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Moving your child from cot to bed

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Most children move from their cot to a bed between 18 months and 3 and a half years old.
  • Every child is different, some children adjust easily to a big bed while others don’t.
  • It is important to keep your house safe for your child.
  • Be sure to keep sleep areas for all young children free of clutter, such as soft toys.
  • Options for a first bed include a special toddler bed or a mattress on the floor.
  • Wait until your child is at least 2 years old before you give your child a pillow for sleep.

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

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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

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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.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

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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Cot to Bed

When to move your child out of a cot?

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

A child no longer sleeping in a cot has greater access to all living areas. Before your child graduates to a bed, check your child’s room and throughout the house for possible hazards.

Read more on Red Nose website

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

Read more on Red Nose website

Household cots | Product Safety Australia

Babies can suffer serious injuries when trying to climb out of cots. Make sure you buy a cot that meets the mandatory safety standard.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

NSW: Warning on Baby Slings and Other Baby Products | Product Safety Australia

NSW Fair Trading is reminding parents and all people of the risk to babies from certain consumer products, including: slings; baby walkers and bouncinettes; baby bath seats; car restraints; cots; high chairs; nursery furniture; portable cots and playpens; and, strollers and prams.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

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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Camping out: child & baby sleep strategy | Raising Children Network

Problems with baby sleep and settling, or toddler waking? The camping out baby sleep strategy gradually reduces the settling help your child needs. Read how.

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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