If you’re about to embark on the adventure of transitioning your little babe from the snug embrace of a cot to the wild world of bedtime freedom then this is a blog post for you.
Let me guide with you the best knowledge possible as you navigate the uncharted territory of the toddler-bed transition. The good news is that this can be made a whole lot easier with a bit of planning ahead.
Signs That Your Child Is Ready To Transition from Cot to Toddler Bed
When your once-gravity-bound toddler starts scaling the walls of the cot like a sleep-deprived Spider-Man, it's a sure sign that the cot's days are numbered. Climbing out of the cot can pose a safety issue, so as to avoid injury, it's time to move.
While age is just a number, if your tiny human is closer to 3 than 2, then it’s a natural time for them to want to make the milestone into a bigger bed. It’s at this time that they can get involved in the process and can understand the process. Impulse control doesn't start to develop until after age 3, where they will start to understand WHY they shouldn't climb out of their bed and into yours. Prior to this, they'll know that they CAN get out, but don't understand why they shouldn't.
Why Move from Cot to Bed?
Before we dive into bed-shopping, let's address the 'why' behind this milestone.
Safety First, Climbing Second; Toddlers have a sneaky knack for discovering new talents, like escaping the cot in the most gravity-defying ways. Moving to a bed eliminates the risk of acrobatic escapes and ouchy midnight stumbles.
As toddlers grow, so does their desire for independence. Transitioning to a bed is a rite of passage, signaling to your little one that they're growing up.
If you're worried about them having access to the house, you can turn their bedroom into a cot by adding a baby gate to their door. Just ensure their bedroom is safe, dressers are anchored to the wall and there's no risk of injury.
Sleep Quality Matters
As toddlers grow, so do their limbs so a bigger bed ensures they have ample space to sprawl out comfortably, reducing the chances of waking up tangled in the cot bars.
How To Choose The Right Bed For Your Toddler
There are a few options to consider and like all baby and child related purchased it’s a case of safety first, always.
Toddler beds are small, low and child-sized and often come with guard rails on both sides. The downside to toddler beds is that they will inevitably outgrow them in the future so they can quickly become a costly investment.
Using a mattress on the floor is becoming more and more popular as a transitional option. It prevents any falls and also provides parents with extra space for bed time reading and pre snooze snuggles. You can buy floor bed bases which still allow airflow under the mattress to prevent any nasties from growing.
If you decide to transition your toddler into a single or double bed then bedside safety panels/bed rails are a must so they aren't landing on the hard floor if they tumble out (trust me, I've heard many a THUD in the night!).
Bunk beds for multiple children may sound like a good investment however for safety reasons it’s recommended to hold off on a bunk bed until your child is at least 6 years old.
The Sleepy Circus Begins
Once you’ve chosen a bed, a top tip is to make your toddlers room an exciting place to be and to involve them in the process.
Allowing them to choose their new bedding is a great way to help them feel involved along with a few new stuffed furry friends to add to the journey! Some soft lighting and some new bed time books will also add to night time enchantment and a successful night sleep. Giving them these choices boosts their confidence, responsibility and autonomy around their bedtime, making them feel like they are in control (and what toddler doesn't love that?).
And one last safety tip. If you have stairs then a stair gate will be a must have as a toddler won’t take long to realise they have freedom!
Surviving Sleep Time Shenanigans
Once you’ve purchased the new bed then the best advice is slow and steady wins the race. Let your toddler have playdates or day time naps with the new bed before making it official.
And just like all milestones, be prepared for the unexpected. Your toddler may be excited one day and wary the next so make you celebrate each night of successful sleep with a little victory song or dance.
If you've found that you've transitioned to a big-kid bed and it's gone smoothly for a few weeks then fallen apart, this is known as the 'grace period' where they haven't realised they can get out... and then they do! This is VERY normal and can be helped.
Thanks for reading and while you’re here, please check out some other helpful blog posts.
If you’re struggling with anything related to your baby or toddlers sleep, please don’t hesitate to reach out here.