Home Tips & Advice Making The Switch From Cot To Toddler Bed…

Making The Switch From Cot To Toddler Bed…

by Bump, Baby & You

Our little boy Max is 2.5, and 3 months ago, we finally bit the bullet and put him into a toddler bed!

People have told us we’ve put him in a toddler bed quite late, whilst others have said their older toddlers are still in a cot; it has become evident that kids are all individuals in all areas, sleep included. It took us quite a while to make the decision, and lots of people have seemed surprised that he was yet to be put into a toddler bed at his age, but after a few unsettled nights, he got used to his new bed.

Thinking of making the big switcheroo? Here are some things to consider;

  • Will a gate fit on their bedroom door? If your little one has a tendency to escape, a gate will be handy.
  • Will the dimensions of a toddler bed fit in their room? Ours is about the same size as his cot but some are bigger.
  • Where is best to shop for a toddler bed?
  • Do I want to go straight to a normal single bed instead?
  • Is my child even ready?
  • Am I prepared for a few disturbed nights sleep (work, plans etc)?

We decided to do the swap on the night before daddy had a day off work!

Why me & daddy decided that NOW was the time for Max…

Firstly, I will say that it will vary between kids. Some are ready by the age of one, others are still needing the security of a cot when they’re three. For us, 2 and a half has been the magic age.

He’s a really active sleeper and we’re no stranger to thuds in the night from him basically break-dancing in his sleep, but recently, we noticed that he was moving less and sleeping in ‘normal’ positions. Tick box.

Also, within the previous month or so, Max had become OBSESSED with beds; he loves nothing more than climbing into the master bed, or the spare bed, but he didn’t seem to enjoy being closed into his cot as much, which made us think that he was telling us (in his own way as he doesn’t speak much yet) that it was time for his own bed.

Finally, on our wedding night, Max slept peacefully in a bed in my parents hotel room! We decided that it was absolutely worth a try as he was showing the right signs of independence, in our eyes.

Bear in mind, though, that all kids are different! Be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.

All tucked in, ready to go… excuse the crinkled sheets!

Our first night and how it went…

Ok, not going to lie, for the first 30 minutes I was cursing our decision and cursing my parents for putting pressure on us to make the switch. “Why?!” I chuntered to myself as Max ripped open his bedroom door and pterodactyl screeched over the gate for the tenth time that night. However, pretty quickly, Max fell into a contented sleep in his new toddler bed, and me & daddy breathed a sigh of relief.

Let’s just hope he’s as good tonight…

(P.S. He wasn’t. But we got there.)

How We Did It…

We think the best approach is a gentle approach – it’s a big change for a small person, so you cannot expect them to take to it instantly (depending on their temperament). Comfort and reassurance is paramount for a successful transition, plus we can’t bear to hear our beautiful boy upset, so we did the following;

  • Lots of kisses and cuddles as we put him down to bed.
  • We showed him how to climb in and let him climb in himself so that he’d feel that he was going to bed on his own terms.
  • We used a tablet on low light and low volume to help him relax in bed – a night light could also help.
  • For the first few nights, he kept getting up and out of bed and shouting at the gate, each time we gently led him back and comforted him before leaving again.

The Benefits of Switching to a Toddler Bed…

  • Encourages independence and development of autonomy – ok, so the downside is a potential battle for at least the first few nights if your little one needs to get used to their new bed, but it gives them the power to decide ‘I need to get into bed to sleep now’ and will foster the continued development of their independence and recognition of needing to sleep.
  • You now have a spare cot… time for another baby, maybe?
  • Beds designed specifically for toddlers tend to have sides on to prevent rolling, and higher headboard and footboards than normal child beds, so your toddler will still feel some comfort from being slightly enclosed, but not as enclosed as with a cot.

Three Months Later…

We’re three months in, and after a few difficult nights at the start, Max has taken to his toddler bed wonderfully! Persistence, reassurance and coffee are your friends when making the change, guys. All kids are different, your little one may not be quite ready, they may not take to it, so be prepared, be gentle and remember that it’s a huge change for our little angels.

How did you find making the switch? Did you skip the toddler bed and go straight into a standard bed? Are you yet to make the switch and feeling apprehensive? Tell us in the comments!

