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So your toddler is ready to move into her own bed. Everyone is excited except now, instead of rolling over and falling asleep, your toddler comes out every two minutes to find you. All evening long. The next day, she’s a basket case because she’s so exhausted.


Welcome to the toddler bed. Kids love the newfound freedom, and they can’t help but test the limits. Being all by themselves with no sides can feel very scary, so how can you get them to form the new habit of falling asleep in their big-kid bed without you losing your mind?

Going into this transition is a big move for your child. Naturally, it makes them insecure. They need your support to learn how to go to sleep in their big-kid bed. Sure, it comes naturally to you. But you've been doing it for many years. To your toddler, this is a new skill.

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Don’t expect to have much of an evening for a week or so. Then, just stay calm and keep reinforcing the limit that it’s bedtime. Here’s how:


1. Before you make the big transition, be sure your child has a regular bedtime routine. Then follow that exact routine when they move to their new bed.

2. Get them excited before you get the new bed. Introduce the subject by pointing out any friends or cousins with “big kid” beds. Reading books is also a terrific way to introduce the idea (there are links at the end of this article to some good books to check out).

3. Don’t initiate the transition from the crib while they are potty training, or when you’re moving to a new house. It might seem easiest not to move the crib, but that’s more change than most little people can handle all at once, and you’ll find it just isn’t worth it.

4. If you’re transitioning your child to make room in the crib for a new sibling, be sure the move occurs a good three months before you expect the new baby. You want your toddler to be happy in their new bed before they see an interloper in their crib. If your child is not really ready to leave their crib, you can save all of you a lot of grief by borrowing a second crib for awhile, until they’re ready.

5. It’s a good idea if the toddler bed can be in the same place where the crib was.
If your kids will be sharing the room, move the crib to a new place in the room if you can.

6. If at all possible, let your child pick the bed. If someone is giving or loaning you a toddler bed, stress to your child that she gets Cousin Jane’s bed now, because they are almost as big as Cousin Jane. When the bed is delivered, let your child help unpack and assemble it.

7. If you're using a regular twin bed, start off with the mattress on the floor—rather than on a bed frame—for both safety and coziness. You can add the bed frame in a couple of years.

8. Make their new bed cozy, like a little den. It’s important to make sure you use as many things from the crib as possible (blankets, for instance) so that they feel comfortable in the new bed. It’s fine to let them pick out new superhero sheets, but their crib blanket is what they’ll need most. Most kids love being surrounded by stuffed animals.

Be sure to use guardrails; in addition to being safer, they help kids feel more secure, so they’re less likely to keep getting out of bed.

9. If your bedtime routine does not include an audio element, consider adding it. Many toddlers fall asleep more easily while listening to familiar, calming music. Over time, as soon as they hear the music, it will become a cue for their body to begin settling into sleepiness.

Depending on the age of your child, there are also wonderful bedtime story and relaxation audios, but you'll need to read reviews and listen in advance to be sure they're age appropriate. The great thing about a story, even one that's repeated every night, is that it keeps your child's attention so they don’t get worried and keep coming to find you.

10. Before the big night, act out the scenario with stuffed animals. Your toddler will watch avidly as the little elephant kisses mama or daddy goodnight and snuggles under the covers in their own bed. Have the parent stuffy sing the little elephant the same good night songs you sing to your little one. This will help them understand what's going to happen.

11. On the big night, initiate bedtime an hour earlier than usual. Explain to your child that they are going to sleep in the big bed tonight. Go through the normal bedtime routine. What you do next depends on your child.

Some kids can handle it if you sit in the doorway of the room, reading with a book light, while they fall asleep. But most kids need us to sit right next to them, on the bed. That way they feel your presence acutely, which will give them great reassurance.

Of course, if you need to cuddle them so they feel safe enough to fall asleep, by all means, do so. They don’t need to get out of bed to find you, so they’ll develop the habit of snuggling down and going to sleep, rather than of getting out of bed to look for you.

12. If they try to engage you in conversation, just say, “We’ll talk tomorrow. It’s sleep time now.” Keep your attitude positive, respectful, and detached. Be boring and consistent.

13. If they start to get out of bed, say, "It's bedtime, you need to stay in bed." Move closer so you can gently keep them in bed if they begin to get up. Stay calm, respectful, and empathic, as in, “It’s a big change, sleeping in your new bed. Soon you’ll be used to it.” But don’t let them get out of bed. You don’t want them developing that habit. Stay as close to the bed as you need to, to start. This eases the transition and lets your child learn to fall asleep in the new bed.

Are you developing a bad habit? No. This is a transition, and you will be able to ease out of it once your child is comfortable in the bed.

14. If your child cries, comfort them. Some children are very frightened of their parent leaving and will cling to you. In that case, remind yourself that this fear needs expression, and don't leave your child alone to cry. Instead, when they begin to cry, stay with them and let them cry as much as they need to. As they begin to stop, let them know that now you'll be leaving. In other words, you don't actually ever leave them crying. You simply remind them that you'll be leaving, and then help them with the anxiety that surfaces. Stay as close as you need to, to comfort them—and move only as far away as you need to so that their fear comes up. After they "show you" their fear, it will evaporate. Yes, that may take a few days, but sooner or later they will no longer be frightened when you say you need to leave.

Is this sleep training? It would be more accurate to say that your child is having a hard time separating from you to fall asleep, so you are helping them to surface and dissolve the fears that are causing their separation anxiety.

