Child keeps on escaping from the cot? It is time to move them to a bed! Dr Kate Johnson shares 8 Practical Tips for a smooth transition
While moving into a bed is an exciting milestone for your child - there is no rush!
Ideally you should aim to keep your toddler in a cot for as long as possible (think age 3) but a sure sign that a child needs to be transferred to a bed is when they persist in attempting to climb out of the cot or are successful in escaping!
Making the transition to a larger bed can be a difficult for young children who feel safe and secure in their familiar cot – so here is how you can make this time easier for everyone.
1. Make the room safe
Once your child is no longer contained in their cot, this means they are free to roam around their bedrooms! A safety check of things such as windows, curtain and blind cords, electrical equipment, access to stairs and heavy furniture is imperative to prevent accidents.
2. Involve your child
Involve your child in choosing their bed and/or some bed linen to help them feel a sense of ownership and control over the process of moving to a bed.
3. Have a new “big bed” bedtime routine
You may need to change up your bedtime routine to include some quiet time before bed. It would also be worth packing away toys so that the bedroom becomes a place for sleep and not fun.
4. Take something old
Let your child take a blanket from the old cot – this might help him feel more secure and comfortable.
5. Get creative to stop rolling
A pool noodle tucked under the fitted bed sheet along the open side of the bed acts as a great temporary bed rail. You could also turn the top sheet sideways so that you have extra length to tuck your child in securely and reduce the chance of rolling out of bed.
6. Use the cot mattress
Place the cot mattress on the floor alongside the bed so if they do roll out it will provide a softer landing (and it also provides a soft place for you to sit or lay as you are resettling your child during the night).
7. Use a cue to tell your child when it is morning
It’s important that your child has a clear indication of when it is ok for them to get up for the day. You could use either a tone or some soft music or a sleep training clock (such as the Gro Clock.
8. Deal with coming out of the bedroom quickly!
Young children won’t mean to forget the rules and get up to find you, but the freedom is overwhelming and their impulse control is still developing. So when she comes out it’s important to help her back to bed immediately. Explain that it’s time to go to bed and you will see her in the morning. You will need to keep repeating this until she stays in her bed and settles.
*Kate has worked in the field of Sleep Medicine for over 15 years. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne and has since worked extensively both here in Australia as well as most recently in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is passionate about working with families to help children sleep better and is the founder of Babysomnia. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and four young children.