We always recommend keeping your child in their cot up to about 3 years old as it spares many sleep disturbances in the future. Most children under the age of 2.5-3 years old don’t have enough impulse control or understanding of boundaries and they are not emotionally ready to move into a big bed. Moving to a big bed too early will set you up for problems such as your child repeatedly coming out of the bedroom at bedtime and during the night. Older toddlers have a better understanding and will respond to limit-setting and positive rewards as an incentive to stay in bed as long as parents are consistent.
BUT we know it’s not always possible as we prepare for a new baby’s arrival or they just outgrow their cots before then.
SO, unless they are actively jumping out of the cot, you have to move them out, or they are asking for a big bed just let them stay happily in their cot for longer.
If you are moving your toddler, here are a few Brave Little Baby tips to make it a smooth transition:
- Don’t rush it
- Don’t move to a big bed while your toddler is dealing with other big life events. Give them about 3 months time to adjust to new changes like:
- The arrival of a newborn baby
- Moving to a new house is another big event.
- Try not to nighttime toilet train at the same time as moving to a big bed. Too many changes at once.
- Safeguard the bedroom and bed before the move – Once your child is sleeping in a big bed, they are free to roam around even while you are asleep without the confines of a cot.
- Ensure there is nothing unsafe for your child to climb on.
- Attach furniture or heavy objects to the wall so it can’t topple over.
- Use covers for power plugs.
- Inspect the bedroom and remove anything that could be a hazard.
- Involve your child in the big move. We want our children to feel excited and confident about their big move. Let them choose the bedding, let them help set it up. Talk to them about it before the time, the week leading up to it mention it every day! You can even do a countdown! Mention to your toddler that the only thing changing is his bed. He can stay safely and warmly in bed until you get him/her up in the morning.
- Make sure you and your partner are aligned and agree on what you will do and say when your toddler DOES get out of the bed and tries to walk over. Be firm but calm and consistent. Try not to create new habits during this transition time.
- Remember our little ones are like a mirror to our emotions. If you stay happy calm and confident they will reflect that too.
- Try and keep everything else the same and as consistent as possible! Do your bedtime routine exactly like you would have done it before!