There are some milestones in your child’s development. Moving from a cot to a big bed is one of them. You will know need to decide when your child is ready for this move, as it is different for each child. More than likely it will be between the age of 2 and 3. Your child will start to outgrow their cot, may be climbing out, or you begin potty training and he needs to be able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. To assure success for your child, follow these suggestions.

Prepare Your Child

Choose a time when your child is settled and comfortable with no other big changes or events taking place. Start talking about the move a few weeks ahead of time, explaining the need to make changes as we grow older. Talk about how the cot is getting too small and what fun it will be to have a bigger bed. Watch for your child’s reaction and build on anything you say that produces smiles or other signs of agreement.

Pick Out and Prepare Your Child’s New Bed and Bedding

When choosing a bed, make sure you consider safety. Bunk beds seem reasonable if you have more than one young child; however, a very young child should never sleep on the top bunk.

To help your child feel safe and secure in the new bed, place rails on both sides of the bed, or place the bed next to a wall and have rails on the one side. This will assure he does not fall out of bed during the night.

Encourage your child to help you pick out their new bed and/or the bed linens. This will help him feel part of the move and he is more likely to adapt to the new bed readily. When buying bed linens, coverings, and pillows, consider non-allergenic materials if you child has allergies. Also, make sure the mattress and cover meet safety and health standards.

Have your child present when the new bed arrives and is assembled. Place the bed in the same location where the old bed was located. Make up the new bed with your child helping and use some of the bed covers from the cot to add familiarity.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Praise your child’s successes, even the small ones. When he first tries to sleep in the new bed, he may not last there very long. Encourage him by praising him for going to bed in his new bed. Repeat praise each night he manages to remain for a longer time.

You may need to stay in your child’s room for the first few nights until he falls asleep. Make sure you are patient and loving when you do this. Use this time to talk to him quietly, perhaps patting him on the back gently or singing a song. Once he falls asleep, you can leave the room quietly.


  • Maintain any established sleep routines during the move from his cot to the new bed.
  • If your child’s expresses fear, use the new bed for a nap to begin the transition.
  • Side rails for the new bed will increase your child’s feeling of security.
  • Try using some positive reinforcement, such as a chart or small rewards.
  • Place a nightlight either close to the bed or in a place where your child can find their way to the restroom in the middle of the night. A nightlight also helps allay a small child’s fears.

It may take a while to get your child to accept the transition to the new bed. If there are some mid-night forays, simply walk your child back to their bedroom and their new bed. Gently, but firmly, explain that they must say in their own bed. Before long, they will love their new bed; they will realise it is the perfect bed.

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