A really common issue we come across is little ones who have been transitioned to a ‘big boy/girl bed’ too early. Although this transition can be a really exciting stage for parents, because their baby is becoming a toddler and exploring the world around them in a completely different way, making this transition too early is a recipe for night wakings, early starts and nightmare naps!!
There can be lots of reasons for these early transitions; a new baby comes into the family and needs the cot, mum and dad think because their toddler is now walking and more mobile they must transition them or perhaps parents just think it would be nice for the child to have their own proper bed. However, the truth is that many toddlers just aren’t ready for this big step and can’t handle the change until they are older, closer to 3 years old in many cases.
Some clients have made the transition as early as 18 months resulting in a big sleep regression. The common reason for the early transition is due to the child climbing out of the cot and therefore they felt it was necessary for safety reasons (which is, generally, the only reason we suggest transitioning to a ‘big bed’ earlier).
So when is the right time to make the transition from cot to big bed? The simple answer to this question – leave it as long as possible!! And there are things that are worth trying prior to taking a big leap to a big bed:
Lower the cot setting
When you buy your cot make sure you check out the lowest level as these actually vary between cots and sometimes the lower level isn’t low enough to make climbing out tricky. Make sure you lower the mattress as soon as your baby is mobile as rolling over, crawling, sitting and standing can all happen pretty quickly, and before you know it your baby is standing and their cot railing is at waist height!
Don’t set the bed up for ‘fun’
The bedroom should primarily revolve around sleeping and, therefore, the cot should too. If a bed is introduced early in order to introduce fun to a child’s bedtime routine it will probably end up becoming a ‘toy’ and associated with play time!
A Sleeping bag
Sleeping bags make it more difficult for little ones to get a leg over the edge of the cot and a lot of brands make them for children up to 4 years old so don’t be tempted to ditch them too early.
Try not to allow your little one to get overtired, pop them into the cot when they’re more likely to settle and less likely to want to play! If they are at the stage where they are starting to try to climb out of the cot, watch them on the monitor and as soon as they try to climb out, lie them back down and tell them to lie down. Be consistent and ensure they know it is not a game!!
The bottom line is be patient. Try to wait as long as possible before making the transition to a bed. Around 3 years old is when children will have developed more impulse control and you can start to introduce some sleep rules, along with consequences and rewards. If you try to introduce a bed before this and your little one struggles to understand this concept, you are likely to be playing the game of midnight ‘ping pong’ between your bedroom and your child’s!
For more information on making the transition to toddler bed, if your little one is ready, check out our other blog here.
As always, if you’re experiencing any problems with your little ones sleep, please do get in touch for a free 15 minute chat – We would love to help!