Where to Sleep a Child Who Has Moved From a Cot

When to move a child from a cot to a bed, what type of bed to use, and how to provide a safe environment for a child.


Floor Mattress

One option is to take the mattress from a cot or a full height single bed and use it made up on the floor. Ensure the mattress is positioned away from the walls as young children can become trapped between the mattress and wall.

A child’s mattress needs to be firm to prevent sleep accidents. Keep the area around the mattress clear of soft toys, bean bags, plastic bags or similar objects that a young child can roll onto. Soft objects could mould around a young child’s face, resulting in suffocation.

Toddler Bed

Another option is to use a toddler bed:

  • They are a safe intermediate step due to their low level, which reduces the injury risks from falling out of a bed.
  • They are cost effective, as the cot mattress and bedding can be transferred to the toddler bed once the cot is no longer suitable for them.

Adult Height Bed

If you have decided to use an adult height bed, be mindful that babies and young children are at high risk of injury from falling out of the bed or becoming trapped between the bed and the wall.

  • Make sure there are no spaces between bars or panels bigger than 95mm. Bigger gaps can cause a young child to become trapped.
  • Keep the fall distance to a minimum and use soft flooring materials or a mattress around the bed to minimise injury from a fall.
  • Keep the area into which a child could fall free of furniture, toys and other hard objects.

Portable Bed Rails

If you have decided to attach portable bed rails to an adult height bed to prevent your child from falling, be mindful that children can become trapped if the rails are not fitted properly. Before placing your child to bed check that the portable bed rails fit tightly against the side of the mattress and there are no gaps between the mattress and the bed rail. This will help prevent a child’s body or head slipping through and becoming trapped.

Pillows, soft bedding and toys should not be placed against the bed rail. There have been cases of asphyxia in environments cluttered with soft toys. A young child can suffocate if their face becomes pressed against them. Wait until baby is two years of age and is no longer sleeping in a cot or portable cot before introducing a pillow for sleep.

Last modified: 8/9/23