THE FIRST STEP
Most children will want to move to their own bed at some stage, but you may need to bring up the subject by visiting friends and talking about their friend's big bed just for him and how much room he has for his toys now and what a big boy he is. You might like to visit your local library and get a book about their new bed. We recommend My own Big Bed, by Anna Grossnickle Hines.
TAKE IT SLOW
Include your child in the purchase of their new bed, or if it’s one that’s already in the house, make it theirs with a new duvet cover. If the bed is quite high off the ground, put the mattress on the floor to begin with or tuck cushions underneath the mattress to create a slight rise so they won’t roll out.
ROOM TO MOVE
Put the bed in the room your child already sleeps in. Going from cot to bed is enough, without having to shift rooms as well.
INTRODUCE THE NEW BED DURING THE DAY
Put the bed next to the cot, all set up with its new bed cover and some toys, and let your child get used to seeing it for a few nights while they’re still sleeping in their cot. Encourage them to play on it during the day and talk about which night they will be a big boy or girl in their own big bed and discuss what will happen and how nice it will be. Do not make this night the one when you will be going out and leaving them with a babysitter! You will need to be around.
ONE THING AT A TIME
Don’t make the mistake of choosing to shift into the big bed in the same week you start toilet training. One change at a time is best.
On “big bed night” make sure you have no interruptions such as visitors. Follow your bedtime routine as usual and tuck them in with their favourite teddy or cuddly.
Occasionally, if the preparation work has been done, your toddler will snuggle up and simply go to “big kid” sleep. Most kids, however, will soon work out that without cot bars, they are free to leave their bed whenever they want. See this behaviour for what it is – an experiment to see what happens.
RULES ARE RULES
When they arrive in the lounge, try not to laugh at the look of sheer joy and independence on their face. Simply explain that big kids don’t get out of bed because they’re so busy being big that they need their sleep. Then quickly and firmly place them back into bed with a reassuring cuddle and off you go. Don’t let your child sit in the lounge with you or persuade you that they need another bedtime story. Just put them back to bed with as little reaction as possible.
Getting out of bed may happen quite a lot at first, but don’t lose your temper. The time you spend getting up and down and putting them back to bed will be time well-spent because after about three nights of this, they’ll finally get with the programme – just as long as you don’t lose your temper or give in and let them stay up. Both reactions will teach your toddler that by getting up they will get attention of some sort.
CHEER THEM ON
Be relentlessly positive about how they’re sleeping in a big bed. Tell Grandma how clever your child is – while they’re listening – and perhaps even give them a little gift for spending their first night in a big bed without getting up after lights out.
AND THE BIGGEST TIP!
Use your Go Go Bag right through this stage. Your child identifies sleep with their Go Go Bag and it is in essence their bed so by taking it from the cot to the big bed makes the switch that much easier. The longer you use the Go Go Bag the better. You can even train them to zip the bottom open to go to the toilet in the night and then go back to bed. Your child will grow out of needing to be in a sleeping bag long before they physically grow out of the 2 - 4 year option as its long enough to fit a 6 or 7 year old. When they are no longer activity sleeping or kicking their blankets off you can put them in sheets and blankets i.e. they can put the covers back over them if they come off allowing them to keep warm throughout the night.