Tips for parents: moving your child from cot to bed

For parents of young children, the topic of sleep is a serious BBQ stopper.

Many worry about ‘getting it right’ for their kids. Others just want to get a bit of shut-eye themselves.

When to make the move from a cot to a bed?

There’s no ‘set time’ for the changeover. It’s often somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3 ½ that people move their child from a cot to a ‘big-boy’s/girl’s bed.

The main reasons parents decide to make the move are:

  • Their little darling is a climber and they’re worried they might fall as they attempt to climb out of their cot
  • Their child is toilet-training, and it’s easier for them to get out of a bed when nature calls
  • They’re expecting another baby and need the cot for the new bub
  • Their child is simply getting ‘too big’ for a cot.

Choosing the right bed for your child

The three most important factors when considering a bed for your young child are safety, comfort and longevity.

1. Keeping your child safe

Safety is top-of-mind for every parent. Parents worry that once their child is no longer safely confined to their cot, there’s an increased risk of injury.

  • To avoid kids falling out of bed, some parents start by placing their child’s mattress on the floor.
  • Once you make the move to a bed-frame, Australian consumer organisation Choice suggests you install a well-designed bed-rail. This can provide a bit of security for your child – and peace of mind for you. The best ones are made of mainly mesh material.
  • Make sure there’s no risk that your child can get any part their body trapped between the bed-rail and the bedhead, or the side of the bed. Also avoid any dangling cords or strings that your child could get caught up in.
  • Bunk beds can be dangerous for small children who naturally love to climb. Best to avoid them until they’re a bit older (around 9 years).

2. Making your child’s bed comfortable

Your child’s health depends on them getting a good night’s sleep. And just as a comfortable and supportive mattress helps adults sleep, children also benefit from a good mattress.

An old, sagging mattress is the worst thing for your child’s growing body. The best mattress should offer good support – not too soft or too firm.

You might find yourself cuddling them to sleep, so that will also give you a chance to test the mattress’s comfort. If you’re not sure, it’s great to order a mattress that has a lengthy return period just in case. (Order your SleepX mattress online, and you’ll have 120 nights to try it out.)

Your child’s pillow should have a low profile to comfortably support their head and neck.

3. Making your child’s bed go the distance

If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to choose a bed-base and mattress that’s going to last a while. Most parents opt for a single or king-single sized mattress.

A good quality mattress should last around 10 years.

Making the move from cot to bed a smooth one

Of course, just because you decide it’s time to move your child to a bed, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

The move can be unsettling for many kids. They may need a bit of extra encouragement.

  • Try involving them in the choice of new sheets and doona covers
  • Do a bit of redecorating to celebrate their transition – and involve them so they can choose their favourite poster or wall-paint colour
  • Let them know how proud you are about their move
  • Install a night-light if they feel a little anxious and reassure them that you’re always close
  • Make sure they still have their favourite toys or special blanket handy
  • Keep to their usual sleep routine – and lots of kisses and cuddles


For more help on sleep and your child, contact the following:

Parentline Victoria: 13 22 89
Parent Line NSW: 1300 1300 52
Parentline ACT: (02) 6287 3833
Parentline Queensland and Northern Territory: 1300 301 300
Parent Helpline South Australia: 1300 364 100
Parentline Tasmania: 1300 808 178