Baby Safety

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If your baby is going to sleep in a cot, there are some things you will need to consider. This article Mother and Babytakes a look at baby safety with regards to cot features, what you should keep an eye out for, and some basic guidelines for safety when your baby is sleeping in a cot.

Babies, as you may already know, need a great deal of sleep. During their first two years of life they will probably spend most of it asleep. If your baby is to be sleeping in a cot, it is worth your while taking a bit of time to choose the right one for both them and for you.

Cot Choices

In addition to the design and appearance, there will be certain safety standards that will need to be conformed to. The British Standards Institute in the UK, the CPSC in the USA and other regulatory bodies in other countries all have these standards. The reason being is to minimise the number of infant deaths by accidents each year, either by strangulation or suffocation. The guidelines laid out below have been created to assist people that are looking to buy a cot:

The Cot’s FrameBlack Cot

  • Draft or depth – The mattress top and the top of the cot sides should ideally be at least half a meter (50cm) in height. As your baby becomes more agile, they will begin to climb.
  • Bars – These should always be vertical and not horizontal. Horizontal bars will act like a ladder and your little one will figure out that they can be used to climb out. The spacing between the bars should also be less than 6.5cm between them. This will stop your baby putting their head between the bars when they are curious.
  • Ventilation – It is recommended that you choose a cot with bars on all sides. This is to let air circulate more freely whilst your baby is sleeping.
  • Decoration – Some cots will have the headboard and baseboard with decorative shapes cut into them. While this may seem pretty, check that the shapes are suitable for your baby’s arms, legs and fingers, that they will not get trapped.

The Cot’s Mattress

  • Hygiene – Mattresses should be kept as hygienically clean as is possible, at all times. Whether it is a second hand mattress or a new one, ensure that it is dry and free from and tears or cracks. You can choose one with an easily wipe clean coating or, if not available, use a mattress protector that can be washed at a high temperature. All babies dribble and occasionally their nappies will leak. This will help protect them and keep them clean.
  • Firmness – A mattress should be about 10cm thick or more, and preferably firmer rather than Baby on Matrtresssoft. Your baby will need support while they sleep.
  • Material – Mattresses are fabricated using three main materials. These are foam, internal-spring and coir (a type of fibre). Each of these has their own advantages, so it is important that you do some research beforehand to see what would suit you and your baby.
  • Size – You will find that mattresses come in two sizes. These are standard and continental (depending on which country you are in) and should always be the right size for your cot. There should be no gaps around the sides and fit snugly.
  • Safety Standards – Every mattress should conform to their countries safety standards. In the UK this means they should carry the kite mark BSI 1877-10:1997

Second-hand Cots

Buying or having a second-hand cot might seem like good financial sense, but may not be up to standards that are required to keep your baby safe. Below are some things you will need to check:

  • Paint – Old, painted cots may have been painted with lead paint if they were made before 1973. Lead paint is toxic. Ensure this is stripped and painted with a non-toxic paint.
  • Mechanisms – If the cot is fitted with a drop-side, make sure that this is in good working order and stays in the up position.
  • Decorations – Many old cots will have been adorned with stickers. Over times these can start to peel off, so make sure these are removed before using as they could cause the baby to choke if put in their mouth.
  • Cleanliness – Make sure the cot is completely cleaned and sanitised before use.

Cot PlacementUncluttered Cot

Make sure that you place the cot in a draft-free location. This could be coming from a door or a window. Also, if the cot is by a window, this could cause the baby to overheat when the sun is shining, and if the window has blinds, this could be a hazard as your baby could become entangled in the cords.

Cot Accessories

Be sure to keep your cot as clutter free as you can. Babies under 1 year old can suffocate if you give them a duvet or pillow, and also run the risk of your baby overheating. Cot bumpers, while they may look attractive, can be used as a climbing platform as your baby starts to become active. They can also keep in heat so are not recommended.

SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

This is a condition that all parents fear. I will not go into too much detail here, but a good authority site with information can be found here.


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20 Comments on "Baby Safety"

  1. Heather Grace | January 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Reply

    Great and informative article! So often I see parents making some of the mistakes you pointed out. The biggest one is all sorts of fluff, decor and pillows in the cot.
    I also love that you point out things like not having the cot near window blinds. I have read horrid stories of little children hurting themselves on the cords of blinds and also video baby monitors.
    Our little ones are so precious so sharing safety info is so important. Thank you!

    • Hi Heather. It is so easy in today’s hectic environment to overlook many safety aspects. What may seem like common sense to one may not be that apparent to others, so I hope that by making people aware we can all increase the importance of baby safety – Martyn

  2. Wow, I am lucky to have read your post and it’s just right in time as my husband and I will buy a baby crib. The specifications and the tips here are very helpful. And yes, as a first time parent, SIDS is one scary thing! I’ve read a lot about that and it really has something to do with the baby’way of sleeping. I’ll bookmark this and thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey Martyn,
    Excellent article, I can;t believe I never thought of the vertical bars and ventilation section of the baby’s cot! Horizontal bars can act as a ladder for them to climb, I was totally oblivious to that, thanks for sharing this! I definitely gotta get myself a new baby cot. Out of curiosity, what would happen if the baby cot does not have bars? Will the baby freak out if she wakes up without those bars?

    • Hi Riaz. I don’t suppose babies will freak out, although bars do provide better circulation and your baby will also have the advantage of being able to look around, which can keep them entertained for longer – Martyn

  4. What an informative website Martyn! Full of really useful information. I tried to find such a website a couple of years ago and struggled.. Also – I love the photo of the black cot..! Sammi

  5. I am curious! Is there any other reason why you have to the mattress firmer, or than support?

    • Hi Nicolas.

      Firmness provides the support needed. Too soft a mattress will enable your precious one to sink down, which could lead to suffocation or SIDS.

      Martyn

  6. Hello, nice site! I like the storks in the header and the blue sky background. 🙂

    I am not a mom, thank goodness, as I would be terrified nowadays with all the things that could go wrong! Ack! Good thing there are sites like yours that help parents choose wisely!

    • Hiya Lainey. I know many women who didn’t like the idea of becoming a mum, but made great mums in the end. I’m sure you would have been the same – Martyn

  7. Hi Martyn,

    Safety is always key and when it is our loved ones that are at heart we want and need to be aware of what is in their best interest. It is nice to see that you have a site dedicated to our little ones!

    Julie

    • Hi Julie. You see so many stories of how things can go wrong with our precious ones that I wanted to try to give some information back. I’m lad that you think I am achieving this – Martyn

  8. OMG this is really becoming a huge safety problem. I live in New York City and there are all these ad campaigns at the moment trying to stop parents from sleeping with their childs. I can’t remember the exact number but there was an alarming rates of death amongst young children from bed related injuries. Perhaps your cot safety tips will help those parents to know that it’s of the utmost importance not to sleep with your baby.

    • Hi Vili,
      It is alarming that so many deaths and injuries are caused this way. I hope this will help parents see the potential dangers involved

      Martyn

  9. This shows some great info about cot. Ill recommend this to my friend who have a 6month old baby 🙂

  10. Hi Martyn, I happen across your site looking for some information for my niece that is soon to be a new mom. Your site has some great information and helpful ideas. I’ve bookmarked for a follow up with her on her next visit. I’m sure she will find your site of a great interest. Thanks a bunch, Chris

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