When Should You Take the Sides off Your Cot Bed?
Cot beds are beds created especially for infants. A cot bed has protective sides that keep the baby from falling out of bed. The great thing about having a cot bed is that when your baby grows older you can take off the sides and turn it into a normal bed for toddlers.
Take the sides off your cot bed when your child is ready for the transition to a toddler bed, according to experts. This usually happens between 18 months and 3 years.
- Can your newborn use a cot bed from birth?
- Can twins use a cot bed? For how long? What about SIDS?
- How big are cot beds and cot bed mattresses?
How Do You Know It Is Time to Take The Sides off Your Cot Bed?
The reasons you should take the sides off a cot bed include the following:
- Your infant protests being in the bed
- Your infant keeps trying to climb out of bed
- You want to reward your infant with more freedom
- You want your infant to learn to be conscious of their sleeping space and not fall out of bed
Your infant protests being in the bed
Experts say that the time to take the sides off a cot bed varies with each child. One of the ways you can know that it is time to turn your child’s cot bed into a toddler bed is by paying attention to your child’s reactions when you put him/her in the cot bed. There might come a time when your child will start exhibiting behavior that seems like a protest even when you've made sure the cot bed is cozy.
Even though your child’s protest is a sign to make the transition from cot bed to toddler bed, it is not something that you should wait for if you feel like your child has outgrown the cot bed.
Your infant keeps trying to climb out of bed
Soon after children learn to stand holding the sides of the cot bed, they start making efforts to climb. What you can do initially to reduce their risk of falling is lower the mattress level and move the cot bed such that the higher side comes at the front. While these steps will protect your child at first, there will come a time when your child is able to climb over the sides too quickly. You can consider this as a sign that your child is ready for a bed that allows more freedom of movement.
Based on this information you may be wondering, do you even need a cot bed?
You want to reward your infant with more freedom
If you have been trying to teach your child good sleep habits and you see that they have started picking up and are learning, taking the sides off the cot bed is a good way to reward them and reinforce good behavior.
Child psychologists consider positive reinforcement a great tool for managing children’s behavior. As a parent you can use the time of the transition from cot bed to toddler bed as an opportunity to reinforce good sleep behavior. This can be done by making it known to them that their new bed is a reward.
You want your child to be conscious of their sleeping space
Another important reason why you should take the sides off a cot bed is to teach your child to be conscious of his/her sleeping. Cot beds are protected from all sides and there is no risk of falling out no matter how much a child rolls or moves during sleep. Due to this reason your child may not be aware of the risk of falling.
After removing the protection, with the passage of time, your child becomes aware of the risk of falling and thus becomes more responsible with his/her movements.
Should You Take Only One Side off Your Cot Bed?
You can remove only one side of the cot bed to make the transition from the cot bed to the toddler bed smooth. Most infants, as they grow up and learn to stand and maintain their balance, develop a habit of standing in their cot bed by holding the sides.
Your child may still tend to stand on the bed even after you convert it into a toddler bed. For this reason, we advise you to start by removing one side of the cot bed even if you plan to remove both sides eventually. This will give your child time to become familiar with bed safety rules. If, during this time, your child stands on the bed, there will be something to hold on to in case your child loses balance.
While it is okay to remove both sides of the cot bed after your child successfully learns the bed safety rules, it is not necessary. To make the transition from cot bed to toddler bed, it is generally enough to remove just one side of the bed.
How Do You Take the Sides off Your Cot Bed?
To remove the sides of a cot bed, follow these steps:
- Unscrew the removable side (or sides)
- Remove the side
- Lower the mattress height
- Insert toddler rails
Unlike traditional cribs, cot beds come with a feature that allows you to remove the sides of the bed. One of the sides of the cot bed is usually higher than the other side, for both aesthetic and practical reasons. In some cot beds there is only one removable side and in others you can remove both sides. You may also like this article on how to assemble a cot bed.
Unscrew the removable side (or sides)
The first thing you need to do to take the sides off the cot bed is to unscrew the sides carefully. You might have to use a drill or a screwdriver. In some cot beds there are special locks and you can remove the sides simply by undoing those locks.
Remove the side
Having unscrewed or unlocked the side, the next step is to remove it. The first thing to keep in mind is to keep your feet at a safe distance from the cot bed when you are unscrewing the side to prevent the risk of getting hurt if the side comes off suddenly. In most cases, this does not happen. You often have to give a little wiggle to remove the sides after they are unscrewed.
Lower the mattress height
Cot beds with removable sides also come with an adjustable mattress board. This is to make sure that they are suitable to be converted into a toddler bed. So after you remove the sides, the next step is to lower the mattress level so that it is closer to the floor than it was before.
Insert toddler rails
Some cot beds come with additional rails which are smaller in size than the sides of the cot bed and are meant to keep the child protected without making him/her feel caged. When you remove the sides of the cot bed and lower the mattress level, you can install the toddler bed rails so that your child still gets some protection during the transition from cot bed to toddler bed.
You do not need to worry if your cot bed does not come with toddler bed rails, because in this article we will discuss some tips that you can use to make your child’s transition safer after you remove the sides off a cot bed.
How Do You Train Your Child to Safely Transition When You Take the Sides off Your Cot Bed?
To train your child to use a cot bed without sides, follow these tips:
- Remove only one side first
- Lower the mattress height
- Make the area fall friendly
- Make the room Toddler friendly
- Install Toddler rails
By removing only one side first you are able to make sure that the child is not overwhelmed by the change and there is still a degree of familiarity with the bed, as well as something to hold onto if your child loses balance.
Lower the mattress height
Cot beds come with an adjustable mattress level. When you remove the sides of a cot bed, make sure that the next thing you do is lower the mattress level. This step is important because when you remove the sides of the cot bed the distance of the mattress from the floor becomes an important factor in the safety of your child.
Make the area fall friendly
If your cot bed’s mattress level is not adjustable or is still too high after the adjustment you can try getting a little more creative. You can make the area around the bed fall friendly by keeping floor cushions around it. This will ensure that even if the child falls down he/she will not get hurt because the cushions will act as shock absorbers.
Toddler friendly surroundings
One of the worries parents have is that their child will walk off the bed when they themselves are sleeping or distracted. This is reasonable, and one way you can help keep your child safe is by making the room toddler friendly. Make sure that there are no sharp objects lying around.
Another important thing is to install a child gate on your staircase and to keep your doors closed. If you are able to afford it, you can also use motion sensor alarms to act as child escape alarms.
Install Toddler rails
If your cot bed comes with toddler rails, you can simply install the rails after taking the sides off to help smooth the transition from cot bed to toddler bed. If your toddler bed doesn’t come with rails and you think rails are a good idea you can also order the rails separately and install them yourself.