Where should my baby sleep?

Where should my baby sleep?

Where is a good place for a baby to sleep?

Are you confused about where your baby should sleep for the first few months? The vast array of cots, cot beds, Moses baskets, co-sleepers and cribs on the market make for an overwhelming choice.

According to the NHS, for the first six months, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in the same room as you.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission should you choose to sign up for something or make a purchase using links I endorse (at no extra cost to you).

This includes at night and for day time naps. Your baby shouldn’t be far from you wherever you are in the house.

This may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Here is what you need to know about your baby’s sleeping options and their pros and cons:

Cots and cot beds

Cots and cot beds have similar features. Here are four useful things to look out for:

1. Adjustable mattress height

Most cots will have two or three mattress height positions. You will start with the top height position, which makes it easy to lift a young baby in and out of the cot, without straining your back.

When your baby is older and can roll over, sit, pull themselves up and move around the cot, you need to lower the cot for safety reasons.

2. Teething rails

A plastic teething rail on the top edges of the cot protects the cot rails from bite marks when your baby starts teething.

Usually made from a safe, rubbery soft plastic, it also protects your baby’s gums from the  railing when they’re trying to chomp everything in sight!

3. Drop sides

A drop side cot allows you to slide the side of the cot down part way, so you can reach your baby more easily. This is a useful feature when you have the cot base on its lowest setting, so you don’t have to bend your back too much to lift the baby.

However drop sides are not recommended by some experts for safety reasons, and are in fact banned in the United States for this reason (but drop side cots are still popular in the UK).

4. Under cot bed storage

Under cot drawers at the bottom of the cot are a handy way to use the space underneath the cot. You may find it useful to store bedding and nappies, and any other nursery-related items.

If your cot doesn’t come with built in storage, use storage boxes on wheels underneath to make the most of the empty space.


A cot will suit your baby from birth until they are around two years old, at which time they will move to a bed. Cots range in style and price.

Cot prices start from around £100, but can go up to £500 or more for more luxury models.

Whatever you choose, the cot must comply with the latest British safety standards BS EN 716. If you buy from a reputable retailer this won’t be a problem.

Things of particular importance to look out for include:

  • The cot should be sturdy
  • It should have smooth, secure bars no more than 65mm apart to ensure your baby’s head cannot get stuck
  • The distance between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot must be at least 50 cm to prevent your child climbing out
  • The mattress should fit snugly with no gaps around the edges

Cot beds

What’s the difference between a cot and cot bed? The significant difference between a cot and a cot bed is the sides and end panel can be taken off, turning it into a toddler bed. You will get more use out of it than a cot as it will last around four years.

Cot beds are generally a bit more expensive. But you may decide a cot bed is a better investment than a standard cot. Some cot beds even convert to small sofas.

Second hand cots

You may want to consider a second hand cot to save some money.

But you need to check it is absolutely safe before you put your baby in it. Make sure:

  • The cot is sturdy and in good condition
  • It has smooth, secure bars no more than 6.5cm apart so your baby cannot get trapped
  • If it has a drop side mechanism, this should be in perfect working order
  • It doesn’t have any old stickers on it that could present a choking hazard
  • If it is a vintage family heirloom made before 1973, it could be painted with toxic lead paint

If you have a second hand cot with a mattress, be aware that some research suggests second hand mattresses may increase the risk of cot death.

A second hand mattress should be clean and dry with no sagging, tears or cracks, and fit perfectly. You should know its history. If it has always had a waterproof cover that you can replace, even better.

If in any doubt, buy a new mattress that fits the cot correctly.

Small cots

One of the main issues to consider when choosing a cot or cot bed is how much space you have.

You can put your baby straight into a cot or cot bed from day one if you wish. But you may not be able to fit it in your bedroom and it might need to go in the baby’s room.

If you can’t fit the baby’s cot in your own bedroom, then a smaller style of cot may be a better option to begin with.

Or, if you do have space, you may prefer your baby to sleep in a big cot in your room at night, and use a small cot for daytime naps.

Another factor to consider is that you will have to buy cot bedding to fit a small cot, in addition to bedding for a standard sized cot.

Here are five different types of small cots to choose from:

1. Moses baskets

Moses baskets are small, cosy places for newborns to sleep and popular with parents.

A Moses basket is lightweight and easy to carry from room to room, and can rest on a purpose-built stand.

The downside is babies can outgrow their baskets by the time they are around six weeks old.

A brand new Moses basket with a stand could cost around £60, so it might not seem like a good investment.

2. Carrycots

A carrycot is a small portable pram style cot, often included as part of a travel system. It attaches and detaches from the travel system chassis and can be carried about. 

It can be used as a pram for your baby to sleep in when you are out and about, and for sleeping at home during the day and overnight.

You will get around three months out of a carrycot.

3. Cribs

A crib is a smaller alternative to a standard cot and a stylish addition to your newborn’s nursery. It usually has a swinging motion to help rock your baby to sleep.

But cribs are generally not portable between rooms like Moses baskets or carrycots.

On the plus side, your baby will use a crib for longer, as it is suitable from birth until around six months.

4. Co-sleepers

A co-sleeper is a cot with one side removed that attaches to the side of your bed. So even though your baby is in a separate bed, they can still sleep alongside you at arm’s reach.

When the baby wakes in the night for a feed or needs comforting, you don’t even have to get out of bed. This is especially useful if you are recovering from a C-section and manoeuvring is difficult.

Larger than a Moses basket, a co-sleeper is likely to last around six months.

If you are keen to bed-share with your baby, a co-sleeper is a great option, without the risks of actually having your baby in your own bed.

To get the most out of a co-sleeper, look for one that converts to a free-standing cot, travel cot or playpen.

5. Travel cots

A travel cot is an ideal solution if you are taking your baby on holiday, or visiting friends and family.

It’s handy for nap times and sleepovers at grandparents, and can double up as a playpen.

Practical and lightweight, a travel cot folds up into a bag for storage and transport. Depending on the size of the cot, it could last until your child is around three years old.

Travel cots usually include a foldable base mattress, but these can be thin and hard for babies to sleep on.

You can buy a travel cot mattress separately. (Don’t forget to measure the internal dimensions of the cot to ensure there are no gaps around the edges.)

Which type of cot should you choose?

Now you know what your options are for your baby’s sleeping arrangements at home and away, you can research the market and decide on a suitable cot for your circumstances.

Maybe you will have your baby sleeping in with you in their big cot at night and use a smaller cot such as Moses basket for daytime naps.

Or, you may decide to go with a small cot from day one, and transition to a big cot or cot bed at a later date.

Here is more information you may find useful:

What should a newborn sleep in?