Notice that you never leave them alone to cry. Instead, you announce your plan to leave and then help your child through their fearful reaction. Anxiety—another word for fear—is often at the root of children’s sleep issues. While there is nothing at all wrong with a toddler sharing their parents’ bed, children who can understand what you are telling them are certainly capable of sleeping alone, once they get some help with their fears.

15. Give lots of positive acknowledgment when your child does fall asleep in their own bed without trying to get out, and even for progress in the right direction. You can say, "I noticed that I only had to remind you twice to stay in bed last night. You must be so proud of yourself. Soon you will feel so good in your new bed that you'll be able to snuggle right down and go to sleep all by yourself!"

16. If you’ve been lying on the bed until your child falls asleep, gradually move yourself over so you're just holding hands and sitting in a chair. Then, stop holding their hand. Then, move your chair further away until you’re sitting in the doorway. This could take you a month, or it might just be a week.

17. If your little one has a hard time falling asleep night after night, consider the possibility that they’re over-tired from falling asleep later than usual, and move their bedtime earlier.

Toddlers have to pump themselves full of cortisol and adrenaline to stay up later than usual, and that makes it harder to fall asleep. Oddly enough, an earlier bedtime usually solves the problem when the child is just too wound-up to relax. Another helpful thing to try: roughhousing. Not right before bed, because it winds up the child, but earlier, before dinner or bath.

Laughter reduces the stress hormones circulating in the body and helps the child relax at bedtime.

18. Within a few days of your sitting in the doorway, your child will be falling asleep without trying to get out of bed, and you can begin leaving for a few minutes, and then for longer periods of time. Just say you'll be right back, and keep checking back. It helps to leave the chair in place, like a sentinel, to reassure your child if they look for you.

19. If your toddler just can’t seem to fall asleep, you might consider letting them take books (not toys) to bed with them. If you have a nightlight or enough light from the hall, they can "read" themselves to sleep. Lots of adults need to read a bit before they fall asleep. It isn't such a bad habit for your child to develop, as long as they actually fall asleep. Just be sure the light is very dim, so it doesn't keep them up.

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Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.

$150

Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌

$34.99

Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.

$99.99

Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.

$178

Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.

$34.99

JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.

$99.99

Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.

$69.95

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!

$99

Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.

$30.99

Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.

$159.99

Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉

$69.99

Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.

$159.99

Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.

$90

Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.

$159

Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.

$70

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.

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So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

Life

A good kid's winter coat needs to do a few basic things really well: be incredibly warm, water-resistant, easy to clean and a classic style so it can look good bundled over any other clothing they're wearing. For this reason, I usually avoid coats with heavy branding or patterns so that any winter outfit I put my son in "goes" with his jacket.

Primary is always one of my go-to brands for their super simple classic styling, so I was happy to see that Primary is currently having a sale on their solid-colored and high-quality winter gear. This kid's winter puffer coat caught my eye because it's on a steep discount (more than 50% off!), fits all my criteria above and even has a few bonus features I didn't know I needed but now totally love.

Kid’s winter puffer coat

I'm loving this jacket because it's fleece-lined, has thumbholes (so helpful in making sure my toddler doesn't lose his gloves) and comes with an "I belong to" ID label so that his coat won't get mixed up in the sea of other winter jackets at pre-school. Plus, it comes in six great colors and has a five-star rating.

As one reviewer put it, "This coat prompted my first review because it's perfect! Warm enough without being restrictive, easy zipper for my 5-year-old to manage himself and easy to clean! He loves the thumb holes!"

Originally $68.00

$29.50
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Mamas expecting babies this month are a special bunch—and not just because it's statistically unique to have a birthday during the shortest month of the year.

Science shows babies born in February already have advantages with everything from physical growth to creativity to even presidential elections. (It's no coincidence that President's Day is this month!)

Here are six reasons why February birthdays are so special:

1. They may be bound for the NBA

According to a 2006 study from Harvard researchers that examined data from 21,000 children around the world (including the southern hemisphere), those born in February were taller and weighed more at the age of 7 than their friends who were born during other times of the year. (Further proof: Michael Jordan celebrates his birthday on February 17.)

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2. Or on their way to a doctorate

The same study also showed winter-born babies performed best in a series of intelligence tests. As the researchers concluded, “The overall pattern of findings is that winter/spring babies are both 'bigger' on the anthropometric variables and 'smarter' on the selected neurocognitive variables."

3. They also have artsy sides

February babies are either born under the Aquarius or Pisces star signs—which are linked to the traits of originality and creativity. But even if you aren't one for astrology, a study complied from the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics found that people born in February are more likely to be artists.

4. Which may set them up for stardom

Speaking of the zodiac, one study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found a disproportionate number of celebrities claim the Aquarius star sign. That includes everyone from Bob Marley to Jennifer Aniston to Shakira. It's also one of the most popular star signs for American presidents—including Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Ronald Reagan (February 6).

5. Or, at least, satisfying careers

But don't feel bad for babies born in the latter half of the month: A survey from CareerBuilder.com found Pisces adults were among the “most satisfied" with their jobs. (They also have legs up on the competition if they ever find their way into a presidential election.)

6. They may have the rarest birthday of all

Babies on their way this year are out of luck. But, come 2020, a special group of newborns will have the distinction of being born on Leap Day, February 29. Sure, they won't get to mark their birthday for another four years, but they do get a prime pick of perks when that day does roll back around!

Snuggle up with that newborn while you can, mama. Once your February baby gets going, they'll be hard to stop.

[Originally published February 2, 2018]

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