Making the transition from cot to bed is an exciting time in a little toddler’s life.
When to move to a toddler bed?
Like everything with toddlers, there is basically no perfect time to start, as each child is different. However, generally people start somewhere between the ages of 18months and 3 years. Experts, such as sleep consultant Kellie Campbell, suggest that 2.
5 years is a good time to transition. This age is when cognitive and language skills are getting to the stage where the toddler understands what is going on and what is required of them. If your toddler is trying to climb out of the cot already though, then don’t delay. At this point you have reached a bit of a safety issue and need to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.
As with toilet training, the path to success is paved preparation and positivity. Your child will likely stumble a few times like he did when learning to walk, but that is ok, it is normal and part of the process.
Here are our favourite tips for making this exciting transition from cot to bed:
“I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it” – be excited with your toddler about the big move. Show them pictures of beds that might be theirs. Tell other people all about it in earshot of your toddler and do it in a very excited tone. This will make your toddler so happy and confident about the process.
Fun new linen – chances are you will need linen in a bigger size than what you have anyway. If you have something at home already that you think your toddler would like, get them out and make a big deal about them.
Build it together– let them be part of this transition from cot to bed. Include them when you are putting the new bed together, putting the new sheets on and preparing the whole new room layout. It is like a big exciting adventure for them, so let them be a part of the process.
Toddler rail – nothing says “I don’t want to sleep in my big kid bed” like falling out of it in the middle of the night. Many cots come with additional parts to convert to a toddler bed, including safety rails. If you don’t have that option, they can be purchased for a competitive price around the place. Just hit google. Though one little #mummahack is to use pool noddles taped to the mattress with the fitted sheet over the top to stop them rolling out.
Important SAFETY note: keep bed away from curtain cords, electrical cords and cables, heavy unsecured furniture, medicine, coins or batteries.
Do it on the weekend – or at least when you are having an “at home day” together the following day. This way, if no one gets any sleep you don’t have work to deal with and your little one isn’t sent to kindy all grumpy.
Stick to your routine– keep the bedtime routine exactly the same as it always was. It is amazing how much this will trigger their readiness for bed.
Comfort toys + calming tricks – consider using a sleepy head balm as part of their bedtime routine, or perhaps calming oils in the bath or an in room vaporisor (our friends from Snotty Noses Australia have awesome vaporisers if you are looking for one). Some kids love night lights and don’t forget the furry friends too.
Don’t talk about “hopping out” – some toddlers won’t even realise that they can hop out of bed now, even though it seems obvious to us as adults. Don’t give them the idea by mentioning it. Just put them down and see if they stay. Deal with the hopping out when it happens.
They will hop out eventually – this transition from cot to bed is a process and it’s all about learning for both toddler and parent. Even if they don’t figure out that they can hop out right away, they will eventually and this will start the night time visits. You know, the sneaking out while the TV is still on at night type of visits. How you handle it from here is critical. If you let them snuggle up with you on the lounge, then they will get up again, because why not? You get cuddles! Instead, don’t make eye contact, don’t talk about it, just take them by the hand and lead them back to bed. This tactic is used by sleep experts worldwide because it works. If it’s boring to get up, then there is less reason to get up.
Encouragement and rewards – In the morning give them lots of praise for sleeping the whole night through. Also think about a reward chart using stickers to keep them on track.
The Surprise Box – pop a little box with some books and forgotten toys at the end of their bed once they are asleep. It will be there as a surprise in the morning and might keep them in bed playing for a bit if they wake early.
The Sleep Training Clock – there are a number of brands on the market, but we love Sam the Sheep. Sam the Sheep sleep clock. Basically, you can set Sam’s eyes so they don’t open until a certain time of the morning and you let your little one know that they can’t get up until those eyes are open. We particularly love the 30 min countdown feature as it helps those little ones with itchy feet who are raring to go. Some people have amazing success with their little sleep clocks and even use them up until the kids are 10 years old. If it works, why stop?
Remember, there is actually no rush to start this transition from cot to bed. If your toddler is happy in the cot, there is no reason they can’t stay in there for awhile longer. Knowing when to move to a toddler bed is stationed by a lot of factors and slowly introducing some of our tips, you are preparing your toddler for the idea of change. Once toddler and parent both feel prepared, you have the best chance of success. You can do it! We hope you love this new phase of life with your littles. You are doing such a great job already by making sure you are ready and informed yourself.