When is the best time to move?
Most children move from a cot to a bed between the ages of 18 months and 3 and a half years. There is no set time to move your child, and every child is different, but it is safer to wait until they are at least 2 years old.
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
What type of bed should I move my child to?
A floor mattress is a great option, make sure the area around the mattress is clutter free. A toddler beds is a safe and cost-effective option. They are lower to the ground, which reduces the chances of your child hurting themselves if they fall 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. It is important to make sure it is installed properly and that there is no gap between the mattress and the rail. You can lay soft floor materials below 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 at least 2 years old before you introduce a pillow for sleep.
Read more about product safety including a guide to infant and nursery products to help you keep your baby safe.
How can I make my house safe?
Once your child is in a bed, they can move around the bedroom during the night. Here are some tips to keep your child 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 and poisons are out of reach, as well as coins, buttons, batteries and anything small that would be dangerous if swallowed.
- 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.
- Put 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 to help your child adjust:
- Put the bed in the same position in the room as the cot.
- Give your child the same blanket they used in the cot.
- Involve your child in choosing the new bed or sheet and planning the move.
- Keep to the same 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 after being tucked in at night. 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 managing children’s sleep problems.
Resources and support
- Tresillian’s Parent’s Help Line is a free service for any parents needing advice — ask about self-referral in NSW, ACT or Victoria. Call 1300 272 736 to speak with a nurse 7 days a week, from 7am to 11pm. Read more on toddler settling techniques to help you settle your toddler.
- Call the Karitane Careline on 1300 CARING (1300 227 464) to speak to an experienced child and family health nurse or download their helpful sleep and settling tips.
- Red Nose has tips on transitioning from a cot to a bed.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: July 2023