Baby furniture buying guide

Don't purchase a cot, cradle, playpen or highchair until you've read our informative guide.
 
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02.Cots

In many of CHOICE’s past tests we found cots that failed to meet basic safety requirements of the now mandatory standard for household cots: AS/NZS 2172.

Poorly designed cots can kill: According to Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), between 1985 and 1995 there were 15 deaths in Victoria related to nursery furniture. Eleven were associated with cots and their environments. Of these, seven children strangled or suffocated as a result of the cot design or a modification, including one whose clothing was caught on a wing nut.

CHOICE cot tests

In past tests of cots, CHOICE regularly found potentially unsafe models. In fact, in each of our four tests from the mid-1980s to 1990s, the majority of cots tested had major safety faults. So we were pleased to report in August 1998 that our continual campaigning had finally paid off: the Australian/New Zealand Standard Cots for household use–safety requirements (AS/NZS 2172.1995) was made mandatory from 30 June 1998, for all cots—new and secondhand. This means every cot on sale now should comply with it.

Since 1998 CHOICE tests have shown a trend towards improvements in safety. More and more cots in each test meet all the key safety requirements, and most cots that fail do so only by small margins. The August 2009 CHOICE test is no exception; of 12 tested cots eight are safe and we found four to recommend above the rest. However, we also found four that fail safety tests. These generally only just fail, or fail only when incorrectly assembled. While the risk of injury from these cots may be small, any failure of safety requirements is unacceptable.

What to buy

Bebe Care Surrey Cot Slat End

Bebe care Surrey Cot Slate End Price: $665
Good

  • Passed all the safety tests
  • Converts to a junior bed

Bad

  • Minor failure of information requirements

Childcare Balmoral

Childcare Balmoral Price: $348
Good

  • Passed all the safety tests
  • Passed all the information requirements
  • Converts to a junior bed

Bad

  • Nothing to mention

Love'n'care Florida II Cot

Love N Care Florida II Cot Price: $600
Good

  • Passed all the safety tests
  • Passed all the information requirements
  • Has a storage drawer under the cot
  • Converts to a junior bed

Bad

  • Test sample had misaligned screwhole on base, the base had to be replaced

Tasman Eco Siena

Yasman Eco Siena Price: $669
Good

  • Passed all the safety tests
  • Passed all the information requirements
  • Converts to a junior bed with optional extras
  • Mattress supplied

Bad

  • Nothing to mention

What to look for

Cot essentials

  • Take a tape measure with you when you’re shopping for a cot.
  • Standards certified The cot should be certified to AS/NZS 2172, preferably the current 2003 version; most parts of this standard are actually mandatory. Our tests show that some cots with this label might still fail some safety criteria, perhaps due to manufacturing variations, but standards certification is the benchmark. Most cots are certified when first produced, but might then be manufactured for several years without ever being re-certified, which means manufacturing variations can subtly change the cot over time. Choice tests frequently pick up such problems. We think manufacturers should get their cots re-certified at least every two years.
  • Sturdy and durable All components should be permanently fixed or require the use of a tool to take apart.
  • Deep enough to stop a child from falling out The distance from the top of the mattress to the top of the lowest side when the dropside is closed should be at least 500mm when the base is set in the lowest position. The depth should be 300mm when it is in the upper position. The depth should also be at least 150mm when the dropside is down.
  • Mattress fits snugly around all sides. When you choose a mattress, make sure there is no more than a 40mm gap between the edge of the mattress and the adjacent cot side when the mattress is pushed to the opposite side. Gaps at the sides are a suffocation risk – your baby could roll face-first into them.
  • No head entrapment hazards. Any large space or opening must be between 50mm and 95mm to stop your baby from either getting caught or falling out.
  • No limb entrapment hazards. Smaller openings should not be between 30mm and 50mm wide.
  • No finger entrapment hazards Any space or opening should not be between 5mm and 12mm wide, so little fingers don’t get caught.
  • No hazardous protrusions Nothing should stick out or point up that could hit a child’s head or snag on their clothing.
  • Finish All the components of the cot should be blunted, smooth and gently contoured.
  • No footholds There shouldn’t be any component or structure in the cot that could be used by the child as a ledge for climbing out.
  • The dropside should be secure and smooth to operate. The dropside on the cot should be impossible for a child to open but should be convenient for the child’s carer to operate.
  • Dropside clearance When you open the dropside, it should be at least 50mm off the floor to clear your feet.

Additional features

  • Junior bed conversion If the cot converts to a junior bed, you’ll get much longer use from it.
  • Teething strips These are plastic strips on the wooden edges of the cot, such as the top of the dropside, so that neither the baby nor the cot is damaged if it’s chewed on.
  • Castors/brakes Castor wheels make the cot easier to move around, but there should be lockable brakes on at least two wheels.
 

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