Marion Smith is a single mom of four boys aged 20, 14, and 11-year-old twins. Raising four healthy young boys is no mean feat. When it comes to parenting, Marion has been there, and done that. In the piece below she offers advice to new moms on how to make a smooth transition from the cot to the bed…
The transition from a cot to a toddler bed can come at a variety of ages. Mom is itching to redecorate the nursery and change the colour scheme, but don’t rush.
This is one of the major milestones for babies and toddlers. Many moms make this move anywhere from 15 months. However, 18 – 20 months seems to be the most popular time.
A toddler bed is generally a low bed with side rails. It will use the same size mattress as the one in the cot. Some families may just move straight to a single bed, if the family genes are tall, chances are a toddler bed won’t last long.
- Wait until they are around the age of 2 years. The cots sides keep them safe and saves you and your child from worrying about rolling off the side of the bed in their sleep.
- Make a big deal out of the move, it could be viewed as a reward for good sleeping habits.
- Take your child shopping to choose the linen, a fluffy bear to hug at night and a bedside light. If they need the toilet during the night or have a night terror, this will help ensure they don’t stumble around looking for a light switch.
- If you are going bed shopping, let them go with you so that they can be involved in the choice, and prepare themselves emotionally for the change.
- Create a bedtime poster. This could include the story book titles, sleep time, wake up time, putting on the pjs, brushing teeth and lights out
- Stick to bedtime routines. Most children go to sleep by 8pm. Allow for time to wind down, read a story, discuss the day’s events and say a prayer. Give a final hug and kiss good night and “don’t let the bed bugs bite” (this caused many giggles with my twins) and leave the room.
- If they get up in the night, return to the room continuously and put them back in bed speaking firmly and do not allow for any distractions like “one more hug “
- Make sure the room is safe. The windows must have bars, the door should not have a key in it, no open plug points, and all medicines, and baby products should be packed away on a high shelf or in an inaccessible cupboard.
- Buy two pool noodles and tuck them under the sheets length-ways down the sides of the bed. This will help to prevent accidental roll outs onto the floor in the middle of the night.
- Don’t allow bedtime to creep later and later. Be firm about a set time
- Ignore the requests that will inevitably come like “I’m hungry, I can’t find my bear etc “ set limits and stick to them. You can acknowledge you have heard but don’t act on the request.
- If the child leaves the bed and room, don’t discuss it or make any conversation. Take their hand and silently return them to bed. No matter how tempting it is to talk, don’
- Never sit in the room and allow them to fall asleep on your lap, in your arms etc. If you are the pillow, they will struggle to settle down alone.
- Don’t shout at them. This is a big change in their lives. Have patience, it can take 2 – 3 weeks for a full transition.
- Twins may not be ready at the same time. However, don’t hold one child back if they are ready. There is no right way, here but consider each individual’s needs
- Don’t use bunk beds. In America it is recommended that no child under the age of 6 years should sleep in a bunk bed.
- A cot and potty training don’t usually mix well so if you have started potty training don’t keep them in the cot. Those 2am runs could become very messy.
With so much advice, its best to follow your motherly instinct.
A 2nd birthday is a great time to introduce the new bed, but then again nothing is cast in stone. Do what you think, and feel, is best for YOUR children.