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10 tips on preparing your baby's cot

We’re sure you’re working through a whole list of wonderful things to buy and prepare for your little one, and somewhere near the top is probably a cot.

According to The Lullaby Trust and the American Academy of Paediatrics, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in the same room as you for the first six months, so it helps to have this sorted and set up, ready for baby’s arrival! (Although this list is still useful to check through if you already have a cot).

Whether you go for something classic, multi-functional or rather extravagant, there are some tips that will make any cot safe and cosy to help baby sleep soundly.

Baby in his cot next to the Bluebell Smart baby monitor

  1. Keep the cot clear

Safety first! There’s a simple way to give yourself a little bit of peace of mind when you put baby down to sleep (which may help you sleep better too) – make sure there’s nothing in their cot that doesn’t need to be there. This means no:

  • Pillows
  • Duvets
  • Bumpers
  • Toys
  • Loose bedding
  • Wedges, straps, etc. for keeping them in place

This important piece of advice comes from The Lullaby Trust and is super helpful when it comes to reducing risks of SIDS. Of course, you might want to put some toys and decorative pillows in there in the day (especially for those beautiful insta shots), but make sure they’re not in there when baby is actually sleeping.

So, you’re probably wondering what you can actually put in baby’s cot. Keep it simple: a mattress with a waterproof cover (see tip number 2) and a blanket or baby sleep bag (see tip number 3). That really is all you need for baby’s cot!

  1. Use a firm, flat mattress

It’s important that their mattress is firm, flat and fits snugly into their cot, so that it doesn’t move around and there’s no danger of them slipping through gaps, etc. Standard measurements for different types of mattresses are:

  • Cot bed mattress – 70cm x 140cm
  • Cot mattress – 60cm x 120 cm
  • Small cot mattress – 54cm x 90cm
  • Travel cot mattress – 65cm x 90cm

There are loads of mattresses to choose from, but it’s advised you avoid using second hand mattresses as they may have lost too much of their firmness. Try somewhere like John Lewis or Argos to make sure you get something you can trust.

It’s also advised that the mattress has a waterproof cover (for obvious reasons). You’ll probably want to get a few for easy changeovers.

Mum lifting baby out of baby cot

Photo by Courtney Kammers on Unsplash

  1. Get something to keep them warm

They’re going to need something to keep them toasty (but not too toasty, of course). A simple cotton blanket will do. Once they arrive, make sure it’s tucked in properly under their arms. Natural, breathable materials are a good choice as they allow baby to cool down when they need to. The Little Green Sheep have a lovely selection, as do The Bamboo Baby Company and Natural Baby Shower.

Another option is a cute little baby sleep bag. The Gro Company work with The Lullaby Trust to make sure their baby sleep bags are safe and up to standard. You can order bags depending on baby’s room temperature, their age and weight – personalised to get the right bag for your little one.

  1. Get the tape measure out

As your baby grows, they’re going to want to crawl around, explore everything and eventually climb. There are some recommended measurements to make sure they can’t climb or fall out of their cot. They may feel like they’re in a tiny baby prison when they wake up early and can’t reach their toy across the other side of the room, but it’s all for their safety!

If you run your tape measure from the top of the mattress to the top of the cot sides, it should be no less than 50cm. Then, if you measure the distance between the cot bars, it should be no more than 6.5cm. It’s highly unlikely that a new cot won’t follow these standards, but it doesn’t hurt to check for peace of mind!

  1. Position it perfectly

Decorating your baby’s nursery can be super exciting. You might opt for classic pink and blue, all white or a fun, gender neutral nursery (see this brilliant guest post for more tips on this). As well as colour schemes, lighting and accessories, you’ll also want to think about the furniture and where it’s placed. Location is an important thing to think about when it comes to baby's cot.

  • The cot should be placed against a wall, but avoid walls next to other rooms in the house that could be noisy and disturb baby (like the bathroom).
  • Don’t put it right next to a radiator. This might sound like a good idea for keeping them warm but it can lead to them getting too hot.
  • Don’t put it near a window. When it’s open it could make baby too cold, and there are also risks from blind cords and direct sunlight.
  • Keep it away from mirrors, photo frames, shelves, cables, curtains, etc.
  • Basically, you want to keep it away from any kind of hazard that can fall, be grabbed or change the temperature excessively, because babies will be babies!

