It's so exciting waiting for your new arrival and choosing all of the lovely things for the nursery, but when it comes to choosing a cot it can be quite a tricky task! With so many lovely cots and cribs to choose from? How do you know which is perfect for you and your family and most importantly - a happy baby bedtime?
A happy baby bedtime
From birth it’s advisable that your baby sleeps in your room for the first six months, so in the early days a crib or Moses basket is advisable and practical, because you can move it around your home so that your baby is always near you. Of course this isn’t ideal in all homes, and it doesn’t always work, especially if you or your partner are loud sleepers (I’m talking snoring! Anyone else have a snorer?)
There are some lovely cribs and moses baskets available and choosing is really a matter of personal taste, but again, ensure it's safe and it's advisable to get one where the dressing or interior is fully removable and machine washable. There are often a few messy moments with newborns - so anything that can be washed is a bonus!
When your little one is ready to move to a cot, I'd always advise investing in a good cot-bed.
A cot bed is a cot that adapts into a bed as your baby grows up and becomes a toddler. It’s well worth investing in a cot-bed as it could last you from birth right up to five years! In fact this beautiful one (link over the words to the cot) lasts up to teen! How amazing is that?
It's also essential you invest in a good quality mattress to go in it. Choose a mattress that’s firm, rather than soft, and that fits well in the cot with no gaps around the edges. This is very important as little hands and feet can become trapped if the mattress is ill-fitting.
It's also important to mention here to always use a new mattress for a new baby. Even if your baby has a sibling, don’t be tempted to use their old mattress. The phrase I always tell new parents is 'new baby – new mattress.'
As well as considering the design and look of the bed you choose, ensure it conforms to British Safety Standards (BSeN716). The regulations are there for a reason and they will help keep your baby safe!
Don't forget to measure the space where it will go – cot-beds are larger than cots, so check the measurements before ordering your final choice!
A safe baby bedtime
When planning your baby’s room, ensure the cot isn’t near a radiator or sunny window. Babies are less able to regulate their body temperature so may overheat quickly. This is one of the most common causes of night waking – but it can also put your baby at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (link here to NHS)
Without wanting to worry you, it's important to talk about safe sleeping when talking about a happy baby bedtime. All the evidence from every source around the world suggests that placing your baby on their back at the beginning of every sleep or nap significantly reduces the risk of SIDS.
If your baby is in a cot, make sure they can’t wriggle down under their blanket by putting them in the ‘feet to foot’ position with their feet at the bottom of the cot, rather than their head at the top.
By following these simple steps from The Lullaby Trust, you’ll be taking the most proactive measures you can to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible:
• You should always place your baby on their back to sleep and not on their front or side - unless your doctor has advised you of a medical reason to do so.
• If your baby has rolled onto their tummy, you should turn them onto their back again.
• Once your baby can roll from back to front and back again, on their own, they can be left to find their own position.
The information isn’t intended to frighten you, it’s simply a guide to help parents avoid the dangers associated with SIDS and essential that I mention it when talking about a happy baby bedtime.
Finally – when choosing bedding for your baby, think empty bed! Sounds silly, but the emptier the cot the safer the sleep.
It's tempting to choose pretty cot bumpers, teddies and quilts, but its advisable to keep the cot as clear as possible. It's not advisable to use quilts or pillows until your baby moves to a bed when they are older. If you need to use a blanket – always ensure it is tucked in snuggly and no higher than waist height.
Baby sleeping bags are much safer than quilts (which can cause little ones to over-heat.) Babies can also move underneath quilts whereas sleeping bags are fitted snuggly to their body – offering both comfort and safer sleeping.
Finally, whichever cot you choose for a happy baby bedtime – make sure it's safe, comfortable and is right for you and your family.
My book 'The Baby Bedtime Book' is a gentle sleep guide full of useful tips for a happy baby bedtime and available from Amazon here.