Love from Katie. Xx


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Debbie 29th January 2019 - 9:51 pm

It’s been 3 months of rubbish! Went from a baby who had slept through from 2 weeks of age, always went down awake, smiling and asleep within minutes, to a toddler who now can’t make the night without waking, screaming until she comes into us/we go into her.

Knackered lol

Bump, Baby & You 30th January 2019 - 11:55 am

Aaaah bless you Debbie! Fingers crossed that she starts to settle asap for you! xx

Julie 3rd February 2019 - 2:48 pm

Debbie we have had exactly the same thing our nice bedtime routine had gone and now we have 2-3 hrs of hell trying to get our LG to bed!

Kerry 30th January 2019 - 4:24 pm

My son is 17months old and I’m toying with the idea of turning my son’s cot into the bed but not sure if it’s to early … Recently he’s been so unsettled in his cot but will sleep great in a bed although he does wriggle around alot .. he gets annoyed that he can’t climb into bed himself .. but I worry he will just be in and out of bed all the time and just distrupt is once great routine even more

Bump, Baby & You 31st January 2019 - 9:49 am

Hi Kerry! This was one of my worries too. It can take a little time of consistently putting them back in for them to stop getting up, we’ve also put a gate on the bedroom door to avoid any late night wandering xx

Katie 4th September 2019 - 7:28 am

We were due baby #2 a couple of weeks after our daughters 2nd birthday so made the decision to transform the spare room into her ‘big girl room, she’s always been an independent little madam so we felt it was the right time for her, though we were prepared to put her back into the cot for a few months if she didn’t cope with it.
We’re now just over a week in and I’m honestly in awe of how well she has taken to it, the first night I lay with her until she fell asleep as it was such a big change but since then she has gone to sleep straight after her stories and cuddles and slept all night, getting herself up in the morning – often she’ll grab some books or toys and sit happily in bed for a while longer! Best thing we did!

Chloe 1st December 2019 - 8:06 pm

I am in the same situation with baby number 2 due just weeks after my daughters 2nd birthday. At what age did you move your little one in to her big bedroom? Thank you

Amie Emmingham 5th January 2020 - 9:02 pm

I’ve always been of the opinion that if they’re sleeping fine in their cot, have plenty of space, and haven’t worked out how to climb out there’s no need to change to a bed just because ‘It’s the done thing’.

My first learnt quite early how to climb out, around 18m, so it was time for her. We took the side off her cot bed. The only problems we had the first night was that she fell out about 5 times! Whilst we were waiting for a bed guard to be delivered for a couple if nights we found eventually, subconsciously she learnt not to roll quite so much!. We had the occasional night where she’d stand at the gate crying but we calmly put her back to bed, not giving her much attention, told her ‘it’s sleepy time in your bed’, kissed her and left the room. Ok she did get out a few times but we persisted with the same routine and she soon learnt that we meant business. We didn’t need to get cross but just be calm and consistent.

Now our second child is 2 and is certainly not ready! She’s never been the best sleeper and sometimes needs us to help settle her so I know it’ll be a different ball game! Recently she’s started to sleep more soundly and wants to take herself up to bed at bedtime but we’ll make sure this is consistent before we try transitioning to a bed. It could be in a couple of months or a year’s time but I’m not going to put her in a bed at the moment because ‘it’s the done thing’ around this age. When she’s ready we’ll know.

Don’t feel pressured by others because their baby was in a bed at 18m or they tell you it’s time she was in a bed or she’s far to old for a cot. Follow your parenting instinct, you know youe child best.

Sarah 27th July 2019 - 12:26 pm

Hey kerry! My daughter is 16 months old, I took the side off her cot and added a bed guard a few weeks ago & she is fine. We have had a few rough nights but she is sleeping all night now where she used to wake a few times a night in the cot. Persistance and patience is the key, if she gets up I put her straight back in, tell her its bedtime and leave the room. Good luck xx

Amie 30th January 2019 - 5:01 pm

I’m considering getting my one and a half year old a toodler bed as she’s very independent already I think she’s getting too big now for her travel cot (what she sleeps in now) I’m just not sure tho mite wait till she’s two in July? Staying that she does go to her bed at half 8 everynight n sleeps right through am just bit worried that if we move her to soon her routine mite be all over the place??

