Moving from the cot to a big bed is often a time of angst for the calmest of parents.
Your baby or toddler is ready for a transition as soon as they've either got too big for the cot or they've learnt to jump out of it. And I've had a few escape artists recently, much to their parents horror!
The youngest jumper I've come across was a 9 month old baby. Eeeeekkkk! Yes I know, scary. He'd learnt to climb up the bars of the cot just like a monkey does with his feet turned inwards. Very clever.
The usual age or transition is around 2 - 3 years old.
It's good to have sorted out any sleep issues before you do the transition. Its much easier to sort out sleep in a contained cot rather than a bed where you've got a toddler who can easily give you the run around! The cheekiest toddler had to be returned 50 times one night by her parents! Phew!
Think about safety issues such as the height of the bed and size. You may want to think about a safety gate across the door if your little one is a wanderer.
Check that they have the gross motor skills to get in and out of the bed safely. If you use a safety bar make sure they have a low get out point (foot of the bed usually) otherwise they may attempt to escape over the rail and fall and hurt themselves.
If you’re moving your child into a big bed to free the cot for a new baby, try to move your child either a few months before the baby is born or when the baby is a couple of months old. This way your child won’t feel that the move is because of the new baby, which could cause resentment towards your child’s new brother or sister.
It is really important to make the bedroom safeWhen children move from a cot into a big bed, they can also get out of bed more easily. This means they can do whatever they want in their bedrooms! Yay party central.
A safety check of the bedroom will help to prevent accidents. Things to check include:
- windows that open to the outside – if your child’s bedroom is on an upper level, climbing out could cause a serious injury. Install safety locks so the window can be opened only a little, and make sure the gap is not big enough for your child to climb through
- curtain and blind cords – these could strangle your child
- electrical appliances and heaters
- stairways – you can fit child-safety guards so your child doesn’t fall down the stairs in the dark or when drowsy.
When moving to a new bed introduce it gradually to get them used to the idea. Talk about how they are growing up and that they are ready for it. Tell them that you're really proud that they're ready to move to a big bed. Positive reinforcements help with confidence especially when big changes are being made.
Make it a really positive experience and maybe get them involved in buying and setting up the bed, choosing the bedlinen and putting it on the bed.
Look at their bedtime routine. Does it need changing/improving?
Its good to have a 1-2 hour wind down before bed, a good evening meal, maybe a bath time.
Then change into night clothes/pyjama's and read a couple of stories. A milk drink and teeth brushed. And put into their bed awake so they put themselves off to sleep. Say night night a little kiss on the forehead and off they drift into blissful sleep :-)
Try and recreate the same routine every night. Remember that routines create security and reduce stress hormones (cortisol) and increase endorphins.
And best of all ENJOY the process. You've brought this little person up to be an independent and confident little person who is going to just LOVE their big bed.
Well done you!