangular ottoman next to the bed that she stands on and the other has one of those padded cubes (about the same height as the ottoman). They both get up to pee, and they both come into our bed around 7:30 am. But the other day, my husband asked them to let us sleep in and not come into our room and they actually listened!

  4. Well, we had to convert pretty early (like 20 months or so) because both of mine were launching themselves over the sides of their cribs (and playpens.) We were worried they’d hurt themselves. If I could have, I would have left them in their cribs until kindergarten.
    We did the Supernanny trick – continuously taking them back in until we break them down.
    Don’t judge me, but we do lock them in their rooms at night and for naps; we have lots of stairs and hardwood floors in our house and were concerned they’d fall in the night or when we were on watch (like during a nap.) It has worked out well for us; they know that it’s time to lay down and be quiet, even if they don’t feel like sleeping. That doesn’t mean they always do it, but they at least know they should…that about all you’re going to get out of 2-year olds (ours are now 25 months old.)
    I do put the toys “to bed” when the kids go to bed; they go in the closet and I latch the closets shut so they don’t end up playing the whole time. Most of the time we go in to get them up or check on them and there are clothes from their dresser strewn about the room, but I’ve stopped caring about that.
    I guess we’re pretty lucky that it’s gone as well as it has, but I really, really think that it’s all about consistency. We have the same routines that we had with the cribs, and they go down just about as well.
    Oh, and we put a bed rail up on my son’s bed because it’s a taller bed frame, and didn’t put a box spring under the mattress on my daughter’s bed so it would be low enough that if she did fall she wouldn’t be hurt. We’ve had no incidences.

  5. We moved our twin boys into toddler beds at 10 months old. I know that sounds crazy! But my boys are big and I’m small – I was tired of lifting them into and out of their drop-side-rail beds (which I hated anyway). We put two toddler beds together in the corner of the room, kind of like a mini full sized bed for them to share. They were young enough then to believe that all beds are the same – they didn’t know they could get out. I didn’t even have to close the bedroom door all the way. It went that way for about 4 or 5 months. I had already made their bedroom completely toddler safe with only beds, toys, changing table. So when they did learn to get in and out of the beds, all I had to do was close the door during naptime and bedtime. They can play safely in their room until I can get to them. When they fall off the bed (not much anymore), it’s only a foot off the floor. They are almost 16 months old now and I’m about to split them up on opposite side of the room. They snuggle together much anymore, so I think they’ll be fine. I think the key to transition is either super early (when they don’t know any better) or super late (when they can understand and follow the rules). But all kids are different! :)

  6. We just made the transition in the past 2 weeks — my g/g twins will be 2 in November and were starting to escape. Several friends’ children have broken arms or collarbones from crib falls. The girls’ dropside cribs converted to toddler daybeds, but I didn’t really see the point, as one of my girls is a climber and there were still 3 sides to scale.

    The transition went very smoothly. I followed some advice here and took the dresser and most other furniture out of the room, except the rocking chair and one low bookcase. No toys, only a couple of books, and some stuffed animals. (This was made easier by the fact that the nursery has never been the playroom; our bedrooms are on a separate level than the living areas.) DH built high, wide shelves to temporarily hold the lamp, white noise machine, Vornado fan, and baby monitor, and we installed an extra-tall baby gate in the doorway (using a Mommy Hook for an extra latch, because the girls quickly figured out how to open the walk-through gate). We also put an extra hook and eye lock on the girls’ closet door. We brought in two twin mattresses and box springs, but no frames, and removed the cribs about a week later — they had only been used once since the twin beds came in. We let the girls “help” disassemble the cribs. They were very excited! My girls have never been perfect sleepers, but they are actually sleeping much, MUCH better now that they are on wider, longer beds and slightly closer to the floor. It’s definitely a change for the better!

  7. What a saga! Nothing moves quickly with children and sleep, unless it’s to get worse!

    Our girls will turn 3 next week, and they are still in cribs. We do have one climber-outer, but it is now mostly an issue at nap time. In the evening they each pick out a super-special story to read the next day if they stay in their cribs all night. After losing her story one time, the climber now stays in at night. Nap time can be a problem, still. We’ll probably go to dropping the sides first, then move to a bed later. I am concerned reading the comment about broken arms and collarbones from crib climbers. Our climber is very nimble, but that’s still no guarantee. I will admit, I have been avoiding thinking about how to make the transition to big girl beds.

  8. I just posted the following in response to a question on my club forums.

    We converted our girls cribs into toddler beds right after their 2nd birthday because our girls were really tall and Sophie fell out of the crib onto her head while leaning over the side rail. Hannah was also attempting to climb out. I didn’t think keeping them in cribs was worth the risk of injury.

    We thoroughly child/twin proofed their room. We bolted all of the furniture to the walls, we put locks on all the dresser drawers and locks on the closet drawers. We also removed all of the toys/distractions from their bedroom so they weren’t tempted to get out of bed to play. Finally, we put a gate up in the hallway, in front of their bedroom door so if they happened to wake up and get out of bed, they couldn’t wander at night while we were sleeping.

