Tips for moving from cot to bed

  • Allow your child to participate in setting up the new bed – including choosing new bed covers and so on.
  • Set the bed up early in the day so that if your child is still having a daytime nap, they can take it in the new bed.
  • If possible move the cot out of your child’s room to avoid confusion and arguments at bed time if they can’t make their mind up where they want to sleep.
  • Also during the day, encourage a little role play game where they tuck the toys up into the new bed and then leave them to go to sleep. Both of you praise the toys for going to sleep in the lovely bed. Your child will receive the subtle message!
  • Keep up the usual bed time routine. It’s more important than ever to offer your child a feeling of security.
  • Say goodnight and leave the room on a very positive note, even if they protest. Leave the door ajar and a corridor light on. Tell him that you will be back very soon to check that they are cosy. [Do pop back into the room at least once, even if they don’t cry.]
  • If your child is unsettled, wait outside the room and if they get out of bed, calmly take them back. You may have to do this several times. Do it in silence, but as soon as they are back in bed, praise them warmly.
  • Leave again even if they are still protesting and trying to follow you to the door.
  • If you find that in order to avoid a wrestling match, you have to sit with your child as he or she goes to sleep, you will need to consider putting a stair gate in the door. This will allow you more control. Explain to your child that the gate is “To keep you safe” This way, they won’t feel like you are punishing them. For this reason, a gate is better than a closed door.
  • Once the gate is in place, you should return to your child every few minutes to put them back to bed.
  • Expect it to take longer than normal for your child to go to sleep when moving from a cot to a bed and do give them time.
  • It is most important that you are not in the room with him when they go off to sleep; otherwise they will expect you to stay every night.
  • If they wake in the night you have to go and reassure them if they need it but then leave them to self settle – exactly as you did at the beginning of the night. Avoid laying on their bedroom floor, getting into bed with them or bringing them into your own bed. If you do this, it will very soon become a nightly habit.
  • In the morning, offer lots of warm cuddles and specific praise. “You slept in your bed!”

Copyright Andrea Grace