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Cot Beds buying guide

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A cot bed gives you a practical way to lengthen the cot’s life, plus it helps you transition your baby to a junior bed much more smoothly. Cot beds come in a variety of styles and functions, such as a sleigh cot bed or dropside cot bed. You’ll find a wide variety of colours and patterns, from a white cot bed to a green cot bed to a pink cot bed, and practically anything in between.

In the beginning, your baby spends as many as 20 hours a day in the cot bed, so a comfortable cot bed mattress is an important consideration. You’ll use this cot bed furniture for around five years, so you want to choose a style that fits your nursery but can grow with your toddler.

A cot bed is a larger cot that will convert to a junior bed. This can make the transition less traumatic for your toddler, and many toddlers prefer a junior bed to a larger one. Depending on your child’s size, you should be able to use the junior bed until around age 5 or 6, at which time you’ll need an adult sized bed. A cot bed costs more than a normal cot, but you’ll get more years of use out of it.

With such an important decision, you may not know where to begin. Price Inspector can help you buy the ideal cot bed at a cheap price. Our Inspectors shop the UK stores for you, letting you focus just on picking your favourite style. Our buying guide will help you learn about safety features and decide which options are the most important.

Cot Bed Features

  • Adjustable base height: Most cot beds have two to three different heights for the mattress, with three being the most common. This lets you put the mattress at its highest point when your baby is younger, making it easier on your back to lift her. As your baby becomes able to push up on her hands and knees, lower the mattress to the middle range to make sure she can’t roll over the edge. When she is able to pull herself up into a standing position, move it to the lowest possible point to prevent climbing out. Note: in the lowest position, the rails of the cot bed should be at least 500mm higher than the height of the mattress.
  • Drop Sides: Some cot beds have a fixed side, which means you’ll only be able to access your baby by leaning over the rails into the cot bed. With drop sides, you can lower one side of the cot bed, making it much easier to pick up or lay down your baby. Most people are fine with a fixed side, but especially if you have an existing back condition or are more petite, a drop side is a great option. If you do select a drop side cot bed, make sure to select a simple, one-handed mechanism, since you’ll need to lower the sides while holding a baby. Also, make sure the latches cannot be reached by children to ensure it is not accidentally lowered.
  • Teething Rails: When your baby begins teething, she may chew on the cot’s edges. A teething rail offers a protective covering on the edges, which will protect her teeth and prevent damage to the cot.

Things to consider before buying your cot bed

  • Check the spacing of the slats, as this is an important safety consideration. The UK recommendation is that the slats be spaced between 45-65mm apart on the sides, with less than 60mm in the mattress base.
  • Make sure the cot bed is sturdy. You should expect to use this furniture for at least 5 years, and toddlers can be notoriously rough on furniture.
  • If the design has corner posts, make sure they are not higher than 1.5mm.
  • Check that all screws and bolts are tightly secured, and that there are no sharp edges.
  •  Make sure you know how to convert the cot to a junior bed when the time comes. Also, if there is a guarantee, will it last until it is time to convert it to a bed? This will help if you run into any problems during the conversion process.
  • Some beds will also convert to a sofa, which gives you even more flexibility once your child eventually outgrows the junior bed. These cost more than a regular cot bed, but it extends the life even further.
  • Some cot beds have a drawer underneath for storage, which is a great option if you are short on nursery storage. It’s also a good place to store the conversion instructions so you can actually find them when the time comes!
  • Mattress: Cot beds come in different sizes, so make sure you are buying the correct mattress size. Even a small gap as little as 4cm is enough to trap your baby’s arm or leg.

Mattresses and bedding

Cot beds are usually not sold with the cot bed mattress included, so be sure to budget for a mattress, 4 sets of sheets, and 2 to 4 blankets. When you choose a mattress for the cot bed, you have three choices: foam, sprung, or fibre.

  • Foam mattresses are generally covered with PVC, which makes them easy to wipe clean. They are lower priced mattresses, but they do still meet stringent British standards. They start around 25 pounds for an 8cm deep mattress for a standard cot. You can also afford to replace the mattress down the line, especially if you have any concerns about the cleanliness, and still have spent less money than an upper-end mattress.
  • Fibre mattresses are a good option if you don’t want your baby sleeping on any synthetic materials. The interior is usually coconut fibre covered in waterproof latex, with a soft cotton cover. Be aware that these mattresses usually do not contain the fire retardant chemicals necessary to meet British Standards.
  • Sprung mattresses use a traditional coiled spring construction covered by both foam and cotton ticking. They usually have one side with a wipe clean plastic cover and one covered with soft cotton ticking. Sprung mattresses start at 40 pounds for a 10cm deep mattress that will fit a standard cot bed.
Whatever style you choose, it is crucial the mattress fit snugly in the frame. If you push the mattress gently to the side, make sure that any gap is less than 4cm. Also, make sure you can attach the mattress securely to the head and foot boards.

When your baby is less than a year old, don’t invest in pillows, bumpers, or other items that may restrict your baby’s motions. After a year old, you might want to switch to a duvet instead of blankets, but blankets are a better option for younger children. This allows you to easily change how many layers are being used, helping regulate your baby’s temperature.

mattress protector can help keep the mattress from absorbing all the saliva, perspiration, urine, or spit-up that all babies generate. Make sure you can also clean the mattress, however, to prevent the formation of bacteria.

For sheets, you can buy both flat and fitted cot sheets in a variety of textures. Popular choices include woven sheets, flannelette, cotton jersey, and stretch jersey. For cot blankets, many experts recommend cotton cellular blankets. These can be layered in different thicknesses to keep your baby comfortable. If your home is very cold, however, consider cellular acrylic blankets.

When your baby is a little older, you can switch to a cot quilt or a cot duvet. If you buy a cot duvet, buy a spare cover so your baby can still nap if the dirty one is being washed.


Jargon Explained


PVCAlso called vinyl, PVC is a plastic compound. It is water resistant and wipes clean, which is good for cot bed mattresses. However, many people have concerns about the toxicity of PVC and therefore avoid this material for mattress covers.
Latex A rubber material made from the milky sap of different trees. You can find mattress pads in both natural and synthetic latex. It is resistant to mold and bacteria and it is generally hypoallergenic, although some people do have latex allergies. Natural latex can also be very expensive. 

Buying Guide to Cot Beds
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