- Look for the Australian and New Zealand safety Standard when buying a cot (Australian Standards AS/NZS 2172 – ‘Cots for household use – safety requirements)
- It is illegal to sell a cot that doesn’t meet the Standard – this includes second-hand cots
- 25% of all children’s injuries relating to nursery furniture involve cots
- This Standard only applies to standard cots – it doesn’t cover portable or travel cots, cradles or toddler beds.
- It is recommended that a standard cot be used for everyday use.
- Try to buy a cot with a fixed base that can be secure on a low fitting.
If you have a cot that doesn’t have a Standards label, you can ensure that it is safe by checking that it measures:
- At least 600mm – depth from bottom of mattress to top of cot
- At least 500mm – depth from top of mattress to top of cot
- 50mm to 85mm – space between bars
- less than 25mm – space between cot sides/ends and mattress
- less than 8mm – corner posts/ screws and knobs
- No spaces between 5mm and 12mm wide – possible finger traps
- No spaces between 30mm and 50mm wide – possible arm and leg traps
- No spaces 85mm wide or wider – these can trap the head, and your baby could fall out of the cot
Also make sure that you check that:
- All locks and catches are child-proof.
- There are no sharp edges or holes that your baby could poke his fingers into.
- Your cot is in good condition – don’t consider using one that is any way broken or damaged.
- Ensure that all connections – the base, the sides – are good and strong and that all screws are tight – it’s worth checking these regularly as your baby may loosen them over time by rocking his cot.
- The paint on the cot is lead-free. While a new cot that meets the Australian Standards will be lead-free, you do need to check old cots. If you’re in doubt, strip that cot and repaint.
Where to put a cot:
- Always keep your cot well away from any cords or ropes (from curtains or blinds) you’re your baby could get choked by.
- Ensure that your cot isn’t near any power points, heaters, lights and other electrical appliances.
- Make sure that your baby’s mobile is out of reach so he can’t pull it down and into his cot.
- If you place your cot near a window, make sure that the window can be locked and/or it is fitted with bars so that there’s no risk that your child could climb out the window.
- Don’t hang anything above your child’s cot as these may fall into the cot and injure him.
- The mattress should fit the cot well and be firm. The space between the mattress and the cot sides should be no greater than 25mm.
- If your mattress has a plastic covering, it should be removed.
- Mattress protectors should fit the mattress well and should be strong.
- Because a portable cot has flexibility in its sides and base, only use a thin mattress to avoid the possibility of your baby getting caught between the mattress and the sides.
- If you use a tea-tree mattress, ensure that you turn in over regularly so that it doesn’t become uneven. These mattresses should stay flat and firm so that your baby can’t roll easily.
- Mattresses that have been ‘approved’ by health professionals say more about the type of mattress it is rather than whether the mattress is safe for you to use.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot NZ.