Making the decision to move your toddler to a bed from their cot or crib is never an easy one. It's a tricky transition and lots of varying advice out there about when to make the move. In this post I'll be sharing some of my tips to for when you make the move to the big bed.
Tips for moving your toddler to a big bed
A question that often comes up in our Facebook group is what age should you move from a cot to a toddler bed. I've looked for some research on this (rather than forums of opinions!) and I couldn't find a specific age that experts agree on. The decision really is up to you and when it suits your family. Honestly, if my child was sleeping well in their cot I wouldn't be in too much hurry to change that routine! I had children who were terrible sleepers so we transitioned early (and they were still terrible sleepers!) but you really need to do what works best for you.
Skip the toddler bed and go for a single
Unless your cot converts to a toddler bed I recommend buying a single bed. The toddler size doesn't last for too long and it means that you end up with another transition down the track. By going straight to a single bed you are saving yourself a lot of work and some money too!
Get a low bed
One of the best moves we made was getting a single bed that was much lower than many of the others on the market. Both of my girls move around a lot in their sleep and I was always worried about them falling out. With a lower bed I was reassured that the fall if (when!) it happened would be much smaller. This leads me to my next tip...
Put a mattress next to the bed
For the first few months, if you're concerned about your child falling out of the bed place a mattress on the floor next to the bed. It doesn't look the best, but it gives you peace of mind that if they do fall out they are going to have a soft landing. We had LOTS of falls from the bed and almost no tears because it was only a short distance onto a comfy surface.
Use a guardrail
You can get inexpensive guardrails from most baby stores and department stores. They are another great way to ease your mind if you're concerned that they might fall out. My children still managed to move around enough that they'd end up at the other end of the bed and then fall out, but I'm sure these prevented quite a few falls!
Protect your mattress
This tip is a really an obvious one, but it was one that I didn't initially think of when we moved my eldest daughter into her bed for the first time. We bought a lovely new bed with a new mattress and of course, we ended up having an accident pretty quickly! According to the Royal Children's Hospital, almost a third of 4 year olds will still wet the bed occasionally.
A high-quality mattress protector is essential and well worth the money. We have tried some of the cheaper brands but they had a very plastic feel to them and they weren't particularly comfortable. We are now using the Protect-a-Bed range of mattress and pillow protectors in our whole house (don't forget there's a good chance of an accident when they jump into your bed too - put a mattress protector on there too - trust me!).
We chose the Protect-a-Bed Tencel range as it's designed to stay cool in Summer (we live in Qld) and warm in Winter and is also designed to suit people with sensitive skin and eczema, which both of my children have. They come as a fully fitted sheet (so much easier!) and are machine washable and can be put in the dryer - just want a mum needs! The single bed sizes have also been approved by the Sids and Kids foundation.
A great tip is to have 2 mattress protectors on the bed all of the time. When they have an accident you can easily take one off and pop it in the wash and you already have a protector ready to go so. It makes those middle of the night accidents a bit easier to handle!
Buy some fun bedding
There's no denying that there's an element of bribery that goes on when you're trying to get your toddler into a big bed for the first time. Anything that you can do to make the transition smoother is worth it. I recommend getting some bedding that they love - let them pick it out if they're old enough to - to make bedtime more exciting. They'll be so excited to test out their new big girl or big boy bed when it looks inviting and fun.
Transitioning your toddler to a big bed isn't a quick and easy process. It does take time, there will be setbacks but it's something that eventually has to be done. I'd love to hear how you went with the cot to bed transition. Share your tips with us in our Facebook group.
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