Moving From Cot to Big Bed

Moving From Cot to Big Bed

By Yahna Fookes   |  

How, and when to make this milestone toddler transition.

The bassinet, the cot and now a bed. How quickly the seasons change. Moving your child from a cot to a big kids' bed can feel daunting. As parents, we get a sense of emotional comfort from those security bars so if you're feeling overwhelmed by more change, you're not alone.

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From my own experience, the transition from “baby jail” (as my husband calls it) to bed happened shortly after my daughter turned 2. I knew she was ready. She could ninja herself out of her cot, wanted to sleep in my bed and refused to get in her sleeping bag. Three obvious signals that it was time. The whole transition happened incidentally when we visited her grandparents in NSW over the Christmas break. Without a travel cot, we popped her on a mattress on the floor. This is how she takes her naps alongside other kids at Daycare so why should it be any different? As suspected, it wasn't. Kids are so much more adaptable than we give them credit for and after 8 nights of surprisingly consistent sleep, we returned home to Melbourne, ripped off the bandaid, and popped her on a king single mattress on the floor. Five months later we got her a bed base and she is now sleeping (most nights) like a little angel.

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If you’re nearing this stage, or this scenario seems familiar, here are some tips to see you through.

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Take your time

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The first sign for many parents is the climbing out of the cot. Toddlers are surprisingly agile, flexible and strong, and will eventually Mission Impossible themselves out. That’s a pretty big sign to transition for safety reasons. Steph Gouin, a qualified Child Sleep Consultant and Midwife says “no time before 18 months but any time after”. Generally speaking, this happens from 2-3years old. When you bring a second child into your family, this might feel like a natural progression once your new baby has moved out of their bassinet, so you won’t have to buy a second cot, which is much more cost-effective.

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Make it a big deal

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All toddlers love to be seen as big kids, so getting a big kid's bed means they have big kid status. So, make a big deal about it. Kids learn through repetition. Talk about it daily. Make it exciting. Tell your educators at Daycare, so it is normalised in all scenarios.

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Change up the space

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We brought our daughter new fruit salad bedsheets. She loved sleeping in her “pear bed,” so if there is a colour, animals, or print that your child is particularly drawn to, this is a great way to make it seem more inviting. Add depth to the space by inviting new and engaging things. A chair in the corner to read books, a splash of colour on the walls or even a reshuffle of the room's perspective. You can never have enough “new” for growing and curious minds.

Safety first

For cot-to-bed safety, you will need to spend time setting up a safe environment. Check for tripping, falling, sharp edges, outlets or other hazards. We popped the beautiful Little Wiwa Mat next to her bed so she had something to catch her fall but if you’re worried about the fall you can buy specific beds that have side rails up. If you invested in a Leander Cot, these turn into toddler beds, you just need to get the kit. Kids do learn how to centre themselves, it just takes a little time.

Keep them cosy

Kids sleep better when are toasty so you’ll need to play around with sleepwear layers. Think cute new PJs (also another great way to build hype), a flat sheet, a flat pillow and a doona. These are all layers to make sure they feel secure in their new open space.

Be strategic

A postpartum doula once told me that a great time to transition is when they drop their day nap as they are knackered and less likely to move come nighttime. This timing might work as many kids drop their nap around 2.5 -3 years. Megan Kumf, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant says that “opting for the change at bedtime might work better since their natural sleep drive is higher at night”. We most definitely had nights lying next to her until she fell asleep, but it was just a season.

Remain Consistent

Expect highs and lows. Even though it may feel tempting some nights to reassemble your cot at 2am, it will get easier. Many parents invest in a king single or even a double bed, something comfortable to lie on whilst you are resettling and goes the extra mile.

The rewards are endless

Once you are done, just think about how free you’ll all be. No more lugging travel cots. They can sleep anywhere. Perhaps it's time to book a sleepover a Nan and Grandpa’s or plan a family holiday where they can sleep on a pull out on the floor. The sky is the limit (as vast as a will toddler let it be).

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