Making the transition would usually happen when the child is two years old onwards. It could be earlier, if your child has mastered the art of escaping from her cot and that would be very dangerous. Two years old is the so-called magic age because they are able to understand the rule of not leaving or getting out of her bed. Any earlier, say 18 months, it would be frustrating for both toddler and parents to sleep train her in her own big bed.
If your child has been sleeping in her own cot all this while, try to wait until your child is at least 2, but also don’t wait too long to make this transition if you’re expecting another child. You would want to start the process at least 3 months before the baby is due. Also during this switch, it’s very important to stick to the current bedtime rules and routine – more important than ever to be consistent at this point.
Here are some tips to help with the transition:
1. Do talk about the transition and involve your child in the process. Take her shopping for her bedsheet and bed. I did this with Ariyana when she was 2.5 years old. She was happy that she was part of the process and as parents, we would always explain to her that she will be sleeping in her own bed, just like Mama and Ayah. We got her a bed from Ikea with removable sides, and made sure that her bed was placed against the wall.
2. Do send your child back to bed immediately – without cuddling. Make sure you put your child to sleep in her new bed. Avoid letting her sleep in your bed and then transfer her while she’s in deep sleep if you’re bed sharing. She will most likely be panicked when she has a night arousals and would climb back into your bed. Even though it may be tempting to just cuddle her back to sleep in your bed, you will be doing accidental parenting of sleeping together in your bed. Her bed will just be a furniture in your bedroom or hers.
3. Do make her room safe if she’s sleeping in her own room. Cover all the plug outlets, get any cords or wires out of the way, put away possible objects that she may use to climb to high places. Don’t take chances.
4. Do put up a gate if necessary if she’s sleeping in her own room. Putting up a gate will give that same feeling like she’s in a bigger cot. Her bedroom is now her cot. Now don’t feel guilty for enforcing this. It is only momentarily until she knows not to leave her room and pay a midnight visit to your bed.
5. Do use an alarm clock. Digital ones preferred. This is very helpful for toddlers who are early risers and demand to be with mom or dad at 5am. Teach her about the number 7. She is able to recognize the shape of a number as young as 20 months old. You could put a tape over the minutes, so she can only see the hour. Tell her that mom or dad will only come to her room for the morning wake up when it’s 7am. Alternatively, use a toddler clock. My favorite is the Gro Clock.
The tips above can also be used for toddlers who have their beds in their parents’ bedroom. However, there will come a day when your toddler turns into pre-schoolers, or she will have little siblings who are in top priority to sleep with mom and there isn’t enough space in the master bedroom. When you move her out to her own room then, you will need to do another sleep training. Might as well just start immediately in her bedroom once the big girl bed is all setup.
Amelyn is turning two next month. I kinda dread to make the cot-t0-bed switch soon because knowing her persistent temperament, I’m in for a new phase of sleep training. :p she’s already sleeping so well in her cot..
Have you made the transition for your child? Are you planning to? Share your thoughts!
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