There is no set time to move your child into a new bed but you may find that once they start climbing out of their cot, the switch to a new bed can prevent any accidents. The other “common” time to move them is if you have a new baby coming and you want the cot. If this is the case, move them well before the baby comes so they don’t see themselves as being “supplanted” by the baby.
When your child is ready to make the transition from cot to bed, there are a few things you can do to help the process goes smoothly.
- Safety needs to be first. In a cot they are contained so make sure there is nothing that they can trip over during the night and ensure there are no electrical items or cords in reach. Use a stair gate to prevent any accidents.
- Don’t wait till bed time to show your child their new bed. Let them have a nap in their bed before a night time sleep to allow them time to get used to it. Let them help you unpack it or put it together.
- Keep your usual routine. If you have a set routine at bedtime then continue with it once your child is in his or her new bed. Ensure bedtime is the same to in order to make the adjustment easier for them.
- Let your child know how grown up they are now that they have their own bed. However, don’t go too overboard with praise as you don’t want it to seem like too big of a deal.
- We all like familiarity – so keep things the same. Use the same teddies and pyjamas to begin with as this will make the transition easier. You could use bigger bedding and have a cot blanket on the top if they want to.
- Be prepared for them to wake up. It may take a while for your child to get used to their new bed and get into a pattern of sleeping again. If they wake up and come to you during the night, just quietly take them back to their own bed and try to get them to settle themselves.
Some children make this transition very easily with little change in routine and habits. For others – bedtime has your child out of bed, turning on the light and playing.
Here are some ideas you can try to help you and your child get the sleep they need.
Does he keep turning on the light?
- Remove the light bulb so the light doesn’t come on
- Use a night light so the room isn’t dark
Are they insecure in a bigger bed?
- Sometimes your child might feel insecure in a bed and a bed rail can help.
- Can you take the sides off your cot and turn it into a cot bed? It could be a transition before a bigger bed.
Check out your routine:
- Even if he won't go to sleep tell him that its bedtime make a routine. Maybe if you read to him it will mean “sleep time” even if he isn’t sleepy.
- Get him up every day at the same time and should fall into the routine himself in time.
- Set a routine of bath, teeth story and lights out.
Getting in and out of bed:
- He is testing his new boundaries and so patience and consistency is the key. Put him to bed, tell him good night. When he gets up, put him back to bed, say ONLY goodnight, and leave the room. Over and over. He will eventually get it. Teach him consistency!
- A child gate at the door means your child has to stay contained. It also means you can keep the door open or pulled too so they don’t feel “locked away
- Sit in his room until he's asleep. Don't talk to him. If he gets out of bed, no talking, pick him up and put him back. Ignore conversation and don't feed into "I'm thirsty or I have to go potty..." As time goes by, work your way out of his room. For example. Start in a chair next to his bed (lights off after a story or two) then move to the floor by the door and just sit there. Move to the doorway and then to the hallway. It gets him used to the idea of falling asleep with you there and makes him get more comfortable with the idea of falling asleep on his own
Wants to play?
- Move every toy/book out of the bedroom
- Buy some audio books or get them from the library it could be if your child is concentrating on a story they will stay in one place.
- Background music or white noise may also help.
- Could be he needs more stimulating play and exercise during the day? You may find on a wet day where you are coped up inside it makes it harder for him to go to sleep at night.
Getting up too early?
- You can get clocks that have a night sky (moon or stars) or a sleeping face. Then you set a time in the morning and the face changes to day time or the face wakes up. This is great to teach them to stay in bed till “morning”.
- The beauty of these clocks is that do not need to be able to read the time, they can see by the day sky or the face with eyes open, that it’s ok to get up.
- Sticker chart with a reward when it's filled. Such as a toy he really wants- remind him each night he only gets a sticker if he stays in bed. By the time chart is full he'll be used to doing this & hopefully continue. Check out our downloaded reward chart here:
- Introduce the sleep fairy. The sleep fairy will only visit your house if stay in your bed quietly. If you do this then she will leave a little gift e.g. stickers. Just very small rewards which can be given over time.
Whatever you decide to do, just stick with a routine.