If your baby is going to sleep in a cot, there are some things you will need to consider. This article takes 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.
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 Frame
- 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 soft. 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
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.
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.
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.