10 tricks to successfully move your toddler to a first bed

The move from a cot to a bed is a big step for your tot. Make it easy with these tips and techniques.

1. Make a big deal of the move

Get your little one excited about his new big boy bed. Take him shopping with you and let him help pick out the bed so he feels included in the process. You could also throw a moving bed party and have some treats and games for you, your partner and your baby to play on the day of the move.

2. Buy a baby-friendly bed

Opt for a bed that’s low to the ground and isn’t as overwhelming as a big bed. It’s a brilliant stepping-stone before full-sized a bed.

3. Try out naps first

You could put your little one down for a few daytime naps in the new bed before he sleeps in it for a night. Then he’ll get used to it and feel more settled when he sleeps all night long in it. 

Corbis | Toddler Napping

4. Think about timing  

‘If the reason for the move is that you’re having another baby and need the baby cot, make the switch at least three months before the new sibling is due to arrive,’ says parenting expert and author Fi Star-Stone. Nobody wants to feel turfed out of their normal sleep spot…

5. Keep some things constant

To ease the transition from cot to bed, put the new bed in the place of the cot. ‘This way he won’t be dealing with a change of bed and a change of room or view from his regular sleeping position,’ says Fi. 

6. Start off with the old bedding

In all the excitement of moving to a big bed it’s tempting to buy new bedding to go with the new bed, but Fi suggests that’s is a better idea to keep the old bedding if you can.

‘You can change this once he’s settled into his new environment,’ says Fi. ‘Too much change at once can cause sleep problems and unhappy bedtimes.’

7. Put up a guard

Bed guards are a nice gentle way of reassuring little ones who have moved from the four-sided safety of a cot into a single bed.

‘I would always advise investing in a bed guard, as leaving the safety of a cot and going straight into a bed with no sides can lead to accidents,’ says Fi. ‘You can remove the guards once you think they are used to their bed and not likely to roll out.’

8. Don’t change the bedtime routine

Your baby’s got a lot to deal with moving to a new bed, so try to keep everything else the same – including his bath/bed/storytime routine. If this routine worked well before then it will continue to work well even with the new bed thrown into the mix.

Corbis | Bedtime Routine

9. Prepare for a few sleepless nights

It may take your baby a while to adjust to his new bed as it’s a big change for him. So, get ready for a few disturbed nights.

‘It’s a new thing for your little one – sometimes it’s exciting and sometimes it’s upsetting,’ says Fi. ‘Be understanding and help your little one love his new bed by investing time into helping him settle. Reward his efforts when he stays in his new bed by telling him just how proud you are.’

10. The new bedtime routine

Now that your baby doesn’t have the bars of his old cot to keep him in bed, there’s a chance that your baby will start making appearances in your bedroom in the middle of night. If this happens, calmly take him back to his bed and gently remind him that it’s still bedtime.

‘It's important to start as you mean to go on,’ says Fi. ‘If you let him stay downstairs, or climb into your bed once or twice, you’ll find it incredibly hard to stop him leaving his bed before the morning in the future.’

Excited or dubious? Let us know how your tot feels about his move to the big bed.

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