We decided to start him out with just the mattress on the floor, then we will gradually build it up. While I was out grocery shopping, J brought the mattress into his room and moved his crib over. Cooper responded with "PUT IT BACK!" Then proceeded to scream that statement over and over.
I asked J to take him downstairs while I staged the room. The room is already a little on the small side, so the rocker had to come out in order to keep both beds in there. I moved everything around, and made up his bed with his new supersoft, microsuede comforter. The boy loves his soft stuff. Out came his monkeys, bears, flashlight, pillow, nite-nite, paci, books ... he likes to have lots of stuff around him.
When he came back into the room, we had a few more "Put it back", but with less emphasis this time. Once he got under the comforter, he was sold.
The best part is he went right off to sleep without any question. Just snuggled down under his supersoft comforter, and he was out. Nite-nite.
Oh, and J did agree with me. The staging was the trick, but mommies are always right. Right?