Is your cheeky monkey climbing out of their cot? Do you need your little princess to move over and make room for a new baby? Moving your toddler into a big bed can be a big step. We have some tips to help you and your toddler make the transition.
Is your toddler ready for a bed of their own?
Once your toddler reaches 18 months, chances are you’ll start thinking about making the move to a toddler bed. Most children move from a cot to a regular bed between their second and third birthdays but there is no hurry.
If your child is happy in their cot over the age of two there’s no reason to make a change. For children younger than two there are safety benefits to keeping them in their cot as long as possible as they can become trapped between a big bed and the wall resulting in suffocation.
“There’s no hard and fast age when a toddler is ready to vacate their cot,” says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect the Toddler Years. “Some kids need to do it earlier to make room for a new baby while others are perfectly content in a cot until they are past the age of three.”
There are, however, two clear signs that it is time to make the shift, says Heidi. “When your toddler starts climbing or attempts to climb out of their cot and when she actually asks for a big-girl bed it is time to consider a move,” explains Heidi.
Is your toddler ready?
Making the transition to a toddler bed a success will largely depend on the readiness of your child.
If your toddler has started climbing out of the cot then it is safer to make the switch to a big bed before they have a serious fall. Toilet training is also another reason to make the change — your child may need to get out of bed at night to use the toilet and this cannot be done from the confines of their cot.
The arrival of a new baby may also signal the end of your toddler’s cot-sleeping days. Or if you have been co-sleeping, you may want to transition your toddler straight into a big bed when they have been evicted from yours.
Before you make the move
Before you move your little explorer into their very own big bed you will need to make sure their room is safe.
Make sure you check all windows, blinds, curtains and electrical outlets to ensure they don’t pose a threat to your toddler. Cover all electrical outlets with safety plugs, remove any unnecessary cords and make sure windows cannot be opened wide enough for your toddler to slip out, especially if your child’s room is on an upper level of your house.
Heaters and fans can also pose a risk so remove these where possible or install appliances that are child-friendly.
Finally, putting a gate on your toddler’s bedroom door might be beneficial especially if you don’t want your little one wandering around the house unsupervised overnight.
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Remember — no matter what bed you choose, make sure you place it away from windows, heaters, lamps, curtains and other cords to keep your child safe.
Steps to minimise stress
Once your child’s room is safe and ready for a big bed it’s time to get your child ready for the transition.
There are a few things you can do to make for an easy transition, suggests Heidi.
“Give your toddler a choice in the type of bed they will be sleeping in,” she says. “A convertible cot that turns into a toddler bed with the removal of the side panels can make the change seem less drastic to a toddler. To make the occasion and help your child feel excited about the change, let her choose new sheets or if you decide on a toddler bed let her help you pick it out,” she suggests.
Another good idea is to keep your existing bedtime routine. “Put the bed in the same space where the cot was, if possible,” suggests Heidi. “If the bath, book, bed formula for transitioning him to sleep worked before it will work again so stick with it — mixing up the bedtime routine will just mix him up,” she says.
Finally, be patient. “If you have a wanderer on your hands be prepared to calmly and silently return her to bed over and over and over,” says Heidi. “Keep it as boring as possible and she’ll get the idea. If you can’t control your toddler’s roaming habits then a sticker chart might be a good solution. Give her a sticker for each night she stays in her bed and reward her with a special treat at the end of the week.”
Remember — if your child isn’t ready to make a change don’t push it. You can try leaving the bed set up for your toddler to use during their daytime naps or simply start over in a couple of weeks time to make the transition a pleasant one.