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Written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
9 September 2020

When should I transition my child from a cot to a bed?

"No rush" is my usual response to this.

Before making this transition, I would first consider:

1. Do you have solid predictable bedtime routine in place?
2. Is your child an independent sleeper, able to put himself to and back to sleep without your help?
3. Do you believe that your child has the maturity and self control to say in bed all night long? (Note: Most children do not reach this level of maturity before the age of 2.)

Believe me, it will be a lot easier to make the switch once you have a good skilled independent sleeper, who understands his routine and that knows that he is expected to stay (and is capable of staying) in bed all night long until a 6 or 7am. Otherwise, the switch to a bed could just a recipe for disaster leading to your child materialising by your bedside 10 times a night, needing at least to tucked back into bed.

If you've ticked off this checklist, and once they've shown interest and feel like they want to switch, I'm all for it.

I guess I should add a little disclaimer here. If your baby has started being a "escape artist" and is climbing out of their crib in a dangerous way, they could hurt themselves if they fall.

But if they know how to get out of the crib safely (and some kids I know are really good at it), I would again recommend keeping them in the crib. Coming out of the crib, after all is a sign that they probably would not have the self control to stay in a bed all night either.

No, the switch will not make your child a better sleeper

Sometimes parents feel that moving their child to a bed, might help them feel more grown up which could encourage them to sleep better on their own. As a consultant, I know that neither I nor any of the other consultants I work with have ever seen a baby's bad sleeping habits get better by moving them to a new bed.

Now, I know that some of you are numbers people and want an age, even if it's just a guideline, so I'd say 2 and a half is probably the earliest you want to make this change. But again! That's just a general rule of thumb, and later is better.

What can you expect after making the switch?

The first thing you might notice is how quickly and easily your child adjusts. Your little one climbs into his awesome new bed, loves his cool new sheets, and sleeps soundly all night.

So maybe you don't need to worry? However, there's often a honeymoon period when a child moves to a big kid bed. It's all smooth sailing and hunky dory at first. Then after a couple of weeks, they wake up in the middle of the night, leave their room, and ask to sleep with mum and dad. No matter how tempting it might be in the middle of the night to just let your child hop on so you can get back to sleep quicker, I recommend that you put a complete and early stop to bed sharing. Do not give in. If your child starts getting out of bed at night, walk them back to their room, tell them it's not okay, and tell them what will happen if they do it again. You need to make it very clear that it's not allowed, or you'll have to deal with people roaming at night for months.

Of course, if you would like more guidance on getting your child staying in bed, feel free to reach out to me.

Article written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Based in Singapore
Trained in the Sleep Sense Program

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