How we test cots

How we help you choose a safe and secure cot that meets Australian safety standards.

Peace of mind

A safe and secure cot is one of the most important purchases you can make for your baby, and CHOICE's rigorous cot reviews will help make the decision easier. 

Over the years our experts have tested hundreds of cots to the Australian standard, and have uncovered some poorly-engineered cots which could pose suffocation or falling risks.

Our expert testers

With over 15 years' experience, our testers are experts at children's product testing. They've seen all the brands and cot configurations on the market, and have put each to the test. 

Our testers also sit on the Australian Standards committee for cots. We are active industry stakeholders who regularly inform regulators and manufacturers about cot failures we find, and contribute towards the improvement of safety standards. Being on the committee gives us a clear understanding of both the technicalities and intentions of the standard. Our lab is NATA-accredited to test cots against the standard.

How we choose what we test

Why do we choose one cot over another? Our priority is to test what you'll see in shops. Most of the time you'll see us test big-brand models you'll see in mainstream nursery stores. But there's a growing industry of smaller retailers who sell to independent stores and via online marketplaces, so we occasionally include these models into the mix to make sure they're meeting the same standards that apply to the larger names.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models and we also take member feedback on board when putting a buy list together. Our buyers then purchase products as you, the consumer, would – either in-store or online. This is to ensure that the products we receive have not been tweaked with in any way, or received special treatment during transit.

How we test

Safety is a vital part of our testing. Our experts test each cot against the mandatory safety clauses from the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2172:2013. Only cots that meet these requirements are recommended. Our tests include:

  • using probes to check for suitable gaps between the bars and panels of the cot to avoid limb injury
  • checking that there is sufficient depth of the cot to prevent falls
  • testing the dropside's strength and construction, if there is one
  • checking for strangulation risks at the cot ends
  • checking that the recommended mattress size does not leave too much of a gap between the mattress and cot sides and end.

We also check the instructions to see if they meet the standard, but in most cases what we call a "failure of information requirements" is very minor (e.g. the supplier's name and contact details are not printed, or the label may have started peeling) so we've taken the view of not letting this affect our overall recommendations. Even so, we still inform manufacturers about any problems we find so they can address them in future production batches.

We also check for issues such as finger entrapment, but because we don't hear about significant injuries, we may still rate a cot as worth considering depending on the risk we think it poses. For example, plugs may not be supplied to fit the unused holes which are designed to place the mattress base in an upper or lower position (which could be a finger trap if left unfilled). But sometimes these holes may not present a likely risk, as they may be covered once a mattress is in place.

Reputable cot manufacturers will have their products certified to the standard. Sometimes, after we inform them of failures, they'll supply us with an independent report which says they've met the standard. Manufacturing problems or inconsistencies do arise, and we usually stand by our findings based on the sample we received. In most cases companies will take our comments on board and rapidly address the problems we find.

In addition to testing to the standard we also note other issues such as whether the cot is particularly hard to put together or whether the dropside doesn't operate smoothly. We also record any other features which may be of interest such as conversion to a junior bed. 

In 2016 we began scoring cots for their ease of assembly. Cots tested in previous years, but still available in stores, don't have this score. Once all cots in the table have this score we'll look at factoring it into the overall score.

Test criteria explained

We rate children's products a bit differently to other tests, due to the strong interest in safety – we rate them according to whether they pass or fail major tests. Their score reflects whether we found major, minor, or very minor failures.

No failures: 100%

Very minor failures: 80%

One minor failure and no major failures: 65%

Multiple minor failures but no major failure: 60%

One major failure: 40%

More than one major failure: 20%

Recommended models

Cots that we recommend have passed all our safety tests and score 80–100%. They may have some very minor failures (such as not meeting information labelling requirements), but we usually don't think these are significant.

Some models that aren't recommended are still worth considering. These pass all our key safety tests but may have some minor safety failures such as finger entrapment hazards in hard to reach areas, or some sharp edges. These models score 60–65%.

Cots that don't pass key safety tests aren't worth considering. These score 40% or less. Failures can include issues like a gap between bars that is the wrong size and could be a head or limb entrapment hazard. Or, the cot sides might not be high enough, or the recommended mattress is too thick, leading to insufficient cot depth and as a result there is a risk of a child climbing and falling from the cot. We list these failures in the bad points for that model. 

Ready to buy?

Check out our guide to buying a cot and our latest cot reviews.

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