Cot to bed transitions: earlier isn't always better

when should I move my toddler to a 'big bed'?

Around 3 years of age is when toddlers are able to understand the concept of a big bed and the rules the come with it.

If you move to a big bed earlier than 3 years of age, you may find that you have a frequent visitor in the night or constant popping out for one last kiss at bedtime!  Obviously a 3-year-old can still push the boundaries and exit their room through this transition period as well, however it’s so much easier to reason with a 3-year-old and have them understand the rules and consequences of a big bed.

If you’re thinking of moving your toddler into a big bed ideally you want a smooth transition.  It is important to make sure nothing new is going on for your child or your family - e.g starting kindy/preschool, toilet training, the arrival of a new sibling or moving room/house. Too many changes all at once will be a lot for your toddler to deal with so keep things familiar for your toddler will ensure they feel more comfortable with this transition.

On reason parents may want to make this move to a big bed earlier than 3 years of age is if your toddler starts to climb out of the cot. Yes, this is scary, and you may want to transition straight away. but my advice is don’t jump too soon.  Hold tight and check you have done all you can to prevent them from climbing out.  Make sure the cot is set on the lowest level and put your toddler to sleep in a sleeping bag as this will help by limiting the amount of movement and leg hoisting they can do.  Make sure you remove all things from the cot that can be used to stand on and launch themselves.  If your toddler is still climbing out of their cot and it's becoming a safety concern, then it may be time to move them to a big bed.

Tips to help the transition go smoothly

  • Start by talking to your toddler about it.  Reading a bedtime story that involves a big bed is great or involve your toddler in the setting up/buying the new bed this will excite them and make it fun!  Make sure you clear out anything that could potentially be dangerous and make the room safe for your toddler.
  • If possible, keep the new bed in the same spot as the cot was. This will help keep things familiar, along with keeping your toddler's favourite loveys/comforters. You can even keep them in their sleeping bag during this transition. This will give them the familiarity and security they are used to.
  • Most importantly you want to explain the rules of the new bed.  For example - close your eyes, stay in bed all night and mummy will come and get you in the morning.  Explain that if they get out of bed, mum or dad will take you straight back to bed. (It helps if you get them to repeat the rules back to you).
  • If your toddler is still napping I would suggest putting them in their big bed at nap time to start off with.  Give them heaps of praise and encouragement, then the same at bedtime but move bed forward by 30min just to give yourself some extra time to explain the rules and in case your toddler decides to pop out for one last kiss.

If you would like some help with this transition, or perhaps your toddler is already in a big beg, but not staying in it, then contact us today for your free 15 minute phone consultation.

Tamara Bruce