So the time has come to make the BIG move – into a bed! For some the thought of this can be SUPER exciting – your little one is growing up and for others it can be a scary prospect!
What I do suggest is before taking this big leap; ensure it is the right time and you are doing it for the right reasons.
What are the right reasons and the right age?
Is your little one over 2.5 years of age? Personally I think even closer to 3 is better…
Is your little one climbing out of the cot? This becomes a safety issue and we have no other option
Another baby on the way and you need the cot? Sometimes it can be best to buy another cot rather than change the status quo…
Is your little one just itching to get into a big boy bed? Not always the best decision to say “what the heck let’s do it” – toddlers don’t have a great deal of impulse control and although they know you want them to stay in bed, it is just too tempting not to – given this new found freedom…!
With the decision made – I have come up with 6 top tips that will certainly help with this cot to bed transition:
Firstly, discuss the move with your toddler rather than just springing it on them! For many little ones they have come to love their cot – it’s all they’ve known and it feels safe and familiar to them. If the space allows – it can be a great idea to set up the bed in the room as a place to read stories while your toddler still sleeps in the cot but becomes acquainted with the bed. This makes for a smooth transition.
We want to ensure that your little one does not fall out of bed! Even if they are moving into a toddler bed as opposed to a full size bed it is still elevated off the ground. Toddlers are inclined to sleep in some crazy positions and having been supported by cot sides for so long it did not matter whether they slept sideways, long ways, wedged up against the corner of the cot… whatever! All of a sudden – they can easily fall out! I suggest purchasing a bed rail or using a specific wedge or pool noodle which can slip easily underneath a fitted sheet and hold your little cherub in.
Speaking of safety – now that your toddler is able to hop out of bed freely we want to ensure that the sleep environment is completely safe. This means fixing any furniture to the wall that is likely to fall on them if they attempt to climb it in the wee hours of the morning. Having a clean out and popping toys away for a while to discourage play and encourage sleep in the middle of the night is a great idea!
Now that they are in a big bed, we automatically think blankets or doona! Don’t be so quick to ditch that sleeping bag! It isn’t until around 4 years of age when your child will learn to pull the covers back over themselves if they become uncovered and cold in the middle of the night. The sleeping bag still works as a great wearable blanket and in the early days will ensure they are not waking up cold and calling out to you unnecessarily.
A sleep aid such as a Gro clock can be an excellent tool to introduce. You can set the Gro clock to a suitable wakeup time of your choice and teach your toddler to stay put until the Gro clock shows that it is time to get up out of bed and start the day.
Finally, if your child is constantly hopping out of bed at bed time, in the middle of the night or at crazy o’clock (aka 5am!) be sure to pick a settling technique that you are comfortable with and implement it consistently to encourage this behaviour to subside.