When and how to transition from cot to bed

Infant Sleep Toddler Sleep Preschooler Sleep


Many families I work with find that their children were great sleepers until they moved into a toddler bed. Suddenly, they became distracted by the endless possibilities in front of them – getting out of bed, playing with toys, and pushing every boundary imaginable. But don't worry, we've got you covered with this guide on how and when to transition from cot to bed by The Gentle Sleep Specialist.

At what age do you transition from cot to bed? Is your little one ready?

When considering the move from a cot to a bed, age plays a crucial role. The longer in the cot, the better. 

I recommend keeping your toddler in their cot until around 2.5 – 3 years of age and up. At this age, they are better equipped to understand the limitations and boundaries that come with moving to a toddler or big kid bed. Do not make this change in the hopes of resolving sleep issues; it’s very rarely they resolve. This move is best made when your toddler’s sleep is already in a good space.

That said, if your little one is regularly climbing out of their cot or it has become unsafe for them to remain, it's time to make the move.

How to transition your toddler to a bed

If you own a cot that converts from a cot to a toddler bed, like the Lyra Convertible Cot, you can easily remove and replace one side of the cot with a safety guardrail. If you’re moving to a new toddler bed or big kid bed, start using a firm, flat mattress on the floor; keep them in a Pouch if they are not comfortable with a quilt yet. Please make sure the room is safe and be patient with them. These things do take time. Slow and steady. Complete your toddler’s bedding set with a Toddler Pillow (for kids over 2 years) and Quilt to help them learn how to use bedding and stay in one place.

Tips for moving your toddler

The big tip: Maintain your bedtime routine

Stick to familiar bedtime routines and avoid introducing new roles or habits. Be confident in your child's ability to make the transition. Familiar sleep items, such as a comforter or White Noise Machine, can also help ease the transition. Give your little one every chance to make this transition without starting new habits. 

Set boundaries

Toddlers are notorious for pushing boundaries, especially around bedtime. It's crucial to set clear boundaries and stick to them. Use positive reinforcement and consider using a stamp chart with a list of bedtime activities for your little one to stamp off as they go alone. It is hard to expect our toddlers to abide by a number of boring requests before bedtime, when they are tired. Try mixing things up before bed:, do the bath a little earlier, outdoor time for dinner, play.

Connection between toddler and parent/guardian is key

When it comes to the lead up to bedtime, little ones will have a far easier time settling off to bed when they feel they have had time and connection with their big people - especially during transitions like from their cot to bed. Find time to immerse yourself in your little ones. Avoid  distractions and just be in their presence.

Choose your timing wisely

Avoid making the transition during other significant changes, such as the arrival of a new baby or moving house. 

Use age-appropriate sleepwear for safety and mobility

The transition to a bed offers kids even more freedom and mobility, so make sure they’re wearing age-appropriate sleepwear that allows for safe movement, like a Sleep Onesie or Pyjamas.

For more information on this transition and other sleep tips, explore the Early Years Sleep Guide for 2-5 year olds.

Need some help?

If you're struggling with bedtime transitions, The Gentle Sleep Specialist offers an online Baby Sleep Program and Toddler Sleep Program to provide support. We also offer 1:1 consults for more personalised assistance.

Remember, kind boundaries and confidence are key during this transition. Happy sleeping!

The Gentle Sleep Specialist x

About the author

Tara Mitchell is a former paediatric nurse of 15 years and is now a leading Sleep Consultant, helping families through the challenges of sleep. Struggling with her own personal experience with a sleepless child, Tara began the Gentle Sleep Specialist to help other parents on their sleep journey.

Website: www.gentlesleep.com.au


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