Safe transitioning from cot to bed

Transitioning from cot to bed is an exciting time in your child’s life, as it marks the beginning of them discovering a whole new world of independence. However, change is hard, even for adults. You may find your little one becomes clingy and unsettled during this period, as they try to adjust to their new sleeping environment. Being patient, loving and reassuring towards them is everything during these kinds of major childhood milestones.

When to transition?

Transitioning usually occurs between the ages of two and three and a half years. Usually, it’s when you notice your child climbs out of their cot (and if it looks like they might succeed), or if your child needs to get to the toilet at night; then these might signal your child is ready to transition to a bed. However, all babies and children are different, and while some babies transition as early as 18 months, many baby sleep experts and psychologists around the world agree that there should be no hurry. It’s good to take things one step at a time and transition whenever your child feels emotionally and developmentally ready – young children are at risk of hurting themselves when they roll out of bed, and from a psychological point of view, they may feel a fair amount of pressure to “grow up” – this is especially the case if the reason for transition is the arrival of a new baby.

What to do if you have a new baby on the way?

If you need to free the cot for a new baby, it is best to do so about one to two months before or after the birth of your baby. Otherwise, your toddler may resent the baby for coming into the house and immediately ‘stealing’ the cot. This also gives them enough time to adjust to the new sleeping environment.

Tips for transitioning

Make the move sound exciting

When your little one is ready to make the move, praise them for being grown up and independent for sleeping in a ‘big bed’. Let your child know that you are excited and proud of them. Get them involved in setting up the bed, packing up the cot, and shopping for sleepwear. For instance, while buying your child an X-TEND Sleepsuit, let them pick their choice/colour of the sleepsuit. You may also have a little tea party or a fun trip to the zoo to celebrate the move. Overall, find ways to make the move sound exciting to your little one, so that they get excited too.

Give a sense of familiarity

It’s a good idea to allow children to take their favourite toy or comforter from their old cot to their new bed. This will help keep things familiar, thus make the move less daunting for your child. Continue your child’s particular sleep associations and patterns, as the familiarity will help give them a sense of safety and security.

Patience and empathy is key

Transitioning is never easy, but remember; this is also a phase which will soon be over. Staying calm and patient with your child is everything during these kinds of major childhood milestones. Offer lots of hugs and cuddles and make them feel completely reassured.

Safety tips

  • To safely transition and prevent injury risks from falling out of a bed, parents may choose to use a cot mattress on the floor or a toddler bed.
  • If using a mattress on the floor, ensure it is clean and firm. Keep the mattress area clear of soft toys, pillows, bean bags, plastic bags or similar objects that can mould around a child’s face, resulting in suffocation.
  • If using an adult bed, ensure there are no spaces between bars or panels bigger than 95mm. Bigger gaps can cause a young child to become trapped. Keep the floor drop to a minimum and use soft flooring materials around the bed to minimise injury from a fall.
  • Do not use bunk beds for children under nine years of age.
  • Keep dangling cords and strings out of reach as they could get caught around a child’s neck.
  • Keep heaters, electrical appliances and access to power points well away from child’s reach.
  • Ensure all furniture and TVs are attached with wall brackets so they cannot be readily tipped over.
  • Ensure stairs and windows are not accessible.
  • Pay attention to any other potential hazards that may result in falls, drowning, strangulation, entrapment or poisoning.