Moving your little one from a cot to their first bed is a big change for them and for you. Young children love stability and consistency, so changing the bed they sleep in can feel like a momentous development in their life. It’s also a big step for you too – another moment when you realise how much your little one has grown.
Whilst changing beds can be a big step, if you make the switch in the right way you can minimise the disturbance and even make it fun. To help, here we explain when to move your toddler to a bed and how best do it.
What age could a toddler move from a cot to a bed?
Every child is different and there’s not one best age to make the switch from a crib or a cot to a kids’ bed. Generally speaking, most toddlers make the move sometime between the age of 18 months and three years.
But this is a pretty wide window. So, how do you know when it’s the right time for your toddler? We recommend you look out for the signs we’ve listed below.
Signs your child is ready for a kids’ bed
The following signs are all indications that your little one is ready to be moved to their first bed:
• They can climb out of their cot: Your child could hurt themselves if they can climb out of it by themselves. Their cot is no longer safe and it’s time to move them to a bed.
• Your child is too large for their cot: If your little one’s chest reaches above the rail of the cot when they stand in it, they may be able to tip themselves out the crib. The same goes if they can’t lie in the cot comfortably anymore either.
• You’re potty training your child: If your little one has reached the point where they can use a potty by themselves, and you don’t want them to wear a nappy at night, it makes sense for them to sleep in a bed. If they wake up in the night and need to go, they can easily and safely climb out of a bed, but not a cot.
• Your child asks to sleep in a bed: Sometimes it can be the child that prompts the change by asking for a bed. This happens most often when they have an older sibling who’s already in a bed, and of course they want to be like their older sister or brother.
How do I ease the switch from cot to bed?
You’ve decided it’s time to make the change from cot to bed. But how do you make sure it’s successful and causes as little stress as possible? Try the following:
• Tell your little one beforehand: Rather than suddenly springing a new bed on them, tell them it’s coming. Explain that they’re going to have a new bed and introduce the idea to them multiple times, so it doesn’t come as a shock.
• Make it fun: Whenever you talk about the new bed, talk about it with excitement. Try to get your little one excited about it too. Make it fun, tell them they’re becoming a big girl or big boy now, as most toddlers absolutely relish being told they’re growing and developing.
• Have naptimes in the new bed: Taking daytime naps in the new bed can help your little one get used to sleeping in it. It can normalise the bed and help them form an association with the bed and sleep.
• Stick to your usual bedtime routine: Your toddler is more likely to adjust to a change if you keep everything else around them constant. Bedtime routines also reinforce that sleep is coming and prepare your child for bed. Make sure you stick to the usual sleep time and the usual routine in the run up to it.
• Let your toddler pick their bedding: Your little one may be more accepting of a new bed if you involve them in the process and give them a sense of contributing to the change. Letting them pick their own bedding is a great way to do this.
• Make the bed welcoming: As well as letting your toddler pick their bedding, you can also make the bed welcoming by letting them choose their favourite soft toys to sleep with. You can put pictures and stickers around the bed too, and favourite books and other items.
• Reward good behaviour: Make sure you reward positive behaviour with plenty of praise. You can also introduce games and rewards, like stickers for a full night’s sleep in their bed and rewards for staying in bed all night.
Be patient with the switch!
Some toddlers will take the switch to their own bed in their stride with little to no fuss. Others may find it more difficult at first. They may refuse the bed, have problems falling asleep, or frequently come into your bedroom during the night. This can be frustrating but try to remain calm and patient. Stay consistent, and over time, your toddler should adjust.
But if your toddler is really having problems making the change and every evening brings dramatic tantrums and they can’t sleep, you may have to bring the crib back. As long as your toddler can sleep safely in it, you might have to return to sleeping in the cot and try making the switch to a bed again at a later date. This can be frustrating for you, and it can feel like a step backwards, but it can be the sensible choice. Your little one will get used to sleeping in their own bed, it just may take some time to happen.
Making the change from a crib to a bed is a big step, for both your child and you. And whilst toddlers may not like change at first, they also adapt quickly. You may have a difficult few days, but we’re sure your little one will soon be sleeping soundly in their new bed in no time at all.