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Parents beware: Toddler beds destroy your sanity

The bedding and children’s furniture industries conspired against parents everywhere when they decided we needed another size option for beds. And thus, the toddler bed was born.

Cribs are about the greatest baby invention ever, in my opinion. Nothing is cuter than a baby nestled in her crib, sound asleep. Not judging your family bed or co-sleeper thing — I just loved the crib. When my baby had drifted off for a bit after breastfeeding, I could stealthily unlatch her and lay her in the crib in one continuous motion. Like a nursing ninja. And I was free! Free to shower, free to use the bathroom in private or just free to make a phone call without someone climbing on me.

But there comes a time — around 18 months — when parents start to think of their little one not as a baby, but as a small person. With opinions of his own. Usually the toddler’s opinion on anything (other than cake) is the simple word, “NO.” So part of this big shift in attitude rubs off on the unsuspecting parents. “She’s so unhappy in her crib,” they exclaim the first time they sense resistance to nap time. “He feels so trapped and isolated in his crib,” the parents fear as they wonder just how high the therapy bills will be before their wee one turns 18. To make matters worse, toddlers can stand up in their crib — maybe even climb out — making it obvious to everyone that they’re just ready for the next big step. The toddler bed.

This is where you need to stop, right here. Hear me out.

Your toddler wants more than anything (at the moment) to stick his hands into the boiling water on the stove. Do you treat him like a mini adult and bow to his wishes? Of course you don’t, it’s not safe. When he sees the garbage truck careening down the street, do you let go of his hand and let him chase it? Um, no. Not safe either. Sleeping in a crib is super safe. And for parents who worry that their poor toddler can’t get out of the crib? They can — and will — call for you. My youngest used to announce to the household, “I’m all done sleeping, please!” and someone would help her out of the crib. So the fact that your toddler is expressing himself and not being too excited about going to sleep in his crib shouldn’t make you immediately feel the need to satisfy him with a new bed. Because he’s not a small person — he is a toddler. And yes, the two are different.

So don’t fall victim to the toddler bed trap. Here’s what will happen:

Your toddler won’t stay in the toddler bed. He just won’t. And why should he, when the whole house is available to him all night long? For little ones who have a sense of adventure, what could be more fun than climbing the mountain/bookcase in the family room? Or opening the refrigerator and climbing inside, like an Arctic explorer? One can only assume that playing with matches or running with scissors would also be on that list.

You will lose sleep. Think you’re already sleep-deprived? The minute you disassemble that crib and christen the new toddler bed with Frozen sheets, you have headed down the path where no parent sleeps. Ever. Because now she can get up and come find you for that last drink of water. And then she will want you to lie down with her, because… toddler bed. And you will, but there’s not really any room for you so you will pretty much be on the floor. Not sleeping.

Save your money — don’t let the toddlers win. Who knows what they will want next?

More on toddlers

Ways your toddler is like a bad roommate
Ways to manage sticky toddler messes
Your most embarrassing toddler stories

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