This is a question many parents wonder about. There is no ‘right’ time to move them into a bed, and your decision may be based on a variety of things….
- You may have a new baby arriving and know that they will only sleep in a bassinet for the first few months;
- You may be concerned that your toddler is attempting to climb out of their cot;
- The toddler may be indicating that they want a big bed like their sister/ brother/ cousin, or
- You may be renovating and want to include the child’s bedroom in that.
There are many reasons ‘why’ you might want to move them. From a safety point of view, they can stay in the cot until they are getting too big for it, or until they start to climb out – as then they may be at risk of falling or injury.
Whatever your reason for moving them, here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier:
Firstly, ensure that the new bed you purchase has the Australian Safety Standards sticker on – for safe construction and safe for children. You don’t need to buy a flash ‘car’ model bed, a basic one is just fine, with a good mattress. You may like to look around for bedding options like doona covers etc, to get an idea of what’s available to match your budget. When you’ve introduced the idea to your toddler (Explained below) then you might like to take the toddler shopping and ask which set (from the ones in your price range) that s/he might like for their new ‘big boy/ girl bed’.
Once the bed is purchased, put it up in the same room as the cot, if possible, so that both are available in this transition phase. The toddler might even like to ‘help’ you assemble the bed, which might be unwrapping it, or assisting in the screwing together of pieces.
Then take them shopping to buy a doona cover – showing them the ones they can select from. When you get home, they can help to put it on the bed.
Talking with the toddler is important – talking about the fact that they are growing up to be soooo big and tall, and that their cot is getting too small for them. You might talk with them about other young children they know, who have recently moved into a big bed too.
It’s a good idea to use the bed initally to lay on while you read stories to them or play at putting their dolls and teddies into the big bed – whilst they are still using their cot for sleeping.
Remember that some children will be really keen, and others will like the familiarity of their known sleeping space.
Once they have moved in to the bed, the challenge for parents is that the children are now able to get out of the bed themselves! One way which does work – provided that the parents stay calm and consistent – is to take their hand and lead them back to bed, stating: ‘It’s bed-time.’ You may need to repeat this often in the first few days or weeks, because from the child’s point of view, it is very exciting that they are able to get out themselves. Your consistent message will (eventually) bring positive results!