    We had about a week of silliness at bedtime while they tested their new found freedom, but after that, they stayed in bed after we put them in bed and would call for us when they work in the morning and didn’t get out of bed ’til we came in and turned on the light or opened the shades.

    I think one of the things that helped with the transition was talking about the new big girl beds and our expectations for a week before we converted the cribs and stayed absolutely consistent with our previous bedtime routine and our rule that once lights were out, barring serious illness or emergency, no one was allowed out of the bedroom until morning.
    Rhonda recently posted Practicing her Royal waveMy Profile

  9. We made the move when the boys were about two years old, a few months before the arrival of their brother. Funny story: During the first few weeks of “big boy beds,” I went to check on them, but I couldn’t find one twin! He wasn’t in his bed! I freaked and quickly turned on the light. There he was curled up with his “blankie” in the bottom of his nightstand (the bookcase portion) sound asleep. Maybe he fell out of bed and couldn’t figure out how to get back in? Or maybe he felt more secure in the tight little womb-like space? We’ll never know!
    Christina Tinglof recently posted You Have to Eat a Lot of Yams to Conceive TwinsMy Profile

  10. My girls were about 20 months old when we moved them out of the cribs. We only did it because we would go into the room and both girls would be in one crib jumping on the mattress. First we removed the cribs and kept the mattresses on the floor because we didn’t have toddler beds. They were little monkeys – climbing the furniture, jumping from mattress to mattress. We had to remove the dressers from the room because EVERY morning I’d go in and EVERY article of clothing was removed from the drawers. Really annoying.
    When we finally got toddler beds they loved them and night time sleep was fine. We did have to bolt the beds and the nightstand to the floor – they are super-strong together and kept moving furniture around the room. I was worried they’d move it in front of the door and I wouldn’t be able to get in. As for the doors, we just turned the knob around and lock them in at night. I hate the idea of it but nothing else would keep them in. They hop gates easily and their room is on the 2nd floor, ours on the first. I didn’t want them roaming the house and getting into trouble while everyone else is sleeping. They don’t try the knob in the mornings, they just chat until we get them or call for us if they need anything. All their shenanigans are limited to the mornings, luckily. At night they pretty much go right to sleep. I hope that stays this way for ever. As for naps – that is a different story. One sleeps in their bedroom – she is a better sleeper and loves her 2 hour naps. The other one doesn’t like napping, was keeping her sister up talking, playing yelling, crying – you name it. So she sleeps in my bed for nap-time, you know, all 1/2 hour of it.

  11. We did it when they were 3. To combat the climbing out of the crib, we had crib tents from about 15 months on. Transitioning to twin beds at age 3 went really smooth. We did get a bed rail for one of them since she’s a crazy sleeper (the other side of her bed is against the wall).

  12. Hi, Moms – slightly related to the topic above. We are expecting twins in March (very excited). These are our first children so we’re fairly clueless when it comes to all the gear needed. We’d like to use a video monitor in the nursery. I plan to move the twins our of their co-sleeper in our room and into separate cribs in the nursery when I return to work (~12 weeks). Does this mean I need two video monitors (one for each crib)? The answer may be fairly obvious, but would love feedback. Also, apologies if I didn’t post this question in the right place. Many thanks.

  13. Amy D – Congratulations – Welcome to the party!!!!
    We used one video monitor for both cribs, just placed the receiver high enough on the wall to see both cribs (you can put it on a shelf if yours won’t attach to the wall). Their bedroom is big so it caught most of each crib but not all. It did the job, though, as it was mostly for hearing what was going on. I found out with my first, when I put the monitor where I could see her, I spent lots of time watching her sleep when I should have been sleeping myself. The twins were my 2nd birth and I learned quickly to GET MY SLEEP. Also, don’t keep the monitor up so high – every movement, snore, breath is heard and that can keep you up or wake you up too. Also, you don’t want to put a monitor with wires close to the cribs – very dangerous and something lots of people don’t think about.

  14. My twins will be 2 in mid-November and they will be in cribs at least another 8 months. Hubby is deployed and I have no intention of dealing with that transition on my own. :) Neither one has ever tried to climb out, so I don’t see a need right now anyway.

    We moved ODS when he was about 18 mo. We would have waited longer, but decided to do it before the twins were born. We had his mattresses on the floor so the fall wouldn’t be so far.

  15. Toddler beds SUCK. Transitioning SUCKS. We just did it. Two weeks of hell with my b/b 26 month olds.

    One was a climber, and a screamer. So, we did it. And then I had to give up naps – because NO one was tired at bedtime. One would get up all night, the other did the 45min bedtime dance (water/book/blankie/baby/blah/blah/bullshit).

    So, now its not perfect, but after one week of NO naps (they used to be two hour bliss time), we sleep from 7pm – 7am.

    So, I am grateful this is working, because I was damn ass tired of sleeping in a toddler bed. 😉

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