The cot is often a new or soon-to-be parent’s first big investment. It will likely be the centre of attention in your baby nursery and will be used for many of the child’s first years.
There are a plethora of cots, cribs and baby beds on the market these days, so determining which aspects are important to you can make the task even harder. Which is why we’ve worked to create a comprehensive guide to taking the guesswork out of buying your next baby cot.
Baby Cot FAQ
To start, here are some of the most commonly asked questions by new parents when buying their first cot.
What is a cot? A cot is a small bed designed for babies and young children with high barred sides to prevent them from falling out.
How long will my baby sleep in a cot for? Typically, most babies will sleep in a cot from the day they are brought home, up until they are between 18 months to three years old.
Do I need to buy a cot before my baby is born? Most parents like to be prepared and buy a cot well before their baby arrives. However, some parents prefer to sleep their baby in a bassinet near their bed for the first few months if they want easier access to the child.
How much do cots cost? Pricing is often based on the materials, features and overall quality of the cot. Generally, smaller cots start at around $100, while large cots with all the bells-and-whistles can easily exceed $1000.
Do cots need to pass any Australian Standards? Yes, all cots to be sold in Australia need to pass AS/NZS 2172:2003, which we will cover in more detail later on.
A comfortable cot makes for a happy baby.
Key Aspects to Consider
Safety and Australian Standards
Much like buying your own bed, there is a number of factors that need to be considered when looking at cots for your little one. By far the most important aspect to any cot is whether the cot passes the relevant Australian Standards.
Every cot sold in Australia needs to pass AS/NZS 2172:2003. However, those buying a cot online, especially from overseas shops, will need to make sure the cot passes these requirements. Allowing your baby to sleep in a cot that does not meet these standards puts them at significant risk.
In summary, AS/NZS 2172:2003 Australian Standard for household cots makes sure that the cot is:
Deep enough to stop a baby from climbing out
Stops head and limb entrapment hazards by putting minimum distances between bars and slats
Has a minimal gap between the mattress and the frame
Makes sure there is no foot holds for babies to use to climb out
Stops any sharp objects from harming your child or snagging their clothing
A full guide to checking whether the cot passes the Australian Standards can be found in the infographic below.
Does the cot you’re considering pass current Australian Standards?
If you plan on viewing potential cots in-person, bring a tape measure along to make sure that the cot meets the Australian Standards. Otherwise, ask the supplier to see the documentation which shows that the cot passes.
Other safety aspects to consider include:
Whether the cot can be easily tipped
If the cot has wheels, whether they can be locked or not
If the cot has a drop side, making sure it is smooth to operate
AS/NZS 2172:2003 was recently updated in 2010 and 2013 to AS/NZS 2172:2013, but follows the same standards that were set in 2003.
More often than not, the cot you will be buying will come with the appropriate fitting mattress. This mattress should perfectly fit within the frame already.
However, some cots don’t come with a mattress and will require you to purchase one separately. This can be done by measuring the inside of the cot and buying a mattress to those dimensions. Otherwise, the dimensions for a recommended mattress size should also be found on the cot base too.
AS/NZS 2172:2003 specifies that a cot mattress of recommended size must be no more than:
20mm from any cot side while centred on the mattress base
40mm from any cot side when the mattress is pushed to one side or end.
A cot mattress must also pass AS/NZS 8811.1:2013, which is an Australian Standard that specifies the minimum firmness a cot mattress should pass.
Unlike the Australian Standard for household cots, it’s not mandatory for manufacturers to meet this standard. A rule of thumb for selecting a cot mattress is that it should be fairly firm, more so than a ‘typical bed mattress’. You should feel a feel bit of resistance if you were to push moderately down on it.
Cot mattresses can cost from $50 to $200, which should be factored into the overall cost of your cot if it doesn’t already come with one.
A cot mattress needs to be both firm and comfortable for your child.
Drop Sides or Fixed Sides
Drop side cots allow you to lower one or both of the sides of the cot. This makes it far easier to pick up and lower your baby into the cot, especially if you are a shorter parent. Fixed sides, as the name suggests, means that the cots sides are joined to the frame and can’t be lowered.
If you are considering a drop sided cot, be sure to check the mechanism thoroughly before purchasing it. You should be able to ‘lock’ a drop side cot in it upper and lower position. This should make it impossible for an energetic toddler to pull down the side and escape or fall out of it.
It is also worth checking whether the mechanism can be operated using one hand, as you’ll be typically trying to the hold the baby when lowering the drop side.
However, drop sided cots have been the cause of a number of infant injuries and a few deaths over the years, so much so that they are now banned in the USA and have very strict European Standards around them now.
Drop sided cots make picking up and lowering your baby much easier.
It can be fairly daunting for a child to switch from a small, cosy cot to a large open single bed. Many manufacturers now offer ‘convertible cots’ which transform the cot into a more open toddler bed. There are a number of benefits to having a convertible cot, including:
Bridges the gap between a cot and a full-size single bed
Extends the life of your cot, therefore providing better value for money
Saves you money by not having to buy separate beds for each stage of your child’s development
Keeps the child in a familiar bed for longer
Often not much more expensive than a ‘traditional cot’
Some cots will come with all the equipment to convert it when the time is right, while others may require you to buy a conversion kit separately which helps reinforce the frame when the sides are removed.
Certain convertible cots can also transform into high chairs, small couches and other furniture pieces, further increasing their life cycle.
Since your child will be likely using this cot for a few years to come, it’s important to feel confident in the quality of the cot. Some questions to consider:
Are the joints secure?
