Todays' blog came about from a heap of phone calls about moving to a toddler bed from a cot. And my own sister is having 'fun' with Miss Freya's transition at 2 years old! Yes, those terrible twos have begun! Even the sleep guru's sister is not immune to sleep problems!
Moving from a cot to a toddler bed can give the calmest of parents an anxiety attack.The transition can be less stressful if we prepare adequately and if we know how to manage/treat any resulting sleep and behaviour issues. It's like anything in life, preparation and thinking ahead minimize disaster, and knowing what to do in the event of disaster make us feel calmer.
I get asked a lot -
When is a toddler ready to move from a cot to a toddler bed?
As soon as they are too big for a cot or they can jump out of it. My youngest 'jumper' is 9 months of age! Wearing onesies/sleepsuits with covered feet or a sleeping bag will minimise that risk. If a baby has bare feet they will climb the bars like a monkey climbs a tree.
However the longer you can keep them in a cot the better it is for their sleep long term. I've had children sleeping in cots quite happily till 4 years old. And I'm a big believer in, if it's not broke don't fix it. If your toddler is happy sleeping in their cot why move them? Often parents will move the toddler to give a cot to a younger sibling. Why not buy a 2nd cot? Toddlers moved to a bed past 3 years old do far better sleep wise. Until a child is 3 they cannot manage their temperature control and warmth and winter can be problematic for toddlers sleeping in a toddler bed. They can't keep their blankets or doona on themselves and don't think to replace blankets. One great solution is merino sleepwear as it keeps heat in much better than cotton and lets it out if they overheat.
What do you need to know about the transition to prepare for success?I would make sure that any sleep issues are dealt with before this occurs. Moving to a cot and hoping it will sort out the sleep issue is never a good idea, it will only escalate.
Cots contain a child and once in a bed they have freedom and they see escape. I've had toddlers escaping from their beds up to 50 times! What a nightmare.
I often get asked why they do this. My answer is, 'Because they can and because they're 2!'. They don't know they shouldn't be getting out of bed. We need to train and educate for this to occur. It is very unlikely to happen by pure chance. Those 'terrible twos' can challenge the most Zen parent!
My little sis, mum to Miss Freya 2 is going through this very issue at the moment.
And it has been trying. She's following one of my specific sleep methods for toddler sleep training - parental presence and it's working a treat. I've given Freya what she was asking for, her mum and security. Her partner works away a lot and is often away for days or a week at a time. She also has a younger sister, Tilly aged one. So all these things can create sleep issues in a previously sleep trained child and for those of you that know me, Freya was trained by me, the sleep guru at 2-3 weeks of age!
This method can take a little time to work but it de-escalates things beautifully and brings peace and calm into the home. On night one Freya escalated as most babies/toddlers do and even resorted to pulling the hairs on mum's arm. I told Lesley to wear a long top next time and IGNORE! When there's no interaction and the parent 'models' sleep it will all die down very quickly.
Other things to bear in mind are toddler safety.
You may need a safety rail to prevent them falling out of bed especially if it's high up bed.
I'd also consider a safety gate to stop wandering around the house in the middle of the night until they're used to the change and can stay in bed safely.
Have a good bedtime routine, these create security and reduce stress in toddlers and babies. And we know that less stressful sleep leads to peaceful baby & toddler sleep and a bigger chance of a sleep through.
So I hope this has prepared you for the move to the big toddler bed from the cot. And you never know it may go perfectly well without a hitch!
For more info on this topic:
- Moving from cot to bed: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/moving_to_a_big_bed.html
- Toddler transition from cot to bed the time when parents lose the most sleep: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2042322