As your baby grows into a toddler, the age old question crops up: When should I transition my child from sleeping bag to duvet and pillow?
This question concerning cotbed duvets VS sleeping bags often comes at around the same time as another question: When should I take the sides off the cot bed?
Having been through this process of transitioning to a bed rather than a cot, moving from sleeping bags to a duvet and pillow, with all three of my children, I now have a pretty good idea of when is the right time and which order to make this transition to a bed more suitable for a growing toddler.
Using a duvet inside a cot or cotbed
With my first child (pictured at the top of this post), we transitioned from sleeping bags to a duvet before we took the sides off his cot. However, I’d only recommend using a duvet in a cot if it is a small size and a low tog.
4.5 is apparently the recommended tog for a cot duvet. But in my extensive internet research, loads of people were saying that they were shocked at how thin 4.5 tog was and that it wasn’t warm enough. Because I was petrified of Arlo being too cold and disturbing my sleep at night, I opted for a 7.5 tog cotbed duvet. It turned out to be way too thick. Much warmer than he would be in his sleeping bags.
Also, the 7.5 tog cotbed duvet seemed HUGE inside his cotbed. Using a duvet on a cotbed with the sides off, where there is more room for the duvet to hang off the sides of the bed. But in full cot configuration (with the side on), I would recommend using a 4.5 tog cot sized duvet rather than cot bed sized.
Basically, if you have the sides off your cotbed, then a cotbed duvet fits fine. If you have the sides still up on your cotbed, then a cotbed duvet will be too big. It will bunch up loads and will probably be too hot for the little person underneath. If you need to keep the sides up on your cot, and your toddler is ready to transition out of sleeping bags, I think either a 4.5 tog cot duvet like this one, or a cellular blanket would be a safer choice.
We found the best cot duvet to use inside a cotbed was the IKEA LEN cot duvet for £8. IKEA also do a premium cot duvet at £15, the LENAST cot quilt. If you are not near an IKEA, you can buy the IKEA LEN duvet and pillow on Amazon
IKEA cotbed pillow
IKEA also do a cot pillow that is a really great shape for an introductory toddler pillow. It’s very flat, so it helps with the transition from no pillow to pillow. I have found some other toddler pillow brands we have bought to be too bulky for a child not used to using pillows. The IKEA LEN pillow is also available on Amazon.
When should I transition my child from sleeping bag to duvet and pillow?
With all three of my children, I have found the best time to transition from sleeping bag to duvet is in the summer months, when the temperature is warmer and it doesn’t matter if they end up throwing their duvet off. There is more chance they will get cold if you attempt to transition from sleeping bag to duvet in the winter months, or in Spring / Autumn, when the heating is off but the nights can still be on the chilly side. It takes a while for a toddler to learn how to pull the covers back over themselves when they are cold.
Obviously, every household is different and it will depend on the climate where you live, and how warm your bedrooms are at night. But the general rule is that it’s far easier to make this transition to a duvet in warmer temperatures.
My third child is two and a half years old and we are currently in the process of moving him from cot to toddler bed. We took the sides off his cot recently, but for the moment, are keeping him in his toddler sleeping bag, because the overnight temperatures are still cold and I think it would affect his sleep to move to a cotbed duvet right now!
The negative to doing it this way round is the safety issue of my toddler being able to get out of his bed whilst still inside his sleeping bag. It could prove dangerous if he decided to try and get down the stairs in his sleeping bag. Currently, he waits for me to come in and help him out of his sleeping bag in the morning. But for this reason, I wouldn’t advise leaving too long between taking the sides off a cotbed, and moving from a sleeping bag to a duvet. We plan to transition Otto from his sleeping bag to a duvet within the next month or so once we are into early summer.
When should I take the sides off the cotbed?
The answer to this one will be individual for each child. But my general answer about when to take the sides of a cot bed is that there is no rush – with each of my children I’ve liked to leave the sides on their cot bed until they are able to climb out, or until I’ve felt that they were ready for that extra level of independence. This has usually been at around two and a half or three years of age, but I know that many toddlers do learn to climb out much earlier!
Should I transition my toddler from sleeping bag to duvet before I take the sides off the cot bed?
As mentioned above, I have done variations of this with my children. My first had a duvet in his cot before I took the sides off. My youngest had the sides off his cot bed before I transitioned him out of sleeping bags. Generally, and because I’m not overly happy with the safety of using a duvet inside a cot with the sides on, I prefer to take the sides off the cot before I introduce a toddler duvet. But if your child is going to be in a sleeping bag in an open bed, you need to carry out your own risk assessment of your house, and have a stairgate at the top of the stairs, etc.
If your child is good with change, or you can handle the potential disruption to your sleep for an undetermined period whilst your toddler adjusts, it’s probably best to transition your toddler from sleeping bags to a duvet at the same time as you take the sides off their cot bed or introduce them to a ‘grown up’ bed.