Childhood is full of exciting milestones: first tooth, first solid foods, first steps. Making the transition from cot to bed is another sign your child is growing up. For some parents the idea can be a bit nerve-wracking.
They wonder what life will be like if the child is free to get out of bed whenever she wants will he be roaming the halls at night?
Will she ever settle down and go to sleep?
First of all, there is no rush. It usually becomes pretty clear when your child is ready for a toddler bed. If she’s happy in the cot and not trying to jump out headfirst, then by all means, keep her in the cot. But if your child is a little escape artist and doesn’t seem happy to be confined anymore, it might be time to move to a bed.
Here are my top 3 tips for making the change:
Prime Number 3
The closer your child is to age three, the better. Anything younger than two-and-a-half is just too early, in my opinion. Very young children don’t have the cognitive ability to really understand the boundaries and expectations around staying in bed when they can so easily get out on their own. This can make it hard to enforce the rules and can create power struggles and other issues.
Make it fun, but not too fun
You can get your child involved with picking out the new bed and choosing new bedding, but it’s a delicate balance. You don’t want to make too big of a deal about it because you don’t want to put added pressure on the child. If he gets really excited about the process he might have a hard time settling in and actually going to sleep!
Beware of the honeymoon phase
Most toddlers do well with the transition until the fun wears off. Once the novelty is gone and the child gets comfortable (usually around the three-week mark) then the games usually start up. The key is to be prepared ahead of time so you know what to do when this happens. What to do if your child keeps getting out of bed.
If the honeymoon has worn off, or if your child just never warmed up to the idea of a toddler bed at all, there are things you can do.
First, it’s important to be consistent. If your child gets out of bed and comes to find you, take her back to bed immediately. Even if she says she just needs a glass of water or another hug or something to eat. Don’t waver on this, or she will be hopping out of bed every five minutes to ask you for something else. Just take her back and if she does it again, give her a consequence.
You can also offer rewards to kids if they stay in bed. If you child can stay in his bed until morning, then when the clock says 7:00, they can have a prize or a treat. The rewards need to be as immediate as possible for this age group, or else they won’t be motivating at all.
Soon enough your child will become used to the idea of sleeping in a proper bed and will understand that just because there are no bars holding him in, this doesn’t mean she’s free to wander wherever he likes at bedtime. Like anything when it comes to parenting, it will take persistence on your part, but before you know it your child will be sleeping peacefully in his big-boy bed.