When to Move Your Child from Cot to Toddler Bed

When to Move from Cot to Toddler Bed

When the day comes to move your child from their cot to a toddler bed, it’s a real moment of realisation.

The gurgling baby is gone, replaced by a mischievous and inquisitive toddler.

The cot is often one of the last remnants of babyhood, and since it has been a secure and safe place for them since they were born, leaving it is not always straightforward.

It’s a huge step for your child, and for you, and while many children take to their new beds with excitement, others struggle and feel unsettled.

Don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered with this post about when to make the switch, and how.

Understanding the Difference

For clarity, lets distinguish between the two before we go any further.

A cot, also known as a crib, is an enclosed sleeping space designed specifically for infants and young toddlers. It typically features raised sides to prevent falls and provide a secure environment for your little one’s slumber.

Conversely, a toddler bed is a smaller, low-lying bed crafted explicitly for toddlers, bridging the gap between a cot and a full-sized bed. It often incorporates guardrails or side panels to ensure your child’s safety during this transitional phase, but the child is able to get in and out freely.

Recognizing the Signs of Readiness

Transitioning from a cot to a toddler bed is a significant milestone in your child’s development, and timing is crucial.

While every child is unique, experts generally recommend making the switch between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. We did it towards the end of that time frame, and I would say we left it a little late for our child.

There are a few telltale signs that can indicate your little one is ready for this exciting change:

  • Physical Growth: If your child’s height exceeds three feet or their chest reaches the top of the cot’s side rails, it’s time to consider a toddler bed. This growth spurt increases the risk of them climbing out of the cot, potentially leading to accidents.
  • Climbing Attempts: If your little explorer has started attempting to scale the cot’s sides, even with the mattress at its lowest setting, it’s a clear indication that they are ready for a more accessible sleeping arrangement.
  • Expressing Interest: Some children may verbalize their desire for a “big kid bed,” signaling their eagerness to embrace this newfound independence.
  • Potty Training: If your child is in the process of potty training, a toddler bed can provide them with easier access to the bathroom or a potty during the night, facilitating this crucial developmental stage.

It’s essential to recognize these signs and respond accordingly, as ignoring them could lead to potential safety hazards or hinder your child’s growth and development.

Tips for a Smooth Shift

Child Too Big For Cot

While the prospect of transitioning from a cot to a toddler bed can be exciting for both you and your little one, it’s natural for some children to experience apprehension or resistance.

Some children can’t wait to sleep in their new bed. Mine went around telling everyone who would listen that he had ‘a big boy bed’. Change is difficult for some children though.

To help them, make sure no other big changes are going on at the same time. Keep your routines, especially the bedtime routine, the same as always, and offer lots of reassurance and encouragement.

Engage your toddler in the process by allowing them to participate in selecting their new bed. This sense of ownership can foster excitement and make the change feel more inviting.

You may also want to consider setting up the toddler bed in your child’s room alongside the cot for a few nights. This gradual exposure can help them acclimate to the new sleeping arrangement before fully committing to the transition.

If they are struggling, a reward chart or sticker chart for making it through the night is another trick that can work.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a nurturing environment that creates a sense of security and confidence in your child, ultimately leading to a smoother and more successful transition from cot to toddler bed.

Choosing the Perfect Toddler Bed

With a plethora of options available in the market, selecting the ideal toddler bed can be a daunting task.

Consider the following factors to ensure your child’s comfort, safety, and overall well-being:

Bed Type

  • Convertible Cots: If you have a convertible cot, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to transform it into a toddler bed. This option can be cost-effective and provide a familiar sleeping environment for your child.
  • Dedicated Toddler Beds: These beds are specifically designed for toddlers and often feature whimsical designs, such as race cars or princess castles, appealing to your child’s imagination.
  • Floor Mattresses: For a more minimalist approach, you can opt for a mattress placed directly on the floor. This option eliminates the risk of falls and can be a suitable choice for children who prefer a cozy, grounded sleeping space.
  • Twin Beds: If you plan to skip the toddler bed phase entirely, a twin-sized bed with guardrails can be a long-lasting solution, accommodating your child’s growth over the years.