Is the finish smooth and free from splinters, metal burrs or imperfections?
Do the struts and mattress base slats feel solid and secure?
Does the cot come with a warranty?
Do you feel confident that you could leave your baby in this cot?
You must feel confident in the quality and workmanship of your child’s cot.
Cot size: Before making the final decision on which cot is right for your baby, be sure to measure the planned space and size of the cot. You’ll want to make sure that there is plenty of room to manoeuvre around the cot.
Cot style: Does the cot need to match the current decor of the nursery or your home? Will you need to repaint the cot to suit it?
Assembly: Most cots come flat-packed and will require you to construct them yourself. The procedure varies between manufacturers but typically, instructions and most required tools are included. Otherwise, a cot may be able to be pre-assembled by the supplier at an extra cost.
Adjustable mattress base: Some cots allow you to adjust the height of the mattress base as the baby grows. For example, for the first few months, parents may choose to keep it on a higher setting so picking up and putting down the baby is easier, then choose to lower it once the baby has grown and can begin to pull itself out.
Teething strips and rails: A protective cover that goes over the side rails of the cot which prevent damage to the cot through biting.
Wheels and castors: Being able to move your cot around the room can be helpful if you have limited space. However, the wheels need to be lockable to stop the cot from moving easily. Usually, if you plan on converting a cot to a bed for your toddler when they are older, the cot shouldn’t have wheels or they should be removable.
Although in the short-term it may be more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly to buy a second-hand cot, there are some inherent safety issues with it.
Lead-based paint: In particular with heirloom cots, if the cot was constructed or repainted before 1970, there is a chance it may be finished with toxic lead-based paint. If a child was to chew on the rails and swallow this paint, they could become sick or worse. If a cot is this old, it will unlikely meet modern safety standards and should be replaced regardless.
Mattress: The older the mattress, the less firm it is. Not only will an old mattress unlikely comply with AS/NZS 8811.1:2013 (the Australian Standard for cot mattresses) but it will be dirty and far too soft for your child. At a minimum, the mattress should be replaced with a new one if using a second-hand cot.
Safety: The cot should meet modern Australian Standards, even if it was built prior to 2003. Be sure to check all the joints, screws, clamps, catches and any other aspect that ‘moves’ on the cot that it still works correctly and doesn’t show signs of damage.
Assembly instructions: Make sure the second-hand cot you are buying comes with full assembly instructions and product details.
Drop side: The most common reason for a drop side cot to break and cause potential injury is the mechanism being overused. Therefore, be cautious of a second-hand drop side cots as they will likely have been used for many years already.
If you are unsure whether a second-hand cot is safe for your child, it’s better to purchase a new cot with up-to-date Australian Standards than to risk your baby.
Pre-loved cots aren’t always the safest choice…
Although uncommon, cots and cot mattresses do get recall notices every now and again. Before purchasing a cot, check to see if the model has had a product recall on it.
If it has, check with the supplier to see if you will be receiving the updated product.
Common issues include the added mattress being undersized, the recommended mattress size being incorrect or the cot has failed to pass Australian Standards after being sold.
The full list of cot recalls can be found at Product Safety Australia, where you can sign up for email alerts for extra peace-of-mind.
After learning what you need in your child’s future cot, it becomes a very time-consuming process to sift through the huge range that is available to parents these days.
Here is a small collection of our favourite cots from the Myer Market, all of which pass the required Australian Standards.
Combining timeless Scandinavian design with a soft, neutral colour palette, the Teeny Cot range from Incy Interiors will become a focal piece of your modern baby nursery.
Comes in a huge range of soft pastel colours including grey, pink, green, navy blue, white and more to suit your current home decor
Conversion kit can be bought separately to transform the cot into a toddler bed
Comes flat packed with all the tools required to assemble it
Madison 3 in 1 Cot and Chest/Changer
Made from durable beechwood timber, the Madison 3 in 1 Cot and Chest/Changer is an essential combination for any contemporary nursery. The convertible cot provides excellent value for money as it can be used from infancy to up until the late stages of being a toddler.
Transforms into a toddler bed and a small sofa bed making it a worthwhile long-term investment
Conversion kit and cot mattress is included
Includes large chest of drawers with removable changing table on top
Kaylula Sova Cot Classic
If you’re looking for a stylish, yet highly versatile cot that can be used from the day the little one is brought home until they head off to school, the Kaylula Sova Cot Classic should be on your shopping list. It features a modular design where each piece can be moved around to create five different furniture options.
The Kaylula Sova Cot can be used for many years to come.
Modular 5-in-1 design transforms it from a bassinet to a cot, to a toddler bed, then a table and chairs set and a playpen
Two levels of mattress base adjustment
Features detachable caster wheels making it extremely easy to manoeuvre
A unique modular mattress designed for use in the cot needs to be bought separately (a normal mattress won’t work with its design)
Finished in polished Rose Gold, the Ellie Cot features a vintage metal cot design with a modern colour twist, perfect for the classic-contemporary home.
A conversion kit can be bought separately to transform the cot into a toddler bed
Sturdy metal design
Two settings for adjustable mattress base height
Buying your first cot is an exciting experience. It’ll be where your child will be spending the first year or more sleeping, so it’s important to pick one that will keep them comfortable and safe.
If you are looking to extend the life of your cot, finding one that converts into a toddler bed will save you extra money in the long term too. Always check whether the cot you are thinking of buying passes the relevant Australian Standards and that you are confident that you can leave your child in it all night long.
Know some excited parents expecting a baby soon? Help them out by sharing this guide with them!