(This is long...fair warning!
My 2 yr old (25 months old) would always go to sleep at night with no problems. Our routine would be that I nurse him and put him in his crib awake, I leave the room and he is asleep. He wakes up in the middle of the night usually once and I nurse him and put him right back in his crib and he goes right back to sleep.
The past few nights in the middle of the night, I would nurse him, he would fall asleep and when I placed him in his crib he would sit up and want to nurse again. I would give in a few times and still he would sit right up in his crib and not go back to sleep! Luckily my mom was in town visiting and she finally took over and rocked him to sleep.
So last night, he did the same thing except he did this when i first put him to bed. This has NEVER happened before. So after many attempts at trying to get him to sleep I let him cry in his crib for a few minutes so I could regroup myself as I was getting frustrated. I went back in to his room and caught him straddling the crib railing! He has never tried to climb out of his crib before! So that freaked me out.
So today we set up a "big boy bed" (toddler mattress on the floor) in his room but kept his crib up too just to introduce the idea of a big boy bed. He napped on his new bed (because he fell totally asleep while nursing so it was easy to lay him on the new bed) and he seemed quite proud of himself upon waking. So here is where my question/issue comes into play:
Tonight i nursed him, placed him in his crib as usual and he sat up and refused to go to sleep. I asked him if he wanted to sleep in his big boy bed and he said yes. So we began a new routine. I certainly did not expect him to just "take" to this bed immediately so I figured it would be a team effort for at least a few hours. We tried reading books, rubbing his back, being quiet. I even took his crib mattress out and placed it next to his other toddler mattress to make the bed bigger because he was moving around so much. I asked him if he wanted to go back to his crib and he always said no. I tried leaving the room with the door open but of course he would just walk out to find me. I told him he has to stay on his bed and if I tried to leave he would leave and if I stayed in the room he just bounced around on the bed.
So eventually I ended up putting him in his crib and unfortunately let him cry for 5 minutes till he fell asleep. I didn't have a choice as I have no one else here to help me and he apparently wants me to nurse him all night which isn't going to happen. He is a terrible co-sleeper and that isn't an option either.
Sorry for the long background story but here are my questions:
Is he too young to be put in a regular bed? Crib tents scare me (horror stories of hangings) but he is realizing he can get out of his crib so I am at a loss now.
Is it common for a newly turned 2 year old to suddenly change their sleep habits?
If/when I do transition him to a toddler bed, how in the world do I keep him in there? Any good strategies?
PS. I started with his new bed as a mattress on the floor because we travel a lot and it's been hard because he will only sleep in a crib. So if I could get him to sleep on a mattress on the floor then I feel like it will be easy to simulate anywhere we travel. So I would prefer not to do the whole toddler bed with a guard rail thing.
Thanks for any advice you may have!!!