Cots and Cot Beds

Even if your baby starts off sleeping in a Moses basket, he will outgrow it and then sleep in a cot or cot bed. So what's the difference between the two and which should you buy?

Cots

A cot will suit your baby from birth until around two years, at which time he will move to a normal-sized bed. Cots range in style and price.

You can buy a basic cot from around £60 that will do the job. Or you can spend more than £500 for a luxury solid wood model.

Cot beds

The main difference between cots and cot beds is that cot beds are larger. They last for at least four years. Cot beds are generally a bit more expensive.

When the time comes to move your child out of the cot, the cot sides and end panel come off, turning it into a junior bed. Some cot beds also convert to sofas.

One of the main issues to consider when choosing a cot or cot bed is how much space you have. Current guidelines state for the first six months, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in the same room as you.

If you have a small bedroom and wish to follow this advice, a small cot may be the best option.

Cot and cot bed features

The following features are available for both cots and cot beds.

Second hand cots

Safety guidelines are not an issue if you buy a British cot from a reputable retailer. It will follow the latest British safety standards.

Buying a second hand cot is a great way to save some money. But double check the following safety points before you put your baby in it.

Mattresses

When you buy a cot or cot bed you will usually buy a separate mattress. There are many different mattress sizes available. For your baby's safety, it is crucial you buy a mattress that is exactly the right size for the cot.

There should be no gaps around the edges between the mattress and the sides of the cot. If there are gaps, your baby's arm or leg could get stuck, or his head could get trapped. The cot's product information will tell you what size mattress will fit. But if in doubt, check with the supplier.

You need a firm mattress that is at least 10 cm deep to support your baby while he is sleeping. Your baby will sleep on it for at least two years so it's worthwhile buying the best mattress you can afford. The mattress should have a wipe clean PVC cover, or a removable washable cover. This protects it from leaking nappies, dribble and sick. A mattress protector helps prolong the life of the mattress.

Some research suggests second hand mattresses may increase the risk of cot death. If your mattress is second hand it should be clean and dry with no sagging, tears or cracks. You should know its history. If it has always had a waterproof cover that you can replace, even better.