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Transition Time — When to Swap Kids from a Cot to a Bed

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Parenthood is full of transitions. One of the most talked about and agonised over is when to transition your child from a cosy cot to a ‘big kids’ bed. Parents don’t want to act too soon nor miss their window for a smooth transition.

As a general rule of thumb, most kids trade their cot for a ‘big kid’ bed sometime between 2 and 3½ years of age. There is nothing hard and fast about this guide though, so transition timing often comes down to the individual child and their family.

Some reasons that you may think it is time to unveil the big kid bed include:

  • Bedtime battles — your child is starting to unleash their inner monkey and climb out of their cot. Not only does this signal a readiness for progression but also poses a safety hazard.
  • Toilet training — a key part of getting out of nappies is being able to get to the toilet. Moving to a big kid bed may give your child more freedom to get to the smallest room for nighttime toilet stops.
  • Passing the mantle — you have a new baby who needs the cot for his or her own sleeping space. Try not to make your child’s transition from cot to bed coincide directly with the arrival of the new baby. This can give rise to sibling rivalry and a feeling that the baby has usurped their cot which has been their cozy and familiar sleeping space since birth.

Swapping a cot for a bed is an exciting milestone but comes hand in pyjamas with a bunch of considerations. One of the most important points to ponder is bed and sleeping safety for your little one.

Recent Australian injury and research statistics show that there has been a big spike in babies and toddlers sustaining injuries from falling out of beds and even cots for that matter. Over 2010-2011 alone, 879 out of 20,000 hospitalisations of children aged 0-4 years were due to falls from their bed. The main reasons for these falls are likely to be:

  • Failing to spot when the child is ready to move out of their cot
  • Prematurely transitioning the child into a big kid bed
  • Placing the child in an unsafe sleeping environment.

When you know your child is enjoying safe sleep in the best possible environment for their age and stage, then you can rest easy. So follow your child’s lead in determining their readiness to move from a cot to a bed. Then prep their sleeping space for optimum safety by eliminating hazards and using guardrails.


AIHW: Pointer S 2013, Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 1999-00 to 2010-2011. Injury research and statistics series no .86. Cat. No. INJCAT 162. Canberra: AIHW.

Monash University Injury Research Institute – Cot related injury to children (aged 0-4 years): Victoria July 2006 to June 2012

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