From a cot to a toddler bed...or straight to a single?

Moving from a cot to a bed is a big transitional step for toddlers (and their parents). So how can you make the move and ensure sweet dreams all round?

So what is the best way to move your toddler from a cot to a bed, and when should you do it?

There are no hard and fast rules as to when it has to happen. For most parents, it is usually prompted by their child growing out of the cot, the sudden shock of them being able to mountaineer over the top, or perhaps a need to give the cot to a younger - and newer - sibling.

In terms of the best age, again, there are no set limits (and if they're happy sleeping where they are then leave them as long as you want). But what other factors should you consider?

As always with parenting, there is lots of debate about the best approach and there's pros and cons about each:

From a cot bed...

You can buy cot beds that transform into a small, toddler-sized bed. These offer good value for money as you won't need to buy both a cot and a bed. They will also allow you to take the side off first; a good transitional step before turning it into a proper bed. However, if there are other siblings on the scene then they will probably need to have the cot at some point, and this type of nursery furniture is bigger - and move expensive - than standard cots.

...to a toddler bed...

Toddler beds are smaller beds that are specifically designed as a mid size - a half-way point between a cot and an adult bed. These are lower on the floor and smaller, so may be more comfortable for your toddler, and offer you more peace of mind. They often come with a built-in bed guard, to keep your child in the bed. However, it means your toddler will grow out of them at some point in the not-too-distant-future so you'll need to invest again.

...or straight into a single?

Some parents opt to put children straight into an adult-sized single first, which will probably fit them right through to teenagerdom (hard as that is to imagine at this precise moment). These can be much higher up off the ground - so more space to fall out - and can swamp your tiny child.

However, as well as the potential money saving element, one of the big benefits of single beds is that they are handy if you fall asleep in it while putting your child to bed and means you won't wake up in a few hours with a bad back and stiff neck.

We moved our daughter a few months before she was two, mainly because she'd outgrown the space-saving cot she'd slept in since we moved her from a moses basket. Again, what we moved her into was dictated by space. Her room was on the small side and wouldn't fit a single bed, but we weren't too sure about buying a toddler bed and then having to invest in a bigger size at a later date. In the end we opted for an IKEA bed that conveniently extends into three different lengths (from toddler size up to a standard single).

Here's some more tips to aid the cot-to-bed transition:

  • Involve your child in the process and explain everything, to make sure it's not daunting or scary for them
  • While it's probably best to stick to the normal bedtime routine, new bedding and even new pyjamas can be fun
  • It might be useful to invest in a bed guard to stop your child from falling out at first and to help make them feel more secure.
  • Really limited in terms of space? Then bunk beds are a great option once they are old and big enough (who remembers these from their own childhood?)
  • We placed the old cot mattress on the floor to protect my daughter if she fell. There's no guarantee they will though, so don't worry. Mine did on the first night, but has slept soundly ever since.

When did you move your toddler from a cot to a bed?

Gillian blogs over at A Baby on Board about London life as a new mum, covering everything from baby clothes to breastfeeding. She is pregnant with her second child and lives with her toddler daughter Eliza and husband Alex in south London.

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