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Revealed: 4 in 10 parents report frustrating problems with their cot bed

We explain what to do if you're faced with an issue when buying a brand new cot bed for your little one

Revealed: 4 in 10 parents report frustrating problems with their cot bed

Whether you spend £50 or £500 on a new cot bed, your baby deserves a safe place to sleep. After quizzing over a thousand parents on their cot beds, we’ve uncovered the most common issues when setting them up and using them.

While some parents told us they found building their cot bed tricky because of missing parts, others told us their new purchase had an unpleasant chemical smell. But whatever the issue, if your cot bed isn’t fit for purpose, you’ll need to get it replaced.

Below, we run through some of the problems associated with buying and using a new cot bed. Our expert advice will help you know what to do if you’re in the same boat.


Best cot bed brands – as voted for by parents


Which cot bed problems are the most common?

More than 1,600 parents took part in our cot bed survey*, which revealed 4 in 10 parents have had problems with their child’s cot bed.

Here’s an overview of the issues you need to be aware of.

Difficulty changing from cot to bed

Plenty of parents have struggled here – in fact, this was the most reported-on issue in our survey, affecting 3 in 10 respondents.

Once your child outgrows their cot, you’ll need to convert the product into a bed by removing the sides with bars attached and adjusting the foot and headboards.

It might sound like a fairly straightforward job, but our survey results prove it can be surprisingly tricky.

If you’re having trouble making the swap, it’s best to check the instruction manual that came with the cot bed.

If you’ve misplaced the manual, you’ll likely find how-to guides on the manufacturer’s website. Some big-name baby brands will have instructional videos on YouTube – type in the name of your cot bed and have a look around.

Failing that, you might want to try live-chatting an expert on the manufacturer’s website, or sending an email.

Remember, when converting a cot bed into a standard bed, don’t use too much force. Splitting the headboards and footboards, for example, can be tough, so recruit an extra helper if you need to.


For more details on converting a cot to a bed, see our expert advice guide on cot bed safety.


The wood was damaged

If your cot bed is showing clear signs of damage, get it replaced as soon as you can. In our survey, 27% of parents told us they’d found damaged wood that made their cot beds unsafe to use.

Broken materials will affect the structural integrity of your child’s cot bed and so adding additional weight to the product could cause it to fall apart completely.

On top of that, pieces of damaged wood can splinter off, potentially injuring your baby if they poke the sharp edges or ingest small fragments.

If you’ve purchased a brand new cot bed and it arrives damaged, the retailer is fully responsible.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, the cot bed must be of satisfactory quality (not faulty or damaged when you receive it), fit for purpose and as described.

Assuming the cot bed doesn’t satisfy one of these requirements, the retailer (not the manufacturer) is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act.

You have a total of 30 days to claim a refund if the cot bed is faulty, so don’t delay.


For more advice on how to get a refund, repair or replacement, check in our guide on dealing with faulty products.


Holes didn’t line up

Trying to build a new piece of furniture when the drill holes aren’t in the correct position can be a nightmare.

Unfortunately, 23% of parents that took part in our survey said this was something they had struggled with.

If you buy a new cot bed and can’t follow the instructions because the product has been prepared incorrectly, this is another issue that sees the retailer in breach of the Consumer Rights Act.

In cases where you end up returning a faulty cot bed that you purchased online, you should be refunded the delivery cost you paid to get it sent to you in the first place.

Parts are missing

Most cot beds will come flat-packed, so it’s up to you to assemble the product correctly. But if parts are missing, the odds are stacked against you.

This frustrating issue affected around 20% of parents in our survey.

If you attempt to build a cot bed that’s missing a couple of screws, it’s more than likely the product won’t be as stable as it should be. Considering you’ll be tucking your baby in every evening, it’s not worth the risk.

Reach out to the retailer if your cot bed arrives without all of its parts. The shop you bought the cot bed from may provide the missing components to you free of charge, or encourage you to swap the product out for a replacement.

It has a strong chemical smell

If you’re noticing a chemical smell coming from your cot, it’s best to air out the product before you think about contacting the retailer for a replacement. In our survey, 20% of respondents said this was an issue they’d encountered.

Usually, this smell is caused by the chemicals that are used to treat the wood. In other words, you can avoid this problem entirely by shopping with brands that are eco-friendly – they’re more likely to use non-toxic paints and finishes. If you’re uncertain, give the company a call before you part with your money.

Having the cot bed in a stuffy room won’t help your situation either, so it’s always a good idea to consider airflow when deciding where to position your cot bed. If you don’t have many windows in the room, you can try using a ceiling fan or table fan.

It developed a fault

Building your cot bed exactly as the manufacturer intended is the key to preventing faults. If you cut corners when assembling the product, the cot bed is more likely to fall apart through regular use.

Have the instructions close by as you’re building and get some help if you need it – most cot beds are large and difficult to move around the house.

In some cases, the bolts bundled with a new cot bed are nowhere near as well-made as parts you’d pick up at the local DIY store.

Cheap screws are easy to cross-thread, so have some spares by your side when you start building.

Which cot bed brand is the best?

On a mission to uncover the best cot bed brands, we’ve asked parents to report back on cot beds from Mamas & Papas, Ikea, John Lewis and other well-known baby brands.

Our top-scoring cot bed brand finished up with an impressive customer score of 81%, meaning the vast majority of customers would gladly recommend the brand to other parents.


Discover which big-name brands impressed in our survey with our guide on the best cot bed brands.


* In March 2020, we surveyed 1,625 parents with children up to five years old and who owned a cot bed.

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