Cots & Travel Cots
How to choose the best cot for your baby
Cots / mini-cribs
What will your baby sleep in?
Now that you’ve chosen where your baby will sleep, you need to decide what she should sleep in. There are two sleeping options that I recommend.
The first is a mini-crib. As the name suggests, a mini-crib is a smaller version of a
crib/cot. Mini-cribs have slats all the way around, providing the right amount of airflow for your baby.
The second is a regular cot. Be sure that, if one side of the cot drops down, it drops down with a two-handed dropping mechanism. This way only an adult can release the side to make it drop down. Do not purchase a cot where you have to push against the side to make that side drop down. In time, this can cause a gap between the cot side and the mattress which may lead to entrapment.
If you have large budget, I recommend starting your baby in a mini-crib, then moving your baby into a regular-sized cot by eight months. However, if you are on a tight budget, using a cot from birth (skipping the mini-crib) is fine.
It is worth considering whether you are planning to have more children in a short space of time. If so, your first baby could very well still be using his cot when the second baby comes along, so having a mini-crib as well as a cot may mean there is no need to purchase a second cot, or to move your toddler out of his cot before he is ready. In this case, buying a mini-crib for baby number one is a more economical option.
If you have a small budget, I recommend your purchase an IKEA cot and put your money into the Save Our Sleep mattress made to fit it here is a link.
There are several items available that I do not recommend you sleep your baby in. The first are bassinets and moses baskets. Cots are required to meet strict safety guidelines before they can be sold to parents. However, in Australia, there are no such guidelines for bassinets and moses baskets.
Bassinets and moses baskets do not meet the safety guidelines set out for cots, so the risk of a sleep accident is increased if a bassinet is used.
Also, it is important that the cot or mini-crib your baby sleeps in has slats all the way around it to provide adequate airflow. Most bassinets and moses baskets do not provide enough airflow around your baby.
Similarly, I do not recommend hammocks. Like bassinets and moses baskets, hammocks do not have to meet safety guidelines before they can be sold to parents and do not provide enough airflow around your baby. Hammocks can easily be knocked over or moved while your baby in in them, which is not safe. In my experience it is very difficult to transition a hammock-sleeping baby to a cot.
Swinging cribs are nice to look at but there is a temptation to rock them, and rocking can very quickly become a sleep aid. They are also dangerous if they are rocked without your supervision, because your baby could slip to the side of the crib and become trapped.
I’m often asked the best time to transition a child from sleeping in a cot to sleeping in a bed. I recommend that girls should be two and a half years of age and boys should be three years of age before they are moved into a big bed. I have found children younger than this are not mature enough to handle the diminished boundaries that come with sleeping in a bed.
Is my baby too small to be in a big cot when she is a newborn? She seems so little.
No, not at all. She will be dressed appropriately and have the right amount of safe bedding to ensure she feels warm, safe and secure. The size of the cot doesn’t matter.
Travel cots / portacots
Of course sometimes parents need to be away from home with their baby, in which case a travel cot (also known as a portacot) is needed. A travel cot needs to be as safe as possible and careful consideration should be used when purchasing one. As with cots, a travel cot should be well ventilated.
The BABYBJÖRN travel cot is the only travel cot I am happy to recommend for parents to use in conjunction with my bedding guide. This specific travel cot is made of soft fabric making it snug and cosy, as well as large mesh around the sides for increased airflow. It is the only travel cot I have found that babies do not sweat in. All other travel cots I have tested have caused babies to be in a pool of sweat by the end of their sleep.
What will my baby sleep on?
Often a lot of thought goes into the cot, but little is given to the mattress the baby will sleep on. I believe the mattress is more important than the cot.
The mattress your baby sleeps on should be made from high quality materials, have very good springs and provide good support, just like an adult’s mattress, simply smaller.
Just because a cot comes with a mattress does not mean that the mattress is suitable for your baby. Many large baby stores make their own mattresses and put them into the cots, making it seem like theirs are the mattresses that you have to use. This is not the case at all and I recommend doing your own research into the quality of the mattress. One of the best forms of research is to test the mattress yourself to see if the mattress is firm, comfortable, not lumpy or too soft. If you can feel the springs, so will your baby and she will not sleep well. To test if the mattress is firm enough for your baby or toddler to sleep on do the ‘safe hand test’. Press your hand down on the mattress, and when you lift your hand up, check to see if your handprint has been left on the surface. If your handprint is there, the mattress is too soft and not a safe sleeping surface for a baby or toddler.
As some of you will know mid 2014 I was very lucky to be able to bring my 3rd baby boy home from hospital. Ciarán who was born early was just under 3 weeks old when he came home and of course, he needed a place to sleep. I planned for Ciarán to sleep in a mini crib next to our bed. However I was a little disappointed he was not going to be sleeping on a mattress as nice as the ones Darragh and Cillian my older boys had slept on. So to solve this problem the Save Our Sleep cot mattress range was designed. So now my clients, readers and friend’s babies can also sleep safely on the perfect mattress.
If you are not sure where to spend your money when it comes to cots and mattresses, I recommend buying a cheaper cot and a better quality mattress. The look of your cot won’t matter to your baby, but the quality of the mattress will.
My first baby slept on his cot mattress for two years. Can I still use that mattress for our next baby?
It will depend on the type of mattress you have. If you have bought a mattress from my Save Our Sleep® store or one I endorse from another store, and have always used one of our Save Our Sleep® recommended mattress protectors, then the mattress may be used for more than one child. You will need to ensure that the mattress is clean and has no dips where your older child slept. Most cot mattresses I have seen on the market are of a very poor quality and these get dips in them where a baby or toddler has slept, in which case I would advise a new mattress. I would never use a mattress bought second hand in a cot because you don’t know its history.
My baby has reflux and I’ve been told to tilt the mattress up. Is this right?
Tilting a mattress up is never recommended because of the increased risk of SUDI, including SIDS and fatal sleep accidents. According to SIDS and Kids, there is no evidence to suggest that elevating the mattress will assist with reflux for a back sleeping baby. Placing a pillow in the cot or elevating the cot or mattress is not recommended as it increases the likelihood of a baby slipping down under the bedding and the baby’s head becoming covered.
I was planning to use a tea tree mattress, what do you think?
A tea tree mattress is not a mattress I would use for a baby or toddler. Tea tree mattresses are filled with tea tree flakes and this filling starts to settle over time, making it unsafe. A safe sleeping surface for your baby or toddler needs to be firm and pass the safe hand test as described earlier, when no indentation is left after pressing your hand down firmly on the mattress. The appearance of an indentation in a mattress means that it does not provide a safe sleeping surface for a baby or toddler. A tea tree mattress will usually pass a safe hand test when new, but after a bit of use when the tea tree fill starts to settle, the mattress will no longer pass the safe hand test. With the tests I’ve done, tea tree mattresses become unsafe sleeping surfaces within about three months of use.
Related reading material
Click on the link to view related articles in the Save Our Sleep Store.
- Goodbye Cot, Hello Bed
- Nightime Visitors
- Night Wandering, Keeping your toddler in their big bed
- Night Frights
- The Nursery