For some, the thought of transitioning your little one from their cot to a bed is exciting and for others it’s a daunting task. I work with a lot of families whose little ones were great sleepers until they moved into a bed. All of a sudden their little one became distracted by the endless possibilities in front of them – to get out of bed, to play with their toys and to push every boundary imaginable!
I have put together a list of do’s and don’ts that will help your household make this a smooth transition when the time comes.
Are We There Yet?
One of the first things I consider when moving a child from their cot to a bed is their age. This plays a key role in the making of a smooth or troubled transition. When I work with families who have difficulty with this transition, the most common issue is that the child was simply too young. Don’t get me wrong, some children regardless of age breeze through this milestone, but for many, the younger the child the tougher the transition.
I recommend keeping your little one in their cot until around 2.5 years of age. Here’s why – it’s important when moving your child to a bed that we acknowledge the endless possibilities that have just been opened up to them. Not only can they access all of the toys in their room, but they now have free range of the house while parents are tucked up in bed oblivious to the wrecking ball that’s roaming the house! Because of this, it’s important that our little ones are at an age where they can understand the limitations that come with the move and realise that there are consequences to how they behave.
With this said, if your little one is climbing out and of their cot regularly or it has become unsafe for them to remain in their cot then it’s time to make the move.
Beware mums and dads! Your little one is at a point in their young lives where boundaries are there to be pushed. What better time to do so than when mum and dad are tired and will give in to just about any request to get some rest. It’s really important to set boundaries for your little one in their big bed … and stick to them! I often hear phrases like “one more book”, “I need to go to the toilet … again” and “come and lie with me”. Before long, it’s not uncommon that “one more book” turns into 13 more books, or spending one to two hours each night laying down until they will go off to sleep, and possibly even listening to the pitter-patter of tiny feet making their way into the parents’ bed.
Choose Your Time
Don’t attempt to make the big transition close to any other big changes. Having another baby on the way is often a great motivator for parents to free up the cot. This is fine, but be sure to keep this transition well away from the baby’s due date. Give your toddler time to adjust to the big move before the baby comes. This won’t just help them but it will give you time to troubleshoot any issues that may arise with the move. If you are about to move house, I would either make the transition with plenty of time in the old house to adjust, or once your little one is well and truly settled into their new pad.
I absolutely love the use of a rewards chart to help ease the initial transition. Not only does it bring excitement to the process, but it also really highlights to your little one what is expected of them in their new bed. I recommend my clients to have a stash of stickers that go onto the chart each morning once they stay in their big bed for the night and then a little lucky dip that needs only a few small options like a crayon pack or sticker book.
Final thoughts on making the transition from the cot to a bed
Remember all children are different, and while some may handle change without a hassle others might need a little more guidance and time.