When do I move my child from a cot to a big bed?

As a parent we are always trying to do the best by our child. In some ways we want our children to grow up and in the next breath stay young forever. I often speak to families about when is 'the right time' to make the big transition from a cot to a bed.


I need to be clear form the outset, there are no rules and every child is different. Some children NEED to be transitioned earlier due to safety concerns. These children are the ultimate houdini's- asleep one minute then climbing out of the cot the next. For their own safety these children need to be moved to a big bed earlier.

Before moving to a big bed, or simply a mattress on the floor it is worth trying the following- 

  • Use a sleeping bag- the sleeping bag can prevent their ability to climb and escape the cot.
  • Use a port-a-cot for a few days. It is closer to the ground and can stop the habit. If they stay in this for a few days, move them back to the cot and see what happens. You can repeat this process.


For the child who these tricks don't work for you can transition them to either a mattress on the floor or a bed. The reason some families opt for the mattress on the floor is because there little one is to young to understand staying in a bed, or the risk of falling out of bed is high. There is NO RUSH to transition to a big bed, quite the opposite. Keep them in a cot for as long as possible as you do not know how they will respond. There is huge variation as to when people make the transition anywhere from 18 months to over three. There is no right or wrong, trust your instincts.

Here are my top 10 tips for the transition
1. Make sure they are ready. Talk about it with your child and make a positive reinforcement of the transition
2. Don't rush the transition. Give them the choice between the bed and cot. They may start with just a day sleep in a bed and then they may decide one day they don't want to sleep in the cot ever again! One of the biggest problems I hear is the transition has to happen quickly because of a new baby. Give them a chance to have a choice.
3. Ensure there are not too many changes or stresses occurring in their lives. Do one change at a time such as toilet training, moving house etc  
4. Let them be involved in the setup by choosing a doona cover or a set of sheets. This makes the bed more visually appealing and they feel included in the decision making.  
5. Establish the rules from the beginning. Every family has different beliefs and rules. Some families say 'mum and dad can hear you and we will come and get you from your bed' others are more happy for a toddler to appear by their bed at 4am...
6. It is worth placing some cushions on the floor or use a temporary bed rail. These can help with the transition
7. If you choose to move to a mattress, be mindful of the position of the mattress on the floor. Children can get stuck between the mattress and wall. I have provided a great link for some further reading.https://rednose.com.au/article/where-to-sleep-a-child-who-has-moved-from-a-cot?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgsz8yJnd4AIVA5CPCh2suQqSEAAYAiAAEgLrTPD_BwE  
8. Let your child know how proud you are of them. Positive reinforcement is priceless
9. Use the same routine you have always used with your child. I have previously blogged about the importance of an evening routine. Keep this going whilst there is a change.
10. Reward.... kids love being rewarded for there behaviour. It doesn't have to be big or little but it pays dividends.


I hope the transition is smooth in your household, if its not I am here to help.