Moving your child from a cot into a bed is a daunting task for most parents.
Children do not celebrate change (some adults don't either), and will, more than likely, not respond well to this shift in their environment.
Children under the age of five don't yet have the brain capacity to handle their emotions or understand the concept of time, so a change in their surroundings or activity can be quite unsettling.
Even though moving your child from a cot to a bed is a positive change and should be viewed as an exciting event, it can be difficult, for both the child and parent.
For you, it's another reminder that your child is growing up, and for your child, it's a scary new addition to their bedroom. The cot they have become so accustomed to, and feel safe in, has now gone and been replaced by this intimidating new bed.
Before you start picking out mattresses and bedding, how do you know if your child is ready for the move?
There is not set rule, or size fits all, and it will heavily depend on your child as factors like height, development and behaviour will all play a role in whether they are ready to move from a cot into a bed.
The rule of thumb is between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old, which is when your child transitions from a toddler to a pre-schooler.
Some children may be ready to make the move at the younger end of the scale, especially if they are potty training and need to get to a bathroom with ease. Whereas, others may still need some time after their third birthday because they are smaller than the average three-year-old or they are developing a little slower.
Please note, the age suitability for most of our beds starts at three years old, which is the typical age for a move from a cot to a bed and the recommended age per RoSPA safety regulations.
When your child has outgrown their cot, you will know. Not only will they physically be too big for it and find it uncomfortable to sleep in, but they will be too active for it, and may even have started trying to climb out of their cot by themselves, or even asked about getting a 'big girl/boy bed'.
Things to consider before moving your child from a cot into a bed
Even if you are starting to see signs that your child might be ready for the transition, there are a few other things that need to be considered before making the decision.
The change from a cot to a bed will mean that your child will be able to climb in and out of bed by themselves which could bring with it some problems.
You need to consider whether you feel comfortable with this - do you trust them not to misbehave, wake others, or even injure themselves when wandering around their room, or the house.
Are they likely to be tempted to climb out of bed every time you leave after tucking them in, making bed times more difficult?
These things can usually be determined based on the general behaviour of your child and this will vary between children, even those at the same age, so only you can know whether your child can be trusted with this new-found freedom.
You will also need to assess the safety of the room and the bed that you decide to purchase as you may need to child-proof the room now that your little one can roam about freely and unsupervised.
Always refer to published safety guides and seek professional advice if you have any concerns when it comes to the safety considerations attached to making the transition from a cot to a bed.
How to make the transition from a cot to a bed
It can be unnerving for a child to make the move from a cot to a bed, so there are some things you should try to do as a parent to make it easier for the both of you.
Get your child involved in the process
Give your child the opportunity to get involved in the whole process to make it seem more exciting.
Take them shopping, let them see an array of different beds and then let them decide which one they want, within reason, of course.
You can even let them watch the bed get built or have them wait downstairs whilst you build it and turn it into a big reveal, so it almost seems like a present – turning it into a positive change.
There are several options when it comes to beds for children from cabin beds and playhouse beds to high sleepers and more.
To begin with, we’d advise that you look for a low sleeper, single bed as they’re small and safer for younger children, or a bunk bed that is low to the ground if your little one is going to be sharing a room with a sibling and you want to save on space.
By throwing them in at the deep end and giving them a large bed, they're more likely to feel intimidated, so start with something small.
You can even add a removable bed rail to the bed to prevent your child from rolling out in the middle of the night and give you peace of mind that they are sleeping safe and soundly.
Keep things familiar
Make the change as subtle as possible by keeping the bed in the same position as the cot and surrounding your child with familiar items that will make them feel more at home, such as teddies, a blanket or their pillow.
Don't try to change too much all at once, and do things in stages, as and when your child gets more comfortable with their new bed.
Stick to your routine
Just because your child has a new bed, this doesn't mean that anything else needs to change, especially not their bed time or routine. Stick with the usual bedtime routine so that you aren't overwhelming your child with a lot of change at once.
Similar to the point made above, try to keep everything else the same to provide them with a feeling of normality and security. Give them time to adjust to their new bed before making any other changes.
It always helps to reward or praise your child when they do something good, new or challenging as it helps them establish a positive association with that action; hence, they are more likely to repeat it.
When they stay in their new bed and sleep all the way through, you should let them know that you're proud of them and that they did something good, even going as far as to give them a small reward if they do this consecutively for three or four nights.
Give it time
The probability of your child taking to their new bed right away is very slim. The newfound freedom and responsibility that comes with moving to a bed from a cot will either make them curious, scared or excited, and any one of these emotions will lead them to climbing out of bed when they shouldn't, refusing to get into their new bed, or getting upset when left in their new bed.
The trick is to persevere and practice some patience. It may take a week or two before the novelty wears off and your child is comfortable in their new setting, so you will need to weather the storm for a few days.
If your child doesn't adjust to their new bed after at least a week, then you can always switch them back into a cot (just make sure you keep hold of it until you are sure they are ready for their new bed!), and try to make the transition again a couple more months.
If you think the time has come for your child to make that move from their cot into a bed (and they are at least three years old), then we can help you find the right bed for the big move.
We have a range of bunk beds for children who will be sharing a room with an older sibling, low sleepers if you are looking for something simple and themed beds if you want to add some flare to their room.
We even offer a bespoke bed service if you have something specific in mind and can't find it on our website.
To enquire further about any of our products, please call us on 0121 348 7815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org