How to move from a Cot Bed to a Toddler Bed

The pilgrimage of parenting is full of memorable milestones; your little angel’s first adorable smile (or was that a cheeky bout of wind!), their first comprehendible word (open to interpretations of course… I’m almost certain it was “mum”, but it could have been ‘bum’), their first spoon of oh-so-tasty gloop and then of course the transition from their baby cot into their very first big bed.

Whether this is your first experience of moving a child from cot to bed or you already have this feather under your cap and are going for gold again, one question never fails to arise; how do you know when is the right time to move a toddler into a bed? Because every child is unique, they will reach this exciting milestone at different ages. There is no pre-defined, textbook age to make the change from cot to bed, however there are a few signs to look out for that will help you decide if it’s the right time for your child.

Let’s take a look at what the experts say;

When should I move my Toddler from a Cot to a Bed?

While there’s no hard-and-fast age to move your toddler into their first bed, most parents will make this change when their child is between the age of 2 and 3½ years old.

Implementing the cot to first bed transition can be challenging so it’s best to wait until both you and your child are ready. There may actually be benefits of delaying the transition, as a recent study published by Sleep Medicine and partially funded by Johnson & Johnson, revealed.

The study, which monitored the sleep of 1983 toddlers (aged between 18 & 35.9 months) from western countries (including the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) compared the sleep pattern between those who slept in a crib or bed in a separate room from caregivers.

The study highlighted that crib sleeping was significantly associated with;

  • earlier bedtime
  • shorter Sleep Onset Latency (SOL is the length of time that it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep)
  • fewer night awakenings
  • longer stretches of time asleep
  • increased nighttime sleep duration
  • decreased bedtime resistance and sleep problems

Wow, if that’s the case I’m amazed we’re not all trying to delay the transition well into the teenage years!

The study concluded;

“Sleeping in a crib instead of a bed is associated with enhanced caregiver-reported sleep quantity and quality for toddlers in Western countries. Consistent with practice recommendations, deferring the crib-to-bed transition until age 3 years may benefit toddlers’ sleep in Western contexts”.

While delaying the move from crib to bed until 3 years may result in improved sleep quality and quantity, children develop at different paces. As a parent you know your child better than anyone and your child’s development rather than age may be the sign that it’s time to make the move from cot to bed.

Obaby Maya Cot Bed and Toddler Bed

Reasons for moving from Cot to Bed

As highlighted above by the Sleep Medicine study, if you can hold off moving your tot into a big bed until they are nearer 3 years there are certainly some recorded benefits, however your little tinker may be ready way before then. If they’re sprouting faster than jack’s bean stalk, are more dexterous than Houdini in escaping their cot or they simply tell you they’d like a big kids bed, it may be time to bid farewell to their cot bed and introduce a cool new kids bed.

Here are some signs it may be time for a new big bed;

  • Your child may have outgrown their cot
  • Your child has started to climb out of their cot
  • You are toilet training and want them to be able to easily get out of bed during the night
  • You have a new baby who needs to use the cot

If you have questions or concerns about whether your child is ready to move into a bed, you can always contact your health visitor who will be able to give you further advice and guidance.

Whatever your reasons are for reaching this milestone with your child, choosing the best toddler bed to make the transition safe, exciting and as easy as possible for the family will be a priority for many parents.

Lifetime Wildlife 4 in 1 Combination Bed

Choosing the right Bed for your Toddler

If you’ve got a cot that converts to a toddler bed you’re all set to make the change, if not then knowing your toddler bed options can help you choose the right bed — and will hopefully help make the transition from cot to bed reasonably plain sailing!

Whether you prefer the smaller size of a junior bed or a larger kid’s single bed there are a few key safety features to consider when you are buying your child’s first big kids bed;

  1. Sturdy Frame – Toddlers will certainly put their new bed to the test! Choose a frame that can withstand tough toddler treatment such as wriggling, rolling and maybe the odd bounce!
  2. Low Profile Bed – Look for a frame that is low to the ground, this not only helps your child be more independent in getting safely in and out of bed, if they do happen to fall out of bed (they won’t be the first) then they’ve not got too far to fall!
  3. Safety Rails – Some beds come compete with safety rails while other beds offer them as an added extra. Some designs have raised sides that also offer protection against bumps in the night.
  4. Good Fitting Mattress – Ensure the mattress fits correctly and there aren’t large gaps that could cause harm or injury to your child.
  5. Rounded Edges – Look for designs that offer rounded edges and a smooth finish that will minimise bumps and bruises.

Now let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of toddler beds and kids single beds, both are perfectly safe options for a toddler’s first bed. Your final decision will most likely be guided by your budget, space constraints and of equal importance, your child’s temperament.

Pros of a Toddler Bed

  • Toddler beds offer up a good stepping stone from cot to single bed as they are the same size as a cot bed just without the side rails. This may help your child feel less swamped by a bigger bed and promote a feeling of familiarity that may help the transition easier.
  • Toddler beds are lower than a standard single bed, therefore if they do happen to fall out of bed, they are closer to the floor.
  • Toddler beds are often fitted with bed guards or raised sides to keep your child safe and prevent them from rolling out of bed during the night.
  • Toddler beds are often available in fun and themed designs that may be appealing to younger children.
  • If your child is moving from a cot bed to toddler bed then you may be able to keep the same mattress as they are often the same size, they could also keep the same bedding.

