Setting up your baby’s sleeping space is an exciting part of preparing for the arrival of your little one and cots come in many different designs to suit your style. Safety, though, never goes out of style.
What matters more than a gorgeous room is that your baby is as safe as possible in their cot.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to keep your baby safe in their cot.
Choosing a safe household cot
The best cot for your baby is a safe one. Look for the safety features below when choosing a cot for your baby:
- Look for statements/labels that show compliance with the latest Australian safety standards. If you’re unsure or can’t find this information, ask the supplier. Safety requirements for cots help prevent injuries from falls, limbs getting trapped, suffocation and strangulation hazards.
- Check for sharp edges or protruding parts that stick out more than 5mm as they can snag on your baby’s skin or clothing.
- If you decide to use, buy or borrow a second-hand cot, ensure the product hasn't been recalled, meets current Australian safety standards, comes with instructions for safe assembly and use and all its parts are in good working order.
- For fixed base cots, the distance from the base to the lowest part of the top of the cot should be at least 60cm when the drop-side is up and 25cm when the drop-side is down.
- For adjustable base cots, the distance between the base and the lowest part of the top of the cot should be at least:
- 40cm when the base is in the highest position and the drop-side is up
- 60cm when the base is in the lowest position and the drop-side is up
- 25cm when the base is in the highest position and the drop-side is down.
Gaps can trap
- Cots have vertical bars on the sides. Gaps between these bars should be between 5-9.5cm to avoid your baby’s limbs, neck or head being trapped.
- The space between the mattress and sides of the cot should be less than 2cm when the mattress is centred and less than 4cm when the mattress is pushed to one side or end.
Using a cot safely
- The safest place to put your baby to sleep is in their own safe space, such as in a cot which meets mandatory safety requirements, set up next to your bed. For more information on sleeping practices, including co-sleeping, visit the Red Nose website.
- Not everyone likes reading instructions, but following them is a must when it comes to cot assembly.
- Set up cots away from blinds, curtain cords, heaters and any electrical appliances to prevent strangulation risks and burns. And, although they may look pretty, keep decorative mobiles out of reach.
- Never attempt to fix or modify old cots as this can weaken certain safety features.
- If the cot has a drop-side, regularly check that it’s working properly. Little fingers can get pinched and falls happen quickly.
- Always have the drop-side up when your baby is sleeping to prevent falls.
The mattress matters
- Only use the mattress specifically designed for your cot. Mattresses that do not fit cot dimensions properly may create gaps which can trap and suffocate.
- Size recommendations can be found on your cot, and in the accompanying leaflet, tags and external packaging.
- Never add an extra mattress or padding.
- Do not use extra bedding like bumpers, pillows and sleep positioners. These can suffocate.
- If the cot has different mattress levels, make sure it is set to the lowest level as soon as your baby starts sitting, pulling up or standing to reduce the risk of falls.