My Son turned 2 this year and, after much deliberation, I decided it was time to transform his cot into a cot bed. Somehow, I’ve managed to survive the sleep deprivation and live to tell you guys the tale!
When is the right time to change from a cot to a bed?
According to family and friends, plus a lot of parents online, when your child gets to around 2-2 and a half, it's a good time to transition to a bed from a cot. At this age, it becomes pretty safe for them to not have all 4 sides of their cot surrounding them at bed time. My son was 2 years and 4 months when I converted his cot into a cot bed.
Is it safe?
There are a lot of cots available these days that convert to cot beds, which basically means you can take one side off as your child gets older. By the nature of cots/cot beds, these are pretty low to the ground so if you do have any accidents in which they fall out of bed, they won’t fall a long way. You can also buy guard rails to act as a buffer if you are really concerned about them falling, or if you opt for a higher bed than a cot bed. My son doesn’t use a guard rail now as, by some miracle, we’ve actually had no incidents with falling/rolling out!
How well my son has slept
So, this is where it gets interesting. The first couple of nights involved staying in my son’s room to make sure he stayed in bed and felt relaxed about the change. I made sure the room was dark and quiet, turned on his star projector as a night light and read a couple of stories whilst sat next to him. He eventually nodded off after around 20 minutes. He slept for a few hours but got up eventually, so I put him back to bed a few times. It was a bit of a struggle after being used to him sleeping through all night for so long, but it's important to stay calm and relaxed during these moments, as its a big change for your toddler and they might be feeling a little anxious about this adjustment to their environment.
On the 3rd night, it was a roaring success. He slept through all night and I thought we’d cracked it! This was naive of me, because I was woken up to a cheeky little laugh in my face at 4am the next morning. For the next few nights, he would go to bed absolutely fine, sleep for a few hours but repeatedly come into my bed around midnight.
I’m not quite sure what triggered this as he never slept in bed with me when he was younger, but he was adamant that he wanted to sleep next to me. I did allow it on a couple of occasions when he wouldn’t settle in his own room, but I knew it would be best for him to be comfortable in his own bed again. With this in mind, I was sure to persevere with taking him back into his own room no matter if it was midnight or 3am. it's tough when it takes its toll on your own sleep, but its definitely worth it in the long run for good sleeping habits.
What’s it like now?
So, after a couple of months, we’ve made some slight adjustments and got into a good routine, but there’s still work to do.
We now have a later bedtime of 7:45pm. I found that still putting him down at 7pm was counterproductive in the end. For some reason, he’d treat bedtime like naptime and wander back into the living room around 9pm, wide awake and wanting to play. So, I decided to stretch out our evening routine a little and use the extra time to ensure he was relaxed and ready for bed. This worked a treat, as by this time he’s fully ready for bed and says goodnight to his toys. He grabs his teddy and off he goes to bed without any complaints.
I stick to the same routine as the cot days – star lights on, read a story until he’s drifting off, then say goodnight and let him fall asleep as I leave the room. I also think that has been really helpful in making sure he feels comfortable with the change and sees his room as the place he feels most relaxed in.
The work that needs to be done is on the staying in bed all night part. Since I made these changes, it has certainly improved but he does like to come into my bed around 4am/5am and get a couple of hours sleep next to me. This is fine by me because he goes back to sleep after around 15 minutes and we get up between 6 and 6:30am. At this age, it's not the worst thing in the world and I’m grateful I don’t have any other issues to contend with at bedtime. He’s really good at getting his PJs on, brushing his teeth and getting in bed all by himself every night – so I pick my battles and count my blessings.
Over time, I’m sure we can make some progress on the staying in bed front, but I have to admit I’m kind of making the most of this time he wants to be close to his Dad as time really does fly when you have kids.
My top tips
Obviously, I’ve not quite cracked it just yet, but I’ve picked up a few things I’d recommend trying that have improved things in the sleep department here…
Keep to the same or a similar bedtime routine – this helps keep a sense of familiarity when you’re making a fairly big adjustment
Make sure evenings are for winding down – No screens for at least an hour before bed time and a nice relaxing bath tends to do the trick!
If needed, revise bedtimes – A slightly later bedtime worked wonders in terms of how long my son stays in his own bed
Have patience – If your child gets up in the middle of the night, persevere with putting them back to bed whilst staying calm and being patient – it really does take time and they’re developing so fast at this age, they want to assert their independence. Think of it as coaching them into good sleeping habits rather than ordering them to stay in bed whether they want to or not.
I hope this helps you guys with your toddler’s transition from cot to bed! If you pick up any other tips along the way, please share them in the comments below!