The move from a baby cot to a bed is a significant step for your growing child. Most children move from cot to bed between two and three years old.
However, there is no need to move your child until you identify that they are ready for the transition. If they are happy sleeping in their cot, they can sleep there for a little while longer. This cot to bed transition, like the bassinet to cot transition, is dependent on how your child is growing. Identify how they are moving and are handling sleeping in their cot, from here you can make the decision on when to transition them to the bed.
As you make the transition, your child also needs to be emotionally ready to move to their new bed, knowing they can physically get in and out of their bed safely. A new bed and sleep space can also bring about new bedtime challenges, this is something to be aware of as the transition begins.
When to Move from Cot to Bed?
Most children move from cot to bed between 2 and 3.5 years. There is no strict time as to when they should move, however, it is recommended to wait until they are between 2 and 3 years old.
Here are some key signs to help parents recognise when to consider moving from cot to bed:
- Your child has started to climb out of the cot, which could put them at risk of falling.
- Your child might be toilet training and needs to be able to get to the toilet easily during the night.
- Maybe your family is growing and your eldest needs the cot.
- As mentioned, here it is recommended that your eldest is at least 2 years old before considering moving them from the cot.
- Alternatively, you could look into an alternate sleeping solution for your newborn, maybe a bassinet or a compact cot.
- Before you make this move, it is also recommended to move your eldest into a bed at least 6 to 8 weeks before your baby is born to allow them time to get used to their new sleeping space.
Making the Bedroom Safe
When your child makes the move from cot to bed, this means they can move from their bed easily and therefore around the room and the home. There are some key safety measures that need to be taken to keep their bedroom safe:
- Check there are safety locks on windows in your child’s bedroom, so your child isn’t able to open the window completely where they are then able to climb out of the window.
- Keep curtains and blind cords out of reach from your children, as well as mobiles. These represent a strangle risk to your child.
- If you have any electrical appliances in their bedroom, ensure these meet Australian Safety Standards. Alternatively, it might be a better option to keep any unnecessary appliances outside of your child’s bedroom, specifically in the evenings.
- If you have big pieces of furniture or heavy objects, attach them to the wall with brackets, to prevent any risk of them falling.
- Keep any potential choking hazards or anything poisonous out of the bedroom and out of any reach from your child, these include any medicines, cleaning fluids, small objects like small toys, batteries and coins, as well as any massage or aromatherapy oils.
- Remove any items that promote climbing, like chairs, step stools or ladders, you don’t want your child to be using these during the night and while parents are not around to supervise.
- You may think about installing a safety gate at the doorway of your child’s room, or shutting the door at night, as long as you can still hear your child. Otherwise, you’ll need to ensure the rest of your home is safe for your child as well, in the event that your child roams around during the night.
Choosing a Bed
Choosing your child’s bed means you have a few options:
- A single bed is a great option for your little one when making the transition from cot to bed. Some people may be nervous about a single bed because of the height and the fear of your child falling off of the bed. Here, you need to do what you feel comfortable doing.
- Alternatively, pop a single bed mattress on the floor, rather than moving your child to a bed directly, this can potentially reduce the risk of your child falling from the bed to the floor, you and your child may feel more comfortable with this option.
- Toddler beds are a great option also, they are normally the same size as cots, even better, some cots can be converted into a toddler bed. Tasman Eco’s range of convertible cots include customer favorites like the Rio Cot, Venice Cot and Elba Cot. With a convertible cot, you can extend the life of your cot and cot mattress for a little longer while you and your child grow a little more comfortable with the idea of this transition.
Choosing a Mattress
When choosing your mattress for your little one to move from cot to bed, it’s important you still consider the safety of a good mattress. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your mattress should be still comfortable and relatively firm, it does not need to be as firm as a cot mattress, but not too soft. This is especially important if your child is under 2 years old. We normally wouldn’t recommend moving your child from cot to bed until 3 years old.
Other Safety Measures to Keep in Mind
- Keep your child’s bed away from walls, if possible, this can help to reduce any suffocation risks.
- Do not use pillows for children under 2 years old. Pillows represent a suffocation risk for young children under 3 years old.
- If you do decide to move your child to a single bed, you can use bed rails to help prevent any risk of your child falling out from the bed.
- If moving to a bed frame, check the bed rails for any gaps where your child could potentially get caught.
- Make sure the rails and the bed frame fit tightly against your mattress, if there are a lot of gaps, this isn’t recommended, and a mattress on the floor might be the next best option, until your child is older.
- Avoid using heavy Manchester items like blankets or quilts, keeping the sleep surface clear of any items like toys and pillows that could present a suffocation risk.
- Sleeping bags in the cot are fine, however, once you move to a bed, there can be a higher risk of falls and injuries. Pyjamas are a better option which allows them to move more freely without getting stuck.
Helping Your Child Settle into a New Bed
Moving from cot to bed is a huge transition, to make it an exciting time for both parents and child, here are some tips to help:
- Help them recognise the move and its significance, as well as your plans to build them a new bed and create a new place for them to sleep, make it fun for them.
- Have your child help to build their new bed, maybe take them shopping to help choose some sheets and bedding, getting them excited about the space is a great way to get them involved.
- If the move to a new bed needs to be gradual, perhaps splitting naps and big sleeps between the cot and the new bed is a way to help the transition.
Using a Bedtime Routine to Help the Transition from Cot to Bed
As your child prepares to make the move from cot to bed, it can be a scary move for them, a new bedtime routine can help to make it easier.
- Spend some time with your child before bed, comforting them and getting them ready for bed, maybe it’s reading them a bedtime story, tucking them in or just chatting to them beforehand, this can help them to feel comfortable before they get to sleep.
- Some quiet time before bed is also a great way to settle them and get them comfortable. This might involve packing away any toys, tidying up their room and preparing themselves for a good night’s sleep.
- Encouraging your child to climb into their new bed, if possible, can help to prepare them for their big move, knowing they are capable of getting themselves into their new bed.
- Some comforting words can help your child also, something positive like, ‘It’s time to sleep, have a great sleep and see you in the morning’, is a wonderful way to make bedtime seem less frightening and less scary.