Cot or Bed Playtime

Providing cot or bed playtime just after a sleep when your child is fresh, allows your child to become familiar with his or her sleep space, and comfortable with being alone there. You may need to stay in the room initially, then leave briefly to get things, then spend longer and longer out of the room while your child plays.

Some people would argue that by giving your child playtime you prevent the association between the sleep-space and sleep, by including associations between the sleep-space and play. This is a valid argument. You can take some steps to make cot or bed sleep-time, and play-time distinct. Firstly, give a very distinct cue for the end of a sleep period. For example, I sing a good morning song and open the blinds. Secondly, provide toys for playtime, but only a single attachment object (once this is no longer a suffocation hazard) during sleep-time. Thirdly, you can encourage a different position for playtime (such as sitting), and remove any wraps or sleeping bags. You can also use sleep sounds to signal sleep time (sleep cues).

If, despite this, your child gets used to playing in his or her cot or bed before sleep, in my opinion, this is not so bad.

Cot playtime is a recommendation made by the Dream Baby Guide. You can check out a summary here:

Please add your experiences with this approach in the comments below. Let us know how long you tried it it for. Please provide the age of your child when you tried it. If it worked, please share the effects you saw. If it didn’t work, why do you think it didn’t work in your case?


  1. Nicole Weeks

    “My daughter is happy to play in her cot whilst we are in the room so isn’t afraid to be in her cot. However will demand to be removed at times when she wants to be held.” (Mother of 11 month old girl tried this for about 8 weeks and found it did help)

  2. Nicole Weeks

    “Fine in cot during the day or playtime but does not want to go to sleep. Gets extremely distressed immediately when placed in cot for sleep time.” (Mother of 9 month old boy tried this for about 8 weeks and found it didn’t help)

  3. Nicole Weeks

    “He is much more comfortable ‘waiting’ in his cot when he wakes up from his daytime naps. He now calls out (sometimes crankily) for a few minutes then there is quiet – where he finds his books beside the cot – and will ‘read’ and play with his cot toys for up to 30mins! So far, only daytime play in the cot but he is comfortable in there (as opposed to anxious and keen to escape the cot)” (Mother of 16 month old boy tried this for about 2 weeks and found it did help)

  4. Nicole Weeks

    “It was effective and now not so.” (Mother of 8 month old girl tried this for about 16 weeks and found it did help for a time)

  5. Nicole Weeks

    “Helped my child relax in her cot” (Mother of one year old girl tried this, found it did help, and started seeing improvements after about 2 weeks).

  6. Nicole Weeks

    “More accepting of cot. Should go back to it again.” (Mother of 7 month old girl tried this, found it did help, and started seeing improvements in less than a week).


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