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when we transitioned Alexis to her toddler bed, we got the one with the side railiings attached and we used the same matress, blankets, and sheets. We tried to make it look as much like her crib as we could. The first couple of nights, I sat with her and rubbed her back until she got very sleepy and she almost was alseep. Then I left her to fall asleep on her own. HTH.
<div align="center">Thanks Alison's Mommy, SillyMama, Katarina and samylaine for my blinkies.</div>
With dd I kept her in her crib and just removed the side rail that was adjustable. So it was still her crib but she was able to get in and out herself. After I put her to bed I told her if she gets out of bed to play and I have to come back to get her then the side rail goes back on the crib. So I only had to do that the first couple nights, and then she knew I could hear her and she wouldn't get away with it so she stayed in bed pretty easily after that.
I just switched ds over to his bed on the weekend and this time I set up his bed and left his crib set up in his room too. So I told him if he got out of bed to play he would go back in the crib. Luckily I didn't have any problems at all with him at bedtime. At naptimes he gets out of bed a few times, but I usually let him, I just put the baby gate on his door so he's confined to his room. When he gets tired he lays down himself and falls asleep so it's not an issue if he wants to play for a bit first.
With both of my older kids we turned the crib into the bed and then we got a toddler bed. The crib was just too big and bulky. They had the rails on them so they couldn't fall out. We made a big deal out of it and they had a big party to commemorate the day. Took lots of pictures and said bye bye to the crib. They did get up and out of the bed many times and even ended up sleeping on the floor by the door until I'd put them back into bed, but after a few days they got the hang of it. I plan to do the same when Keira is ready for a big girl bed.
we went straight from crib to normal single bed with a sidebar on it. What worked for us was entirely taking down the crib so he had no choice and didnt have to see it in front of him and "miss it". I made his new bed "exciting" by hyping it up "WOW! look at your new bed! holy cow are you ever lucky! its going to be so fun sleeping in that eh!" He transitioned really easily with no fuss other than having a slightly sad face the first night.