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Transitioning From Cot To A Big Bed

Earlier Isn't Always Better

 
Moving your toddler from a cot to a big bed is such a big milestone, and as with a lot of baby topics, there is conflicting advice about when to make this move. Some suggest doing this around the age of 2, however we feel this is best done around the age of 3. Simply put, the older your toddler, the easier the transition.

Around 3 years of age is when toddlers are able to understand the concept of a big kid’s bed better and the rules that come with it. If you move to a big bed much earlier than 3 years of age, you may find that you have a frequent visitor in and out of bed at bedtime and during the night! Obviously 3 year olds can still test the boundaries and exit their room through this transition as well, however it’s much easier to reason with a 3-year-old and have them understand the rules and consequences of a big bed, versus a 2-year-old.

Some other key things to consider around the timing of this move, is to ensure there aren’t any other big things happening around the same time i.e. moving house, starting kindy/preschool, toilet training, new sibling arriving. You want your toddler to be as happy, comfortable, and familiar in their world and surroundings as possible; otherwise too many changes all at once, will be a lot for your little person to handle and the transition is likely to backfire on you.

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The other thing which can prompt parents into thinking they need to move their toddler to a big bed, is when their child starts climbing out of their cot. Yes, this can be scary, however, one incident of climbing out, does not necessarily mean they will do it again. Some toddlers after falling out once, are likely to get bit of a fright, and won’t do it again. However, if your toddler is repeatedly climbing out, try these few tips here first before making the big bed transition.

When you do decide to make the move to a big bed, here are a few tips which can help:
  1. Start to introduce the topic and talk about any older friends or cousins who they may look up to, who are in a “big kids” bed. Reading books about moving to a big bed, is also a good way to introduce the topic and to get them excited about this milestone.
  2. If possible, take your toddler bed shopping with you, or to find special sheets/duvet or a new toy for their new big bed. Then have them help you put the bed together and make it up, so they feel a part of this special and fun milestone.
  3. If you can, have the bed in the same place as where the cot was. This will help your toddler remain familiar with their surroundings.
  4. Keep those familiar things from the cot to the bed e.g. soft toys, blankies, comforters etc. You can even keep them in their sleeping bag during the transition. This will give them the security and familiarity they are used to.
  5. Explain the rules of the new bed i.e. “close your eyes, stay in bed all night and mummy will see you in the morning”. Explain that if they are to get out of bed, mum or dad will take them straight back. Have them repeat the rules back to you.
  6. Start with a nap first (if they are still napping). Give lots of praise and encouragement. Then follow with bedtime. Move bedtime at least 30 minutes earlier on the first couple of nights to give them time to adjust and incase there are a few trips out to see you!
  7. Most importantly make their room super safe, as their room is now a big cot!
If you would like some more one-on-one help with this transition, or perhaps have a toddler who is already in a bed, but not staying in it, please email us at sleep@sweetdreams.co.nz , we would love to help you!

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