My husband and I stood in the mini mechanized vehicle aisle at Toys r Us debating the purchase of a toddler bed while our son climbed in and out of a pink and purple Frozen-themed jeep. We had been considering something car-shaped because our son, like his father, is a car enthusiast. He saw pictures of various car beds on our phones as we online-shopped and showed his excitement with “Vrrrroooom” noises. We went to Toys r Us that day to check out our options.
My son is not a good sleeper. He never has been. I tried that “put him to sleep drowsy” nonsense and laughed as the kid screamed the second his back hit mattress. Once he learned how to pull himself up to standing, it was all over. Clearly, the crib wasn’t going to work.
I had fashioned a makeshift floor bed during that time for us to snuggle on when he did wake up and I occasionally left him there to nap during the day while I watched him on the baby monitor. He slept so much better on the floor. It gave him plenty of room to roll. So I bought some body pillows to line the outside and a foam mattress topper to give it some squish, and my little nugget started sleeping, pretty peacefully, on the floor at night. He still wakes once or twice and I have to go snuggle him back to sleep but I’ll take once or twice to every 40 minutes.
Back in the car aisle at Toys r Us, we eyed the little wooden bed we had just surreptitiously removed from its display to see how our son did climbing in and out. That wasn’t a problem so much as the quarter-length guardrails that certainly wouldn’t prevent our little roller from landing on the floor several times a night. But we could get another guardrail, right? And put the other side up against the wall? Or we could spend a little more on the wooden car bed that had rails all the way across. OR we could spend too much money on the plastic car bed with the built-in toy chest that could be removed as the boy grew to accommodate a twin-size mattress and wouldn’t that solve several problems?
Little guy had abandoned the Frozen jeep for a Ferrari and was making his “Vroooom vrooooom” noises as we debated.
“Maybe we should look at it again?” my husband suggested. “That’s a really good price and maybe we could use it with the second kid?”
What prompted this discussion of toddler beds in the first place, even though we have a fully functioning floor bed, was second baby planning. Although, again, if the kid is happy on the floor bed, then the crib is free and clear for the next occupant. So why are we discussing toddler beds?
“Or maybe we pay a really good price for a piece of furniture that never gets used. Because we have a convertible crib that we could try to get him to sleep in. Or we can let him sleep on the floor for a while because it works and he likes it.”
“Shouldn’t he be sleeping in a bed, though?”
“I don’t know. Does it matter as long as he’s safe and getting enough sleep? I mean, let’s think about this for a second. Who is this whole thing a problem for?”
And isn’t that the question every parent should be asking? Who is this really a problem for? Me? My kid? My spouse? Or all those people telling us how things are supposed to be?
Who is formula feeding a problem for? Who is breastfeeding a problem for? Who is toilet training a problem for? Who the hell is telling me what I’m supposed to be doing and what do they care whether or not it works for my family?
We left the store without a bed and more importantly, without the intention of buying one. Our son slept 7 hours on his floor bed that night before waking and 3 more hours after that once I’d snuggled him back to sleep. So I ask again: Who is this bed thing a problem for? Not for my husband because he doesn’t do night duty. Not for me because if I have to snuggle, I’d rather have the space to do so. And certainly not for my son who has never slept anywhere so well as he does on his floor bed.
This bed thing is only a problem for the voices in our heads that tell how things should be. The voice of our moms and our neighbors and our coworkers who all say THIS is what you HAVE TO DO with children. This is the only way to raise them right. If he doesn’t sleep in a big boy bed now, then he never will.
I call bullshit. On all of it. Let the kid sleep where he sleeps, let the parents make the best decisions for their children, and for God’s sake, let’s all stop insisting that there is only one right way to raise children. It’s not true. It never was. So let’s Let It Goooooo!