In Praise of the Big-Boy Crib


Teddy bears on crib

At first glance, my son’s bedroom looks like that of many 3-year-old boys: a colorful, happily chaotic assortment of toys (currently evenly divided between construction vehicles/tools/gear and a staggering array of “Frozen” merchandise), shelves packed with books, a beanbag chair and couch that serve alternately as launching and landing pads, and a changing table that’s now used for storage of items that will invariably be ransacked and used as props at least once a day.

But there’s also something else in there you won’t find in many of his peers’ rooms: a crib.

Yes, that’s right, our 3-year-old still sleeps in the same crib we placed him in when he came home from the hospital. Back then, it seemed impossibly huge relative to his less-than-7-pound body; while today, at about five times that weight and over 3 feet tall, he takes up quite a bit more surface area. But there is still plenty of room for the increasingly large number of stuffed animals who must sleep with him, and it’s the same frame and mattress that will eventually convert into his “big-boy bed” when that time comes.

So, when will that time come? Well, we have no idea. Believe me, we didn’t think we’d get away with having him in there for this long—not even close. He could have scaled the walls with ease many months ago, but he seems totally uninterested in doing so, even during naps that include epic displays of crib acrobatics and zero actual sleep.

My guess is he simply doesn’t know there is a wall-free, come-and-go-as-you-please bed in his near future. He’s the oldest of our two children, and the play dates he goes on usually take place in our friends’ yards, play rooms or other family spaces, not in the other child’s bedroom. (He’s deep in the “Why?” stage, so I’m certain if he’d ever seen a friend’s bed, it would have come up for immediate discussion on the car ride home.)

Whatever the case may be, we aren’t in a hurry. Our situation has turned into a bit of a joke among our friends, many of whom have children significantly younger than our son who are already out of their cribs. But then they talk about all the hassles and safety concerns of a very young child who can choose to get in and out of bed and roam around at any time, and I just smile quietly to myself.

We’re living on borrowed time, obviously, and there will soon come a day when our son asks to sleep in a bed. We’ll support and embrace that next step. But for now it comes down to a question I ask myself a lot as a parent in this tech-obsessed, go-go-go, what’s-next-and-new part of the world: What’s the rush? Sometimes I fear we’re pushing our kids too quickly out of the precious realm of early childhood, for no good reason at all. If my son is safe, warm and comfortable, who cares what kind of bed he sleeps in? I don’t think this extra crib time will have any bearing whatsoever on his path to becoming the world’s preeminent Firefighter/Doctor/Kristoff-from-Frozen/Chef.

And besides, the day after he transitions to his big-boy bed, there is a 21-month-old little girl in our house who will demand the exact same thing. And like that, we’ll go from two cribs to zero.


  1. I could not agree more! Keep him in there as long as possible!! Our son crawled out at 19 months so we unfortunately didn’t get much choice, but like you said it created a whole new battle and we had to help him define new “boundaries”. Hoping our daughter lasts longer 🙂 Good for you!


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