If you want to make sure their skin or room temperature doesn’t get too hot or too cold, the Bluebell Smart Baby Monitor will track this for you and notify you on it. That gives you one less worry when baby’s in their nursery, so you can get on with things!

Little one crawling around in baby cot

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

  1. Consider the cot’s functions

Like anything you buy for baby, there are loads of products out there, so choosing baby’s cot may not be the simplest process. One thing you might want to think about is whether you want any extra features. Of course, all you need is a basic cot, but additional functions can come in handy.

  • Extra storage – if you’re looking to save space, you could opt for a cot with a couple of drawers built in. A little bit of extra storage for all those cute teeny tiny outfits you’ll get.
  • Top changer – again, if you’re short on space and don’t want a full blown changing table, you can always get a cot that comes with a top changer (or grab a separate top changer) to turn the cot into a changing table whenever it’s needed – amazing! 
  • Adjustable mattress heights – it will be easier to pick them up from their cot if the base is near the top, but this is only for the early days when they can’t pull themselves up (this can be super helpful if you suffer from back pain). When they get a bit older you can lower the height.
  • Bedside cot – it’s understandable that new parents might want to be as close as possible to their baby, and with a bedside cot you can basically co-sleep safer. These cots attach to the side of your bed but you both have your own space, so it reduces the risks that come with co-sleeping.
  1. Prepare for teething

It may be hard to imagine but before you know it, your little one will be walking, talking and chewing! Once their little teeth start to come through, they’ll want to chew on everything (see our post on teething for more on this).

Some cots will come with built in teething rails, or you might need to buy them separately and attach them yourself. These can help protect both the sides of the cot, and your baby’s gums and tiny pearly whites.

Toddler playing with toys in front of baby cot

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

  1. Double check vintage cots

An antique or vintage cot can add a touch of unique elegance to your baby’s nursery, but they’re not always safe. If you’re opting for something like this, it’s important to check that it follows cot safety standards. Make sure:

  • There are no missing parts.
  • The mattress is at the right height and slats are the right distance apart (see tip number 4).
  • There are no cut-outs on the headboard or footboard (that little hands or heads can get stuck in).
  • The mattress fits properly. Cots haven’t always been a standard size and the gap between cot and mattress should be no more than the width of two fingers.
  • It wasn’t painted with lead-based paint. Get this checked and properly removed if so.
  • You’ll probably want to avoid drop-side cots as there’s a danger, especially if they’re old, of the sides dropping down by themselves.
  • If you like the vintage look, you could always go faux!
  1. Jet setters, invest in a travel cot

If you’re thinking about taking your little one on holiday, you should check ahead to see if they have a suitable cot. If not, or if you travel lots, you might want to get yourself a travel cot. This is also great if they go for sleepovers with friends or family.

They fold down so they can be stored when they’re not being used, are pretty easy to travel with, plus they don’t have to be expensive. They can also come with extra features that can come in super handy when you’re away from home, like the Joie Baby Commuter which comes with an extra bassinet, clip on changing unit and wheels for easy movement – awesome!

  1. Put them to sleep on their back

Of course, this can’t be prepared for as it’s something you’ll be doing once they’ve arrived, but it’s a little piece of crucial information you can keep in mind for when they’re here.

The safest position for baby to sleep in is on their back, until they can turn themselves back over. You can’t watch them all night, but placing them to sleep in this position every time is the best practice to get them used to that position.

If you’ve got one of our Smart baby monitors, it will alert you whenever your little one rolls onto their tummy! Check out our blog post on baby’s sleeping position for more.

Baby sleeping on back in baby cot

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels

We hope this has helped you make some decisions about your baby’s cot. We’d love to see your little one in their cot using their Smart baby monitor! Tag us with #ShareBluebell and happy decorating!