Sam has been developing an interest in climbing into his cot for the past month or so. He's also been channelling his toddler gymnastics skills into an effort at exiting his cot by standing on his head and putting his feet over the bars. It's all very impressive but also slightly worrying. We did some reading up on transitions to a bed and decided to give it a go while Euan was off so that a few broken nights wouldn't impact on his work.
As a sidebar to this story, I should let you know that through no particular parenting genius, Sam turned into a great sleeper when he was about 8 months old and a dependable napper around 9 months. All this beautiful sleep is responsible for me getting back some of my sanity - and on the odd occasion he has an unsettled night, I depend heavily on Euan's level head and good nature, I roll over and let daddy take over (I think the nine months of nighttime feeds balances it out!).
Going back to the big bed experience, we based most of our research on Dr Laura Markham's advice and I also referred back to The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley as she was one of the only sleep experts who's book didn't make me feel like I was failing as a parent back in the days when Sam would only nap on me!
We introduced a pillow to the cot about a fortnight before the big change to try and encourage our wriggley worm to sleep at one end of the bed rather than all over it or wedged in a corner with his legs propped up on the side. He loved it straight away and along with the fact that he had started wanting his bed time stories while sitting in the cot, we thought we were at right stage to make the change.
We made the change on the first night of Euan's second week off and it looked promising when Sam immediately jumped into bed, pulled up the covers and picked up a book. Unfortunately it was only 4.30pm and we had to have dinner and bath so we enticed him back downstairs. What followed was a fairly wild night, Sam was enthusiastic at first but when it came to the end of his usual three stories, he just jumped out of bed and started protesting wildly. He used the new found freedom to bang the wardrobe doors and got totally incensed when we tied them shut.
He eventually went to sleep when we got his sleeping bag out and took turns reading many many more books, but the next night was a repeat of the showdown with an extra special three hour dance party at one o'clock in the morning which put us all completely on edge. Nap times were extreme too, normally Sam settles himself after a ten minute chat with his teddies, but in the bed it took both of us tag teaming to settle him and it took an hour.
As usual, when you're in the situation, it gets harder to be objective, so I felt that I absolutely had to get Sam into a bed. But thankfully, on the third day as my sense of humour was failing completely, my mum braved the lion's den to poke me with a figurative stick and remind me that I didn't sleep in a bed until I was three (she also embarrassingly pointed out that they had to physically hide the cot because I would just climb back into it when they left me in the bed!). She also reminded me that there is no crazy childrearing law that says you can't have two cots in one house.
So I took a deep breath and penitently asked my long suffering husband to build the cot bed back up. The look of relief on Sam's face when he saw it spoke volumes and with the benefit of getting a full night of sleep, we realised that by the time the baby needs something bigger than his dad's old rocking crib to sleep in, Sam may well be ready to make the change anyway. Worryingly, I then remembered that until he was about four months old, Sam did the majority of his sleeping on me. Time to start searching for a very good wrap or sling, so I can have my hands free occasionally this summer!