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Toddler Beds – When to make the move and what to buy?

January 25, 2013

As parents it is often difficult to know when it’s the right time to move your toddler out of their cot and into their first bed.  And when you do decide to make the changeover, what should you look for in a in a toddler bed? 

When to Make the Transition

It could be that the time to changeover is dictated by other events in your family’s life, such as the impending arrival of a little brother or sister for your toddler and you need to free up the cot for use by them.  If this is the case, it is recommended that you make the adjustment at least six to eight weeks before you are due, this way your toddler won’t relate the arrival of the new baby with being removed from his or her place to sleep.  You also want to make sure your toddler has settled into his or her toddler bed and is sleeping through the night prior to bringing the new baby home, or you may have two children to see to during the night, and we all know one is hard enough!  If your toddler doesn’t take to his or her new toddler bed and is finding it extremely difficult to sleep out of their cot, you may consider waiting a little longer before moving them and perhaps buying another cot for the new baby or borrowing one from a friend or relative for a while, until your toddler seems more ready to switch to their first bed.

In cases where your toddler doesn’t need to move on to a junior bed because of a younger sibling, it is a little bit more difficult to judge when the right time is.  The timing is different for every child, but experts say that ideally, it is best to leave your child sleeping in their cot for as long as possible.  The reason for this is that if the switch is prompted by them; either by beginning to climb out of their cot or simply asking for a big girl or big boy bed, it is often easier to get them used to their new toddler bed.  Some children who have older siblings who already have junior beds may trigger the move to a first bed earlier than first born children, but often the age at which most parents start their child in a toddler bed ranges from 1 ½ to 3 ½.

When you do finally decide it’s time for them to change from a cot to their first bed (also known as a toddler bed, junior bed or shorty bed) there are many types to consider.  We have put together a list of things to look for when buying the new toddler bed for your son or daughter.


Wooden Toddler Bed from the Childrens Bed Centres toddler bed range

When is the right time to move your toddler from a cot to their first bed? When you do decide to make the transition, what should you look for in a toddler bed for your child?


Choosing a Bed

1)      Make sure the toddler bed is good quality and fit for purpose.

This point sounds obvious, but it is amazing how many children’s beds these days have not been thoroughly considered for practicality during the design process.  Your child’s new toddler bed or small single bed should be sturdy and not rock or creak when you try to move it.  Consider a toddler bed with a solid bed base rather than slats, which tend to break when the bed is jumped on.  Finally consider the practicality of the bed.  If you need more storage space for your toddler, find a small bed with drawers or other storage, where they can keep their toys and clothes.

2)      Make sure the shorty bed is low to the ground.

Regardless of the design of your new toddler bed, it should be relatively low to the ground.  Having spent the first few years of their life in a cot with sides to prevent them falling out, your toddler will want to experiment in climbing in and out of their new bed and it is obviously a lot easier and less risky for them if the new shorty bed is low to the ground.

3)      Consider a safety barrier / barriers for your new junior bed.

Depending on the height of your toddlers new bed, you may want to consider investing in a permanent or temporary safety barrier to prevent them rolling out of bed when they are sleeping.  Large sides will have prevented your child rolling out of their cot in their first few years and safety barriers on their new toddler bed will maintain the enclosed sleeping environment they are used to.  Many safety barriers can be removed from your toddler bed at a later date, once your child gets older and is more comfortable sleeping in a big girl or big boy’s bed.

4)      Make sure the toddler bed is safe for use

Apart from considering safety barriers for your new shorty bed and ensuring that the bed is low to the ground and well-made, have a close look at the general design:

a)      Make sure the finish is smooth so there is no chance of any splinters.

b)      Ensure there are no sharp corners on the bed where your toddler could bang their head or catch an item of clothing.

c)       Make sure there are no gaps or spaces where fingers or arms can become stuck or trapped.

5)      Make sure their first bed is appealing to your toddler

There are many designs and variations of toddler beds from car beds and princess beds, to simple chic designs.  While the bed needs to be safe, practical and have the other elements we have mentioned in this article, it must also be loved by your child or you could have great difficulty getting them to sleep in it.  If you are looking for a design that’s not too brash, consider a quality small single bed in a colour that compliments the décor of your child’s bedroom such as; wooden toddler beds, pink toddler beds, blue toddler beds and white toddler beds.

6)      Let your toddler help choose the bedding for their new toddler bed, if not the bed itself.

If you are happy to let your toddler assist with the selection of their first bed, then the excitement of choosing their big boy or big girl bed could be very beneficial to the transition process.  If you would prefer to select the toddler bed for your little one yourself, then consulting them on their choice of kids duvet cover and other children's bedding could help encourage them to enjoy using their new bed and hopefully prevent difficulties.


This article is based on the personal experiences of families, research and our expertise in children’s furniture, in an effort to assist other parents with selecting suitable children's beds and realising the right time to begin to using them.  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