It’s just one among a whole slew of questions parents are riddled with, especially first-timers who are still learning the ropes of their new role.

Your little one can be a chatterbox that will tell you when they’re ready for a big-kid bed, literally, in their own words, while some kids need an extra boost or they simply aren’t sure how to verbalise their desire to make the switch.

How to know the time is right

Typically, somewhere between 18 months, or before they turn 3, your kids will start climbing out of their little cot and use that to express a need for a real bed. However, some kids might need a bit more time, and every parent should let their kids make the transition in their own good time.

If that means around their 4th birthday, that’s more than fine, every child has their own rhythm.

It’s also good to note that some kids might feel that their sleeping time is now open for discussion, simply because you literally took away a physical boundary in the form of those cot bars.

As soon as you leave the room, your toddler might jump out of the bed, ready to play for an extra hour without your supervision. Change their routine once you’re sure they will be comfortable falling asleep in a bed, so if it takes an extra year of using the cot, then so be it!

Avoid other biggies

Switching to a bed is a big deal, but so is toilet training, getting a new baby brother or a sister, or meeting a new nanny. Your little nestlings are equipped to deal with one of these changes at a time, but not more, as that might lead to some form of fear or even anxiety.

Toddlers, in particular, go through many changes as they slowly grow up, and facing each and every one of them can be either a fun experience for them, or a stressful one if they feel too many things are happening all at once.

Keep the pressure low, and let them grow up in their own time, with your guidance, of course.

Let them have a say

From telling you that they would like a bed, to actually bringing them to the store with you to choose the perfect one for their room, all of these steps will help your child feel included in the process, and enjoy the whole adventure of growing up.

Maybe they would like a particular set of sheets of their favorite cartoon characters, and although it would be optimal to place the bed exactly where the cot was for the sake of consistency, maybe your little one would like to change up the look of the room.

Turn their bed into a safe-haven

There can be no better way to ensure your child’s sweet dreams than adding their favourite and familiar toys to decorate the bed.

Comfortable pillows, their most cozy blankets from the cot and their favourite bedding can help the new bed smell familiar and feel welcome and safe.

For additional security, rails on each side can prevent your kids from getting stuck between the wall and the bed or falling out.

You can also start a new tradition, or continue another familiar one, such as reading bedtime stories in that bed, and tucking your little one in every night, so that they can associate this new object in their room with happy memories.

Help them by maintaining a solid routine, from meals and baths before bed to night lights that will help your little one sleep with ease.

From talking to your child about the switch to making them feel safe and snug in their new environment, all kids have their own pace and preferences when it comes to these growing-up changes. That’s why the most important step to remember is to listen to their needs and make adjustments as you go along, and the transition will be all the more fun and enjoyable both for you and your little ones.

 When did you move from cot to bed? Share with us in the comments.

  • All great tips to consider,thanks!


  • Often the cot is needed for the next baby. If your child is reluctant to go into a bed I know people who have put the cot mattress on the floor next to bed for a few days. In all cases the child was sleeping on the bed during the day after a couple of days and on the floor at night for a about a week, then suddenly decided bed was Ok to sleep in at night. However the toddler did wander into their room as few times and have to be put back to bed. Let them take one or two of their favourite toys into the bed with them if they want to, not just on their bed with others. They act as a comforter/security blanket.


  • We bought a bed cot. When it was time you removed the draws and the sides and it is a full size single bed so no transition. 3 kids have now used it.


  • Don’t get bunks. My mum got my little one bunks for his 2nd birthday and they have been a nightmare to make. Constantly bashing myself.


  • I dread the day by my youngest. She 3,5 and has Down Syndrome. She managed a couple of times to remove her sleeping tog and climb out of her cot and rebuild her bedroom totally (which took me several hours to tidy it up).


  • So many different transitions we have to take our kids through…..


  • I bought a big cot when my daughter was born. It was 148 cm long. She slept in there from the first night back from hospital till she was 9 years old! :-)
    We took the rail out when she was around 3 I think.
    The best purchase we ever made. We still have it and use it as a sofa in her playroom.


  • I agree, parents will know, it varies from child to child. My oldest was 2, but my youngest who is now 27 months, is far from ready yet.


  • Great tips. I think parents just know when the time is right.


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