When should I move my toddler from a cot to a bed, and how?
Most toddlers make the transition from cot to bed between about 18 months and three years. However, there’s no specific time that your toddler needs to move to a new bed. It’s different for every family.
Many parents make the switch when their toddler is able to climb out of the cot, or grows too tall to sleep comfortably. You’ll probably be able to tell when your toddler reaches this stage, but you can also check with your health visitor for reassurance.
If you make the change, your toddler won’t be able to hurt himself by falling from his cot any more, but he will be able to get up by himself at night. So make sure you toddler-proof his bedroom, if you haven’t already.
Another common reason for making the change to a bed is if the cot is needed for a new arrival. If you’re having another baby, try to introduce your toddler to his new bed at least six weeks before your due date.
If your toddler is your firstborn, he may not really understand why he needs to move to a new bed. An early transition will give your toddler plenty of time to settle into his bed before the upheaval of a new baby.
Toddlers with older siblings often have an easier time, as they want to be just like their brother or sister.
Alternatively, you can delay the switch until your new baby is three months or four months old, as she’s likely to be in a Moses basket or crib at first anyway. But it’s best not to make the change within a month or so either side of the birth. A new arrival is already a time of huge change for your toddler, and a bit of stability will help him cope with the transition.
Every toddler responds to a new bed in their own way. Some will adjust easily to the change, while others will need a bit more help. Decide when you’re going to make the change and talk it up a week in advance so it’s not a big shock.
To ease the transition, put the bed in the same place as the cot, if you can. Your toddler may also find it soothing to sleep with his old cot blanket, even if it’s too small.
If your toddler’s old enough, you could take him to a shop and let him choose his new bed or bedding. You could even throw him a “Big Bed” party and invite friends and grandparents. He may be so excited about getting a big bed that he can’t wait to dive into it!
No matter how prepared your toddler is to move to a bed, always use a guard rail at first to prevent him falling out. He’ll be used to the side of the cot stopping him when he rolls over.
If your toddler’s struggling to feel comfortable with his new bed a few weeks after the transition, he may not be quite ready yet. If you’re able to keep his cot, you can always bring it back for a while and try the change again another time. Don’t see this as a step backwards though. He may just need a bit more time to adjust.
If putting your toddler back in his cot isn’t an option, you may just need to give him a bit of time and patience. He’ll take his cues from you, so don’t let yourself get too frustrated. Stay calm, and stick to your normal routine as far as possible to reassure him that there’s lots that’s still the same.