Transitioning from a cot to a bed

Blog Image for article Transitioning from a cot to a bed

“When is a good time to transition to a cot? When they’re 21!” jokes Carmel of Calm Babies.

There are so many reasons parents feel the need to transition their babies to a ‘big bed’ and Carmel’s advice is not to fix something that isn’t broken!

“You might just find yourself creating bigger issues,” she warns.


Childcare children thrive

If your child attends childcare, you might find that some of these issues don't present themselves right away. That's because your child is very used to the idea of laying on a mattress with their peers in a room to nap. They have a set routine in that space and they're very used to it. But, at home things are different. There are parents to test and rules to bend. If you find your child pushing boundaries, it's very normal. 

Carmel from Calm Babies has some great ideas and what are sure to be light-bulb moments for the busy, exhausted parent making significant changes. 

Transition challenges

Many parents enlist the help of Calm Babies at this moment when the cot becomes the bed and the child becomes 'the free'! The most common challenges parents face at this time are:

  • Running around unsupervised
  • Interrupted nap and bedtimes
  • Night waking and visiting parents’ room regularly
  • Newfound freedom to play

One of the most difficult things for a child is to control their newfound freedom. Self-settling in a cot means when they wake up, they realise they need to remain in bed because there’s no other option and so they roll over to self-settle.

In a bed, toddlers tend to roll over and realise they can get up, so they do. Suddenly, you have a visitor to your room, a child playing with their toys, or more scarily, a toddler loose in the house, free to get into anything they desire unsupervised.

Transitioning early

Firstly, let's look at what is ‘early’. Carmel recommends keeping the cot until your child is two-and-a-half or three. Anything under that is early.

Parents often report that they need to move their child out of the cot. Common reasons for this are:

  • New baby so parents need the cot
  • The child is climbing out

New baby

Carmel warns us away from moving a baby because of a sibling for a few reasons. Firstly, an affordable second-hand cot can save your sanity. A new sibling isn’t always looked upon as favourable to a toddler, after all, your attention is diverted so, your child might get upset with you giving their bed away to the new baby. This could cause behavioural as well as sleep issues.

Cot jumpers

Of course, your child must be in a safe sleep space so if your toddler is climbing or jumping out of the cot, your next move is to get them a low bed with a safety rail. You then need to look at their bedding.

Generally speaking, your toddler would have been in a sleeping bag which is safe for a cot but not a bed. These can cause falls, especially if you’re dealing with a curious kiddo! You’ll need to move to pyjamas, a blanket, or a doona to ensure warmth and safety. A common complaint at this stage is parents are unable to keep their children warm enough because they wiggle their way out of the blankets and doona. Check out some TOG-rated pyjamas to combat the cold.

Read more about sleeping through childcare illnesses

Tether the furniture! 

If you do have a cot jumper or a wanderer, ensure all of your furniture is tethered to the walls. Children with a fascination with climbing may pull drawers out to reach heights beyond what you would imagine for their age. Make sure they’re safe in their space.

Pack it away

Children might be tempted to get up out of their bed and have a play. If there is little to nothing there to tempt them, they won't think to play with it. Ensure your child’s room is free of tempting toys or ensure there are fewer toys to begin with.

Escape artists

Because our children get up and about, they do like to explore. A good way to ensure they don’t go far is to pop a baby gate up at the door. This isn’t to lock them in as much as it is to keep them safe. You can hear them well enough if they call out but they can’t get into any items throughout the house that might be dangerous to them. It’s cost-effective and will help to break the habit of leaving their room. If the gate isn’t an option and you have things like stairs or other hazards throughout the house, you may need to close their door while they break this habit.

Make it exciting! 

So, while we parents are dealing with the practicalities, we need to remember that this is a very exciting time in your toddler’s life. A new bed is BIG news! Things like:

  • New doona cover with their favourite characters
  • New cuddle toy
  • Nightlight
  • Grow clock
  • New pyjamas

Be calm, clear, and consistent

If your toddler had a great routine in the cot, don’t change it! Keep the routine. Just because the sleep space has changed does not mean the routine has to.

Warning: Your toddler feels like a big kid now so they’re going to try to convince you that they need to be in bed later or that they need to change other things up – don’t buy into it. Remain consistent and you’ll win the battle!

Back to basics

If you need help to get back on track or need to do a full sleep audit, check out Carmel’s sleep packages. Having been in the industry for over 28 years, she's a wealth of knowledge. Calm Babies also offer a FREE, no obligation, 15 minute phone consult

Find out more about Carmel's services and keep up to date with her on Instagram.

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