Bump, Baby & You 31st January 2019 - 9:52 am

Hi Amie! It does sound promising – the thing with the routine is that it is likely to knock their routine a little, it’s a big change, but with consistency it’ll go back to normal soon xx

Laura 30th January 2019 - 9:38 pm

We are planning on switching our 23mth old to a toddler bed this weekend with my 1st 18mths and was ready for a bed 2nd on the other hand doesn’t seem ready. He sleeps on a mat at nursery but that’s different to his big bed.
He loves my bed and my spot…so I think he will be fine. Will get a routine going so bottle book bed. And keep to it. Wish me luck.

Bump, Baby & You 31st January 2019 - 9:52 am

Good luck Laura! Sounds like a fab plan! xx

Vicky 3rd February 2019 - 8:25 pm

I want to get my 2 year old in her toddler bed. But she currently shares a room with her 6 year old sister. I’m worried that if the 2 year old starts wondering in the night, that she’ll disturb the 6 year old, especially because she has school the next day. Any ideas??

Hayley 3rd February 2019 - 8:33 pm

Our 2.5 year old likes to throw a few dance moves in his sleep so we’ve gone straight for a normal single bed. We haven’t put it together yet though, that’s next weekend’s job. I’m absolutely dreading the transition 😞

C K 3rd February 2019 - 9:35 pm

I switched my daughter from her cot to a toddler bed 2 days ago.. She’s 15 months old and she loves her bed.. loves her sleep so is happy to just lay there until she falls asleep… She’s never been a baby to try an escape from anything so was a easy move for us:) (so far)

Beth 21st February 2019 - 8:59 am

My daughter has been in a toddler bed. Since she was 18 months old after a caravan holiday where she was in a normal bed with sides decided to give it a whirl and never looked back the dummy went the month after. She takes between 10 – 20 mins to settle she’s done really well 😊 she wakes up about 6.30/7 and toddles into our room

Liz 21st February 2019 - 1:05 pm

We transitioned our LG whos 2 years and 4 months into her toddler bed just short of 2 weeks ago. She previously slept through 7-7 in her cot, quite content to lay there for a while before shouting to get up. Now we seem to be getting her to sleep a bit easier on an evening but she’s waking up every night at least once, with mornings now starting anything from 4am-6:30am! That’s been really tough. Hoping it’s just a settling in period and she goes back to her sleepy head ways soon.

Hannah 3rd April 2019 - 9:31 pm

We’re looking at moving our 15 month old into a bed. We’ve got a holiday coming up in 5 months time where she’ll be in a bed, and didn’t know if to do it first or try it on holiday.

She sleeps on a mattress at nursery and sleeps through 630-7 most nights so I don’t want to ruin this.

What do you think?

Bump, Baby & You 4th April 2019 - 9:27 am

Hey Hannah! It sounds promising – the first few nights are likely to be disrupted as she gets used to the bed, but she will get back into her sleep pattern again, so don’t worry too much about that. I’d try it before going on holiday to be honest, because if you try it when on holiday you’d run the risk of disturbed sleep which won’t be fun when you’re trying to enjoy the holiday 🙂 xx

Ashley 3rd September 2019 - 10:38 pm

My little girl climbed up her cot and fell out and was scared to go in her cot after that so we turned her cot into a bed and have a safety rail and blankets around the bed incase s similar accident occurs again. She is 18 months old and has always been a great sleeper but has been terrible since her fall. She now goes down ok but wakes up around 2am and won’t settle again so we end up taking her in with us. Hope it’s a phase that passes quickly.

cassie willetts 1st January 2020 - 2:14 am

My eldest was in a toddler bed at 11 months because she learned how to climb out of her cot, she was in the room when I converted her cot into the bed and loved it, still sleeps all night no fusses but now in the morning we don’t have to worry about her climbing over the cot side and falling, she loves her big girl bed 😀

Katie 1st January 2020 - 4:27 pm

Same as my son he was in his own room in a single bed at 1 and he loves it and didn’t have no trouble transitioning him either he just loves his space and was climbing out of his cot so felt this was the safest option.

Louise 2nd January 2020 - 12:44 pm

My daughter moved to a toddler bed at 1year as she was climbing out the cot. She settled really well and went to bed so easily. Now a year n half later we struggle to get her to bed and lucky if she sleeps for more than two hours at a time.


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