Messing with your child’s sleep routine is right up there with the list of activities we dread most. Some parents may even prefer to have a tooth pulled than interfere with a good thing when it comes to bub’s sleeping arrangements!
Fear not – Baby Hints and Tips contributor, Amanda Nicholls has been there, done that, and now she’s writing the story to help nervous parents transition their babies from the bassinet right up to the ‘big kid bed’.
One of the first pieces of parental advice I received is a gold nugget that has stuck with me over the years. My dear sister-in-law said to me, “just when you think you’ve got it all figured out – it changes.” Well that sounds terrible, I thought at the time, but I soon discovered never truer words have been spoken.
Just when we’d mastered swaddling – she was busting out of them like a mini Houdini. Right when we’d figured out how many steps to take around the lounge room while patting her bum to get her to nod off, it no longer worked. And the bassinet that we had to have – that we wheeled about the house to keep her nearby during nap times and next to us through the night – well she went and grew too long for it.
Every time we had to make a change to our precious first born’s sleeping arrangements – it was met with nervous text book reading, frantic googling and a bucket load of mummy anxiety. But I can tell you this – my story of bed transitioning has a happy ending. I can proudly say I have a three year old who sleeps in a big girl bed, is night time toilet trained and only fell out of bed twice.
Here is a simple guide with some helpful tips if you are ready to transition from one sleep arrangement to the next.
Age: Newborn – six months
Pros: The bassinet is compact enough that you can have baby sleeping in the same room as you. It can act as a bed for babies up to six months, but this will be more dependent on your baby’s weight and length than age. It can be rocked to assist with resettling and some bassinets are mobile so you can take them to other locations in the house. Your baby will most likely be swaddled in the bassinet as it is used in the stage when babies still have their startle reflex and before they start rolling.
How to transition: If you are moving your baby from the bassinet to the cot, you might find it beneficial to start by putting your baby to sleep in the bassinet but in the nursery rather than in your bedroom. This is so bub can get used to their new surroundings. Start with day sleeps for a week and then night sleeps too. Once this is working, wean baby off the bassinet on the day sleeps by placing her on her back in the cot. Once she is having good day time sleeps in the cot, continue to place her in there for her night time sleeps.
Age: Newborn – 2.5 years
Pros: The cot will give your baby more space, especially once she starts rolling, sitting, crawling and standing. She will do all of those things in her cot eventually. The thing to remember with the cot is to adhere to SIDS recommendations when making the bed up to ensure your baby is safe in her cot. For more information, click here.
How to transition: If you are lucky like me, you may be able to stretch the cot time out to the maximum, but some babies are craftier than others and figure out how to evacuate the cot well before you might be ready to give them their freedom. Don’t panic – it’s better to have your little one in a safe sleeping environment and that includes not having the side barrier up if they’re scaling it. Most cots convert into toddler beds by removing the adjustable side panel. Depending on baby’s age, this will probably mean the end of sleeping bags and the beginning of getting your little one tucked in nice and tight to keep them warm. You can purchase side rails that clip onto both toddler beds and beds and this may be a worthwhile investment to keep your little one in the bed. If you haven’t already and it’s age appropriate, consider introducing a pillow to make the toddler bed more like a normal bed to get your child ready for the next transition.
Age: 18 months – 3.5 years
Pros: Toddler beds are typically lower to the ground which means if your kidlet rolls out of bed, the ground isn’t too far away. They’re also similar in size to the cot or they may also be the baby cot converted.
How to transition: Because toddler beds are similar to cots, the cot sheets and linen may convert nicely to your toddler bed meaning your baby will feel instantly comfortable in this space. You can even go upmarket and spoil your toddler with a designer bed to make the experience all the more exciting!
Single ‘Full Size’ Bed
Age: 2 years +
Pros: Once you have got your baby into a big kid bed, there’s no turning back! This is the bed that will hopefully take you all the way to the teen years. It is worth investing a bit of money in this bed and mattress as you will want your child to get some good use out of this one. So choosing a design that will compliment their space as they grow older is something to keep in mind, as well as the size – perhaps a King Single is a better option if your family has inherited the tall gene.
How to transition: To transition into this bed, try putting the mattress on the floor made up while your child gets used to the new bed and its size. Do this for a few nights and then put the framework together. Some big cushions or pillows next to the bed are a great idea to cushion any falls that may happen while your child gets used to the new height and their new bed. Bed railings are also easily attached to help keep them in bed.
For more advice on safe sleeping we recommend the following resources, SIDS & KIDS