Introduction

If you’re a parent of a baby or very young child, it’s likely that you’ll be wondering when to transfer your child into a bed. Having your baby or toddler sleep in a cot has many advantages but at some point you’ll need to transition from a cot to a bed.

Some children are easily able to make this transition, others resist change and would rather stay in their cot. This article will look at how to transition from a cot to a bed safely and will give you some tips to help make the change smoothly. It will also help you to decide whether or not your child is ready to sleep in a bed. 

What age should you transition from a cot to a bed

Most children are able to transition from a cot to a bed between the ages of eighteen months and three years. However, this age does vary slightly for each child and it’s ultimately up to the parents to decide when their child is ready to move into a big bed. 

Many families decide that their child is ready to make the change when they get big enough to climb out of their cot. Other toddlers may have gotten too big to sleep in their cot comfortably. It’s likely that you’ll be able to tell when your child is ready to transition to a bed, but you can also ask your health visitor for advice if you are unsure. 

Another reason parents decide to move their toddler from a cot to a bed is that they are expecting a new baby and the new arrival will need to use the cot. If this is the case it’s important to give your child time to adjust to their new bed. Introduce your toddler to their new bed before your baby arrives. Make the change at least six weeks before your new babies expected arrival as this will give your toddler enough time to get used to the new bed. Children who have older brothers and sisters usually make the change, with less fuss. It’s likely that they will want to be like their older siblings. 

If you have a spare cot you may decide to wait until your new baby is born and is a few months old before moving your toddler out of the cot. If you decide to wait this will allow your child to become used to the new baby. Having a new baby in the home is a big change for your child and its helpful to offer them stability at this time. Waiting until the new baby has settled in and your toddler is happy with the situation will make the transition from cot to bed a lot easier. 

Cot to bed tips

Each toddler will respond slightly differently when they are given a new bed. For some children getting a new bed will make them feel more grown up and they will be happy and excited about the move. They will easily adjust to the change. 

Other children are likely to find making the move stressful and might need a little help. It’s a good idea to set a date for the transition to take place and speak to your toddler about it in the weeks leading up to this date. This will mean that the move doesn’t come as a big shock to your child. 

If possible, you should put the new bed in the same spot as the cot has been as this will seem more familiar to your child and will make things easier. Let you child take familiar item such as soft toys or a blanket that they had in their cot to bed with them. This will comfort your child and help them to get to sleep easier.

Older toddlers can help by choosing their new bedding, this is likely to make them feel happier about the move and will encourage them to see the transition as being something positive. You may even let them help choose the bed. 

Some parents even throw a "Big Bed" party to help their children feel happier about the change that’s about to take place. If you decide to have a party you can invite friends and grandparents who will help encourage reluctant children. It’s likely that your child will be happier about getting into a big bed and they might even be looking forward to bed time. 

You may like to create a reward chart for your child, this is particularly useful for children who keep getting out of their own bed and into their parents. You can give your child a sticker each time the send the whole night in their own bed. It’s a good idea to get up and guide your child back to their own bed if they get up in the night, rather then letting them get into bed with you. Gently reassure them that everything’s ok and say good night again. This will allow you and your child to both get a better night’s sleep. It will also stop your child from developing the habit of getting into bed with you.  

If your child has slept in their bed you should praise them. Offer praise and encouragement even if they have just had a nap in the bed as this will make them feel cared for and will make them want to sleep in the bed again. 

How to transition from a cot to a bed safely

Some children are able to move straight into a single bed, others move into a toddler bed first before getting a bigger bed when they outgrow it. It’s up to the parents to make the decision about whether the child is mature enough to sleep in a regular sized bed. Younger toddlers may be better in a toddler bed as it will be safer. Toddler beds are smaller and lower to the ground, they also have safety rails attached to stop your child falling out in their sleep. 

If you’re moving your child into a regular single bed, you may like to consider attaching guardrail to prevent falls from happening. Alternatively, you can put cushions on the floor, to create a soft landing if the child falls out. It’s a good idea to move other furniture away from the bed to avoid bumps. 

It’s important to remember that once your child is in a bed they will be able to get up at night. It’s therefore very important to ensure that their room is toddler proof and safe. There are several things that you can do to reduce hazards in the room.

Make sure that your child can’t touch any electrical cables or sockets. You can buy plastic plugs that can be inserted into unused sockets to stop toddlers sticking their fingers in. Run loose cables behind the back of furniture, where possible so that your child can’t pull on them. 

You may like to push your toddlers’ bed up against the wall, this will make it less likely for them to fall out. Each night you should tidy the room, putting away any small toys and ensuring a clear space around the bed, in case they fall out. 

If your child’s room has blinds on the windows these should be secured so that they are out of reach. You can also consider putting safety corners on the furniture and a gate on your child’s door, as well as at the top of the stairs.

In some cases moving your child from a cot to a bed will be the safer option. This is particularly true if your toddler has learnt to climb out of their cot and you are worried about their safety. It’s much safer to sleep in a bed, even if they’re likely to fall out then it is climbing out of a cot and falling to the floor. 

Summary

Some children will be able to make the transition from cot to be with ease, others will find it more of a challenge. Those who find making the move a big step will need a lot of reassurance from their parents. It might take time and patients to get you little one to sleep in their own bed, try not to get frustrated with them. It’s important to stay as calm as possible and create a routine that you can stick to. 

Creating a routine will reassure your child that many things in their life are still the same and will help them to feel less overwhelmed. If your toddler is struggling to stay in their own bed all night create a reward chart. If they get up during the night, gently guide them back to bed rather than letting them into your bed. You can provide reassurance and say good night. It’s likely that you’ll have to do this a few times when your child first makes the move. 

If your child is scared of the dark, you can purchase a nightlight which will make their room seem less dark and scary. You can also read bed time stories in bed if they aren’t falling asleep straight away.

Good luck!