Your child’s first bed

There’s no set age at which you should move your child from a cot to a bed, but many children are ready between 18 months and 2 years of age.

When to move your child

Some reasons for moving your child from a cot to a bed may be:

  • they are too big for their cot
  • they keep climbing over the sides of their cot and could fall
  • you have a baby who needs the cot.

Keep your child safe in bed

Moving from a cot to a bed means that your child can get out of bed more easily. They may also fall out of bed while sleeping because there isn’t a side rail to stop them falling when they roll over.

Start off by placing the mattress on the floor for your child to sleep on. Once you’re sure your child won’t roll out of the bed you can move the mattress up off the floor and onto the bed.

Position the bed so that it’s in a corner of the bedroom. This will mean there are two sides of the bed where your child can’t roll out. You can also buy guard rails that attach to the sides of the bed to prevent your child falling out.

Place another mattress or cushions on the floor below the bed. If your child does fall out, the mattress or cushions will help keep them from hurting themselves. Move other bedroom furniture, such as tables, lamps and bookcases, away from your child’s bed.

Bunk beds are not suitable for children under 9 years of age – even if you plan to let them sleep in the lower bunk.

Help your child to settle

To help your child settle in to their new bed, keep their regular bedtime routine in place (eg, bath, story, cuddle, bed). Move any favourite blankets and toys with your child.

If your child keeps getting out of bed:

  • take them back to bed straight away
  • tell them that you want them to stay in bed, “It’s time to go to bed – see you in the morning”
  • leave the room. 

Related websites

Sleep – Plunket
About sleep and settling children to sleep.

Calling out and getting out of bed – Raising Children Network (Australia)
What to do if your child won’t settle in their bed.

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