I put my 12 month old in a toddler bed, it went well for a month and a half. Now all of the sudden, she will not stay in her bed, she wanders to mine, I take her back in and repeat in about an hour. I have tried so many things and am lost now. She only is saying a very small amount of words hardly anything and doesn't understand like a 2 or 3 year old would. I hate to put the crib back up. I need help??
From: Jenna, Small Ville
Well, as you've figured out, you made the move too soon; most pediatric sleep specialists recommend waiting as long as possible -- until well past age 2, closer to 3 or even older, until the child is literally too big for the crib -- before making the transition to a bed. One of the problems with doing it too soon, as you've articulated, is that your daughter is developmentally unable to get the concept of "staying in bed."
Probably the best route is to put up a gate at her bedroom door. That essentially turns the bedroom into her crib and thus keeps her safe and also meets her developmental needs by setting the limit -- she can't leave her bedroom -- that you are unable to enforce without getting frustrated and angry, and that she can't grasp because she's not cognitively there yet. Let me put it another way: if you keep up with the present situation, your frustration will escalate (you're only human!). She's not at fault, really: she's not capable of complying because she's cognitively unable to grasp the issue. So your unhappiness with her makes her feel insecure, unsafe and unhappy herself, which pushes her to act out even more. You stop the cycle by setting a limit that makes her feel safe again. That could be the gate. I know many parents don't like a gate; it feels zoo-y. I prefer it to a locked door.
I know you said you don't want to go back to the crib. That's the other alternative I would offer. Here's what I wrote after an interview with pediatrician and sleep specialist Jodi Mindell about this: "For a child who is truly miserable with the bed, for whom bedtime is a nightly struggle, and who has gone from being a good sleeper to a bad one, Mindell would bring the crib back.
' "The trick is in the spin you put on it," she says. Not "I guess you're not a big girl" or "You can't handle this," but: "Oh look! Your crib missed you, too! It came back!" '