Sleep has always been one of those tricky subjects...so many opinions and do's and don'ts that you can end up in a complete pickle. With Jacob, my first son, he barely slept for the first 12 months, he woke up to feed a lot! Then we had the 'cracked it' moment and it was all change. He has always been a climber and could get out of his cot before he was two. With another baby on the way we decided to get on with it and took his cot down around 22 months, to settle him before a baby came along. He never got out of his bed!
Fast forward a couple of years and how things change with number 2!! Oscar started off a pretty good little sleeper. He was poorly and hospitalised at 5 weeks where he spent 10 days in hospital, 7 days of which we were not allowed to pick him up because of his breathing machine. He was great at self soothing from a young age and we never rocked him, just put him down and that was it. He barely ever tried to climb out of his cot. After a week away, where he slept on an airbed for a week (age 2 and 2 weeks) I decided that on our return home would be a good time to take down the cot as he hadn't had it for a while.
Ha...what a mistake! We had a few weeks of him up and down, cute when he came down laughing at his escape, but no good for his bedtime routine. He used to get out of his bed and sleep on the floor, cried if we shut the door properly. This is when I started thinking about this blog. I had come across Kate on Instagram @sleep.time.baby and read a few things. I signed up for her emails...fully prepared to take up her offer of a free consultation and then he seemed to get it. I did have a few emails with Kate though, and this is the result. I am very pleased to introduce Kate, my first guest blogger and her tips for making the transition from cot to bed...I really hope they help if you are at this stage or coming up to it! Kate is also doing a free sleep coaching week, the details are on her facebook page. (link at the bottom of the page.) Rebecca x
Image Gemma Humeniuk
Blog: Top tips on how to move from a cot to a bed!
When I had my first child I was alway itching to move to the next thing, really eager to get to the next stage of fun and challenge! However here’s what you learn with a bit of hindsight don’t rush to move your child to a bed without sides until you really need to!
Why? Well really it comes down to why not just leave them there, if they are happily sleeping through the night then don’t rock the boat! But however if you do find that either you child is finding it hard to settle at bedtime or perhaps they have perfected the art of cot jumping then it might well be time.
The earliest I would advise to move to a bed is 2.5 yrs and the reason for that is that it’s really at about that age that you can start to reason with your child and they can really understand the freedom that you are giving them and also the boundaries that you are setting. There can be reasons to move your child earlier and that’s mainly due to safety so if they are jumping out of bed then it might well be time.
To me, moving a child from a cot to a bed isn’t going to help their sleep issues, so if they are having problems with sleep in the night, don’t rush to pull the sides down as it’s often better to get them sleeping well before transitioning to a bed.
But let’s say your child is 2.5 yrs old and think they are ready for it… what should you do?
The first thing to do is prepare. You’re going to want to fill your little one in on what’s happening. Explain to them that they’re going to be making the move into the new bed, set a date, and let them know when the switch
is going to happen. When you explain what’s happening to your toddler, make sure you do it with a positive spin.
So there’s a bit of tight-wire act to be performed here. On the one hand, you want to prepare your toddler for the switch, but at the same time, you don’t want to make a huge deal out of it. Turning the whole thing into a big thing puts a lot of pressure on your child and is likely to stress them out a bit.
Now that it’s time to actually make the trip to the bed shop or have a look online and pick out the new bed, be sure to bring involve your toddler. Chose the bed with them and make it a sensible one (!) but make them feel like it’s their choice.
I would suggest that you also want to buy some new bedding for the bed, choose nice cotton bedding (not polyester) like Little Jagger bedding, choose a duvet according to the time of the year. Having a cosy environment is key to getting them settled and by letting them have input into the process will also help them feel a sense of ownership over her new environment, which can work wonders in easing the transition.
It might help to put up a bed guard as a transitional element to the bed, or perhaps roll up a long town and put it under the bed sheet on the edge of the bed to create a little barrier that might help them firstly respect the bed and secondly hopefully avoid them falling out at night time. I’d also suggest for a few nights putting a couple of pillows down on the floor so if they do fall out there is a bit of a cushion!
So now that it’s put together and the sheets are on, you’ll want to keep the bed in the same place the cot used to be. In fact, you’ll want to keep just about everything exactly as it was in your toddler’s room except for the new bed. This is a big change, so try not to make any unnecessary additional changes.
This goes for the schedule on the night of the big event as well. When you’re getting your toddler ready for bed on that first night, don’t alter the routine, don’t switch up bedtime, don’t try to give her a new food at dinner. Keep everything as predictable and mundane as possible.
When it comes to bedtime don't make a massive deal of it all. Tell them you’re proud of them, but try to avoid statements like, “What a big girl you are now!” Toddlers are typically in a perpetual state of uncertainty about whether or not they want to do this whole “growing up” thing, and we want to keep things as low-key as we can.
My advice for the first few nights is to stick to a similar routine as before the sides came down. Tuck your child in bed and then say goodnight and leave the same as you have been doing before the change. If they get out of bed either at bedtime or in the middle of the night my best advice is just to keep taking them back. If your child has slept well before the change they often adapt really well but if they choose to explore the freedom they have then it’s key to set the boundaries for them and keep taking them back to their bed so they know where sleep is. If you find yourself in difficulty then just keep going , your consistency will show them what needs to happen and they will get it! If you are really struggling then you could activate a consequence to the behaviour of not staying in bed, so for example you could take their teddy away for 1 minute to demonstrate that you aren’t happy. But when they are back in bed and calm you can give it back.
So that’s it, the key things are to explain what’s happening, keep things light, set the expectations and enforce the rules. It’s not always going to be easy, but it is pretty straightforward and within a few days hopefully you’ll have a peaceful sleeper all grown up in their new bed!
For more information on Kate and her sleep consultancy, find her online at www.sleeptimebaby.co.uk , www.facebook.com/sleeptimebaby or www.instagram.com/sleep.time.baby/ www.twitter.com/kidssleepexpert