Moving from a cot to a first bed is an issue of timing. For most children the move takes place somewhere between two and three years old. If your child is a confident sleeper who never worries about being separated from Mum or Dad then you may want to think about this at an earlier age. More anxious children may benefit from an additional 12 months of sleeping in their secure cot environment before facing the big bad grown up world of beds.
Either way, you’ve made your purchase and you are ready to go. If you were an on-the-ball parent you will have thought ahead to this day and purchased a cot that converts easily into a first bed because it will be easier to settle your child into a new bedtime routine. If you have bought a bed you then need to plan how you are going to introduce it to your child so that it does not cause any anxiety.
If you can afford to shell out on an interim bed it will make the transition easier. Putting your child into a normal single sized bed when they have been used to a small tiny cot can unsettle them so a half way house is worth considering. You might also want to think about a bed guard or at least leaving a pile of pillows or cushions on the floor in case someone rolls over and out during the night.
Make sure that the only change you make to the bedtime routine at this point is the bed that you are using. Other changes to the routine are asking for trouble, even with the most confident child and they should be left until all is well regarding the new bed.
Getting your child familiar with the new bed is the real secret to a successful change of sleeping arrangements. Think about putting the new bed up in your child’s room and leaving it there. Make plenty of references to it in day time conversation and make it a very positive experience. You could also use it as a seat for day time stories to introduce your child to how it feels or encourage them to try an afternoon nap in their new bed. A new set of bedding themed around a particular favourite character is also a good way of encouraging them to make the jump to the new bed. A new night light can be something that is exciting and comforting for your child so think about buying one to mark the occasion.
Some parents experience problems with their child getting up from bed and coming downstairs. This is more common than you might think and is easily dealt with. The first thing to remember is not to react. Simply take them back to bed quietly and firmly, don’t be surprised if you have to do it more than once, just remember not to react as that can increase the levels of uncertainty your child is feeling.
When planning to introduce a new bed it is worth expecting a few disturbed nights so you should probably make sure that the bedroom is tidied up and all toys that might cause a mid-night wanderer to trip up are put away and don’t forget that if the move is not successful there is no harm in reverting to the old cot and trying again.