When should you move from a cot to a bed?

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Moving from a cot to a bed sleep
The transition from cosy cot to big bed is significant in any toddler's life. Here's how to make it a positive move.

When you lay your tiny newborn in her cot for the first time, it's hard to imagine that soon she'll be a great bounding toddler, big enough for a 'grown-up' bed.

There are all sorts of reasons why parents decide to move their toddlers out of their cots and into beds: the impending arrival of a new sibling perhaps, your child's tendency to break for freedom and plunge to the floor, or simply the fact that she's suddenly just too enormous for it.

Here we help you decide when the time is right, and how to make the transition a smooth and happy one for the whole family.

The right time?

There's no hard-and-fast rule for when you should move your toddler from cot to bed. Some children are happy to make the move at 18 months, others are content in their cots till they're almost 3.

Lots of things will affect your decision, the size of your cot, how adaptable your child is and the dynamics of your family. Here are some of the signs that your tot is ready to say goodbye to her cot:
  • She looks huge in it, and has to sleep all curled up to fit in, or often bangs herself on the bars.
  • She tries to climb out by herself.
  • She's ready to embrace other aspects of being a big girl, such as potty training, eating by herself and walking rather than being in a buggy.There's really no rush, so if you don't think your child's ready, then leave it for a while.


Go easy

Toddlers love familiar things, as they make them feel safe and secure. When we rouse slightly during our natural sleep cycle, which happens several times a night, our subconscious does a quick check to ensure our surroundings are as they should be, so that we can roll over and go back to sleep.

If your toddler senses that something isn't quite right, she'll find it much harder to nod off again. So it's important to make the change to a big bed as stress-free as possible.

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These ideas may ease the way:
  • Introduce the idea gradually, talking about how she's a big girl, and it'll soon be time to say goodbye to her baby cot and get a lovely new bed.
  • Make the new bed attractive Invest in a new duvet cover in her favourite colour, or featuring a beloved character. You could even involve her in choosing it.
  • If your toddler is keen on the bed, then just go for it. But if she's reluctant, leave the cot up for a while and let her play in the bed
for a few days before asking her to sleep in it. Then progress to daytime naps in the bed, finally dismantling the cot and going for full nights.


All pages in this article

  1. 1. When should you move from a cot to a bed?
  1. 2. Which bed?

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Jackie Kennedy

I agree with the comment about letting the child play on the bed. My son, who is now 3, always slept in a room with his cot and a double bed. The bed was familiar and not threatening at all as it was always there. We took him on holidays just before his 2nd birthday. Being in strange surroundings he would not sleep in the cot provided and slept between us for the 2 weeks we were there. Once we came home he had absolutely no interest in sleeping in his cot. We gave him the choice between the cot and the bed for about a month. Every time the bed won!! Once we were confident that he had really finished with his cot and was happy in the bed we removed the cot from the room. We, of course, went through the stage of him thinking he could just hop out of bed and downstairs whenever he felt like it but we stuck to our guns and he soon learnt that once he goes to bed he's to stay there till morning.

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