How to move your toddler from a cot to a bed

move your toddler from a cot to a bed

How to move your toddler from a cot to a bed – out of all the big transitions my daughter has made in her three years, this was the one that filled me with the most anxiety. Cue: night time wakings, visits, tumbling out of bed screamings…you name it, my head was filled with visions of all of it.

Three months in however, truth be told, the transition was nowhere near as bad as I expected (hey, expect the worst…hope for the best!), so I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to move your toddler from a cot to a bed

There’s no right age

The fact of the matter is – there’s no right age to move your toddler to their bed but most will recommend somewhere between 14 months and 3 years. In fact, we really pushed things back to as close to 3 years to ensure that our little was developmentally ready to be in a bed, and this worked really well for us, but as usual – every child is different.

Talk talk talk

Before we actually transferred our daughter from a cot to a bed, we talked about it….A LOT! We prepared her for a good few weeks before hand by bringing it up in conversation, so that she could get a handle on the concept and feel proud of this new level of responsibility…being in a big girl’s bed!

Go bed shopping!

Whether you are buying your toddler bed online (and we just love the selection of toddler beds from Room to Grow) or buying on the high street, I would highly recommend taking your little one bed shopping with you. They love trying out different beds and it helps to get them used to the idea of the upcoming move. It also helps them suss out what they like and what they don’t like – and believe me, these little ones have a much better idea than we give them credit for.

Let them choose the bed

In the end, they are the ones that are going to be sleeping in it, so they have to a) like it and b) comfortable in it. I remember thinking how much I wanted a gorgeous little bed for my girl and in the end she wanted the most utterly basic design – but she was so very happy in it, so at the end of the day….that is really all that matters.

But make sure it’s low and has got a guard

While I am an advocate of letting a child choose their own bed, there are just two important requirements I do think we should insist on…and that’s a low bed and one that has  a guard. I think the security that a low bed with a guard provides really is underestimated and it really does help them feel secure at the beginning of the transition, and also helps to emulate that slightly contained feel you get with a cot.

Do note that all guards are not equal so do try to find out that is more on the lengthy side – some of them can be very short indeed! Resist the urge to buy a bed they have to climb up steps to get into  (even though they look so cool!). Even three little steps is enough to add unnecessary complications at this stage.

Bedtime routines rule ok!

I’m a big believer in the importance of a good bedtime routine (cue bedtime drama avoidance!), and I do think the stabilizing force of a bedtime routine really helps with the transition into a bed from a cot, so if you haven’t got one, I would highly recommend getting this locked down beforehand.

And just in case

When we finally made the move, we laid the cot mattress alongside the toddler bed on the floor just in case somehow she managed to navigate around the guard (which never happened) but was just extra peace of mind for both of us. Also, as our little was still in sleep sacks at the time, and we kept her in those and didn’t transfer to a duvet under she was totally settled in her bed….because duvets can provide a whole other lot of drama. If I could do things all over again I would seriously consider investing in bedding which you can tuck into the bed like The Tuck and Snug.

Are you feeling anxious about moving your toddler from a cot into a bed? Or have you got some useful tips about making the transition? Do leave a comment and share.

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*This post is in collaboration with Room to Grow. All opinions are my own. 


  1. This takes me back, I was dreading the move to a big bed but actually it worked out ok in the end. Wish I had come across this post at the time.

  2. This is a very handy post – my little one is only 5 months so not been in his big boy cot for long but will remember your advice for when he moves up to the next stage. Jo x

  3. We did it a long time ago. The first two nights we had no problems. He was only just 2 and he didn’t seem to realise he could get up. We thought we had done sooo well. Then our bubble burst and up he got time after time. I lost count at 100. It took nights of putting him back to bed over and over until he eventually got it. Second child, thankfully, was not a problem as he loves his bed and always did. #coolmumclub

  4. I hunk my eldest was just under 2 when she went in a bed which seems young now. She loved her new bedroom though as she got moved into a bigger bedroom at the same time. She did have a habit of getting out of bed and falling asleep behind the door which was always fun when I went to check on her and had to shove her and the door enough to get in and move her back to bed!! #coolmumclub

  5. I think my eldest was just under 2 when she went in a bed which seems young now. She loved her new bedroom though as she got moved into a bigger bedroom at the same time. She did have a habit of getting out of bed and falling asleep behind the door which was always fun when I went to check on her and had to shove her and the door enough to get in and move her back to bed!! #coolmumclub

  6. My daughter is 21 months and I keep thinking about this but don’t think she’s ready yet. This post has been really helpful to read and it’s good to know you waited until your LO was almost 3. My daughter is a squirmer and doesn’t keep still so I can’t imagine her being in a bed that’s not fully penned it! I was thinking about keeping her in the sleeping bag for a while when we do though – useful to know that worked for you. #CoolMumClub

  7. We’ve recently done this with our youngest and aside from the odd night where he decided to ride his batmobile around his bedroom at 3am it’s been pretty smooth sailing! Great tips – I especially like the idea of putting the cot mattress on the floor at the side of the bed just in case. My friend uses a foam swim noodle which she tucks underneath the sheet along the edge of the mattress. Her little one doesn’t really need a guard anymore but the noodle just seems to remind her that she is at the edge and has apparently worked a treat. x #coolmumclub

  8. Also waited till 3 years to move our little one to his own bed! Here’s to taking things at their pace. Our experience is quite different since we coslept, but I have to say I agree with a solid bedtime routine. The brushing teeth, a few books and lights out is an easy way for them to know exactly what’s coming and conk right out. Thanks for the read and hosting #coolmumclub

  9. Me again popping back from #coolmumclub… Reading this again got me wondering whether we need one of those tuck and snug things…I’m sure at least one of the problems we are having is duvet kicky-off-age. Alongside, teething, dummy, sniffles, lack of eating…blah blah blah sob sob sob…If we don’t start getting some kip soon I’ll be moving her bed to the shed. #joke

  10. Great tips, we’ve actually just made the switch tonight! She cried a bit at the start and got out of bed four times but she finally went off about three hours ago now. Fingers crossed she’ll stay asleep till morning but I don’t think we’ll be that lucky just yet!

  11. For me this transition can feel bigger than toilet training!! Oh the fear of Big Munch just getting out of bed and playing with her toys in the middle of the night! Who knows what she will get up to and we will never know. At least she’s too young to sneak out of the house and go clubbing….#coolmumclub

  12. I was trying to work out when we moved our eldest to the big bed and realised that it was during that time period. We did it because I had a csection and it’s given her independence. #coolmumclub

  13. Great tips Talya! I’m thinking that we might try this in the next six month so will definitely keep these in mind. Anything that may potentially disrupt sleep fills be with dread right now! x #coolmumclub

  14. Some brilliant tips for struggling parents here! I agree there is no correct age, we are transitioning our second a lot earlier than our first. This originally worried me as to me he was still a baby! To ease the transition from cot to bed we went for a toddler bed as we felt it wasn’t as overwhelming as a full sized single bed. He helped in his own way in picking out his new bed and we left it in his room for a few days before he spent his first night with it. I found starting by using it for his afternoon naps helped the transition aswell.

  15. These tips are fantastic! I’m stressing out a little bit because he sleeps in a “den” that doesn’t have a door. (We’re in a little condo.) There is just a blackout curtain over his doorway. Do you have any ideas for what we can do?! Luckily he hasn’t tried climbing out of bed yet so we’re not transitioning yet, but he’s climbing on everything else so I feel like the toddler bed transition is coming sooner rather than later.

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