When I moved my son into his first big bed it triggered a good few nights of jack-in-the-box activity, and we know from the families we speak to at Millpond that the move to a bed can be a trigger for sleep problems. Young children suddenly discover their new found freedom, frequently getting out of bed at bedtime or shaking their parents awake in the wee small hours.
The transition from a cot is a positive stage in your child’s life as it’s a step towards them becoming more independent. However, unsurprisingly, it can be more difficult for some children than others.
First children, for example, can be more attached to their cot, while subsequent children tend to be keen to emulate a big brother or sister and make the move more easily. Here are some common questions answered that will help to make you to make the transition a smooth one:
Talk to your child about the change and involve them in decisions about the new bed.
Q .Are there any signs it’s the right time to move your child into a bed? How do you know when to make the transition?
By the age of 3 years, most children are ready to move from their cot into a bed. There is no set age of course, and you need to watch out for the cues. More mobile toddlers, for example, may have already shown their readiness by climbing out of their cot. Other children, particularly those with older siblings, will have anticipated the change and begun to talk about having their own ‘big bed’. And of course if you feel your child is too big for their now snug cot.
Q. Are there any tips for making the move less of a change?
If your child is being moved out of their cot because you’re expecting another baby, don’t leave it until the last minute. Take the cot down a few weeks before the baby is due and replace it with a bed in the same position. This way your older child will be certain of what is happening, knows there is no going back and has time to adapt to the change before the baby arrives.
Before you buy the bed, talk to your child about the change and involve them in decisions about the new bed. Where will it be? What bedclothes will they have? Where will you sit for a bedtime story?Discussing this will help your child in the process of acclimatization. Focus the theme of the bed and bedding to reflect their favourite character or colour. Help to give your child a sense of occasion by putting special pictures on the wall by their bed and talk to them about their new bed linen with you.
Talk about family and friends who have made the shift to a big bed. Use books and magazines to show them pictures of big children in nice beds and small babies in cots. If you do not move the older child into a bed before the birth, leave it until they are used to having a new sibling.
Q. How can I keep my child safe when they move to a bed?
When your child first moves into a bed it is not unusual for them to fall out. There are a number of precautions you can take to keep your little ones safe.
- Choose a bed that is low to the ground and consider fitting a bed safety rail.
- Make sure you childproof the bedroom with safety catches on windows and doors and secure furniture to the walls.
- Clear toys and objects away at bedtime; especially things that could be used for climbing, such as a toy box or stool.
- Consider putting up a stair gate across the bedroom door the day you introduce the bed, to stop night time wandering.
Q. What about bedtime?
- Have a relaxing, short bedtime routine focused around the bathroom/bedroom area.
- Read 1 or 2 stories, have a cuddle and a kiss goodnight and tuck your little one in with a favourite soft toy to make them warm and cosy.
If, having done all of these things, you are having problems with your child’s sleep please get in touch. You can speak to one of our sleep therapists today for a free sleep assessment. www.mill-pond.co.uk Tel: 020 8444 0040