My toddler turned one and a half this week. It’s a big milestone for him! He’s walking now, communicating more effectively, laughing a lot, showing distinct interest in things he likes. He’s turning into a little boy right in front of my eyes! I often sit back and am amazed that Taylor and I created life… a living being with his own thoughts and emotions and opinions of the world… we made that! His personality is shining through stronger each day, and I am just beside myself. He is a mild mannered, easy going, light tempermented child. I sometime joke that God is tricking me into believing that parenting is really this easy so I will have more children! With all of the emotional and physical growth my child is going through right now, I thought it would be wise to be more intentional with my parenting. I decided to be purposeful in the things I do, the things I buy, and the things that I teach my child going forward. My first step is being purposeful in transitioning out of a crib, then making conscious choices with his toys and play time.
When it comes to transitioning a child out of their crib to a toddler bed, there are a few suggestions out there in terms of when you should make the transition and how you should do it. When our son was just learning how to walk, I came up with the idea that we could transition him to a toddler bed when he is consistently and reliably walking on his own. I started doing research on different toddler beds, and the most economical solution was a floor bed. It’s basically what it sounds like: you put the mattress on the floor. Plain and simple. Taylor and I agreed that when he is walking consistently on his own, we will take away the crib. The idea behind this is that by removing the boundaries of the crib he is free to move about his bedroom when he wakes up in the morning.
I thought this plan would go well because when he wakes up in the morning, he basically just sits in his crib silently, patiently waiting for me to come in and get him up. So when he turned 18 months old on June 3rd, the crib went away. Taylor didn’t have high expectations for that first night without the crib, but it went surprisingly well. He didn’t fall asleep right away, but he didn’t get out of bed. In fact, this whole week that we’ve been doing the floor bed, he’s only gotten out of bed once. During his nap yesterday afternoon, he fell asleep in the middle of his room reading a book to himself. Halfway through his nap time, he woke up and moved back to the bed to finish the rest of his nap on a more comfortable surface. He has an understanding of the purpose of the mattress, and he has no desire to test the boundaries or limits of that.
Along with his bed transition, I’ve been re-evaluating the toys we have in the home as well. My desire is to support my son in his play by providing age appropriate toys that encourage thinking, imaginative play, and toys that help him learn about the world around him. I’ve realized that some (not all) of the toys that I’ve collected over time just have one purpose to them. A lot of battery-operated toys are very single-use toys that don’t offer much in terms of imaginative play. I found myself leaning more towards natural toys made out of wood rather than plastic. I’ve separated the toys into fabric bins, and only put about five toys in each bin. I will rotate through the bins each week so that way he has something new to focus on.
After doing some research, along with evaluating some toys we already own, I’ve collected a list of my favorite brands and types of toys. My top favorite brands are Melissa and Doug, Manhattan Toy Company, Kid’s Concept, and Alex & Alexa. These brands all provide wooden toys that encourage child-led play at age appropriate levels. Nothing too flashy with all the bells and whistles. I’ve attached pictures of toys as inspiration to me as I work to make this transition. Right now I’m a fan of blocks, age appropriate puzzles, toy cars or those wooden trains sets, stacking toys, and foam letters and numbers.
Making changes is never easy. There’s always some learning curve that comes along with new territories and discoveries. Right now, our son is doing great so far at adjusting to his new floor bed. Discovering a sense of independence will come with time. The commitment of sustainable toys will take time to integrate into our lifestyle, but it’s the baby steps that get us started. Being intentional with play hasn’t been easy… there have been many times that I think to myself turning on the tv for entertainment will be so much easier than committing myself to the responsibility of facilitating play time. I know that with some help and encouragement, I can make those changes in our home easier and hopefully they will be successful.