#4. Top 10 things you don’t need for your baby

Sitting on the bed

You need a cot. One day you will need a single bed. You do not need a toddler bed, or a cot that will turn into a toddler bed.

#4 thing your baby doesn’t really need: A toddler bed

For at least the first 2 years your baby can sleep in their cot, or perhaps first in a bassinet and then a cot (I don’t recommend they sleep in your bed with you). Once they are big enough to leave the cot they can move straight into a single bed.

When Should My Baby Move Out of the Cot?

Ideally your baby can sleep in their cot until they are at least 2 years old. Somewhere between 2 and 3 they will be big enough and mature enough to be in a bed of their own.

Signs your child is ready for a ‘real’ bed are:

  • They can climb up and down independently off of the couch.
  • They understand that they are supposed to stay in their cot all night.
  • They are ready to be potty trained at night.

A common reason to move a child out of the cot is the arrival of another baby. If this is your reason for the change in sleeping arrangements but your child is not showing signs of being ready for a bed (ie. you wouldn’t normally move them out of the cot) think carefully about your options and reasons for moving the child before jumping straight to the toddler bed as what seems like the obvious answer.

Reasons You Might Like a Toddler Bed

Though I think it’s unnecessary, there are several commonly cited reasons for getting the toddler bed: its lowness to the ground is perceived as safer, its smaller size is perceived as more comforting for the small child, and its smaller size allows for greater flexibility in tight spaces.

Only the last reason is one I’m particularly convinced of. If you delay moving your child out of the cot until they are over 2 years old you will probably find that they have all but grown out of the toddler bed within the next year anyway. Is this comforting or just squishy to your child? If your child is big enough to climb on and off the couch then I presume the lowness of the toddler bed only appeals because you worry they will fall out at night and prefer they fall a few centimetres less?

Your Child Probably Won’t Fall Out of Bed

… much. It’s actually not as common as you’d think for children to fall out of bed, and if they do it’s not common for it to be a serious injury. Placing a guard rail along the side of a single bed will give you some peace of mind and stop a child from slipping off the edge anyway. If they did slip off the edge what would happen? They get a bit of a shock and perhaps a few bruises.

Growing up is all about meeting new challenges and learning how to deal with them. If we kept protecting our children from every possible bruise they’d never learn to walk, never ride a bike, never play in a playground, never play sport…. the list goes on and on.

Adults don’t fall out of bed because we sense the edge even in our sleep, that’s why you spread out in your sleep in a big bed but stay quite still if dozing on the couch. It takes practise to sense these edges and like everything else, we need to allow our children to practise even if we know there’s a chance they’ll hurt themselves, given we know they are so unlikely to be seriously hurt.

We need to judge what are acceptable risks to achieve desirable goals (ie. bruises from tripping while learning to walk or learning to sleep in a bed) rather than try to eliminate all risk completely.

Benefits of a Single Bed for Your Toddler

You can make your child feel really special if you make a big deal about moving into the big kid’s bed. Let them participate in getting the new bed ready and show them how proud and excited you are to see them growing up.

Now they are more grown up and in their own bed you can discuss your expectations about staying in bed at night. Give your child a chance to rise to the occasion. The longer you baby them and treat them as though they are incapable of following instructions and understanding rules, the more likely they are to play down to your low expectations.

This emphasis on growing up can go hand in hand with toilet training. If you have already begun toilet training during the day you can begin to teach about using the toilet at night, since your child can get in and out of bed by themselves. Making the clear break from the baby sized bed to grown up sized bed can be enormously helpful in giving kids a desire to leave nappies behind.

At last you can have a bedtime routine of stories and snuggling with your child in their own bed! This sets up a lovely future of bonding and quiet time before sleep which also helps your child feel safe and secure and positive about their new bigger bed.

If You’re Very Worried About the Height and Size of a Single Bed

  • Get a guard rail
  • Place something soft on the floor next to the bed for a while (pillows, blankets, another mattress)
  • Turn the doona/blanket sideways and tuck around the child and under the mattress, keeping them in the covers and on the bed

If Your Child is Nervous About the Size of the Bed and/or Getting In and Out of Bed When They Shouldn’t

Don’t avoid a teaching opportunity.

The short-term answer may be to have them in a smaller bed or a bed they can’t escape from, but if you think longer term you can embrace this chance to help build your child’s confidence and independence, to strengthen your own discipline techniques, and to work with your child to overcome obstacles.


Would you prefer to use a Toddler bed or a Single bed when your baby leaves the cot?


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Filed under Baby Product Advice, Babycare Advice, General, Tips and tricks

2 responses to “#4. Top 10 things you don’t need for your baby

  1. Pingback: #8. Top 10 things you don’t need for your baby. | NannySavvy

  2. We put a thick duvet blanket, doubled up, on the floor by the side of our children’s beds when they came to be of the age to transition into a ‘real’ bed without a guard rail. One of ours never needed it at all and never fell out of bed. The other fell out once, cried a lot (it is a shock for them) but didn’t hurt themselves at all. They never did it again!


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