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The Cot to Bed Transition - Toddler Sleep

Updated: May 15

I see so often these days that parent's are in more of a rush for their little one's to move on from the cot to a single/toddler bed! With the Montessori beds looking so appealing for families as a way to easily lie with little one's for settling them. As yes - they are! However I'm going to go into everything you need to know about the "cot to bed" transition for your toddler.

Toddlers usually transition between the age of 2 and 3 years old - and it is important to see their readiness to do so as well. Some will be ready before others - and there is no rush. If little one is happy in their cot, and safe - then there is no need to rush the game and they will adapt better the slightly older they are (and I know this from experience too!).

Do you have a climber on your hands? Then you may need to consider switching to a bed earlier than planned. If they are on the young side, and you don't feel they are ready but safety is taking priority - consider taking the base off the cot and popping the mattress on the floor. So long as it doesn't leave a big gap between the mattress and where the cot bar base starts - then you've gained an extra level here to eliminate the climbing!

toddlers jumping on bed
Toddler sleep

Here are some other points to consider.

  1. Under the age of 2.5 - they cognitively don't have the ability to fully comprehend "staying in bed". Often we see that when transitioning younger than this age, it goes quite well at first - and then in time they find their freedom! The bedtime battles become harder and new awakenings start that weren't there before. So this is a big one to consider!

  2. Bedtime is boring - So when they do find a sense of freedom, you can be rest assured that they will do anything in their power knowing more exciting things are in reach! If your little one is easily stimulated, it can often be helpful to tidy away/hide exciting toys that are in their room at bedtime.

  3. Toddlers love routine. And bedtime battles can become inevitable. So use a routine and STICK with it! By sticking to our boundaries and routines - this actually helps form a secure attachment with our toddlers because they know we are true to our word and they can rely on us for predictability.

  4. Tools can be your best friend - Sleep/Wake clocks are great for toddlers, especially for early risers or if they are delaying bedtime. Top Tip - avoid blue and white lights as these hinder their melatonin production! Use an Amber/Red light to indicate sleep time, and green for wakes. You can purchase colour adaptable sleep/wake clocks from Amazon which are also Bluetooth controlled (great for when the clocks change!) Routine/Reward systems can also work well. Let your toddler create and decorate this with you so they become more invested in it too.

  5. Make it exciting! Especially if they are particularly anxious toddlers. New bedding, room set up/decorations - can make the transition much happier. Tell them how proud you are too - and if taking existing blankets/bedding from the cot helps them - then work with how to make it as comfortable as possible for them.

  6. Toilet Training - if you are toilet training your toddler this can still be done while they are in the cot. But if they are getting to an age and stage where they can get themselves up for the toilet in the night this is also a good reason to consider making the move!

  7. Make the bedroom safe - with new freedom brings new exploring. Ensure furniture is attached to walls with brackets and any hazards are in control before the big switch.

  8. Bed Guards - are great for preventing little one's falling out of bed! It can take time for little wrigglers to get used to their new bedspace, and bed guards are great for this and preventing the wake up from falling on the floor!

Of course the toddler years can present many other sleep challenges - and you can get the full access to my step-by-step Toddler Sleep Course here. This covers not just a cot to bed transition - but all toddler stages of sleep as well as responsive solutions to settle approaches that are proven by my clients to work.

And if you want to chat through your toddler sleep challenges - you can email me any time here.

Jade Sleep Nanny

If you're finding it hard to navigate changes in your child's sleep, I'd recommend my support membership system

 here to fully bring consistently great sleep.

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