As much as we tear up at the thought of our baby growing up to be a big kid, we can also be excited to watch their own unique personalities blossom and bloom. Growing out of the baby stage into the toddler stage is a big transition for both mom and baby. Your baby’s days begin to become filled with learning new things and doing more independently, while Mom’s new job might be mostly chasing a toddler around uttering “no, no, no little one”. As we transition from baby mom to tot mom we also have to give baby a little more room to experiment with this new concept of independence.
A Room All of Their Own! Your child’s bedroom is their absolute safe space, the one place where they can be completely alone. As they grow, it becomes their territory, where every single thing is theirs and their responsibility alone. It can be painted their favorite color, filled with their favorite things, and the keeper of their happiest memories.
Nothing is silly here, and if your kid wants to have a giant rubber band ball or a poster of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a bedroom is the space that they can decorate to their heart’s content. You probably wouldn’t allow them to hang a poster over the dining room table, but their room is the place where they are completely free.
As your child grows, the bedroom will offer them comfort and solace, it will be the place where they start to form, the place where they do their homework, and the place where they dream. A bedroom is everything and it’s important that it’s a reflection of your child’s personality from birth to adulthood.
Here are 8 tips to help you transition your nursery into a room fit for a child:
1. The Theme Matters This is an amazing time for your child, because they are starting to blossom into boys and girls who have thoughts and feelings of their own. Rather than just choosing pink or blue for your baby, your toddler or small child can actually voice his or her ideas about what they’d like their space to include. As an expectant mother you probably spent a great deal of time agonizing over what type of nursery set and sheets to register for, what colors to paint, and even what type of accent pillows to use, but this doesn’t have to be a time where you strip off a theme that you’ve grown to love. Instead, you’re merging your concept of what you wanted your child’s room to be with what they actually want and that becomes an amazing collaboration between mother and child. They will be able to add wall decals, more grown up furniture, lamps and little touches, and choose their own curtains. As they continue to age, they’ll be able to continue to update these smaller touches again when they hit school years, when they develop a love for a favorite television show, when their friends begin to visit for slumber parties, all the way until they go off to college.
2. Chairs and nursery necessary furniture must go.
Big kids need the floor space that a nursery rocking chair would occupy. A changing table can be converted into a shelf or dresser, but for more than space reasons, any nursery furniture you had in the baby room should move out. Besides being an obstacle to pick up toys around and clean marker scribbles from, you want to limit any temptations for risky adventures your new little climber may have.
3. Put clothing in closets, and secure the dresser to the wall.
While we are talking about climbing, be sure that all of your dressers are tacked to the wall. Toddlers will find inventive ways to climb onto furniture to get into something they shouldn't have. Imagine pulling out all of the dresser drawers so that they form a perfect staircase to the lamp that your little independent reader wants to switch on. For this reason, plan for clothing storage. A good rule of thumb is to find a way to have all of their clothing in the closet, whether it be all hanging or if you can fit a dresser into the closet. If using a dresser, you should make sure that it’s only a few drawers high so that your kids can get what they need without having to ask for assistance to reach higher drawers. Use plastic storage bins for clothing they have outgrown or for costumes and keepsakes you might want to keep in the closet.
4. Put Keepsake shelves high and out of reach.
Putting away the keepsakes from the baby days may be one of the hardest parts of a transition. A great tip is to use high wall shelves to display their piggie banks and baby certificates. Higher single wall shelves can also be great for displaying trophies and yearbooks down the line.
5. Use Toddler sized shelving
Toddler room shelving is best at floor level. Your big kid will want access to their toys, books and games. Cube bookcases work fantastically for this. Place bins in some spaces to catch all of the smaller puzzle pieces and random toys. Sprinkle the rest of the spaces with books and even shoes for easy access. Kids love having everything in their room within their reach.
6. Create a table workspace
Whether your child is an artist or a tiny engineer, a small worktable in each room helps nurture their talents. Chose a toddler size table for them to work and play. Don’t get upset when they mark it up, let it be their table. You can follow these steps to create your own lego table, or your own art center. If you go with the art table, you can also try using Wall storage bins.
7. Have Toy and stuffed animal storage
Be thinking about toy and plush toy storage. Having a big kid is wonderful, cleaning up a big kid room is one of those things that you will keep pushing to the bottom of the list. Plastic bins are mom’s best friend when it comes to toy storage. The foldable bins that push into cube shelves work great because they hide the mess of miscellaneous items. Now that your child has so many stuffed animals that they have named and made memories with, where do they all get to live? A super creative way to store stuffed friends is to buy a couple of bean bag chair covers without the beans inside. Voila, cozy chairs stuffed with their friends! Not only do these chairs provide your child with a soft place to sit, but when they spend time on their fancy new chairs they are also getting cuddled by all their best buddies.
8. Organize for Siblings sharing a space
If you are in a situation where you have one child growing into the big kid stage while expecting a new baby, you’ll have to optimize a space to be shared. You’ll have to consider decorations that will be appropriate for both age ranges, plus make room for the furniture that they each desperately need. A space solution for a big kid and baby sharing the same room is to try a loft bed for your big kid. A loft bed is not as high as a standard bunk bed so you can still carry a sleeping big kid and place them in their bed with ease. Big kids love being in a big kid loft bed because it makes for a great space of their own. They can decorate their wall space with their art. Even if the baby hasn’t arrived yet, the underneath part of the loft bed can double as a reading nook. Once the baby arrives, a small crib should fit right under the loft bed. You can even use a pack n’ play to pull it out from under the loft bed when the baby is asleep, and then push it under when the larger kids are awake.
As our children grow, a mother’s job, is to help her kids feel happy, safe and comfortable. Many mothers take this job very seriously and often feel the need to tackle a redesign by themselves, but the transition will be easier if you let your babies help you in the process! The more they get to help, they more they feel ownership. Working together on a goal and feeling accomplished will make them so proud of their space and so proud of themselves. They are a big kid now, let them have a say and have fun building a big kid room together!