With your newborn baby spending a good 16 hours asleep every day, one thing’s for certain: you need to find somewhere comfortable for him to sleep. At first you may be happy with a Moses basket crib or carrycot (possibly part of your travel system), but as time goes on, and your baby settles into a routine of daytime naps and regular bedtimes (not just a pipe dream, honest!) – and grows – you’ll need somewhere bigger to put him, somewhere he can call his own.
By about six months, most babies are in cots; it’s up to you whether you keep him in your room or move him out to the nursery (many experts recommend that your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months). The cot is probably going to be one of your major baby purchases, and it needs to last until your baby is two to three years old (and possibly be passed on to younger siblings), so it pays to make the right choice.
|Mamas & Papas Close and Cosy Bedside Cot|
Mattress: as it is recommended that you use a new mattress for each child, many cots are sold without. Choose a firm one that fits snugly inside your cot – you don’t want fingers getting trapped.
Drop sides: these can be lowered to make it easier to pick up and put down your baby, and raised to keep him safe (he will be pulling himself up before you know it). If you want your baby close at night, opt for a cot with a removable side that you can place next to your bed (ideal for those night feeds); the Cosatto Olivia (about £120) and Mamas & Papas Close & Cosy Bedside cot (£200) both fit the bill.
Variable height base: this can be raised when your baby is tiny, so you can place him gently to sleep, then lowered once he becomes more mobile.
Over-cot changing table: some manufacturers make a changing table that can fit over the cot (perfect height for avoiding backache); a good solution if you’re short of space.
Under-cot storage: again essential if your nursery is on the small side. Mothercare stocks a couple of models with matching underbed drawers.
Safety teething rails: not essential, but could be a godsend if yours is the chewy type… These are just a simple plastic strip along the top of the cot which prevent a teething toddler from chomping off bits of paint or wood.
(Many years ago, children biting the lead-based paints off cots caused tragic deaths. Now nursery paints are safe, but it's still an unsavoury thing to find your baby eating their cot!)
These look like cots, but are slightly bigger. Their biggest advantage is that they will last your child longer, as the sides can be removed when your baby is ready to make a small, child-sized bed.
However, if you have a second child before your first has outgrown this, you’ll find yourself back to square one, and buying another bed. Also, because they are larger, your baby will look somewhat lost in it for a while.
|Cosatto Slotti Cot|
If you think a cot bed is versatile, think again. The Stokke Sleepi, a beautifully curvaceous little number, starts life as a crib on wheels, expands to become a cot, then a toddler bed. With an additional Junior section you can create a 165cm bed. And if that wasn’t enough, it can even be separated to make two chairs. (Not to be outdone, the matching changing table converts to a desk.)
With more traditional styling (and requiring a somewhat larger budget), the Simon Horn cot transforms from cot to child’s bed to small sofa.
Most cots are sold flat-packed for home assembly, so do make sure you follow the instructions carefully so your cot is sturdy and safe. The Cosatto Slotti (about £180) is the perfect cot for the anti-DIY brigade – it simply slots together in a matter of minutes and looks funky to boot.
What’s your style?
Features aside, one of the biggest considerations is, of course, style. You can pick a cot to co-ordinate with pretty much any look, from smart wood to painted styles, square-ended to curvy. Here are a few of our favourites, with something to suit every budget:
Stokke Sleepi, £499 – oval shape, beech finish, a Scandinavian design classic.
Lionwitchwardrobe Bridge cot, £1,250 – chic, simple and with heirloom possibilities. Modern British at its best.
Mothercare Kyoto, £199 – Japanese styling with a minimalist feel. Part of a complete range of nursery furniture in oak.
The White Company Classic cot bed, £350 – classic styling, pure white finish, and built to last.