Time for big bed! How to make the transition from cot to bed

Toddler on big bed

Moving your child from a wee little cot to a ginormous single bed can feel like a big deal. But it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple ways to make it easy on everyone.

Firstly, some reasons for the move

Some parents can’t wait to get rid of the cot, others cling on to it for years. On the other hand, you may not even have any choice in the matter if your child is staging a great-cot-escape every night. There’s no perfect time to do it, but many children start making the transition between the ages of two and three. Here are some of the main reasons you might be considering moving your child to a big bed:

  • Your little one is regularly climbing out of the cot
  • Your child is tall and needs more room for sleeping
  • You’d like to transition your child out of your bed and into their own sleeping space
  • You’re expecting a new baby soon, and you need the cot
  • It’s easier for your child to use the toilet at night if they’re in a bed

So if you’ve decided that yes, it’s time, here are some tips for the transition:

Stick to the routine

Most toddlers aren’t so crazy about change, so if you’re changing the bed, try to keep everything else the same. This means sticking to a good, solid, familiar bedtime routine. Read the same old books, use the same old night light, and keep all the regular comfort items your child is used to. This way, they’re only dealing with one change to the routine – a bed. 

You might also want to plan ahead, and keep the transition for a really calm time, where there aren’t any other changes happening, like moving home or changing daycare. If you’re trying to clear the cot for a soon-to-arrive sibling, give your toddler lots of time to make the switch. Two months before your due date is usually a good bet.

Make it fun

Even us adults can get funny about sleeping in a new bed, so do whatever you can to put a positive spin on the changes. Maybe you could go shopping for the bed together. Or choose some fun new sheets for the big day.

It can be tempting to emphasise how much your little guy is growing up, but that doesn’t work for every child. Some toddlers just want to keep things as familiar as possible. See how they’re responding. If they get a bit tentative about the changes, you could try placing the new bed in the same place as the cot, and keeping the disruptions to a minimum. This could also mean taking out the cot when they’re not looking. Or hey, maybe your toddler wants to do a big send-off. See what works.

Make it safe

Just a few safety considerations to keep in mind with the big bed: keep the area on and around the bed clear of toys and other things that might pose a risk of suffocation. Also pillows are technically considered a suffocation risk for children under two.

Now that your child will be able to roam their room at night, it’s also important to safety-check the bedroom. Consider locks on windows, electrical appliances and heaters. Also stay vigilant about any curtain/blind cords or hanging mobiles that might pose a strangling risk. 

As for the bed itself, you could start with a toddler bed, then transition up later. Or if you go for a full-size single bed, try some gap-free bed rails to prevent children from rolling out of bed at night.

Prepare for a few bumpy nights

It can take a while for toddlers to adapt to the big bed. Some children might be unsettled for a few nights, or a few weeks, and some clinginess or crying is totally normal. Stay firm about the changes, but also be sympathetic to your little one’s fears. Let them know you understand it’s a big change, and that you’re there for them. Even better, snuggle up with them at night and read some books before bed time. That is, after all, the big bed bonus – you get to climb in too!


How are you going with the big bed transition? Let us know.


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