How does it happen? You put your child to bed one evening, read them a story, tuck them in and kiss their sweet little head. The next morning? They’re a foot taller, speaking to you in gruff grunts and appear to have developed an in depth knowledge of every famous YouTuber under the age of 24.
Children do, quite literally, grow overnight. Whether it’s from tiny baby to independent toddler or from sweet little tween to raging bundle of teenage hormones, your kid’s physical (and sometimes cerebral) changes happen quickly and with alarming regularity.
When these growth spurts happen, it’s usually glaringly obvious that your child’s going to need a whole new wardrobe. Trousers are swinging around ankles and rounded tummies are poking out from beneath t-shirts, Dora the Explorer style. But it can be more difficult to know when to upgrade your child’s bed. Their feet may not be hanging over the end of the bedstead but does that mean they don’t require a little more sleeping space? And how often is this bed upgrade going to have to take place? Enquiring minds and dwindling bank accounts need to know…
Jupiter Wooden Midsleeper Bed Set
Children and their growth spurts
Most obvious in the first year of their life, a child tends to go through a series of fairly predictable growth spurts, rapidly growing in height and putting on weight. Some children may grow out before shooting up, some beanpole upwards before filling out. For health experts, the most important thing is that the two – weight (or length) and height – are complementary, without one outweighing (‘scuse the pun) the other [i].
Ahead of and during a growth spurt, at any age, you may notice a few things:
- Your child may become ravenously hungry, demanding more snacks than ever (is that even possible?!) and eating more during mealtimes
- They might be grumpy or clingy, needing more attention than usual or seem like they’re getting ill
- He or she might sleep for longer or require more naps than normal
Most parents get to know the tell-tale signs of an upcoming growth spurt. But if you don’t, don’t worry! There’s nothing you need to do to prepare your youngling for their sudden growth and soon all that eating and sleeping will all make sense.
Growth spurt ages: when to expect the spurt
Babies have fairly regular growth spurts, becoming hungrier and putting on weight at around the following ages [ii]:
- One to three weeks
- Six to eight weeks
- Three months
- Six months
- Nine months
A child will continue to grow at a steady but slower pace after twelve months of age, with most toddlers putting on around five pounds between the ages of one and two. This time is taken up with growing their brains and becoming the independent little know-alls who can tell you exactly what they should eat, which clothes look best and when bedtime should actually be, but thanks for your input anyway Mummy.
A 2017 study carried out into childhood development recognised three phases of growth in childhood [iii]:
- Phase 1: Growth that rapidly decelerates from birth to around three years
- Phase 2: A steady height increase throughout childhood
- Phase 3: Adolescent growth spurts to adult height
And it’s those adolescent growth spurts – your child hitting (please god, no) puberty– which are going to really affect your home and your child’s comfort.
Usually beginning in girls aged nine to ten years old, and boys when they reach eleven or twelve [iv] this (to use boffin terminology) pubertal growth spurt will see your child grow by a maHOOsive average of 30.5cm over three years in boys and 28.5cm over two and a half years in girls.
Infant growth spurts: when will my toddler need a bed?
Now we know that your not so little one’s destined for some sudden growth at certain times during childhood, we can get on with the fun part - making plans to furnish their room!
Of course, during babyhood a cot or crib is an essential, but once your child gets to around two they’ll probably need a big person bed.
We’re sure you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but let us say it again; every child is different. Some will need to graduate to a bed at 18 months, for some they’ll happily stay in a cot until two and a half or even three years old.
Chances are you’ll know it’s time for the upgrade when they suddenly appear in your bedroom doorway, having clambered out for a late night roam around the house (we’re sorry to tell you that this is probably the first of many midnight rambles).
Some toddlers simply outgrow their cot, becoming too long to comfortably fit. In many cases, the imminent arrival of a baby brother or sister prompts the decision to make the move from cot to bed.
Many people choose a toddler bed at this point, making the transition from cot to bed easy with something that is similar in size to a cot. However, a kids’ bed such as the Mi Zone Classic Wooden Bed Frame is an ideal choice for small sleepers, giving them space to grow, while both foot and head boards provide a familiar safe feel.
Transitioning from toddler bed to big bed
Whether you opt for a toddler bed or not, your child is likely to be in his or her first full single sized bed by age four or five. The change from toddler bed to full size might be prompted by the following:
- Growth spurts: many parents say they know it’s time to change up when they hear their child thumping on footboards as they move around at night
- A new bedroom: a house move or a new arrival might prompt a move from the nursery to a new, bigger room with a new, bigger bed
- An upper weight limit: some toddler beds are supplied with a weight limit, which your child is likely to hit in the blink of an eye
- Wobbles and creaks: convertible cots that can be changed into toddler beds can, mums tell us, be less sturdy when converted to their bed form, becoming unstable after just a few months of use with the need to regularly tighten up bolts for security
The first ‘big’ bed
When choosing your child’s first big bed, there’s plenty to think about:
- Style: first and foremost you’ll want something that fits into their bedroom scheme
- Longevity: how long will your child willingly use their new bed?
- Fun: is there much more excitement to be had than that of climbing into a high bed at night? Younger children will love the independence the Stompa Auburn Wooden Midsleeper gives them.
- Flexibility: whether it’s a trundle bed for sleepovers, or a bunk bed to share with a sibling, an extra spot for another child can be a real bonus.
