July 19th, 2021

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Guide to Transition your Toddler from a Cot to a Bed

The change of sleeping place is one of the most significant milestones in a child's life. It can be tricky because it is difficult to decide whether your child is ready to move.
There are a lot of questions that you may have as parents during this phase like:
"why is it essential to move my child to a big kid's bed?,"
 "when should I do it?",
 "how to get my child ready, and the possible problems that you may face during the transition, how to do it and stay consistent?"
In this blog, I will address each of these questions to help you have a smooth transition.

When Should You Consider Moving Your Child Into A Big Kid Bed?

First and foremost, you should not make the mistake of moving the child to a big kid bed before the right time, which may hamper successful transition.
When you are considering making the change, do consider the following points before you go ahead with the transition:

  1. Your child is at least 3 years old because they don't have the maturity or discipline to stay in bed before that.
  1. Your child has outgrown the cot. (in most cases, the baby will be over 3 years)
  1. No other significant transitions are happening in your child's life. (potty training, solid foods, etc.) This is important to ensure they are not dealing with too many changes at once.
  1. Easy bathroom access for when they are potty trained.

As mentioned earlier, instead of making a sudden transition, it is better to observe your child and look for signs of readiness. 
If your child is happy in the crib even when they are 3 or 4, and none of the things mentioned above happen, let them stay in the crib because a happy child is less gloomy and more rainbows

Getting Ready To Move Your Child To A Big Kid's Bed

If you decide it is time for your child to move from a cot to a bed, it is necessary to take precautions to ensure that the bedroom is childproof.
Once the cot bars are out of the way, kids can get out of bed and wander around their bedrooms. Their rooms need to be "mobile toddler" ready.

To make sure you prevent any clumsy accidents, follow these safety measures:

  1. Install safety locks on the windows so the kids can open them only a little. The gap shouldn't be big enough for your child to fall out.
  2. The curtain and blind cords should be 1.6m above the floor; these things could be a strangling hazard.
  3. Keep small things and chemical substances out of the bedroom. Items like medicines, batteries, cleaning soaps, etc., which can be a health hazard, should be out of reach.
  4. Cover all sockets to avoid these inquisitive fingers from exploring the socket world.
  5. Minimal to no furniture that your child can climb on and get hurt from falling.
  6. Put a safety door on your child's bedroom door and attach bells to it. Then, every time your child opens the door, the ringing bell will alert you.

Problems You Might Face While Moving Your Child From Cot To Big Kids' Bed

Has any change ever come without a bit of drama, and the world is falling apart tantrums? Well, if you foresee problems and prepare for it, you may experience little to no resistance.

  1. Your child might cry or stubbornly ask that you put their crib right back to where it was.
  1. Your child may feel anxious in an unfamiliar bed and develop a fear of other things around them.
  1. Moving to a big kid's bed means no bars are restricting them. E.g., You might think you have put your child to bed, and they follow you out.
  1. Seeing all this, you may have difficulty keeping calm and patient every time they get out of bed – just breathe and let your child be the only one throwing a tantrum (if at all) 😊

How Can You Make The Transition Smooth For Your Child?

Do not move your toddler from a cot to a big kid's bed on a whim or overnight. It would be best to have a plan broken down into steps to make the change as smooth as possible.
Check out these tips and tricks to change that keep your child happy.

Have A Set Bedtime Ritual: Rain or shine, your toddler should be in bed at the same time every night. Children thrive on repetition and consistency. Having the same routine when your child was using the cot to transition them to the big kid bed takes away the fear of unpredictability.

Here is an example of what your bedtime ritual should look like:

  • Dinner at the same time every night (around 5 or 6 pm)
  • Use the potty
  • Brush your teeth
  • Followed by a relaxing bath time
  • Pyjamas and a sip of water
  • A story in bed
  • Kiss them Good Night

You might deviate during holidays, guests visits, celebrations, but make sure to always bounce back to routine.

Make Your Child A Part Of The Transition Process: Your child should be a part of the transition process, allowing them to make decisions that affect them. It gives them ease if there are steps involved in the move, making them prepared and excited for the change.


Give them a choice: Giving your children the choice to pick their preference helps them feel empowered and make the process easier. Start with letting your child pick a bed (if possible) so that it gets them excited about the transition. While selecting a bed, do note the following points:

  • Your child's bed must be low and closer to the floor so that even if they roll out, they do not get hurt.
  • You can get a guide rail to secure the sides if their bed is high.

You can also involve your children by taking their help in choosing their kid-friendly bed accessories like bed sheets, pillowcases, 1-2 stuffed animals etc. 

When You Are Packing Up The Cot, Involve Your Child: Do not try to surprise them by suddenly replacing their beloved cot with a new bed. You can use the transition as an opportunity to redecorate your kid's room together by:

  • Changing wallpapers,
  • Changing pictures on the wall,
  • Picking the toys your child wants on their bed

Be Your Child's Biggest Cheerleader And Support
Positive and motivational words strengthen the areas in our brain's frontal lobes. When you give positive encouragement to your child, it propels their brains' motivational centres into action.
You can begin by telling your child how proud you are of them for being ready for this significant change. 
Toddlers love it when parents create a fuss over their new milestones.
Make plans with them on when to set up the new bed in their rooms while they still have the cot.
They will get excited over their new grown-up beds if parents share their excitement.
If you had a smooth transition or a rocky one, your job, dear parent, is not over. The biggest measure of success is making sure that your child sleeps in their new bed.

How Can You Make Sure That They Sleep In Their New Big Kid Bed Every Night? (Pro Tips)

  1. Spend time with them in their bed during the daytime to familiarize them with the new environment and sleep arrangement instead of directly getting them in there during bedtime.
  1. Start your bedtime 30 minutes earlier than usual with some room for downtime.
  1. Make the bedtime routine fun by introducing a reward chart. Give your child a sticker each time they finish their bedtime activity.
  1. Let your child climb into the bed on their own and comfort them with love.
  1. Give minimal room for excuses to get out of the bed, such as using the loo or drinking water by following the bedtime ritual mentioned above. You can introduce a bedtime pass and give them one or two passes for the night. They can use a pass each time they need to get out of bed for washroom, drinking water etc. Once they have exhausted their passes, they need to stay in the bed.

To conclude...

For some families, the transition may happen quickly while for some others it may take a little longer. The key to a smooth transition is staying consistent, calm and cheerful during the process.
Even if you are finding the transitioning process difficult for you compared to other parents, remain patient and consistent.
If you need more help, our programs at Sweet Dreams Baby include a toddler bed transition guide with a step-by-step process for a smooth transition.
Do let us know how your transitions went and if you have any additional tips in the comments below.
Sweet Dreams,

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