Top tricks for helping your child transition from cot to bed

By Greg Vowles, My Light

There are a few moments in your life that evoke a huge mixture of emotions. There is a combination of bitter and sweet as your child transitions through each developmental stage from infant to toddler to pre-schooler. There is such joy in watching their beautiful personalities develop but it is often hard to let go of the baby phase, particularly when they are your last child.

The decision to move your child from a cot to a bed is a big one. This move is commonly prompted by the imminent arrival of a sibling or the fact that they may have simply outgrown their cot.

There are no hard and fast rules as to what age this should happen. The age can vary from family to family as well as from child to child. Often children in the same family may be ready to transition into a bed a different ages to each other. For most children the transition into a bed is done during the ages of 18 months to 3 years. The most important thing to remember is this is a transition should be made fun and exciting for your child and all of the family can be involved in it.

Here are a few pointers that will help when transitioning your child from a cot to a bed.

Asses whether they are emotionally ready to make the transition

If your little one is not emotionally ready to take this step, there is a much smaller chance of success. Some children need the boundaries of the cot and feel safer in this environment for longer than others. You can encourage your child in the lead up to the move by including them in the process of choosing their bed etc… this may help some children to feel they have some control over the change and thus they will find it easier to make the change.

Talk to them ahead of time

A few weeks before the move talk to your child about moving into their own bed. Assess their feelings on the matter so that you can help them through any fears they may have about the transition. It may not seem like they are old enough to understand but they will be absorbing your emotion and tone around this. I highly recommend a bed time story with a plot around the subject of moving into a big kid bed. A great story for this is Sophies Big Bed or you can make up a special story that is personalised to your child and your family situation.

Signs that your child is ready

Indications that your child may be ready for a bed include:

  • Your child is constantly climbing out of their cot. This is a good indication that they are ready for a bed
  • Children that are toilet trained are most likely ready for the transition. There will be less night time accidents if your child is able to easily get out of bed to go to the toilet through the night
  • Your toddler has started to ask about his/her own bed
  • Your child is expressing negative feelings towards their cot
  • It is important to consider whether your child understands imaginary boundaries and whether they are ok to be unsupervised in their rooms. Obviously we all baby proof like crazy but just be sure there is nothing that you child can get into that is dangerous when you are not around.

Make it fun and personalise their room a little

Whether your child is a fairy princess or a little race car driver in the making. Choose a theme that puts your child at the centre of their space. No matter what your budget, you can get creative and make some unique changes. Canvas prints are a great idea and these can be themed or personalised. New bed sheets will be a winner if you choose a theme they love (my kids loved Dora at the time they transitioned into a bed and having Dora sheets was very exciting for them). A personalised custom night light is a great idea. Mylight® have proved to be a winner in helping children transition to big kids beds with over 80% of their customers using the light as part of their bedtime ritual (Customer survey 2013). This is a personalised touch that will illuminate their name and favourite themed shape to provide them with some comfort through the night for years to come. There are also lots of fantastic bedroom ideas on Pinterest! Checkout 'kids rooms inspiration for some inspiration.

Lastly and most importantly….. Make sure it is a positive experience

Celebrate the victories together no matter how small. There will be setbacks, through this time your child may continually get out of bed at bed time. Remember to be patient and reinforce with them that it is bed time and they need to go to sleep. As long as your house is filled with love and understanding, they will easily transition from their cot to their big kid bed.

The transition from a cot to a bed is a big milestone in your life, too. It's another sign that your baby is growing up. Take this time to reflect on how far you have come along the parenthood journey. It is a celebration!

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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