Moving from cot to bed is a transition for both parent and child
Your child undergoes many transitions in the first three years of their life. These changes range from where they sleep (parent’s room to own room) to what they sleep in (Moses basket to cot). All children at some point have to make the move into a bed. The key things to consider are when to do it, how to do it, and how to solve any issues after the move.
When to do it
Advice varies, however this change is commonly made somewhere between 18 months and 3 and a half years! This is a big range, but it largely depends on the child’s needs and when the parents feel they are ready. I personally recommend age 3 as at around three years old, your child has the cognitive ability to understand boundaries and rules, which may make the transition easier. You need your child to understand that although the sides have come off the bed, that doesn’t mean that they can just wander around and that it is time to sleep. People who make the move earlier may do so because their child can climb out; whilst this is dangerous and therefore it is safer for the child to be in a bed, it is important to remember that they may find it difficult to understand why they have to stay in bed and that it is not play time. Making the change because of a new arrival must be timed carefully, so that your child doesn’t feel pushed out and forced out of their bed.
How to do it
Involve your child when choosing their new bed and bedding. Make it fun and special, and get them involved so that they like the bed, before even sleeping in it. Once the new bed is ready to be used, try to place it in the same position as the cot, so that they don’t have too much change to deal with. If you have a cot bed, you can simply take the sides off, and then they are still sleeping in the same bed, just without the sides.
Resolving any issues
If your child keeps getting out of bed, it is important to remain consistent. Always take them and put them back in their bed so that they are not rewarded for leaving their bed. Your child may ask for a drink, something to eat, or even a hug. If you give them what they want, they may go back to bed but are very likely to get out again asking for something different; just take them back and remind them it is time to sleep. Rewards work well, and special clocks can be purchased that shows a smiley face at a pre-set time; if they stay in bed until they see the smile, an immediate reward or sticker could be given.
One thing to remember, and it can be hard, is to try not to get too stressed. Children pick up on the emotions of their parents, and if they sense any negative emotion about their transition, this can lead to problems settling. If you remember all this, the transition from cot to bed should be smooth, seamless and happy.
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