Safety Features

Prioritize safety by selecting a bed with sturdy construction and secure guardrails or side panels to prevent accidental falls. Look for beds that comply with British Safety standards, and buy from reputable companies.

Size and Comfort

Consider your child’s height and weight when choosing the bed size. Ensure the mattress is appropriately sized for the bed frame and provides ample support and comfort for your little one’s developing body. Keep in mind that children grow quickly, so buying too small might mean you need to buy again a year later.

Aesthetic Appeal

While safety and comfort should be your top priorities, don’t underestimate the power of aesthetics. Choose a bed design that resonates with your child’s interests and personality, fostering a sense of excitement and ownership over their new sleeping space. You could even let them decorate their bed with stickers etc.

Creating a Cozy and Inviting Sleep Environment

Childs Bedroom

One area that can be overlooked, is making their new bed as cozy and comfortable as possible.

An inviting sleep environment can greatly contribute to your child’s comfort and overall sleep quality during the transition from a cot to a toddler bed.

Select soft, breathable sheets and blankets that are appropriate for the season and your child’s preferences. Involving them in the selection process can foster a sense of ownership and excitement, especially if they are branded around the child’s favourite TV show or character.

You should include familiar elements from your child’s cot too, such as their favorite stuffed animal or special blanket. This means the new bed will feel more like their old sleeping environment.

If you used white noise or a night light with your previous set up, keep it going with the toddler bed in place too. Again, it’s about familiarity.

Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, you can add comforting touches to the rest of your child’s room, such as decorating the walls with things they like, introducing a warm rug by their bed, that sort of thing.

By creating a cozy and inviting sleep environment, you can help your child feel more at ease and comfortable in their new toddler bed, promoting better sleep and overall well-being.

Establishing Boundaries and Reinforcing Rules

With the newfound freedom of a toddler bed comes the possibility for mischief. Now they can get in and out of bed at will, you need to clearly communicate the rules surrounding staying in bed throughout the night.

They may also need help understanding when it is time to get up and when they should go back to sleep. We have a clock that changes from night time blue to daytime yellow at 6.30am. This helps our little one understand when it is morning and when it is still night.

You might want to allow your child to play quietly in their bedroom in the early morning, or you might decide they have to stay in bed until a specific time. Whatever you decide, establish age appropriate consequences for breaking rules, and reinforce positive behaviour with lots of praise when things go well.

And be consistent, especially in the first few weeks after the transition. This is super important.

Childproofing for Safety

This leads on to another element that was not a concern before. Child proofing their bedrooms.

Childproofing your home, especially your toddler’s bedroom, can prevent accidents and give you peace of mind during this transition.

Here are a few big ones to get right:

  • Install Safety Gates: Place safety gates at the entrance of your child’s room and at the top and bottom of staircases to prevent wandering and potential falls.
  • Secure Furniture: Anchor dressers, bookcases, and other heavy furniture to the wall to prevent them from tipping over if your child attempts to climb on them.
  • Use Childproof Locks: Install childproof locks on cabinets, drawers, and any other storage spaces containing potentially harmful items, such as cleaning supplies or medications. This is an additional measure in case your child gets through/over the safety gates.
  • Cover Electrical Outlets: Use outlet covers or safety plates to prevent your curious toddler from accessing electrical outlets, which can pose a serious safety risk.

By taking these precautionary measures, you can create a safe and secure environment for your child to explore their newfound independence while minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries.

Stay Patient and Flexible

Transitioning from a cot to a toddler bed is a significant milestone in your child’s development, and it’s essential to approach this journey with patience and flexibility. Every child is unique, and some may adapt more quickly than others. Embrace the process and celebrate each small victory along the way.

If you encounter setbacks or challenges, don’t be discouraged. Remain open to adjusting your approach. Remember, this transition is not just about changing sleeping arrangements; it’s about nurturing your child’s growth, independence, and overall well-being.

By maintaining a positive and supportive attitude, you can transform this experience into a cherished memory for both you and your child.