Childhood is full of important milestones — the first tooth, the first steps, the first grown-up bed. Progressing from a cot to a child’s bed can be an important sign of independence for you and your child. Though we know that there is a little butterfly in your tummy as you realise that your baby is growing up!
When is the right time for a big bed?
There is no ‘right’ time to make the move from a cot to a bed. It could be that they have outgrown the cot or that you have another baby on the way, so the cot will be needed. It makes sense to get your toddler safely and happily in their new bed well before the new baby arrives. Often the child is more than ready for the move to the ‘big kid’s bed’ and will see it as an adventure. If you have already moved them from your room, this transition will be quite simple, as you can just swap the cot in their room for the larger bed. If your toddler is keen to climb out of their cot and explore, that is another clue that they’re ready for a big bed. It is much safer too!
Getting ready for a big bed
If the little one is still in your room, you can make the move easier by allowing them to help with the preparations, such as choosing the bed clothes and tucking their favourite cuddly toy into the covers. It’s a good idea to avoid times when other changes are taking place in their lives, such as starting a new nursery or when you are going back to work. At this point you need to decide whether to remove the old cot completely or give them the choice of where they sleep for a while. Maybe use the new bed at nap time and the cot at night initially. Some cots allow you to drop the sides down, which is one way to allow the child to ‘practice’ being in a bed without bars.
Make the space familiar
While it is a great idea to play on the novelty of being old enough to move up to a big bed, we need to avoid making it sound too much of an adventure, especially if your child is quite timid! By keeping the same cuddly blanket and favourite toys you will reassure them that not everything has changed at once. from a safety aspect, putting a spare mattress, duvet or pillows beside the bed will soften any bumps while the child learns not to roll out of bed. You might also consider putting one side of the bed against the wall and using a bed guard, which stops them rolling out of the other side. Over the age of one, your child can adjust its own sleeping position and so you can let them have a pillow in their new bed.
Make sure the house is safe
Remember that the toddler now has access to everything in their room — and possibly the whole house! Protect them from anything that might be dangerous at night, in the same way as you would during the day. Stair gates come into their own, either across the top of the stairs, or perhaps across their bedroom doorway. That way, they can call for you and be heard, but not wander into the bathroom or other rooms on their own. Make sure any plug sockets, blind cords, medicines and so on are out of reach and that window openings are secure.
Choosing a kid’s be
Children’s beds might be slightly lower than adult beds, to make it easier for them to get in and out. Often they come with attractive designs on the bed and mattress, too. You might consider it a better long-term investment to buy a regular single bed, so that you don’t have to replace it as the child grows. Using mattress and pillow protectors will keep the bed in good, clean condition for many years. Bunk beds are another option, though a child isn’t ready for the top bunk until around the age of six years.