The Cot to Bed Transition
First things first – when should you move your toddler into a big bed? Ideally, we want our toddlers to be staying in their cot until they are around 2.5 – 3 years old! Yep, 3! Why?
Moving a baby into a big bed too early can be the cause of major sleep disruptions.
A child under 3 doesn’t understand that they are supposed to stay in their bed, especially now that they have such easy access to be able to get out. Most toddlers just don’t have the capacity to understand that they need to stay in their bed.
Although it can be tempting to move your child into a toddler bed when a new baby is on the way, please reconsider this if your toddler is too young. Change for a child when they are showing signs they are ready is hard enough, throw in a change when a child isn’t ready and it will be much harder.
Here are some signs your little one IS ready to move to a big bed
1) Your baby has started to climb out of the cot – more than once! Once this happens, it has become a safety issue and regardless of your baby’s age, they need to be moved to a bed ASAP. Before you do this, there may be some ways you can delay the move
Make sure the mattress is in the lowest position.
Make sure your baby is in a sleeping bag (preferably the ones without legs!) as this will make climbing out harder.
2) Your child is too big for the cot. This is a similar concept to your baby being in a bassinet and being able to roll – we would then move them into a cot as they need the room to get comfortable. It’s the same with the cot to bed transition. Once your baby becomes big enough that they can no longer find their comfy spot in their cot, it’s a sign they need to move.
3) It is stopping your child from being able to use the bathroom. If you are toilet training and your child is being restricted from using the bathroom by not being able to physically get there, it’s a good time to move them.
4) Your child is asking for a big bed. Your child may never actually show the signs mentioned above, but one day they ask for a big bed. This would be a great time to consider the change.
Please don’t feel pressure to move your baby out of their cot just because. Let your baby guide you in letting you know when they are ready – they are always communicating to us in their own ways! When the time does come to move your toddler into their big bed, here are some tips on how to best prepare them (and you!)
1) Talk to your child openly about what is about to happen each day in the lead up to the transition. Make it a fun conversation for them so they begin to look forward to it.
2) Take them to the toy store and let them pick out a new sleep toy. Make them feel included in the process.
3) Ensure the sleep space is safe. No loose cords nearby. No shelves hanging above their beds. No canopies draped iver their beds.
Our friends over at Growbright have the best toddler pillow on the market and a little birdy told me they are only weeks away from launching a toddler mattress!!
4) Have a plan in place and the support of your partner. As with any change, it is often met with resistance so be really clear about how you will respond to your child when they wander out of their bed. The most effective way to handle this is to remain firm, calm, patient and consistent. If your child gets up, hold their hand, tell them ‘it’s time for sleep’ and walk them back to their bed. Try and minimize the interaction and engagement. Bedtime is meant to be boring!
5) For the first few nights, it’s ok to stay with your child as they fall asleep. Try to let them do the ‘falling asleep’ part on their own (ie without your physical touch). You can also introduce some guided kids meditations and/or a nightlight (always make sure it’s a red light). If your child is way too stimulated having you in the room with them, aim to check on them every 5 minutes until they are asleep.
6) Know that it will take time for your child to adjust. Think of all the big changes your child has already made and how they have eventually adjusted to these too – taking them out of the swaddle, rolling, crawling, pulling up etc. Mix that up with patience and consistency from Mum and Dad and your child WILL get used to their new sleep space.
7) Introduce a Gro Clock(you can also get cheaper versions of these from Kmart). The clock face will turn yellow when it’s time for your child to get up and out of bed, so even if they wake a little earlier than usual, if the clock face is blue, we encourage them to stay in bed
If you find yourself struggling throughout the process and need some additional support, our team is here to help. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org