When should I move my baby into a toddler-sized bed?
There is no fixed rule on when should move your child out of his cot and put him in a bed. That said most children make the move sometime between around 18 months and three and a half. Certainly they need to have moved once they gain the ability to climb out of the cot! There might be a reason you particularly want them to move – such as the imminent arrival of a new baby.
If you know they’re going to have to move out of their cot to make room for a new baby, try making this move around six to eight weeks before the baby actually arrives. Then the big change of moving from cot to bed will be well over by the time the next big change – the baby – comes along. Otherwise it can become stressful for the toddler. Also, it will help prevent them feeling like they’ve been pushed out by the baby.
Alternatively, you can have the new baby arrive first, as big-change number one, and put the baby into a Moses basket next to your bed. Then, when the baby is 3-4 months old, you could make the next big move of shifting the baby into the cot and the toddler into the big bed. Then, you might choose to move your child simply because he has outgrown the cot.
Do remember that as soon as your child is in the big bed, he is going to be able to get out easily whenever he wants to. So before you make the move, check the safety aspects of everything that they might have access to if they climb out. If you’re potty training your child, you may want him to sleep in a bed because he might need to get up to go to the toilet.
All this said, many child psychologists suggest it’s best to wait as long as possible before moving your child into a big bed. So if there’s no pressing need to move them out, and they’re happy sleeping there, then leave the move more towards the three-and–a-half years mark.
What do I do if my child is unhappy moving to a big bed?
Some children find the move easy, and some find it really hard. It’s understandable, because it’s a warm and snuggly place where they’ve felt safe every night of their entire lives. So try to make the transition as comforting as possible.
Any special blankets and toys should be used in the new bed. If possible, keep the bed in the same place as the cot – even at least for a few months – so that when he wakes at night, everything will look just the same as it used to.
Make it a special event and maybe get him to help you show visitors and friends his new, big bed so he feels it’s special and worthy of praise. You can talk about it a lot too before he moves into it, so he’ll feel excitement and anticipation. Let your child choose new ‘big boy bedding’ to help create enthusiasm about the new bed.
If space is an issue or your child doesn’t like the idea of a full-sized bed, there are lots of low, off-the-ground shorter beds with built-in guard rails available for toddlers. These can be a lovely first bed, but the downside is that your child will eventually need a full-sized single bed, and they can also be a bit small for adults to get into at story time.
Can I just use an ordinary big bed?
A bed for a toddler does need a guard rail so they won’t roll out. Remember they’ve been used to sleeping in a cot where there’s no possibility of falling out. Even if you think your child doesn’t move much when they’re asleep, you’ll definitely need a guard rail. Little children can easily break bones falling out of bed.
Sometimes it’s easiest to have the bed against a wall, so one side is safe-guarded, and then you just need the rail on the other side. You can also buy guard rails that attach to a bed. A bed that is low to the ground is a good idea as well, so your toddler will find it easy to climb in and out.