As a new parent it is only natural that you would want to choose the best cot for your baby. Knowing what the tips and safety standards are to look out for will go a long way to helping you be sure that you have made the right selection. Here are some tips regarding the safety aspects of using a cot.
Buying a cot: What to look for – standard cots
For fixed-based cots
The distance from the mattress base to the lowest part of the top of the cot should be at least:
- 600 mm when drop-side is up or at cot base lowest setting
- 300 mm when drop-side is down or at cot base highest setting
For adjustable cots
Adjustable cots should only have two base heights. The distance between the top of the mattress base and the lowest part of the top of the cot should be at least:
- 600 mm when the base is in the lowest position
- 300 mm when the base is in highest position
For all cots – gap sizes
- 45 mm to 65 mm of space between bars or panels – bigger gaps can trap your baby’s head or create spaces large enough for your baby to fall through
- no more than 20 mm of space between cot sides or ends and a centred mattress – your baby can get stuck between bigger gaps and suffocate
Bits that stick out (protrusions)
- second-hand cots – no more than 8 mm from the top or sides
- new cots—no more than 5 mm from the top or sides
- no fittings that can catch your baby’s clothes and cause strangulation
Safety habits – standard cots
- Always follow instructions carefully when assembling and using a cot.
- Set an adjustable mattress base at the lowest point as soon as your baby can sit up.
- Place the cot in a safe spot away from hazards like electrical appliances, windows or blind cords.
- Use locking brakes on cots with castors (wheels).
- Put the drop-side up when your baby is sleeping.
- Remove climbing aids from the inside of the cot.
- Never put these things in a cot with your baby:
- pillows, especially if your baby is under two
- electric blankets or hot water bottles
- toys, books or items that a growing baby can use to climb to the top of the sides or ends of the cot and fall
- objects that could smother or strangle your baby.
- Do not use a cot which is broken.
- Make sure all bolts and screws are tight, and that the cot sides, base and catches are strong.
- Make sure that paint on an old cot is lead free. If you want to use an old cot, strip and repaint the cot if you are not sure that the paint is lead free.
Regularly check drop-side cots
While cots with a drop-side make it easier to get your child in and out, you must regularly check this moving part to ensure it’s safe. When a drop-side doesn’t fit properly, is worn, or has loose or missing parts, children can fall out or become trapped in gaps.
When you buy an antique cot it must come with a certificate that warns you it is not safe to place a child in the cot. Never let your baby sleep in an antique cot.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and well fitting, and there is no more than a 25 mm gap between the mattress and the cot sides and ends.
- Remove loose plastic coverings from the mattress. Some mattresses need to be prepared for use – follow instructions.
- Do not add extra cushioning to the mattress.
- Mattress protectors need to be strong and fit the mattress firmly.
- Inflatable mattresses are not safe.
Cot safety at home
- Place the cot away from curtain cords and other cords or ropes which a baby could get tangled in.
- Keep the cot well clear of heaters, electrical appliances, lights and power points.
- Have hanging mobiles well out of reach.
- Make sure the space above the cot is free of objects such as pictures or mirrors which could fall onto your child.
- Keep the cot away from windows, especially if the room is not on the ground floor.
- Never use electric blankets or hot water bottles for babies or young children.
Changing from a cot to a bed
Children over 2 years are generally old enough to sleep on a mattress on the floor, in a toddler bed or in a regular bed with guardrails. They will be safer if the mattress is on the floor and they can climb in (and out) easily, and if they roll out they won’t fall far. When a young child is moved out of a cot onto a bed, make sure that there are no gaps between the mattress and the wall, or bed head, or rails, etc, where the child’s head may be trapped.
With these great tips and safety precautions at your disposal you will rest assured that you have selected the best cot for your baby.