How to choose a safe cot for your baby
We break down what to consider when buying a cot.
Cots are a safe, separate sleeping space for your baby. We don’t test cots because there’s a mandatory standard (AS/NZS 2172:2003) and all cots sold here must comply with it.
What to consider when you’re buying a cot
Most of these are covered by the standard, but it’s a good idea to check them out before you buy.
Is the cot deep enough to stop a child from falling out?
The distance from the mattress base to the lowest point on any side or end should be a minimum of 600mm.
Check for footholds
There shouldn’t be any footholds (such as horizontal or diagonal boards) in the cot that your child can use to climb out.
Check for any head entrapment hazards
Any large space or opening must be between 50mm and 95mm to stop your baby from either getting caught or falling out.
Check for any limb or finger entrapment hazards
Smaller openings should not be between 30mm and 50mm wide (wide enough for a child’s limb to get stuck) or be between 5mm and 12mm wide (so little fingers don’t get caught).
Check for sharp edges or protruding parts
Check for any sharp edges or anything sticking out or pointing up that could hit a child’s head or snag clothing. Protruding parts should be no more than 5mm.
Make sure the mattress fits snugly around all sides. There should be no more than a 20mm gap on each side if the mattress is centred. Gaps at the side are a suffocation risk as your baby could roll face-first into them. The mattress should be firm (a soft or saggy mattress can be a suffocation hazard).
Two height settings
Most cots have two height settings. When your baby is small, the high base means less bending for adults. The lower level is used when your baby is more mobile.
Dropside (the side that moves up and down)
This should be secure and smooth to operate, and not too heavy for you.
Buying second-hand can save money. But you need to check it’s a safe option.
- Look for the New Zealand standard ‘S’ mark or the Australian ‘tick’ mark. If a cot is too old to meet the standard, it may have hazards such as unsafe gaps or strangulation risks.
- Check there are no broken or wobbly bars.
- All bolts and screws should be firmly in place and not protruding.
- The corner posts should not stick up more than 5mm.
- Make sure the mattress fits the cot snugly and there are no gaps that would allow a child to become trapped beneath it. Check the mattress has no signs of mould or mildew – it’s best to buy a new mattress.
- Toxic paint. If the cot was made or repainted before 1970, it might be painted with lead paint, which children can chew on and swallow when they are teething. If in doubt, strip the cot completely and repaint it.
What about a bassinet?
Bassinets aren’t a necessity – your baby can go straight into a cot. But a bassinet creates a cosier sleeping environment than a cot. It’s also convenient – you can move it from room to room and place it next to your bed.
The downside is you’ll get at most five to six months’ use from a bassinet. As soon as babies can support their own weight and lift themselves, they should go into a cot.