Household cots

Babies can suffer serious injuries when trying to climb out of cots. Make sure you buy a cot that meets the mandatory safety standard.

About cots

Household cots are fixed sleeping enclosures for infants and babies. Cots can be rectangular with sides and ends made of slats or filler bars. Often one side drops down to give easy access to the baby. Cots can also be circular made with walls that have no slats. Some cots can convert to toddler beds.

Risks and injuries

If additional mattresses are placed in the cot they can mould to a child’s face and cause suffocation. Toys, pillows and bumpers in the cot can also cause infants to suffocate if they get caught up in them. Older babies may also use them as footholds to try climbing out of the cot, potentially suffering concussion and fractures if they fall.

Infants have died after being strangled by loose blind or curtain cords hanging in or near cots.

Infants have died in cots where do-it-yourself repairs have created hazards. If parts of your cot break or stop working, always take it back to the supplier to organise repairs.

Gaps in cots may cause injury or death if the infant becomes trapped. The risks include suffocation,injuries to arms and legs, or strangulation if the head becomes trapped between gaps. Infants can also suffer strangulation if their clothing gets snagged on parts of a cot that stick out.

Buying tips

  • Information about the recommended size of the mattress to use with a cot is required by law in four places: in the leaflet that comes with the cot, on a swing tag or label, on external packaging, and on the cot itself.
  • If buying a second-hand cot, make sure it comes with full instructions for safe assembly and use and that all necessary parts are in good working order.

Safe use

  • Ensure the cot is safely assembled according to instructions.
  • If the cot features a moving drop side, ensure that the locking mechanism is functional and operates safely with repeated use.
  • Only use the mattress specifically designed for the cot, and never place an extra mattress in the cot.
  • If the cot has an upper and lower mattress level, move it to the lower level as soon as the child can stand up.
  • Do not use extra bedding like bumpers and pillows, and do not leave toys in the cot with a sleeping child. Keep decorative mobiles out of reach.
  • Set the cot up away from blinds and curtain cords. Keep heaters or any electrical appliances away from the cot.
  • Never modify a new or old cot yourself, as this can destroy inbuilt safety features.

Video

This cot safety video is part of the Keeping Baby Safe series. It provides you with tips and advice on choosing and using a cot safety.