How to move your toddler into a big bed, from knowing when he's ready, to easing the transition from cot to bed.
Moving your toddler from his cot into a bed is a milestone for both him and you - he's no longer a baby now! Here's how decide your toddler's ready, ways to manage the transition, and how to keep him safe in his new bed.
“The decision to transfer your child from cot to bed is often led by either a new baby on the way or a nimble toddler who’s able to climb out of his cot. Other than that, while it suits you and if your toddler is happy in his cot, it really doesn’t matter how long he stays there,” says health visitor Annette Maloney."There's no ideal time, but if your child is somewhere between 14 months (with a bed close to the ground and a safety rail) and 3 years old, then just go with when it feels right for you," says Wendy Dean, author of The Baby Sleep System.“Once you’ve put the cot base at its lowest position, keep an eye on how active your little one is. Just before you think she’s at the point where she could climb out, transfer her to a bed,” says Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). “When Isaac was 2 he climbed out of his cot, fell, cut his chin open and had to be taken to casualty,” says Dawn, 34, mum to Isaac, 3, “This was our signal to move him to a big bed!”
Until your toddler’s used to a ‘proper’ bed, you can have one with guard rails on each side, or on one side if the bed's side butts up to a wall. “Bear in mind the safety factors involved when it comes to transferring your toddler to a bed. You’ll need to make sure that if he falls out, he’ll land safely. Some bed sides can be useful for preventing this, or you could place soft pillows on the floor next to his bed,” explains health visitor Annette Maloney.“Once he’s in bed, there’s the risk that he may wander out of his room. If you’re worried that he may get up in the night, place a stairgate across his bedroom door or at the top of any stairs he may encounter,” adds Annette.Also think about what your toddler will come across if he gets out of bed. Toddlers and older children can get tangled in curtain cords or try to climb out of a window. Tuck away cords and use window locks. Also make sure there are no tripping hazards.
Keep your child's bedtime routine the same and you should find the transition is pretty smooth. Get him used to the idea of a ‘big bed’ by talking about it and perhaps playing on it. If the move to a bed is being partially driven by the fact you’ve got another baby on the way, you should transfer your toddler into a bed before the birth. He’ll then have a chance to get used to his ‘big bed’ before his new baby brother or sister needs to move into ‘his’ cot.Including your toddler in the whole process can help, whether it’s buying the bed, or if you already have the bed, going to choose the bed linen together. If you need to assemble the bed, allow your toddler to feel like he’s your helper. Get your toddler to help you make the bed, too. This makes the change feel positive and exciting, and may also give your child a sense of ownership and help him feel relaxed around the bed. Be mindful of what else is happening in your toddler’s life. If there are a lot of other changes going on - you’re returning to work, there’s a change of nursery, your toddler’s ill or potty training – the move from the familiar, safe, secure cot into a new bed could be overwhelming for your toddler.
Children shouldn’t sleep on the top bunk until the age of 6. After that, nearly all children will want to play on bunk beds so all you can do is warn them of the risks and make sure it’s safely designed. As well as conforming to the British safety standard (BS EN747), it should have:
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