I had an email from a mum recently asking about moving her 22 month old toddler moving from a cot to a ‘big bed’. Her daughter had started climbing out of her cot and she needed to act quickly, so now what?!
Just in case there are others in the same situation, here is the advice I gave her….
The ideal time to move a toddler from their cot into a big bed is between 22 to 24 months (just before 2). There are huge developments in your child’s brain between the ages of 2 and 3 years and one of the biggest challenges is the heightening of separation anxiety. So making the move from a cot to a big bed before 2 allows your child to more easily separate from their cot and also from you when you are putting them to bed.
And remember, it is often harder for us to make the change than it is for our child! If you are positive about the experience and create the same excitement for your child, it will just be part of what they do.
So here are the top 4 tips for an easy transition from cot to bed.
1. Buy a ‘big bed’.
If you have a cot that you can take the sides off, don’t use it. This is so confusing for a child just under 2 years of age. Your child has been sleeping in their cot with sides on all their life. They see their bedroom from the perspective of looking through the cot bars. If you take the bars off, they are in the same position but with new found freedom. It is fun to get out of their cot. So start them off in a real bed – start off as you mean to go on. Make a fuss of buying sheets they choose. Get a small pillow or even start just with a pillow case if your child is use to sleeping with no pillow in their cot. If you are worried about your child falling out, put a spare mattress or pillows next to the bed and be rested assured, they get used to it pretty quickly.
2. Talk to your child before it happens
Even at 22 months, your child understands a lot of what you are telling them so talk about it. Be positive and excited about the notion of your child moving into a big bed (even if you are nervous about it). Tell your child what it might feel like and show them how to get in and out of the bed. Say things like ‘It is just like a grown up bed’ or ‘how exciting is it you get to be in a big bed’. Make your child feel special about it.
3. Be consistent
You have been saying good night to your child for 22 months now and in a good routine. Keep that routine. Maybe they have a cuddly toy to go to bed with or a dummy or you sing them a song, read them a story. Do the same thing you have always done. This ensures your child is in their normal routine and bed time habits and so will associate their new bed with the same sleep routine you have always used.
4. Reassurance and patience!
So you now have the bed, the sheets, read your child a story and tucked them in. 5 minutes later, they are in the living room with you. Now what?! The worst thing you can do is get angry with your child. They need to associate this new experience and bed with a positive feeling and like we all do when something is new, your child will need reassurance. Take your child back to bed, tuck them in and let them know it will take a bit of getting used to it. This will probably happen lots in the first week, but with reassurance and consistency, this will decrease and eventually you will have a peaceful sleeper and some well deserved time with your partner!
I put my first two children into a bed at 22 months. When I put my first daughter in her bed, I said goodnight and shut the door. I didn’t hear another word from her, but when I went in at 10pm to check on her, she was sound asleep on the rug on the floor. I gently lifted her back into bed and there she stayed. With my second, he was made for a bed. He was a terrible sleeper in his cot and as soon as he got to a big bed, he started sleeping.
My third child was a climber. She climbed out of her cot when we were away on holidays at 19 months and completely threw my plan out the window to wait until 22 months to put her in her big bed. We got home from holidays and watched her on her bedroom video climb gracefully out of her cot. She would teeter on the edge of the cot just long enough to scare me to death and then just slide down the bars. So we made a mad dash to the shop to buy her a bed. She was really too little to understand the whole concept and would come out constantly. It took much longer to get her to stay in her big bed – consistency, patience and reassurance were key.
Just remember, the first night is always the hardest. It is a milestone for your child, just like getting their first tooth or taking their first step so embrace the change and be proud of you and your child for being in a ‘big bed’.
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About Anna Partridge, Founder of BombardedMum
Anna Partridge is a school teacher, mother of three young children and founder of parenting and education blog, BombardedMum www.bombardedmum.com. She walks alongside mums with children aged 0 to 12 years to run the often treacherous gauntlet of motherhood! She inspires mums to be the most awesome mum they can be and gives them empowerment, inspiration and confidence to be a great mum and great woman. Anna runs parenting workshops about ‘Raising Confident and Resilient Kids’ and other parenting related topics. Through her work, Anna is building a community of mothers who are sharing the inspiration and challenges of raising the next generation. To work with Anna and be the most awesome mum, book your complimentary 30 minute Mummy Mojo call here.To find out more about Anna Partridge, visit her website here.