Cots and cot beds buying guide
From six months old, your baby can sleep in their own room. If they’ve been sleeping in a Moses basket or crib , you’ll need a sturdier cot (or cot bed) for the longer term. Read our guide to finding the best cot for your home.
There’s a wide range of cots on the market, suitable for babies from birth up to about two years old. Here are some of the features to look for when choosing a cot.
Adjustable base height: The position of the cot base can be adjusted as your baby grows. This means you can initially raise the mattress to give you easy access to your newborn, and lower it once your baby can pull itself up to a standing position.
Drop side: Some cots have a mechanism that allows you to raise or lower the side of the cot one-handed, whilst holding your baby in the other. This makes it easier to put your baby down for a sleep and lift him or her out. It also comes in very handy when you’re changing your baby’s bedding.
Fixed rail: Fixed rail cots are cheaper than those with drop sides. Some parents think they’re safer as the side can’t be accidentally dropped, leaving a baby vulnerable.
Teething rail: This is a protective safety covering along the side edges of the cot, which is designed for a baby to chomp down on it when teething starts.
Castors: These make it easier to move the cot around. Cots with castors usually have two or four wheels, two of which should be locked when the cot is in place.
- Make sure the distance between each cot bar is no less than 2.5cm (1in) and no more than 5cm (2in). This is to stop your baby from getting their arms or head trapped between the cot bars.
- If you have a second-hand cot, always buy a new mattress for it. Make sure the mattress fits snugly against the edges of the cot.
A cot bed can be used as a cot until your toddler is old enough to sleep in a proper bed. It can then be transformed into a bed by removing the side rails and replacing the foot end with a shorter footboard. This arrangement should be suitable for use until your child is about three years old.
Pros of a cot bed: A cot bed is larger but not necessarily more expensive than a cot, so is better value because you’ll be able to use it for longer. If you have enough room for a cot bed, this could be a good choice for your baby.
Cons of a cot bed: As they are larger than a standard cot, you may not be able to fit a cot bed in your bedroom, where your baby should sleep for the first six months. That means you’ll have to buy a smaller cot or crib as well.
Cot bed safety:
- Don’t convert your cot into a cot bed until you’re sure it’s safe for your toddler to get out of bed at night. At this point, you’ll need to check the whole room and any other areas your toddler can access for safety.
- Make sure your toddler can’t climb on to any furniture and there are no cords hanging down, that they could get their head caught in.
- Make sure all plug sockets have covers, sharp corners on furniture are cushioned and any door hinges are made safe.
The rules of safe sleeping for babies
There are some important safety rules to consider when it comes to deciding where your growing baby sleeps.
- Always put your baby down to sleep away from radiators, other heat sources and windows if you can. Otherwise check the windows are draught-free and lockable, and turn radiators and other heaters down to their lowest setting.
- If the room gets early-morning sun or your baby will be in the bedroom for daytime naps, make sure you provide shade for them.
- Make sure your baby can’t reach any dangling cords from blinds or other sources, as there’s a risk of strangulation.
- Don’t put your baby to sleep under shelving that could potentially fall on them, or near anything they could grab and pull down on top of them.
- Ensure your baby’s bed and mattress conforms to the latest BSI safety standards. For an at-a-glance guide, visit the British Standards Institute pages and search for the product you want to check.
- Buy a room thermometer. The ideal room temperature for babies is between 16° and 20°C (60° and 68°F). There will be times during the summer when the temperature may be higher than the recommended level, so you will need to adjust your baby’s sleepwear and bedding accordingly. For advice on how many baby blankets to use, read our guide on baby bedding.