One of the most common topics I get asked about is when is the best time to transition from a cot to a bed. I want to tell you about the “mistakes” I’ve seen in the past. Wait, lets not call them mistakes, lets call them mishaps. No wait, setbacks. Yes, setbacks. Because that’s all they are really.
Disclaimer, if you have done one (or more) of them already, it’s not the end of the world and you are not doomed to have a lifetime of no sleep. It is all completely fixable, so just breathe.
Setback 1: I’m having another baby and really don’t want to buy a second cot so I will move first born into a bed.
Buy, steal, barter or borrow a second cot. Other options are places like Target or Ikea have very affordable cots, and they don’t look too bad either. Or most of you will have friends with kids, one of them is bound to have a cot they aren’t using stored in their garage. You might just need it to buy you another 6 months of extra time. You will need a new mattress for SIDS safety but this is not a big expense at all. Another note on this topic: It actually makes a lot of sense to keep your older child in the cot. Remember that you are going to be feeding early in the morning or late at night, and you will be able to get a little peace of mind knowing that they are safe in their cot rather than roaming the house causing mischief and general mayhem.
Setback 2: I am just seriously excited to buy a cool car bed and they are on sale now. Let me tell you, this is not a reason!!!! And this is only something a first time mother does. I know it’s exciting, all the firsts with our children generally are. BUT.. don’t rush it. It’s totally not worth it. The smoothest transitions are with children that are ready, and not a minute before.
Setback 3: Ok, I’ve totally stuffed up. Is it regressing to go back into a cot? This is always a tough one for me to answer. The short answer is no. You can put them back in a cot until they are ready to go back into the bed. Chances are that they will actually be happier in their cot. They might even feel more secure and will start sleeping better. If your child is getting out of their bed and it is not safe, then definitely move them back. It won’t last for long and then they will feel ready and know when to expect when you decide to move them back again.
Some more questions that you have been asking me:
So how do we know when they are ready?
Well I don’t always like to base things on age because every child is so different but I know you mums would like a general time frame. So if you were to push me for an answer I would say that I like to make the move at about 2.5. But closer to the age 3 side than the age 2 side.
These are the questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is he/she sleeping through the night?
2. Do they understand what staying in bed actually means?
3. Do they have a solid routine beforehand ?
4. Is their room safe if they get out of bed? (e.g. are the bookshelves that could fall on them, are their stairs that they could fall down, are they near a kitchen etc).
What kind of bed should I use? Should I use a toddler bed?
To be honest, I just don’t see the point. Children don’t like change (I don’t blame them, as adults we don’t either!). So why make them change only to have to change again? I have never heard of a child being overwhelmed by the length of the bed. The change is from having the bars being taken off and them being able to get out of bed themselves, not that the new bed is actually longer than their cot.
But I just think the change is too big for my little one?
If you feel that they are ready for the move but that you don’t want to move them straight to a bed, then just take one side of their cot off. Let them get used to that. And then move them to their big bed.
How do I stop them falling out of bed?
Honestly don’t waste your money on an ugly bed rail. Rather spend a few dollars and buy a pool noodle and slip it on the edge, under the fitted sheet. Works a charm! If there are floor boards then maybe put a few cushions down too.
But will this stop them getting out of bed?
Um…. NO! You are putting too much faith in a pool noodle. It is just there to stop them rolling out in their sleep and falling on the floor. The truth is that there is no way to actually stop them getting out if that’s want they want to do. That’s why we need to think long and hard about the timing of it all.
My child does sleep well through the night but doesn’t wind down very well. How do I help with this process when transitioning to a bed?
This is a really really common question. So here’s the thing.. When we get into bed are we asleep straight as our heads hit the pillow? No! Even in our ridiculously exhausted state as mothers we still take a while. Maybe we watch a bit of TV, waste some time on Instagram, maybe even read a book and dare I suggest even talk to our husbands! Yet for some reason we expect our children to go to sleep straight away. They too need to wind down a little. And it is our job to help them out a little. Everyone knows that having a regular story time helps but here’s some other tips to try.
Slumber Secret 1: No screens for a few hours before. That means no TV, no Ipad, no computer. Their little brains struggle to shut these images down so they are still flashing in their minds long after we have turned them off.
Slumber Secret 2: Make sure their room is tidy. This may shock you given most couldn’t really give two hoots what kind of state their rooms are in. But it will help just to settle their minds.
Slumber Secret 3: End the day discussing something positive.
Slumber Secret 4: Routine Routine Routine!
What bed do I get? What mattress do I get? So much to choose from?
When it comes to choosing beds, if your child is a fairly anxious child or one who resists change then involve them in the selecting process. Take them to stores with you, have them look at sheets with you – include them! I generally advise mothers not to buy the car beds or the extravagant princess castle beds. Remember – this is a place for them to rest. How can we expect them to be calm when its just too tempting to play with a steering wheel or try on the attached princess crown. Before you go out and buy the ugly wooden plain bed, I’m not all doom and gloom, I don’t mind a little colour and cuteness.
In terms of mattress, I believe you get what you pay for. I’m not saying the most expensive is always the best but just think about how long they sleep on these mattresses. Think about how many bouts of gastro it is going to see in its lifetime, how many sleepovers it will have and how many monkeys will jump on it at one time. They should be able to last 7-10 years so make sure you go for a top quality mattress. A brilliant mattress for your little one will play an undeniable role in allowing great quality sleep for years to come.
I thought I would save you some time and give you my shopping list:
Beds: I just bought my girls new stunning beds from Adairs. But have a check out of Incy Interiors too. Absolutely magnificent beds.
Mattresses: I bought from Suite Design. Amazing quality and great service too. Not to mention affordable! I changed the delivery date several times with them and it was never a fuss. Couldn’t recommend them more highly! I am now inspired to buy some pieces from them from the rest of the house. (That comment will test if my hubby reads my blogs!)
0421 749 324. www.suitedesign.com
Sheets: Kip and Co have gorgeous sheets for children (and adults!) which I am just about to buy. I am also lusting after a couple sets from Bramwell Designs. Both really funky.
Good luck and Sweet Dreams (in whatever kind of bed your little one is in)