How To Choose and Use a Baby Cot Safely

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If you have decided that you want your baby to sleep in a cot, there are a few things to consider as your baby will be using the cot for just a couple of years or less. You need to budget how much you want to spend on a cot. Should it be brand-new or second hand? There are other expenses that you must consider too so try not to spend your entire nursery budget on a wildly expensive cot.

Instead of colour and style, make safety the most important requirement followed by comfort. While price is an important consideration, a poorly constructed cot is not only unsafe but will not last, making it no bargain. It is a good idea to compare quality and prices before making your purchase. Some cots come with the mattress whilst you have to buy the mattress separately for others.

Some safety features to look for:

  • Spaces between bars or slats must be 45-65 mm, and less than 60 mm wide in the mattress base.
  • The cot is deep enough to be safe for your baby.
  • No sharp edges, exposed hardware or splintered wood.
  • Painted cribs must not have lead based paint.
  • All screws and bolts are present and tightly secured.
  • Mattress support is securely attached to the headboard and footboard.
  • Mattress fits snugly into the cot frame. There should be no gaps around the edges.
  • Drop-side latches are unreachable to children or are difficult to release, making them child-safe.

When setting up the cot:

  • Position the cot away from heaters, power points, windows or curtain and blind cords which are a strangulation hazard.
  • Do not hang anything like pictures or mirrors nearby where there is a danger of the item falling into the cot.
  • Do not leave mobiles or toys with stretch or elastic cords within reach of your child.
  • Do not use U or V shaped pillows for children under two years old. It is safer not to use a pillow at all for children under two.
  • Do not place small objects in the cot or within reach as that could be a choking hazard.
  • Keep the cot uncluttered, as a child may climb on a pile of soft toys and fall over the cot rail or side.
  • If you use cot bumper pads, put Velcro ties on them, do not have long ties.
  • Initially, adjust the cot base to the highest position to reduce adult back pain, and then lower the cot down to the lowest position once your baby can sit up.

While some cots are designed only to accommodate a traditional baby mattress, others offer the ability to transition into a toddler bed and sometimes even a bed for an older child as well. While such a bedding system may cost more than a standard cot, if you consider the long term usability, it may be a better choice.

In addition to the safety of the cot itself, it is important to keep in mind that to minimise the risk of cot death (SIDS), you should never place pillows, comforters, soft blankets, or stuffed toys in the cot. The mattress should be firm (buy a new one, even if using a safe, but older cot) and the cot sheet must fit snugly. If you choose to use bumpers, be sure that they are tied on in a manner that allows for sufficient airflow.

 babycot_carrier A baby carrycot is useful for a few months only.
 babycot_carrier2 It is cheaper to use the baby car seat as a carry cot.
 babycot_standardcot This is a common standard cot. The base cannot go down further than this. The width is quite narrow so there is not enough space when the baby starts to turn over. This cot is usable for about 4-5 months.
 babycot_bars Although the spacing between the bars is correct, the 4 bars at the ends of the cot are square with fairly sharp edges which may cut the baby if she falls against it.
 babycot_child If the child’s chest is above the top of the cot the chances of him falling out is increased. If he starts jumping, he is quite likely to fall out.
 babycot_child2 The child is bored and wants to get out of the cot
 babycot_child3 If he is ignored, he will try to find ways to climb out of the cot and the side bar where the drop sleeve is will be the ideal place to climb out.
 babycot_bittencot Babies love biting so they will bite the top bars. If the cot is painted, they may be eating a lot of paint that can be dangerous especially if the paint contains lead.
 babycot_tieoldcloth What you can do is cut up an old bed sheet into strips and useit to cover the top rail.
 babycot_bite The cloth strip should be washed once a week.
 babycot_widecot This is a nice wide cot with rounded bars. Unfortunately, the base does not go down therefore it is not safe for use once the baby can stand up.
 babycot_deepcot This cot is deep enough but there is a bar across for the child to step on and fall out.
 babycot_goodcot This cot has all the safety features and can be converted to a bed when the child is older.
 babycot_plasticrail The top rail has a plastic strip that will prevent the child from swallowing paint if he bites it.
 babycot_child4 This is the correct height when the child stands in the cot. Only the head is above the side of the cot.
 babycot_child5 The child is given a toy to play. After a while the child is bored playing with the toy and decides to step on it.
 babycot_child6 Now the child’s chest is above the side of the cot which is dangerous, as one jump and she will be out of the cot.
 babycot_wash Finally, try not to clean the cot with chemical solutions but wash it with a mild washing liquid and lots of water.
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