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Moving from cot to bed

3-minute read

Moving from a cot to a bed can be an exciting time for your child, but you might have to rethink the safety of your home. Here are some tips for managing the transition with the minimum of fuss.

When is the best time to move?

Most children move from a cot to a bed between the ages of 18 months and 3½ years. There is no set time to move your child, but it is probably safest to wait until they are 2.

You might consider moving your child into a bed when:

  • they have outgrown the cot
  • another baby arrives (move your child into a bed at least 6 to 8 weeks before the baby is born, or put the baby in a bassinet for a few months before you move your older child)
  • they are trying to climb out of the cot
  • they are toilet training and need to get to the bathroom easily

Where should my child sleep?

Toddler beds are low to the ground so they reduce the risk of your child falling out. If you are using an adult bed, make sure there is no space between the bed and the wall where your child could get stuck.

You can use a portable bed rail to stop your child falling out of bed. Make sure it is installed properly and that there is no gap between the mattress and the rail.

Another idea is to put the mattress on the floor or lay soft flooring materials around the bed in case they fall out.

The sleep area for all young children should be free of clutter from soft toys. Wait until your child is 2 before you introduce a pillow for sleep.

Read more about product safety from Red Nose.

Make your house safe

Now your child is in a bed, they can move around the bedroom during the night. Here are some tips to make your house safe.

  • Install safety locks on any windows — make sure any gaps aren’t big enough for your child to climb through.
  • Make sure cords from curtains and blinds are out of reach.
  • Attach heavy furniture to the wall with brackets.
  • Make sure medicines, cleaning fluids and anything small that they could swallow is out of reach.
  • Keep electrical appliances out of reach and install safety plugs in electrical outlets.
  • Use secure gates or lock doors to ensure children do not have access to stairs if it is unsafe to go up or down them unsupervised.
  • Take away anything your child could climb on, like chairs and ladders.

Tips to help your child move into a bed

Every child is different. Some children adjust easily to a big bed while others don't. It is often harder for your first child to make the transition than for later children. Here are some tips for helping your child to adjust.

  • Put the bed in the same position as the cot.
  • Give your child the same blanket they used in the cot.
  • Involve your child in choosing the new bed and planning the move.
  • Introduce a bedtime routine with some quiet time before bed.
  • Let your child climb into bed and pull up the covers by themselves.
  • Tell your child you are proud of them for moving into a bed.

Some children will keep getting out of bed. Gently tell them to go back to bed and leave the room. You might need to do this several times until your child settles down.

Read more about dealing with sleep problems.

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Last reviewed: August 2021

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Need more information?

Moving from cot to bed: tips and ideas | Raising Children Network

Moving from cot to bed is exciting, but there’s no hurry. Safe options include a toddler bed, a mattress on the floor away from walls, or rails on the bed.

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Baby care - moving from cot to bed - Better Health Channel

Some children are unsettled the first few nights in a 'big bed'. Try to be patient, loving and reassuring.

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Moving into a bed - Ngala

Making the decision to move your child into a bed depends on your familys individual needs and preferences

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Making Your Home Safe Before Moving a Child From a Cot to a Bed | Red Nose Australia

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Where to Sleep a Child Who Has Moved From a Cot | Red Nose Australia

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At Karitane, we encourage sleeping strategies that respond to your baby’s cues. Doing so will help them feel contained, safe and secure.

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Co-sleeping with babies | Raising Children Network

Co-sleeping is when parents bring their babies into bed with them. This is dangerous for babies. It’s safest for babies to sleep in a cot next to your bed.

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Overheating is one of the major risk factors for SIDS and SUDI, but how do you know how much or what sort of bedding to use to keep baby both warm and safer while sleeping? This information can help.

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Body-rocking, head-rolling & head-banging | Raising Children Network

It can be upsetting to see your child body-rocking, head-rolling or head-banging in bed. It’s common, and children often do it as part of setting for sleep.

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