When to Transition from Cot to Big Bed

You might be feeling it is time to transition your toddler from their cot to a big bed and wondering if now is the right time?

Did you start the transition and a few weeks later face the recurrent need to have to walk your toddler back to their big bed or perhaps you are looking for the advice to ensure you set yourself up with the right information before beginning the cot to bed transition.

I want to be clear that if you are moving a toddler from cot to bed to make way for a new sibling that you ensure you begin this transition around 3-4 months prior to the new baby arriving home. This helps to reinforce that the older sibling is not going to a cot into bed because of the baby and avoid a sense of resentment from the toddler.

Ask yourself if you are really ready and is your toddler really ready? If they are sleeping well in the cot then don’t try move them!

The assumption is that if a toddler is sleeping well in their cot that parents consider it is time for their baby to move to a bed. However as the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and if you have a sibling who needs the cot do first consider whether you can financially wear the additional cost (marketplace and gumtree gave great second hand cots for under $80 or perhaps you can hold off while using a bassinet for the new baby).

Don’t let the excitement of wanting to transition your baby to a big bed hinder the chance of you having good night sleeps!

Their may be other factors that may be shifting your focus into considering moving your toddler into a big bed and this could be because they are climbing out. Climbing out of a cot does impose a safety risk for your toddler and we want to ensure you try to discourage this with some strategies like:

  • Ensuring the cot mattress is lowered to discourage climbing
  • Pop bub in a sleep suit without legs that they cannot get their legs over the cot
  • Keep an eye on them and ensure you reinforce key phrases to not climb out of the cot and lay them back down

Signs that you have moved your toddler too soon might include:

  • Toddler was previously a good sleeper and now wakes a few times
  • Gets out of bed constantly
  • Begins to wake early
  • Refuses to nap of a day time
  • Takes a long time to fall asleep

These signs might begin around 2-3 weeks following a toddler being moved from their cot to big bed. This is because it usually takes this amount of time before they realise that they can actually get out of their bed.

It is recommended from my experience as a sleep consultant and working with numerous clients children over the years that the best age to begin a cot to bed transition is at three years of age. A toddler who is three years old can actively get involved and understand the process of moving to a ‘big bed’.

This becomes an exciting experience as they learn they are moving out of the cot and can be excited with the opportunity to pick their own bed (Freedom has a great range of kids beds here) or special doona to make the experience all about them while gearing up for the transition. This age is also ideal because they understand better the means of discipline and how getting out of the bed during the night is not okay and quickly learn to stay in their bed as per the parents rules.

I have dealt with clients who have actively transitioned their toddler from cot to bed under the age of three. One of my clients was welcoming a new baby in a few months and wanted to transition their toddler from cot to bed in advance. Their toddler was 19 months at the time and previously a great cot sleeper. However over a few weeks the toddler began to regress in her sleeping and rejecting the cot so the parents felt it was time to move her. They first went through a great week with the big bed transition going well however the following two weeks it continued to get worse and worse and this is where the client sought out my help.

We had a phone consultant and because their toddler was a previously great sleeper we were able to reinforce a new bed time routine that showed the toddler their big girl bed was a safe place and to stay in it. I was pleased to find out after that phone consult the toddler slept right through from 7pm to 7am with no wake up and only go out of bed initially before returning to bed herself. Every night since their toddler has not got out of bed.

This means that while the age of three is the recommended age we can still achieve cot to bed transitions earlier. We do offer phone consult services that are designed to give you personal advice to assist you through the transition at any age. I encourage the consult as the best way to tackle this kind of transition as it will be unique for each parent depending on factors such as how they were previously sleeping, their previous routines, challenges you are facing and also ensuring you have chosen or choose the right mattress which you can read more about here.

We can help you get on track with the big transition from the crib to a bed for your toddler.

Kristy x

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