Shorter version of this blog published on the Ergobaby UK (& Europe) website, 5th September 2022.
It can be exciting or even a little heartbreaking to see your little one leave their cot bed and sleeping bag behind. The time comes to progress to a big new bed and make fun of moving to a toddler duvet and pillow!
But when is the right time to transition to a cot duvet safely?
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When to say goodbye to the sleeping bag
With the growing range of sleeping bags and sizes available, your little one can theoretically stay in a sleeping bag until they are about five years old. Sleeping bags are easy to use, and your children usually have positive associations with them. Let’s be honest: the designs and colours of sleeping bags or now ‘rompers’ with foot openings are just super cute!!
But when would you consider a duvet and thin pillow for your little one?
When should parents consider moving their little one to a big bed? When you start potty training at night? By then, at the latest, there will be a certain need to make it easier for your child to access the toilet.
Of course, your child may also ask for a pillow and a duvet by their own accord – simply because they want to be “big” too. From a professional point of view, there is no such thing as THE right time. So please don’t put yourself or your child under pressure.
I recommend a sleeping bag for babies under the age of two years. A pillow is not recommended at this age, and if you do, it should be very thin. For stomach sleepers, a pillow should definitely be avoided.
For children under one year of age, pillows can even pose a risk of sudden infant death syndrome. At this age, loose duvets are also not entirely safe, as your child can pull them over his or her head. It is therefore important to use a sleeping bag that fits well and does not slip. If you want to use a blanket at this age, it should always be well secured on the right and left sides.
Is your child ready for a pillow and toddler duvet? A few considerations
It would be nice to avoid any unnecessary toddler sleep issues!
If your child is older than two and you or your little one would like to switch to a pillow and duvet, here are a few considerations: Remember that without a sleeping bag, it will be easier for your child to climb in and out of bed. This means that it may also be necessary to think about additional safety aspects.
Will your child be able to stay in bed through the night or will they pay you a late-night visit?
Impulse control usually starts to develop around the age of three and doesn’t fully develop until about 7 years. So if your child is currently happy in their cot and not climbing out, don’t feel pressured to change anything. A cot remains totally suitable.
If your child discovers their new found freedom and does start to get out of bed frequently after bedtime or during the night then it may be time to set some clearer expectations and boundaries about what we do at night!
Using visual cues such as my flashcards can help make our expectations nice and clear. You may also want to consider a toddler clock which helps to tell them when it’s still nighttime and they have to stay in bed, and when they can get out!
Also, make sure your child is sleeping soundly before switching to a duvet and a thin pillow. We want to avoid unnecessary wakes. Some toddlers move around a lot during sleep, which can cause duvets to fall off easily during the night.
Sleeping bags may still be best
If your child gets cold at night because the duvet has fallen off, he or she might sleep more restlessly or it can even lead to multiple night wakings. Using a toddler duvet just doesn’t make sense if they’re still active sleepers and settling in one position isn’t possible!
Before placing that order, consider, is your little one dexterous enough to wake up, realise that the duvet or blanket has fallen off, pick it up again, and replace it over themselves at night time without needing the help of an adult? If so, then they are really big enough to have their own duvet, because when you think about it, it really is quite an advanced skill for a young child, especially in the middle of the night.
If a duvet falls off, that’s often how night waking’s happen. Try and use a bigger duvet (for example a single duvet on a toddler bed) so that more fabric can be tucked in under the mattress on the sides. Or change the orientation to landscape so that the sides are tucked in tightly between the bed frame and the mattress. This way your child is wrapped up tightly and the duvet stays in place better.
If they’re really restless then you may want to consider a coverless duvet (so the sheet and duvet don’t become separated and get all tangled).
You can also get some duvet clips like these which will do the job nicely.
Toddler duvet and toddler bed
Once you have thought about all the different points and you and your child are ready for the duvet and pillow, go shopping together! There are some lovely bedding sets for toddlers and a great opportunity to let your child choose the colours and prints for their room.
This will also help build positive feelings about their sleeping environment and they will be more happy and open to change too!
Moving to a toddler bed can be a challenge for some as it’s too easy to get out. Most children develop impulse control around the age of 3 so they’ll be more able to understand that they stay in bed at nighttime. If your toddler is a climber though, you may need to transition early to keep them safe. In this case, you’d treat their whole bedroom as a cot thinking about their safety if they’re moving around at night.
Question and answer
Q. What age can you use a toddler duvet?
A. Most parents upgrade from a sleeping bag to a toddler duvet between 2-4 years. To ensure safety and reduce the risk of suffocation or SIDS, it is advisable to wait until your toddler is at least 18 months old before introducing a duvet. At this age, they have better control over their mobility, making it safer for them to have a pillow and a thicker blanket or duvet. Individual readiness and consulting with a professional such as a sleep specialist, are important considerations when deciding the appropriate time for this transition.
Q. How do you introduce a toddler to a duvet?
A. Go shopping together! Let them choose the prints so it feels special and they’re excited about ‘upgrading’! Try a bigger size so it can be tucked in.
If it doesn’t work out, that’s ok! Pop it away and try again a little later on.
Q. What duvet should a 2 year old have?
A. There are so many on the market! From antibacterial, to breathable, to anti-allergy, a thicker duvet, a thinner duvet! Wool duvets, bamboo fibres, weighted blankets, easy wash and more!
For colder nights (less than 16 degrees in the room) you’ll want your little one in a 10.5 TOG duvet which will provide warmth. For warmer and hot weather in the summer, they’ll be more comfortable in a 4 TOG duvet.
We want them to feel comfortable and cosy without being too hot. So finding breathable fabrics can really make a difference.
Q. Are weighted blankets or weighted sleeping bags recommended for babies?
A. No. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and other organisations have recently said (in 2022) that they are not suitable for safe sleep.
Q. When can a toddler have a duvet?
A. Usually between 2-4 years of age a toddler is ready to make the transition from sleeping bag to duvet. It’s not a process you need to rush.
Q. What age can a baby have a duvet?
A. Its not advisable to give your baby a duvet. To protect against SIDS, your baby should have no loose bedding in their cot. It’s best to keep them in a sleeping bag until they are a minimum of 18 months, preferably closer to 2 years.
Q. What age can a baby have a pillow?
A. It’s not advisable to give your baby a pillow. They need to have excellent head control and mobility before you introduce items such as pillows and loose bedding into their cot to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation. You can reconsider when they are an older toddler and have excellent mobility. Most parents introduce a duvet and pillow between 2-4 years of age.
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