Somewhere between the ages of two and three and a half your child will probably be ready for their ‘big’ bed.
Your decision may be hurried along by an impending arrival who’s going to need sleeping quarters, or your toddler may have started climbing out of their cot. Perhaps you want your child to be able to get to the toilet easily during the night.
It may seem a small matter but moving to a bed is a big step for a toddler - add in a little extra tiredness (from not settling or from exercising their new-found freedom at night) and you can be in for a few extra night-time battles. The key is to prepare ahead of time, establish routines, and be patient.
It’s not a very good idea to start the bed transition when there are other distractions in your child’s life; like moving to a new house, toilet training or the arrival of a new sibling. (If you know you are going to need the cot, move your toddler into a bed well before any new arrival - so they are happy and settled well before they find a squatter in THEIR cot!).
Many experienced parents recommend changing as little in the child’s room as possible. Just move the cot out and the bed in (of course, make any adjustments needed for the safety of the child – like fall protection or removing dangerous items the child might access during the night).
Keep your child’s bedtime routines as close to normal as possible during the transition. You may have to spend extra time settling your child, including staying in or near the room until they fall asleep, but by sticking to the usual routines (bath, book, lights out, etc.) your child is more likely to climb aboard the dreamland express.
Moving to a big bed can be unsettling for your child. They may get out of bed just because they can, and it may require several attempts on your part to keep them there.
Have patience, give lots of comfort and praise, and be prepared to ‘rinse and repeat’ for a few nights or even weeks. They’ll get there in the end!