There is a huge range of sleeping options for your baby. What you choose depends on where you would like your baby to sleep, what sort of space you have, how big your baby is and how much you would like to spend. It’s best to have your baby close to you at night to lower the risk of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS) – current recommendations are that the safest place for your baby to sleep is on their back in their own cot or crib in your room for the first six months. See ‘Safety, SIDS and where your baby should sleep’, below.
How do I know if a cot is safe for my baby?
Cots in the UK should carry the British Standards Institution (BSI) number BS EN 716:2008, which indicates that they comply with the required safety standards.
These small woven cots have handles and can be put on a stand. Some come with a stand, others are sold separately. They’re small and light, so easy to fit next to your bed so your baby can sleep in the same room. As they’re close by, it makes night feeding easier and less disruptive. However if your baby’s big or long, they may grow out of a Moses basket quite quickly –in as little as eight weeks – which means that you’ll need a crib or cot for your baby fairly soon.
Smaller than a cot but bigger than a Moses basket, cribs are suitable from birth to six months. Many have a rocking or gliding motion to help your baby go to sleep, but can also be fixed in a static position.
A cot will last your baby and toddler well into their second year. They have high sides so that when the mattress is on the lowest setting, a mobile baby cannot climb or fall out of the bed. Most cots have one or two adjustable settings so that before your baby can sit up, the base can be higher, making it easier to lift your baby in and out of the cot. Some cots even grow with your baby, extending, losing the bars and becoming a toddler bed. They can be quite big and your baby may look a little exposed when you lay them at the foot of the cot. Bear in mind that your baby won’t be right next to you in your bed, so you won’t be able to reach them quite as easily through the night to comfort them or breastfeed.
These are cots that attach to the bed give your baby their own safe sleeping space while allowing you to sleep next to your baby. Babies like to be close to their parents and being alongside your baby makes night feeding and night settling much easier and less disruptive to your sleep.
A cot attached to a bed will generally be smaller than a regular cot (so it is able to fit alongside most double beds), which means that your baby will outgrow the cot and you may need another bigger cot within the first year of your baby’s life.
Safety, SIDS and where your baby should sleep
If your baby is six months or younger, the Department of Health states it is safest for him to sleep in a cot next to your bed, rather than in your bed or in another room. This will reduce the chances of your baby overheating under your bedding and means you will be more alert to his needs. Overheating increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Having your baby in the room with you is also thought to protect from SIDS by regulating your baby’s breathing.
If you’re buying a second-hand cot or being given a hand-me-down, check the following as older cots may not meet current safety standards:
- Buy a new mattress and check that it fits the cot properly – it should be firm and flat, and there should be a gap of no more than 4cm between the mattress and cot frame
- Check there is at least 50cm between the top of the mattress and top of the cot.
- Check the drop-side mechanism works smoothly and stays reliably in the ‘up’ position. This is very important!
- The cot bars should be no more than 6.5cm apart so your baby can’t get stuck between them
- Remove any stickers that older children may have stuck on the inside of the cot – they could peel off and become a choking hazard
- Check there are no splinters on the top rails where your child could catch his or her clothing.
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