Choosing a cot How to buy a cot

Smiling baby in cot

Our cot checklist will help you buy the best cot for your needs

A cot will be one of the bulkiest - as well as one of the most expensive - pieces of baby equipment you'll need to invest in before your little one arrives. 

With prices anywhere from £70 for a basic cot up to £700 for a solid oak luxury model, it's worth shopping around to choose a suitable cot to last you through your baby's early months. 

It's also worth considering whether you want a cot or cot bed, which can last until your child in around nine years old.

You can view all the different options available and our Best Buys by checking out our cot bed reviews.

Choosing a cot

We asked more than 500 cot owners, along with 600 parents who had bought a convertible cot bed, to tell us what they believed to be the most important considerations when buying one.

Buying a cot: top five factors

 Cots
1.Safety
2.Price
3.Whether the cot can be converted into a toddler bed
4.Cot has drop-side
5.Durability

Buying a cot bed: top five factors

 Cot beds
1.Safety
2.Price
3.Ease of converting into a toddler bed
4.Durability
5.Ease of using height-adjustable base

 

(Which? baby products survey, January 2011)

Cot shopping checklist

Cot beds

A cot bed is a cot with removable sides and end panel so it can be converted into a toddler-sized bed. These are increasingly popular and seem a logical way of lengthening the life of a cot as well as helping to make the move from a cot to a bed as smooth as possible for your child.

Cot beds are larger than cots but are not necessarily much more expensive. Take a look at our video guide to buying a cot bed to find out if it's right for you.

Cot size

Cot sizes vary. Cots designed to fit 'standard-sized' cot mattresses are a few centimetres narrower than cots designed for 'continental-sized' mattresses - although they're often a similar length. Cots also vary in size within these categories, too. Measurements should be clearly displayed on the cot label.

The advantage of a larger cot is that your baby will have more room - and it may work out a more practical option if you and your baby are happy to continue using a cot well into toddling years. However, a smaller cot will be perfectly adequate for a growing baby.

Height-adjustable base

The base height of most cots can be adjusted as your baby grows. You can choose the highest level for the first few months, so you can lift your baby in and out easily, then reposition at a lower level when your baby starts to pull him- or herself up, so he or she stays secure in the cot.

Cots tend to have a two- or three-position base, although a few have more. Two positions are fine for most people’s needs.

A cot with drop-down sides

Drop-side cots let you lift your baby in and out with ease

Fixed or drop sides?

Most cots available have drop sides. One side of the cot will have a mechanism designed to let you lower the side so you can lift your baby in and out with ease. Some cots have drop mechanisms on both sides.

'Nudge and lift' mechanisms, when you push the side of the cot into a position where it can be lowered, can be useful because you can operate them with one hand. Other cots have a trigger mechanism, a foot pedal or a couple of catches to undo.

New rules to ban drop-side cots in the United States came into effect in 2011, following the deaths of at least 32 babies because of defective drop-side cots since 2000 and recalls on 11 million cots since 2007.

British cots come under European safety standards - always make sure you look out for the BS EN 716: 2005 - which are different to those in the US. 

So far, there hasn't been a ban on drop-sides in Europe, although there has been an adjustment to the European standards, which now say that drop-sides are required to lock in the lower position. 

Teething rail

Chomping on the edge of a cot is a habit many babies seem to relish. Choose a cot with a teething rail – a protective covering lining the side-edges of the cot – if you want to avoid the risk of damage.

Casters

Some cots have casters or mounted wheels - handy, if you want to move your cot into to a different room. It also makes for easier cleaning under and around the cot.

Bedside cots

You can buy cots with a removable side so you can position the cot right next to your bed. The base can be adjusted so your baby’s mattress can be lined up with yours, which makes night-time feeding easier.

We're reviewed the NCT Bednest, a crib similar to a cot that allows you to sleep next to your baby, so find out whether we thought it was worth the money.

Travel cots

Travel cots are portable cots that you can fold up and put in a bag to take away with you. Most have a plastic or metal frame, woven fabric and mesh sides and a hard segmented bottom with a folding, lightly padded mattress. Our dedicated travel cots guide has more in-depth advice.

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