Teddy bear placed in white cot
Cots, Nursery Furniture, Parenting Essentials, Safety

How to Choose the Right Cot for Your Baby

Smiling sat in cot tickling dad's beard through the cot rails

Choosing nursery furniture for your little one is an exciting and fun experience – and picking the right cot is probably the most important decision of all. At the start, your baby will spend more time snoozing than being awake, so a good sleeping spot is essential. There are lots of different cots out there to choose from and we understand this can be overwhelming for mums and dads – so we’re here to help! In this blog, we will take you through everything you need to know before going on the hunt for the perfect cot. In no time – you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your babe is getting the best night’s sleep in their cot.

What type of bed should my baby be in?

Newborn babes can often look and feel a little lost in a big cot. The NHS advises that whenever your baby is snoozing in their first 6 months – it should be in the same room as you. That’s why your bub’s first bed should be a Moses basket or bedside crib for the first few months. Some parents will use both so that they have one downstairs and one upstairs. However, our experts recommend avoiding multiple sleeping products. This could become extremely disruptive for your little one if they’re constantly being moved around into different sleeping positions. The less the better we say – minimal sleeping spots will also help when it comes to making the big move from crib to cot too.

So, what are the key takeaways here?

  • To begin, use a bedside crib between 0 to 6 months old.
  • As your child edges closer to 6 months old and gets a little stronger (can hold their own head) – purchase a cot.
  • At first, let them play in the cot but still sleep in their crib – slow and steady wins the race!
  • At 6 months old, your little one’s senses will be going wild as they become more alert. So, let them adjust to the cot in their own time to avoid co-sleeping.
  • Be mindful of the heat inside the cot. You may not have realised this, but the temperature inside your babe’s cot is different to the outside – it can vary by 2 to 5 degrees. That’s why our experts recommend popping a thermometer as close to the cot as possible. The guidelines on baby temperature for sleep are 20 to 22.2 degrees.

Safety first

Baby with curly hair trying to climb out of cot

You may be wondering why you can’t put your child into a cot straight away. You’ll want to keep your new bundle of joy as safe as possible, and not putting them in a cot for the first few months is the way to do this. Why? Well, a cot is a very big space for someone so little and dainty, so it’s best to avoid one to keep your bub away from any potential harm.

Once babies hit the 6-month mark, most of them will be strong enough to hold their own heads up. This is when you can start thinking about introducing a cot into their life. It’ll be your bub’s snoozing spot between approximately 18 months to 2 years old. Of course – it should be strong and sturdy, and with no cracks, broken slats and jagged edges. Remember – don’t put too many products in your bub’s cot, keep blankets and toys to a minimum. All you need is a sheet on the cot’s mattress, one blanket (tucked in at 3 sides) that shouldn’t come above their chest.

If you’re buying a new cot, make sure it conforms to BS EN 716-2:2008. All new cots in the UK must meet this standard. It ensures that they’re deep enough to be safe for your little one, the bars are the correct distance apart and that the cot doesn’t have cut-outs or steps.

Whilst we don’t advise buying a second-hand cot, if you’re considering this route, make sure the distance between each bar is no less than 2.5cm (1in) and no more than 6.5cm (2.6in). A good way to test this is by putting a soft drink between the slats – it should fit perfectly. These measurements mean your cherub’s head will be safe and sound from slipping between the bars of their cot.

Cot design

Adorable baby with big blue eyes biting cot rail

As your little one will be snoozing away in your room for the first 6 months, when you’re going on the hunt for a cot, check the available space you have first. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of buying the perfect cot, only to be disappointed that it doesn’t fit. Mums and dads listen up – always go by the outside measurements on furniture, not the internal. Here are some additional features to think about too:

  • Adjustable mattress heights

Most cots come with adjustable height positions, so when your cherub is young you can get to them easily. As your not-so-little one gets older and begins their snooping phase, you can drop the base down, so that your little adventurer can’t climb out of their cot. Typically – cots come in two to three different height positions.

  • Storage friendly

Your little one is bound to have a lot of things and you’ll need somewhere to store the essentials. Some cots come with under-bed storage, for example large pull-out drawers. This can be super handy for storing your baby’s things if space is limited. Plus, it’ll mean easy access, whether it’s to grab a nappy or towel for bath time fun.

If you don’t manage to bag a cot with storage, just buy some tubs to put under it – a space saving solution that works just as well.

  • Cot-top changer

Need a changing unit and cot all in one? No problem! You can purchase a cot-top changer which slots on top of your cot, and then you’ve got yourself a space to change your little one’s nappy as well as snooze.

  • Teething rails

Many cots also have a teething rail. If not – make sure you purchase one with these in place, as it’ll protect your little nibbler’s teeth. The rail is a protective plastic coating around the edges of the cot because let’s be honest – you don’t want your baby chewing on the wooden slats. No damage to your bub’s teeth nor their cot – happy days!

  • Drop-down sides

With a drop-side cot, where the sides slide or fold down, it’ll mean you can lift your little one out with ease. Mums and dads with a bad back – this one’s for you!

  • Travel cots

Whether you’re popping to granny and gramps’ for the weekend or going on holiday, a travel cot will do you wonders. It’s a bed your cherub can sleep in when they’re away from home. You can either get a lightweight one in a tent or pop-up style, or you can go for a collapsible travel cot, which although is heavier, is also a lot more robust.

  • Cot bed

Save yourself a few pennies and get a cot that also converts into bed for when your bub grows up. These types of cots turn into a junior bed by removing one or both sides. Remember – a cot bed lasts from 6 months to 5 years old, but a standard cot is only for 6 months to 18 months/2 years old or when your bub starts trying to climb out.

What mattress should I choose?

When you choose your little one’s cot, you’ll also need to think about the cot mattress. The most important factor is that it fits your cot properly. After all – we don’t want your bub getting stuck in between the cot and mattress! Therefore, you need to make sure the gap is no bigger than 4cm.

If you want to get clued up on everything there is to know about baby mattresses, take a look at our guide here.

Style matters

Stylish baby nursery with cot, teddy bear and stars on the wall

After the months of planning and hard work that went into your babe’s nursery, you’ll want a cot that matches up with their nursery furniture. You may want to think about what colours are already in the nursery. Lighter colours, such as white and paler woods, go well with soft pastel colours like pink, yellow and blue. However, if you’ve gone for darker colours, earthy tones or dark blues are the way forward.

We hope we’ve made your purchasing decision a little easier. Now that you have all the information on how to choose the best cot for your little one – you’ll be able to ensure they have a comfortable yet safe bed, for a great night’s sleep and lots of sweet dreams.

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