cotbed duvet. transition from sleeping bag to duvet and pillow

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.

When to take sides off cot bed

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.

Baby sleeping bag VS toddler duvet / blanket - Which is better? And when is the right time to make the transition between baby sleeping bag and duvet without breaking routines and disturbing sleep?




  1. Oh dear, these things really are never straight forward are they?! Allegra is 19 months now and I have just bought a load of 18-36 month sleeping bags after pondering the bag vs duvet conundrumn – tricky decisions! x

    1. Exactly! I only considered making the switch to duvet because he’d outgrown his current sleeping bags and I didn’t want to buy more. But I do think it’s good to have one sleeping bag in reserve for those nights when he’s being difficult and won’t let me ‘tuck him in’. We were up for FOUR HOURS with him the other night, after I finally switched him back into his bag he fell asleep on his own – I think the added warmth of the bag helped, he’d been throwing off the duvet and getting cold so wasn’t able to fall asleep. When he’s in a less stubborn mood he’s fine with the duvet though.

  2. Thank you for this!! I think we need a duvet as elf is constantly taking her grobag off and then can’t get back into it, at least with a duvet there’s a chance she may be able to cover herself up!

    I was going to go into John Lewis this weekend but after reading the above I think I’ll head straight for ikea. That’s where I’m planning on getting her big girls bed from in a few weeks so it’d make sense to buy the duvet from there. And I like the sound of the flat pillow! X

    1. John Lewis do nice duvets, more pricey though. If you are moving her into a big girl bed soon, I would maybe consider getting a cotbed duvet, as the IKEA cot duvet may be a bit small. But it’s the perfect size for a cotbed with the sides up.

  3. We popped a duvet on Elliot’s bed when we took the sides off it. He was just over a year old. We used grobags when he was little but as soon as he learnt to walk it was safer for him to not be zipped into a sleeping bag.

    I bought a duvet from John Lewis and the IKEA duvet cover fits it perfectly. It’s cot sized though.

  4. On a whim I decided to get a duvet and pillow for Willow. Ours too was from Ikea, the whole shebang. I think I spent two minutes googleing what age a child could have a duvet and then just did it. Reading this, I think you may be a bit of a better, more thorough Mum than me! I took Willow out of the gro-bag because she used to spend a good hour running around her cot before settling. She would always trip herself up and I’d have to go up and sort her out. With the duvet she just seems a lot more comfortable. I do think it’s WELL cute tucking them up under a duvet though, even if they don’t stay under it for long!

    1. Arlo is really weird and insists on staying in his sleeping bag for an hour after he wakes up in the morning. As a result, I’ve realised that he can walk fine in it…probably not very safe though.

  5. such an interesting read – thankfully one to tag for re-read another day. LO is nearly 9 months old and is such a squirmy sleeper so only sleeps in his 2.5 tog bag. I feel a bit guilty at night time when I pull up the duvet around my ears for warmth and he’s there in his cot looking so exposed. He’s his father’s son though and I think he has fire in his veins as it doesn’t seem to bother him.

    1. At 9 months Arlo was such a wriggly sleeper. He’d end up in all sorts of positions throughout the night. He’s a little better at lying in the one spot now!

  6. I have been struggling with different options, and was getting fed up of being woken up with my daughter being cold as her new duvet had fallen off. She didn’t like being in her baby sleeping bag any more so l wasn’t sure what to do. Last week at Burghley Horse Trials l bought something called a Toddler Snuggle Sac – it’s been brilliant. It is more grown up than a baby sleeping bag, and doesn’t slide off like a duvet. My daughter has slept through the night, and being a really wriggly sleeper this was becoming a very rare thing! Her snuggle Sac is a really pretty pink with large polka dots and what l also love is the fact it is soft and cosy with a cotton lining. I didn’t have to persuade her to get into bed – she wanted to!

  7. Hi there from cold Toronto! Stumbled on this lovely site as was trying to find an answer whether sleeps sacks are warmer than duvets of the same tog? It sounds like you might know the answer.
    My son sleeps in a light PJ and a 0.5Tog sleep sack at room temp 22-23c, I feel I would be cold with a duvet of 0.5.

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