When should I move my toddler from a cot to a bed?
The signs to look out for that your toddler is ready to sleep in a bed
Moving from a cot to a bed is a big change for a toddler and getting the time right for you and them is important to making it stress-free.
When will my toddler be ready for move from a cot to a bed?
Naturally, it differs from child to child when they are ready for the big move. On average toddlers move to sleeping in a bed between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old, but there are reasons and circumstances that could mean this is earlier or later for some.
Signs to lookout for that your toddler is ready to sleep in a bed
- Your toddler is able to climb out their cot
Once your little one has figured out how to climb around and even out of their cot this is a big sign they are ready to move into a bed as the restrictions of the cot are not doing their job and of course it can be dangerous if they can climb and jump down.
- They have grown too big to sleep comfortably
If your toddler’s sleep has become more disturbed as they struggle to get comfortable in the restraints of their cot, this is a sign that a bed would now be more comfortable for them. Not having enough space can also make it more difficult for them to settle back to sleep when your little one wakes in the night.
When you’re potty training your toddler, sleeping in a bed will make it much easier for them to get up and go to the toilet at night which can ultimately help them on their way to getting drier at night.
When can my toddler use a pillow and a duvet?
The NHS advises and safer sleep guidance says that babies should not use pillows or duvets under the age of one, as there is the risk of suffocation if their face gets smothered and they won't be able to push it away.
As they move into their own bed from 18 months or over you may want to introduce a pillow and duvet.
Another sign that your little one is ready to use a pillow to make them more comfortable is when their shoulders are wider than their head. You may also notice that your child is enjoying resting their head to snuggle on a stuffed toy o scrunched up blanket – or they might lay down on a pillow in your bed.
A new baby is on the way
If you are expecting a new baby you may well be looking to reclaim the cot for your new arrival but also you’ll want to ensure your toddler isn’t unduly ‘put out’ by the new baby’s arrival, such as feeling they have been pushed out of their cot to make room for the new baby. Therefore it’s a good idea to approach your toddler’s transition from the cot to a bed in advance of the new arrival (even if your new baby won’t use the cot initially) so they feel settled and happy by the time the new baby does move into their cot.
If you don’t feel your toddler is ready to move into a bed as the new baby arrives, delay it until your toddler is used to their new sibling and is less likely to put the two together. Your new baby is likely to sleep in a crib or Moses’ basket up until 4-6 months old anyway.
How to help your toddler move from a cot to a bed
Your toddler will either feel really excited about their first ‘big bed’ or be nervous by the prospect of moving from the comfort of their cot.
If they do need a helping hand, there are some encouraging tips you could try.
- Talk about it openly and regularly with them and allow them time to get used to the idea before getting the wheels in motion.
- Mention it to family and friends beforehand so they too can offer positive comments to your little one.
- Take them shopping for their big bed and let them get involved in choosing their own duvet covers etc.
- At first, and if you can, put the new bed in the same place as the cot was so it adds familiarity when they’re in it.
- Keep cuddly toys/ favourite blankets how they had it in their cot so make them feel more comfortable.
Be patient with your toddler, it may take them a bit of time to get used to the change but they will eventually and you might need to get used to a visitor in the night now they are able to get up and go into your room when they wake! But persevere, be patient and take them back to bed.