Stompa Auburn Wooden Midsleeper
If you opt for a loft or mid sleeper bed, bunk bed or small single, you’re likely to be making one last bed purchase for your child as they reach the terrible teens…
Another growth spurt: teenager changes
Is your teen suddenly all elbows and knees? Crashing around the place like a bull in a china shop? Bumping into door frames and breaking everything they so much as look at? Welcome to the teenage growth spurt!
Between the start of puberty and around age 14 to 15 in girls and 16 in boys [v], your child is going to grow at an alarming rate. In fact, so break neck is the speed at which teens grow that all that smashing about isn’t usually plain old thoughtlessness, it’s your teen getting used to the new body and strength that their brain just isn’t prepared for (so maybe give them a break next time they slam the car door off its hinges).
With these growth spurts come a whole new adult-size, adult-price wardrobe, shoes that wouldn’t look out of place on Coco the Clown and, most likely, a new bed to accommodate those dangerous limbs.
Choosing a bed for a teenager
Whether you opted for a bunk bed, a cute kid’s cabin bed, or an understated adult single, there’s a good chance your growing child will need a new bed when they hit puberty.
While most teenagers would kill for a double bed, most rooms simply won’t accommodate one alongside the accoutrements of the teenager – the PlayStation, the artistic pile of coke cans, the socks that didn’t make it to the washing basket.
A great alternative to a fully-fledged adult bed is a bunk bed with a more grown up feel, such as the Stompa Juniper High Sleeper. This super stylish bed has desk space underneath with enough room for their games console and a homework station. It's a great compromise to a double bed and offers ample storage space for all those bits and bobs teenagers need.
Stompa Juniper High Sleeper
If a sleeper bed just isn't their style, the up to the minute Bergamo 2-in-1 bed frame will please any teen. It includes a built-in USB charger for the phone or tablet that can’t be out of arm’s reach, a trundle bed for the best friend sleepovers they’ll never outgrow and a sleek upholstered finish, ideal for grown-up decorative schemes.
Growing pains and the importance of a good mattress
Growing pains are common in children and can strike children at any age between three and twelve years of age [vi]. As they grow up, many children will complain of:
- Aching or throbbing legs
- Sore muscles (it’s rare that growing pains are felt in the joints)
- Pain in the evening or overnight, usually disappearing by morning
These growing pains can seem like something to be concerned about – occasionally they’ll even wake your child up at night - but they’re totally normal, especially in active kids.
Although growing pains are likely to stop by age twelve, for many teens learning to use and manoeuvre a fast growing body can cause its own challenges. This might include knee and back pain caused by being squashed into too-small school chairs, bumps and bruises from everyday teenage clumsiness and, for young women, period pains that can range from mild discomfort to tears and tantrums.
To help support your child’s body as they grow a good mattress is an absolute must. This will help to take the pressure off of growing joints and muscles and encourage a good night’s sleep – vital for young people who need more rest than us adults .
The best mattress for children
When it comes to mattresses there’s no one size fits all solution. For most people, children and adults alike, there are four common mattress types to choose from:
- Memory foam
- Hybrid (often combining springs and memory foam)
Whichever you opt for, be certain to choose a mattress that offers good support. Sprung mattresses are an excellent choice for children, offering responsive comfort for growing fidgets. Meanwhile, memory foam can last a long time and will provide adaptive support, even as your child’s body changes and grows. Memory foam also cradles the body and may, therefore, discourage tossing and turning for a much-needed good night’s sleep.
While some adults prefer a soft mattress, we recommend choosing a firmer bed for children. This will ensure good support for the spine as it grows, encouraging a better sleeping posture and helping to minimise the potential for spinal complaints as your child develops.
It’s vital to choose a mattress that correctly fits your chosen bed, with mattresses for elevated beds advised to be no deeper than 15cm. This will make sure that your child is safely guarded by the bunk or high sleeper bed’s side rails.
As children grow up they may need a new mattress, even if they don’t require a new bed frame. If their mattress is worn out, broken or sagging, it’s probably time to make the change.
READ MORE: Check out our top five signs that your mattress needs replacing to learn more.
From beds to wardrobes: furnishing your child’s room
When you first decorated that beautiful nursery little did you know that you’d be revamping your child’s room over and over again until adulthood. Needing much more than a lick of paint every couple of years, your child’s bedroom will need new furniture – and that’s not just a bed – pretty regularly too.
For example, the lovely chest of drawers that was perfect for their baby onesies will need to be exchanged for a wardrobe that suits the jeans that get longer every year (the neutral Hip Hop wardrobe with two drawers provides plenty of space and has a long lasting build) and it’ll be no time before they’re demanding a dressing table or gaming desk.
No matter what fads come and go, new hobbies they take on or décor demands they make, one thing that will remain most important when it comes to your child’s bedroom is a well-made, supportive and correctly sized bed that’s built to withstand everything that your little terror can throw at it.
At Bensons for Beds, everyone receives a minimum 5 year guarantee on all beds, sofa beds, bedroom furniture, and mattresses, which provides extra peace of mind when making important decisions about what goes into your bedroom.
Still unsure about where to start when choosing a bed for your child? Our sleep experts are here to help. Visit us in store, call us on 0808 144 6160 or book a free virtual video appointment to talk through your options.