Moving from cot to bed is a big step for your toddler, and it's important to know when's the right time to do it.
As in everything related to babies and children (and people in general) there isn't a date set in the calendar. Every child has his or her own rhythm, and we have to learn to respect it.
Moving from cot to bed is something children usually do between 18 months and 3 years of age, but, as we said before, there isn't a specific time to do it. As with potty training, we need to look for signs that our toddler is ready to do the transition. If you wake up one morning with your son sleeping in bed with you while you thought he was sound asleep in his cot... It probably means that the moment has come for moving from cot to bed.
First of all, it's a matter of safety: Falls are one of the main causes of injury among toddlers, and if yours is climbing out of the cot by himself... Do we need to say more? However, your toddler doesn't have to be climbing out of his crib for you to move him out of it, as there are other reasons that could push you towards making the decision. For instance, he could be too big for the cot already and you could see that he's not sleeping as comfortably as he used to, or you may be pregnant for the second time and will need the cot for the new baby. If that's your case, we recommend to do the transition with your first born before the new baby arrives, as he or she will already have to make an effort to adjust to the new situation. Suddenly having to share mummy and daddy is no easy thing, so it's better that he doesn't feel pushed out of his own space.
Potty training is sometimes another reason for moving from cot to bed. When this other transition is advanced and your child is able to go to the toilet by himself during the day, being able to do so during the night may help advance his learning.
Moving from cot to bed: Tips and recommendations
Moving from cot to bed isn't an easy step for your toddler or child, as he or she will have to adjust to a new routine. However, it's not an easy step for you either! The crib was a very safe environment for him (until he started climbing out of it, of course), and now you feel like he has free access to many dangers in the house. Of course, you already baby proofed your home when your child first started crawling, but still, nothing feels safe enough for your little one. We have the following tips and recommendations for you, for his safety (and your peace of mind) and also to ease the transition:
- Pick a special bed for your child's age, that is, one that isn't too high and that preferably has bars or some kind of safety devise that can be later removed. A guard rail should be a must, even if the bed isn't high.
- Put the bed far away from windows, plugs or anything that could hurt your toddler.
- During the first few days, feel free to pay your child as many nocturnal visits as you want.
- Be happy! In order for your toddler to feel secure, he will need some reassurance from you. You can present the transition as a coming of age ritual, and you can congratulate him for being a big boy or girl who's going to sleep in a bed. Being excited about the change will also help him or her during the transition, as some children become attached to their cribs and find it hard to leave it behind them. You can also invite him to participate in the building of his new bed as part of the ritual. It will also help to say goodbye to his old crib.
- If your toddler is especially active, you can ease the transition by placing first the mattress on the floor so he gets used to the lack of bars without falling from the bed.
Keep in mind that the transition from cot to bed isn't easy for all children. If yours has an older brother or sister he will probably be willing, as they like to imitate older children and adults, but it can be harder on other children. If your little one is unhappy about the change and has trouble sleeping, and you don't need to accelerate the transition because of the arrival of a new baby, don't push him too much. You can allow him to sleep on his cot again and try again after a while. Remember that respecting your child's rhythms is also a way of making him feel comfortable on his own skin. We do need to encourage our children to learn and grow, but there is a difference between pushing and pressuring. That is never good!
So, is your child ready for moving from cot to bed? If you have other tips and recommendations for other mummies who are going through the same as you, share them in the comment section!