Though it might only feel like yesterday that your tiny newborn bundle first curled up in their cot, all too quickly it’s time to look at moving them into a big bed.
Most children make the move into a ‘big’ bed somewhere between the age of two and three. If your child is sleeping happily in their cot, there is no need to rush into moving them out of the fenced-in safety of a cot into a bed. Maybe you are putting it off because you are worried they might not settle for their naps, or will suddenly begin to get out every night! However, there are several reasons that might indicate it is time to make the move:
- They have learnt to climb and the cot rail is at chest height, meaning that successfully climbing out is more possible
- You are expecting a new baby and want to pass the cot down
- They are toilet training
- The cot is getting too small
- They are asking for a big bed
There are several bed options when graduating from a cot.
Regular single bed: This is the most common choice, and comes as a mattress on top of a frame. This size bed will last them until they are well into their teens, but some models can be a little high off the floor for younger children. If you are worried about them falling out, you can add a portable bed rail.
Toddler bed: A smaller, lower version of a single bed, often in fun kid-friendly designs. Though toddler beds make the transition easier, they will outgrow them quicker and will need replacing.
Mattress on the floor: Providing a big bed but without the worry of them falling out, this is a popular choice to gradually transition those kids that move around a lot in the night! They can then graduate to putting the mattress onto a frame when they are ready.
King single: A nice choice if you have the room, giving you plenty of space to snuggle up together and read at night. This size bed will also be big enough to last a long time!
How to make the move
Moving into a ‘big kid’ bed is a significant milestone in their life, and one they might feel unsure about. They might be excited, then wary, then excited again, so be patient as they adjust.
Keep your child involved in the process and have them help to choose the new bed and pick out new sheets and bedding. If they are hesitant about the change, take it slowly – try setting up the bed in their room and just using it for naps or reading time.
If they aren’t settling well without the cot, try taking the cot mattress out of the cot and place it on the floor where the cot was. This provides the same sleeping surface, bedding and position as previously. Then once they feel comfortable without the cot frame, swap the cot mattress for the big bed mattress in the same position in the room.
Always maintain your same night-time routine, even if they are unsettled for the first few nights.
Try marking the occasion with some new décor for their room also. This could be a full redecorate or just cushions and artwork to make it seem more like a ‘big kid’ room.
If they continue to get out of bed, try to stay patient, accompany them back to bed and give lots of hugs. Arguing or punishment is likely to just increase their anxiety.
Giving a child the freedom of a big bed also means ensuring that the room is completely safe, in case they are ever out of bed alone. Make sure cords from blinds and curtains are out of reach and all heavy furniture is firmly attached to the wall with brackets.
Electrical appliances should also be out of reach and safety plugs installed, and the room should be free from clutter.
Also double check the rest of the house, should your child get out of bed at night and go wandering! Stairs need to have gates and medicines, cleaning fluids and anything small need to be out of reach.
If you would like some further information, check out the SIDS and Kids cot-to-bed safety brochure.