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Toddler Beds - How to transition your child from a cot to a bed

January 28, 2013

Following our recent article; ‘Toddler Beds – When to make the move and what to buy?’, we have written a few ideas that might help make things a little easier for parents who decide to make the changeover from a cot to the first bed for their toddler.

Experts advise that in an ideal world, it is best to wait until your child prompts the move from a cot to a toddler bed, either by attempting to climb out of their cot frequently or by asking for a big bed, as this can make the process much easier.  When a toddler actually wants to be a big boy or girl, this makes it much easier to encourage and convince them to take steps to growing up.  In some instances there is a necessity to upgrade your son or daughter to a toddler bed due to the expected arrival of another child for example.  Whatever the reason, once you are ready to try your son or daughter in their first bed, these ideas may help you and your child cope a bit easier with this important step in their childhood.

1)      Discuss

Talking about the fact that they are ready for a big bed with your child for a few weeks before making the changeover will help to prepare them for what is going to happen.  Hopefully then their new toddler bed will be something they can look forward to.

2)      Involve

Including them in the selection process for their new toddler bed will help them to feel some control over the decision.  If you have a bed in mind that you are not 100% sure they will approve of, let them help choose their new kids bedding items.   Engaging them in the process will help them understand that they will be sleeping in a new bed and discussing it with other people such as grandparents, siblings and cousins will give them a sense of pride that they are growing up and people are recognising it.

3)      Position

Placing the bed in the same place the cot was positioned in will help them to not lose their bearings when they wake up.  Being able to see all the things they usually could from their cot and now from their new toddler bed, will help familiarise them with their surroundings.  Beds and cots should not be placed next to radiators, or lamps on which children could get burned or over-heat when sleeping.  Curtains and window blinds should be out of reach for toddlers at all times, especially when they are in bed.  Depending on where you live, positioning a bed under a window might not be the best idea if you live on a busy road or by a train track for example.

4)      Routine

Be sure to stick to the usual bedtime routine when changing from a cot to a toddler bed.  Changing more than one thing at a time such as stopping baths before bed, starting to potty train or changing the time for bed, when transitioning into a first bed might be a step too many.

5)      Persevere

On the first few nights it will feel strange to your son or daughter to be sleeping in a new toddler bed.  They will have the freedom to get out of bed, something they probably didn’t have in their cot, which is often very compelling to children.  Reinforce your bedtime rules before, during and after the changeover into the new toddler bed.  They must understand that once in bed it’s time for sleep, not for playing and if they do get out of bed you must put them back firmly but calmly, over and over again if necessary.  Remember that for the first few nights/weeks you are creating the basis for bedtimes for the rest of their childhood.  To avoid future problems it’s really important to get it right from the beginning.

6)      Praise     

When your child does go to sleep in their new bed without a fuss and return to a normal routine, make sure you praise them for it, and in front of others if possible.  If your toddler has older siblings, cousins or friends, they will likely feel immense pride at sleeping in a bed like the older children.  If you have real problems, you could consider some kind of reward system for sleeping in their new toddler bed at night.


White Toddler Bed

A few ideas to help parents transition their toddler from a cot to their first bed. Moving your son or daughter into a toddler bed need not be a challenge.


These steps are ideas are based on the personal experiences of families in an effort to assist other parents with the often difficult task of transitioning young children from sleeping in a cot to a toddler bed.  We are not healthcare professionals or sleep experts and make no guarantees that these methods will be suitable for your child.  For more articles related to children visit