When To Move Your Toddler
From A Cot To A Bed
During a child's first few years they will go through many development stages and milestones. From learning to crawl, to walking, to saying their first words, these are all memorable moments that have parents and grandparents rushing for their cameras.
However, one milestone that doesn’t get talked about so much, but which can have a big impact on the child and their family, is making the move to a big bed. Just when you think you’ve got their sleep routine sorted and nights are feeling settled, you realise they have outgrown their cute cot and it’s time to move up to the next stage. But how do you know it’s the right time? And how do you go about it without disrupting everything?
In the UK childrens beds typically come in five standard sizes:
- moses basket
- cot bed
Most people begin by putting their newborn in a moses basket or crib, which has the dual benefit of being a more cosy, closed in space for the small baby, as well as being suitably sized to sit in the parents bedroom as per the safer sleep guidelines. Babies tend to grow out of these pretty quickly and move into a more spacious cot between three and six months, where they will stay for the next couple of years.
Here are some of the common reasons families decide it is time to move the baby from a cot to a cot bed.
The child outgrows the cot
Children grow in spurts and a cot that seemed roomy one month might seem a tight squeeze the next month. Little wrigglers might find themselves hitting the bars with their arms or pressing their feet against the end as they try to sleep. Moving into a larger cot bed will let them stretch out and sleep in whatever position is comfy for them.
It’s time to toilet train
If you’ve ever toilet trained a child, you’ll know that speedy access to the toilet is everything. Children who are only just getting to grips with using the toilet often don’t recognise the growing need for a wee until it’s urgent, so as soon as they say they need to go - they need to GO! This often creates a need to move from a cot to a cot bed, as then they can get out of bed and take themselves to the toilet as soon as they feel the need, rather than calling out and waiting for an adult to come and get them, and risking more accidents and wet sheets.
There’s a new baby on the way
Often the arrival of a new baby prompts a lot of change in a family, including moving all the children along to the next size of bed to free up the smallest furniture for the new arrival. If this is the situation in your family it’s a good idea to think ahead and make the change a few months before little brother or sister arrives, so that the child who is moving up a bed can get used to their new sleep environment before they have to get used to a whole new person in the home.
You’ve got a climber
Curious kids love to test out their new found climbing and balancing skills at every opportunity - and those cot bars make a great adventure playground! It is dangerous for a child to climb out of the cot as they could fall to the floor, so if they are showing signs of trying to climb it’s important to change them to a bed as soon as possible.
Tips for making the transition from cot to cot bed
Making the change can be very daunting, as no parent wants to do anything to disrupt their child’s sleep. There is no set age at which to make the change, and every family will do it at a time that suits them, depending which of the factors above come first. Here are a few tips which might help the transition go more smoothly in your household:
- Build the new bed in the daytime and give the child time to explore it. Presenting it with them at bedtime is sure to excite them and make it hard for them to instantly settle down to sleep, so introduce the bed to them during the daytime and let them climb on it, lie in it, crawl under it, cuddle up with you and have a chat in it - whatever helps it to become familiar to them.
- If the bed doesn’t have sides and you are nervous about your child rolling out there are clip on sides that you can buy to prevent a fall. However if those won’t fit your bed, or you’d rather not spend money on a temporary problem, place a rolled up towel or pool noodle on top of the mattress and under the sheet to create a raised barrier along the side of the bed. Although not deep, it should be just enough to stop a small child rolling over it in their sleep. This tip is also great for stays in hotels or at other people’s houses!
- If it’s all a bit too exciting and your child loves their newfound freedom so much that they keep getting out of bed, a reward chart can work wonders. Put it up somewhere in their room so that they can see it and they can tick it off every day, and praise them when they achieve staying in bed.
- If your child has worn a baby sleep bag to bed up until now, it is time to transition to a duvet. It’s unsafe for a walking child to get out of bed and go wandering around the house in a baby sleep bag as they are likely to stumble over the fabric and fall.
- Get your child excited about the change by letting them pick their own “big” bedding. Kabode’s range of cot bed sized bedding has lots of colourful designs to make a child feel very special indeed in their brand new cot bed!