Transitioning Your Child to a New Bed: The Essential Guide

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Nikita Alexander - April 10, 2019 Nikita is Happy Beds' sleep and lifestyle content writer. A fresh English Language and Literature graduate, she loves classical literature, sunny city breaks and blogging about music events.

Transitioning Your Child to a New Bed: The Essential Guide

Moving your child from a cot to a toddler bed can be a daunting process. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

I believe such a milestone should be celebrated and never feared – your child is growing and gaining a little more independence, and a change in bed can be exciting for all of you!

So, to make sure this process as smooth as possible, we’ve spent some time getting to know our customers to find when these transitions happen and to discover the best possible advice for transitioning your little ones from cot-sleeping to their first big bed, and further on to pre-teen and teen beds. Here’s what we found…

When Parents Transition Their Child to a Bigger Bed: Our Survey Findings

We spoke to more than a hundred parents and grandparents to find out how and when they have transitioned their little ones from one bed to another. We found that:

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When it comes to choosing which bed to buy, the price and safety were found to be the most important factors when making a purchase, with practicality a close third.

As part of the survey, we also asked what tips parents and grandparents would give to ease the transition. After all, who better to learn from than those who have been there, done that and successfully gotten their children into their own bed? Here are a few of the best tips:

Your Top Tips on Transitioning Kids to a New Bed

Tip 1: Consistency is Key

Many of our expert parents and grandparents pointed out the importance of a consistent routine to get your little bundles of joy more willing to sleep independently.

Changing beds for a child will be a shock to the system after spending their lives in a secure cot close to Mum and Dad, so it is expected for them to feel a little confused by the sudden change. One of our experienced mums advises: “routine, routine, routine - the best way to make the transition easy is to have a routine and stick to it”.

Whether your child willingly jumps into their new bed with glee or they fight the transition with all they have, it is so important to stick to your guns and keep it regular. The child will soon come to terms with the fact that this change is now a nightly occurrence and not just a one-off, whereas if you introduce them to their new way of independence on an inconsistent ‘every other night’ basis it will prolong the process, confuse the child and make the transition far more complicated than it needs to be.

Tip 2: Establish a Routine

Another parent suggests how mums should “establish a bedtime routine and wait until your child is ready”. It’s all about listening to your child, getting them to understand bedtime as part of their routine which is necessary every single day. Grab this as an opportunity to teach life lessons and better your child’s understanding of the concept of growing, this will make later milestones easier in the long run.

Of course, mums know best when a child should go to bed and a child’s judgement of what time is most appropriate to sleep may be slightly clouded – but taking the time to talk to them to understand the concept of bedtime and listen to their concerns is definitely helpful when it comes to designing the perfect bedtime routine!

Don’t forget to include “lots of love, cuddles and encouragement… and patience” throughout the process. In a nutshell, it shouldn’t be an instructive act, but more an experience you share together with lots of lessons learned along the way.

Tip 3: Find the Perfect Toddler Bed

Many underestimate the power of the right first bed and dread the idea of a long and exhaustive process of visiting endless stores and scrolling through limitless web pages of children’s beds. However, shopping for a children’s bed doesn’t have to be so unnerving – We have a dedicated page to help you find the perfect bed, with features clearly labelled and a guarantee for child-safe features, so you can find the right bed for your child from the comfort of your own home – it’s never been easier!

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Take a look at the bed above for example. The Mento Treehouse Bed is a popular first bed because it is simply adored by children and parents for its exciting fort-like exterior with plenty of room to make it their own.

Read more: How to Design the Perfect Bedroom for Your Toddler

Tip 4: Time It Right

It is very important to remember that every child is different, when it comes to every aspect of their growth. There is no unwritten rule or certified date for moving your child into their first bed – just because your best friend’s daughter who is the same age is settled into her first toddler bed, does not mean your child is ready to take the leap. And the same goes for the average ages we found in our transitions survey.

One of our informed mums advises: “it’s down to the child; they will give you clear signs that they are ready for a bigger bed as every child is different”. This could not be truer. For more information about the ‘signs’ your child will show when they need a new bed, take a look at my article about ‘transitioning signs’.

One of our customers made the valuable point:

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Finding a quiet period, when your child is ready, will be the perfect window for introducing them to their new big bed.

Taking it slow is vital. This is a drastic change for your child and moving too quickly could make it an unpleasant experience for everyone involved; there is no set date or period of time which a bed transition should be made, so don’t rush it. In fact, learn to enjoy the process as an achievement for your child as opposed to a chore which you dread.

Tip 5: Reward, Reward, Reward

One of the mums we asked for advice told us about her great idea of a ‘star reward system’ whilst another suggested to “praise them and tell them how proud you are”.

Your child is overcoming a big change and their participation in this is definitely something to be rewarded – make your child feel proud of their accomplishments as a way of encouraging them to welcome change and grow accordingly.

Tip 6: Let Them Know You’re in This Together

It’s important to all that we remember a bed transition is not an isolated process – involving your child as much as you can turns a daunting time into a bonding experience. Your child should be fully-informed on what is going on and the reasoning behind it to make it less confusing and sudden.

It doesn’t have to be a scary time for anyone; in fact, many of our parents and grandparents proved how you can turn the change into a fun time for your child and get them eager to join in!

One of our experienced star mums shared her journey of including familiar items to make the change seems less unordinary:

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Another super-mum explained how allowing the child to take an active role in picking their bed and bedding made it much more exciting and inevitably made the whole process a lot less stressful as the child was not only willing, but eager to sleep in a lovely new bed that they have chosen themselves.

Tip 7: Think Practically

One simple tip for making the process easier for you, is to ensure you have peace of mind over the safety and sturdiness of the new kid’s bed you choose.

Many children jump on their bed and wriggle in their sleep, so a tough and hard-waring design is essential. Preferably one that is low to the ground, so it is easy for them to get in and out and any slips and falls will be limited to a certain height.

We would advise choosing a bed that has a simple and smooth design, with no protruding detail on the headboard and footboard to avoid scratches and snags, and instead uses colour to grab and maintain interest.

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Lastly, if you have a child that tosses and turns in the night and you worry they could roll out of bed, you may choose to equip their new bed with some side rails. Or perhaps opt for a style like the space explorer bed above which has high sides as part of its design.

One survey participant advised:

“I think the most important thing is to have the safety guards in place to begin with. If they are used to not being able to roll out, they won't be aware of the danger.”

Tip 8: Make It Comfortable

If their new bed is warm, comfortable and inviting, the transition from old to new will undoubtedly be smoother, and investing in a new kid’s mattress is a vital part of this. As one parent surveyed said:

“Always make sure they have a comfortable supportive mattress, mattress cover, and a comfortable soft quilt that’s not too thick. I’d recommend a bed suited for their age and size that’s colourful and fun to encourage them to get to bed.”

If you’re not sure what mattress will suit your child best, check out our blog post How to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Child’.

Thinking of Changing Your Child’s Bed?

Trust us, there’s no need to fear the bed transitioning process! It is a fantastic milestone in your child’s life and should be a celebration of their healthy growth and gaining of independence.

We would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on bed transitioning.

How did you get your child into independent sleeping? Did you include any creative methods into your experience? What fun and exciting children’s bed did your child choose? Get in touch and share your thoughts via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We can’t wait to hear all about it!

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