Is your little one moving from a cot to a big bed? Fear not! Here are some tips to make the transition easy for everyone…
Although most toddlers make the move from a cot to a bed anytime between 18 months and three and a half years, a big bed might be necessary for several reasons. If the cot is becoming too small, is needed for a new baby, or is preventing a toilet-training toddler from getting up to go to the loo, then it is time for a new bed.
Choose the right time
As moving to a new bed can be stressful – for both you and your toddler – make sure that the transition happens during a stable time in your family life. It is best not to make the move during other periods of change, such as starting nursery school, when you’re going back to work or when your child is sick. If your toddler is moving from the cot because of a new baby, make sure that this is done at least six months before the birth, so that your toddler does not feel ‘replaced’.
Buy the correct mattress
- As nappy leaks and toilet-training accidents are bound to happen, buy a mattress that is easy to clean… to prevent staining the new mattress.
- Choose a mattress that is super absorbent, with a waterproof layer, if possible, that won’t make a noise every time your toddler moves.
- Invest in two mattress protectors, so that middle-of-the-night linen changes can be dealt with quickly and calmly.
Reassess your home for potential dangers
- Install bed rails, or place cushions, pillows, or folded duvets and blankets onto the floor beside the bed to soften any unexpected rolling that might happen in the night.
- Install a baby gate across the bedroom door and stairs, in case your toddler does wander.
- Double check that plug points are covered and pack away or neaten up any electrical cords.
- Secure ‘loose’ furniture such as book or toy shelves that your toddler could pull over.
- Close windows – especially upstairs – that are wide enough for your toddler to fall out of.
Prepare your little one
- Create excitement around the change by going shopping together for new bed linen or a soft toy.
- Create continuity by moving over some of your toddler’s favourite items such as a teddy or blanket.
- Allow your toddler to have daytime naps in the big bed before sleeping through at night and stick to the usual night time bedtime routine to minimise further disruption.
Make the transition as easy as 1, 2, 3
- If your toddler does get out of bed, immediately return him or her to bed with as little fuss as possible. Don’t get angry – and try not to even talk to your child during this time. It might take upwards of ten times in one night before your child stays in bed… but it should sort itself out after a few nights.
- Alternatively, try the gradual approach; have story time with your little one and stay silently on the bed until he or she falls asleep, then ease away slowly. As each night passes, gradually move closer to the door as your child falls asleep.
- If your toddler is really struggling with the transition to a big bed, consider bringing back the cot for a couple of weeks – but still stick to the bedtime routine. Like all new routines, be patient and give your toddler time to adjust to this new milestone.