Cons of a Toddler Bed

  • Toddler beds are suitable up until approximately 6 years old and will have a lower weight threshold, so you will need to replace their bed again once they outgrow their junior bed.
  • You won’t be able to hop in for a cuddle during their bedtime routine.
  • Toddler beds may not be as durable as a single bed.

Pros of a Single Bed

  • A single bed will last many more years than a toddler bed, seeing your child right through from tot to teen.
  • Single beds offer up a huge choice of style and design and often have matching kids bedroom furniture to coordinate.
  • Your toddler may feel more grown-up moving into a bigger single bed and this may help them settle better into their new bed.
  • There’s plenty of room for you to snuggle in while they drift off into blissful sleep.

Cons of a Single Bed

  • They are often more expensive than a toddler bed.
  • You will also need to buy a new mattress and new bedding.
  • You may need to buy separate bed guards to help prevent night-time tumbles.
  • Some single bed frames too high for little folk to easily get in and out of.

Whether your little pip-squeak chooses a flash racing car bed, a playful bed with slide or a more contemporary single bed, every toddler will respond to transitioning to a new bed in their own unique way, some will embrace the change while others may need a bit more help and support.

Oliver Furniture Luxury Wood Toddler Bed in Oak & White

Helping your Child transition from a Cot to Toddler Bed

Moving into a new bed is an exciting change, while some toddlers take this in their stride, others might need lots of reassurance from you.

Here are a few tips to help your toddler transition into a new bed that you may find helpful;

  • Talk to your child about them moving into a new bed a few weeks before it happens so that they can ask questions, have some time to get used to the idea and it doesn’t come as a big surprise.
  • Let them help choosing their new bed, if you’re worried about them picking something unsuitable, do your research first and come up with a few options that you’d be happy for them to choose from.
  • Let your child pick out new bedding for their new bed, check out this range from Snurk. With a super cool duvet set they’ll be itching to get into bed!
  • Make it feel an exciting and positive change, particularly if they are having to move because of the arrival of a new sibling. Give them lots of reassurance that it’s part of them growing up.
  • Give them time and patience, particularly if it’s a challenge at first. Children will often take their cues from parents, so try not to get frustrated but remain calm (easier said than done I know!).
  • Try and maintain their usual bedtime routine, this will help reassure your child that while some things have changed, others remain the same.
  • If you’re moving your child into a bed because you need the cot for a younger baby, try to move your child before the baby is born or when the baby is a couple of months old. This will help to minimise any feelings of resentment that your child may feel towards a new baby, particularly if your child was resistant to moving out of their cot.
  • Maintain a familiar layout by positioning their new bed in the same place as their cot, this can help your child to feel secure. Also pop some of their favourite soft toys in their bed for comfort.
  • Why not give them a bedroom makeover at the same time, adding some new kids room decor may make the transition even more special and exciting.
Kids Junior Tipi Bed

How to keep your Toddler safe in their New Bed

Hopefully your toddler will soon be settled into their new bed and peace will reign once again in your home. Just bear in mind that your little nipper has some new found freedom and may decide to go walk about in the night! Make sure to toddler proof their room so that they’re safe;

  • Put their bed up against a wall so they are less likely to fall out, safety rails will also help prevent bumps in the night
  • Help them to tidy away their toys at the end of the day and remove objects from their floor that may cause them to trip during the night
  • Use safety plugs in accessible electrical sockets
  • If your child has a blind in their window make sure that the cord is out of their reach
  • Ensure that their bedroom window is shut or on a lock position if they can get access to it
  • Use a night light in their bedroom if they don’t like the dark, or if they need to get up during the night to go to the toilet
  • Fit a stair gate at the top of the stairs if you are worried that they may wander out of their bedroom during the night
Didi Shorty Reversible Toddler Bunk Bed with Storage

Each milestone reached brings challenges and joys, change and new chapters. Transitioning into a new bed is something that every child will experience, at Cuckooland we delight in helping parents to make this time special, memorable, fun and above all bring a little “WOW” into your home.

Explore our super range of Toddler Beds or our Unique Kids Beds where you are sure to find the perfect first bed for your little munchkin.

If you have toddler transitioning troubles or further first bed questions, our kid’s bed experts are on hand to help, give us a call on +44 (0) 1305 231231 or pop us an email.


With more than 10 years’ experience in providing advice and support to parents looking for their perfect kids bed, mother of 2, Nathalie Davis is passionate about helping children develop. In her role as Director of Product Procurement at Cuckooland, Nathalie has helped thousands of parents improve their children’s sleep and sleeping habits through the beds and mattresses she sources and the articles she writes. In her spare time she teaches her Golden Retriever to be a responsible vegetarian and is often spotted sifting through clothes at her local Charity Shops.

Leave a Reply