Making the transition from cot to bed can be stressful for both toddler and parents alike, never mind worrying about what type of mattress is best for your toddler along the way.
If you are preparing to make the switch, and aren’t sure which children's mattress would work best for your little one, then take a look at our buying guide to choosing a child-friendly mattress below.
How Firm Should a Child’s Mattress Be?
When wondering how to choose the right mattress for your child, firmness should be at the top of your considerations. Spinal support is what you really need from a mattress that your child will be spending 8-10 hours a night on. So, what is the ideal mattress firmness for children? Glad you asked!
Generally speaking, a memory foam mattress is typically not recommended for younger children. Instead, a pocket sprung mattress is more suitable as it has optimum firmness without compromising on comfort.
As your toddler rests, their spine is growing rapidly and so it should be kept in a neutral position in order to minimise stress and excess pressure. A pocket sprung mattress is much firmer than its memory foam or latex counterparts and the fact that it doesn’t mould to your child’s body is actually a good thing since the spine needs consistent firmness in order to develop properly.
How the Right Mattress Can Support Your Child’s Spine
As I mentioned, firmness is the priority when purchasing your child’s first mattress, but why?
Well, during the night, a toddler’s spine can grow up to 1.5cm as the intervertebral discs in between their vertebrae fill with water. As this process takes place, both the spine and neck should be firmly supported and held in a neutral sleeping position. Basically, there’ll be no starfishing as of yet. The mattress itself must be firm enough to provide this support, but soft enough that your child is actually comfortable staying in roughly the same position throughout their nightly rest.
Alongside this, keeping cool also has a huge effect on how your child develops in their first bed. If you are considering some form of orthopaedic mattress, it's important to remember that memory foam uses stored body heat to activate its moulding system, which can, in turn, lead to a rather warm foundation for your child to sleep on. So, maybe hold off with the memory foam for a few more years!
If yours is a relatively cold room, then no problem, but if the room does get warm in summer, a latex mattress would provide this function without that extra heat.
However, I should also state that while orthopaedic mattresses are wonderful for adults who suffer from joint pain or a bad back, that very same moulding function can lead to a lack of stable firmness that is necessary for a growing spine.
How Can You Help the Cot to Bed Transition?
If you’re just about preparing for the change from cot to bed, then you may be wondering how exactly you can ensure as smooth a process as possible. With that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to help you (and your toddler) along in a trouble-free transition.
Don’t Surprise Them
As you’re probably already aware, toddlers aren’t the calmest of beings and often don’t react well to sudden changes. So, the last thing they’ll need is to find that their comfortable cot has gone, and some sort of wooden monster is in its place.
In order to avoid endless evenings filled with crying and absolutely no sleep for any of you, try preparing your child for the change instead. Let them know that they’ll be saying goodbye to their cot and saying hello to a bed just like Mummy and Daddy’s.
Make it Fun
This may come as a surprise, but children pick up on their parent’s stress. So, if you’re overly worried about the cot to bed transition, then they will be too.
With this in mind, bring out your inner thespian and paint a big, excited smile on your face and show your child just how exciting this change can be. Chances are if they see you happy and relaxed, then they’ll be put at ease too.
Involve Them in the Process
As I said before, toddlers aren’t massive fans of surprises, and the shock of a new bed may be enough to have them uneasy for days.
So, why not get them involved? Try taking them shopping for colourful bedding and have them on hand when you’re prepping the new bed for sleeping. This will slowly ease them into the idea of moving on from the cot, and hopefully, the air of excitement will help them forget why they were worried in the first place.
Follow Your Usual Bedtime Routine
It may be a cliché, but keeping calm and carrying on is exactly what you need to do when it comes to helping your child let go of their cot.
The change from cot to bed is big enough, so any switching up of the bedtime routine will only make things worse. If you can keep everything as normal as possible, try reading their favourite bedtime book and treating it as if it were any other evening.
Alongside this, don’t linger any longer than you normally would. The second they feel as though there’s a reason for you to be there, the second they’ll sense something is wrong. As hard as it may be for you, say goodnight, switch off the light and walk away relaxed (even if you’re not!).
Put the Bed Where the Cot Once Was
Once the cot has been completely removed, if the space is big enough then try putting the bed in the exact same position. This will help your baby’s brain process the change, without having to deal with an unfamiliar sleeping position on top of everything else.
It’ll Be Fine
Okay, there may be a few tantrums and possibly a bit of resistance, but once your child realises how comfortable and cosy their new mattress is, then sure enough everything will settle down, at least until the next big change anyway.
It’s not like you miss your own sleep anyway, is it?
Need a Little More Help?
If you need a little more advice, then check out a few more of our blog posts or tweet us @HappyBeds. We’re more than happy to help.