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How to transition your child to their first big kid bed

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and transition your toddler to her first big kid bed. It’s an exciting new adventure you two are on, but as with any big changes it may initially also be challenging. Here is how to do it safely and how to make the transition easier for everyone involved.

Safety first

Since your child will now be able to move in and out of her bed freely, make sure her bedroom is toddler proof. So that if one night she gets it into her head to build a fire in the middle of room, it won’t be easy for her to do so. Thankfully, experts and parents who have been there before you have developed reliable strategies to prevent this and other disasters.

Keep anything flammable or poisonous out of the bedroom (that, of course, includes medicine). Install safety locks on the windows and make sure that blind cords or any other cords (mobiles included) are safely out of reach. Definitely attach furniture to the wall with brackets, and remove anything that your child could climb on, like chairs and ladders.

It’s also a good idea to install a safety gate in your child’s room to prevent her from going on a wild rampage around the house while her sleep-deprived parents are still in dreamland.

The best first big kid bed is a toddler bed. Those are usually only slightly bigger or the same size as cots so your child won’t feel overwhelmed by the expanse of mattress around her. A single bed is also an option, and will obviously last them longer, but as it’s easier to roll out of it we recommend you install a guardrail for safety if you choose to use a single bed.

However, bunk beds are unsafe for kids under nine.

Make the move exciting

Make the move as exciting as possible. Let them help set up the big bed and choose the sheets and the doona cover. Remember, at 2 or 3 they have so little control over their toddler lives that being able to choose their own bedding will feel revolutionary to them. Tell them how proud you are of them of how big and independent they’re getting.

Make the cot unavailable

If you’ve made the move, don’t leave the cot standing around. No matter how excited your toddler is about her new bed, the transition likely won’t be easy for them, and at some point they may ask to go back into their cot. Make sure it’s out of sight starting the first night in the big bed. Remind them it’s packed up and they have a new bed now.

Establish a consistent bedtime routine

Toddlers thrive on routines, especially in times of change and transitions. If possible, keep the same bedtime routine they’re used to. Allow them to take their favorite soft toys into their bed but make sure to establish the bed as a “quiet zone” rather than “exciting times area”. If they can have their old blanket from the cot they might find it reassuring as well. Be positive and say ‘good night’ calmly and cheerfully. In other words, avoid sounding too anxious or nostalgic as you’re imagining them moving into their first dorm room 15 years later. Leave a night-light on if they’re scared of the dark.

Be patient

Most importantly, be patient. Remember, you MIGHT be getting a tiny big closer to getting your kid out of the house and off to uni, but this particular transition might not be easy.

They will likely get out of bed a lot during the first few nights. They will need a lot of cuddles and reassurance. Be prepared for that and most importantly, don’t be impatient or annoyed or cross with them. Gently take them back into their bed every time,  say good night lovingly and reassuringly. Be firm, calm and loving.

And take heart. Your netflix binge watch night is just a few weeks away.

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