From a cot to a bed, my top recommendations.
- Choose your timing wisely. The most common reason I see cot to bed transitions fail is because the move to the bed has been done when your little one is too young. I recommend making the transition when your little ones are 2 ½ years old and over. In fact, the closer to 3 years the better. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, we want your little one to really understand any boundaries properly. We also want your babe to understand action = reaction. So if they keep getting out of bed, they’re old enough to understand any consequences. You will also find that around 18 months - 2 years of age, your babe is really beginning to push boundaries a lot! You may still be finding your feet in terms of navigating this tricky period, so opening up a world of freedom at bed time is kind of asking for trouble.
- Keep your boundaries and the bedtime routine FIRMLY in place. I cannot stress this enough. It is around this time that your child may begin to try and run the bedtime period. This only creates mayhem and it’s not fair on them to have the responsibility of such a big task. Notice their small requests for “one more” and be sure to stick to the set routine you already have.
- Keep it positive. Using a ‘teacher voice’ in my opinion is the best way to guide the bedtime routine. The way I explain it to clients is that you want to sound positive but CONFIDENT. Use a chart that outlines the steps into bed: milk, brush teeth, bath and book for example, and get your little one to stamp off each activity as they do it. This way they will feel a sense of achievement and control, and will hopefully be so involved in the process that they won’t need to get creative and look for ways to push back at that time.
- Keep the sleeping bag in play for a little while after the move to a bed, as long as it’s safe to do so. The sleeping bag can actually still be very beneficial in keeping your little one feeling snug and warm after moving to a bed. Children move all the time in bed and it’s nearly an impossible task to keep the covers on them. There are no rules to say a sleeping bag cannot be used in a bed so why not keep it around a little while longer. In the mean time you can still use a sheet or blanket as well and get your little one used to pulling it up themselves.
- Celebrate their success. When your little one sleeps in their “big bed” all night, make it exciting, be over the top with praise initially so they really feel a sense of achievement. I would also really talk up the move in a way that gives them a sense of responsibility and growing up: “How exciting to be in your big bed tonight, this is just like your big cousin’s bed” for example.
- Things like a Gro Clock can also be beneficial in teaching your little one when it is appropriate to get out of bed. Start the clock early so it may be easier to achieve, then if needed, you can gradually push it to a slightly later wake-up time. Remember though, 5:30am onwards is a very normal waking time for little ones.
- Keep the cot in the room if possible, then employ a ‘one warning’ system. For example, “You can stay in your big bed but if you get out again you will need to go back into your cot so that Mummy/Daddy knows you’re safe in there”.
This can be a really positive and exciting time, but you’ll need to be on top of any attempts they may make to take control! Keep your boundaries in place and be sure to celebrate their success.