Ami is on her way to moving into her big girl bed. We decided to go ahead and move her out of the crib so that the new baby can use it when it is time. Hope and Maddie have shared a room for a few years now and Ami will make 3. The girls love sharing a room and basically it is just a "bunk room" for sleeping and maybe reading or having a private moment during the day. The bedroom next door is the play room with all of the toys. Ami is currently in a small nursery room which will become the baby boy's room.
I always hear a lot of questions about when to move the baby out of the crib, whether to use a toddler bed, etc... There are a lot of ways to go about that, so I'm not saying our way is the right way. I just thought I'd share with you what we have done in case you are wondering how we made it work.
Maddie was born the day before Hope's 2nd birthday. Hope had already been sleeping in a twin bed for a couple of months by then with no problem. We decided to forgo the in-between toddler bed b/c we already had a twin bed and it didn't make much sense to purchase a new toddler bed and mattress. We had moved into this house in the spring. At that time, we set up Hope's nursery where she was sleeping in the crib. But, in expectation of the new baby, we also set up her "big girl" room with the twin bed. She basically had two rooms and enjoyed sitting on and playing on the twin bed. I began to have her nap in the twin bed while she still slept at night in the crib. She already had an affection for the twin bed and was a good sleeper, so she took to this easily. Then one night, I simply asked her "do you want to sleep in your crib or the big girl bed?" and she picked the twin bed. She slept there for naps and night time ever since. She was only 1 1/2 or so at the time, so if you are wondering whether it is possible to make this transition early - the answer is yes, it is possible. (BTW - our twin, which could be converted into a loft, had wooden guard rails all the way around, so that was helpful too).
Maddie was a little older when we moved her because we wondered how different sleep patterns would come into play with the sisters sharing a room. I honestly can't remember all the details of how we did it with her - but we did move her directly into a twin bed (we lofted Hope's and slid Maddie's underneath like bunks). We used one of those sleep guard rails you can buy at Target or wherever. She was probably about 2 at the time and the girls are very close, prefer to share a room, and really miss each other if one isn't there.
So now we have Ami - who is not quite 1 1/2 yrs. yet. But, with the new baby coming in the fall, we've started to make some arrangements around the house. This included buying bunk beds. Now Hope sleeps on her loft (with space underneath for bookshelves and a little seat, etc...) and Maddie sleeps on the top bunk on the wall across from her. The bottom bunk is to be Ami's. Since it is all set up, I figured we'd go ahead and start working with Ami. Hope and Maddie are away at their grandparent's house this week, and I figured it was a good non-stressful time to start to work this out. So, I had Ami take her afternoon nap in there today. It did take her a few minutes to settle down - but being as how she was tired and had her blankie and is a good sleeper and easy to put down for naps in general - she eventually fell asleep and did very well. So she will continue to nap in there this week and eventually down the road here before too long, we'll give it a shot a night. So, again, it is possible to do this early if you need or want to.
Although, you may not want to. I know some parents find it more convenient to have a child stay in a crib longer where they are contained when they wake up (though some kids learn to get out anyway). I used to put a little pressure gate in the doorway of Hope's room at first because I didn't want her wandering (falling) down stairs in the morning or the middle of the night. One of my fondest memories is of her standing at the gate each morning calling in her little voice "mama! I wake up! mama! I wake up!" Also, once you have a good sleep routine on your hands, I understand why parents are really hesitant to do anything that might change that.
I have to say that we have moved very early on this on all three accounts. But I think that we are proof in a way that you don't have to follow some prescribed pattern of when and how and to what size bed. Just take care that the kids are safe and do what works for them and you.