Can You Use a Cot Bed from Birth? The Ultimate Guide to Cot Bed Ages & Transitions
A cot bed is a bed that is designed specifically for infants. The bed is surrounded by tall sides to prevent your baby from falling out, protecting them from injury even when you or the baby’s caretaker is in another room or distracted. But can you use your baby’s cot bed right from birth?
You can use a cot bed from birth to put your baby to sleep however it is important that you keep the cot bed in your room and right next to your bed.
The purpose of a cot bed is to ensure a separate and safe space for your child to sleep. Its protective sides keep the baby from falling out during sleep. Cot beds are also safe for infants to play in during the day. While your baby is learning to stand, the sides of the cot bed are there to protect and give your baby something to hold on to for balance. Want to know the pros and cons of Cot Beds?
An interesting and very useful feature of a cot bed is that you can convert it into a toddler bed when your baby is ready for the transition. Simply remove the sides off the cot bed, lower the mattress level and convert it into a toddler bed.
Can You Use a Cot Bed from Birth? Where Your Newborn Should Sleep
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has certain guidelines for your baby’s separate sleeping area. Your baby can use a cot bed from birth, but make sure that you follow these guidelines:
- Your baby needs skin to skin contact for the first few hours.
- After the first hours, your baby should sleep in a separate bed.
- Your baby’s bed should be in the same room as your bed.
- Your baby’s separate bed needs a firm mattress.
- Your baby’s bed should be safe.
- Your baby’s bed should be free from toys or pillows.
Your baby needs skin to skin contact for the first few hours.
According to the guidelines of AAP, it is important for babies to have skin to skin contact for the first few hours after they are born, but soon after it is advisable to specify a separate sleeping area.
After the first hours, your baby should sleep in a separate bed.
It is recommended for the baby to sleep in a separate bed from the very start because it reduces the chances of accidents and helps your child build a healthy and undisturbed sleep routine. If your newborn sleeps with you in your own bed, it is very likely that you may accidentally hurt your baby during sleep by putting pressure on his/her little body. Note: Twins can share a cot bed.
Your baby’s separate bed needs a firm mattress.
The baby’s bed should be firm. If your cot bed comes with a mattress make sure that it is firm or install a mattress yourself that fits perfectly in the cot bed and is firm.
Your baby’s bed should be in the same room as your bed.
While it is recommended that babies sleep in a separate bed, the American Academy of Pediatrics also advises to keep the baby’s cot bed in the room where you sleep. According to AAP, babies who sleep in the same room as their parents are less likely to fall victim to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). AAP recommends for you and your baby to sleep in the same room (but on separate beds) till your baby turns one-year-old.
Your baby’s bed should be safe.
Make sure that the structure of the bed is safe. That is to say, make sure that there are no pointy ends and nothing dangerous or sharp protruding out from anywhere.
Your baby’s bed should be free from toys and pillows.
Make sure that when it’s time for your baby to sleep there is nothing in the cot bed except the mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. You should remove all toys and pillows and make the baby lie down on his/her back. Curious about how to make a cot bed more cozy?
- When to use a cradle bed sleeping wedge
At What Age Do You Convert a Cot Bed Into a Toddler Bed?
The age at which you can convert a cot bed into a toddler bed may vary from baby to baby. It is often between 18 months and 3.5 years that most babies are ready to make the transition from cot bed to toddler bed.
We advise you to not rush this transition to toddler bed just because you think your baby is at the “right age” or because you have another baby and you want the cot bed empty for that baby.
Remember that it is important to make this transition from cot bed to toddler bed a pleasant process for your child. If you shift your child to a toddler bed only because his/her younger sibling needs the cot, the child may feel replaced and this can have a psychological impact.
In order to know exactly when your child is ready to transition to a toddler bed, you should pay close attention to your child’s behavior.
One of the most important indications that your child is ready for the transition is when your child starts showing signs of protest when you put him/her in the cot. Additionally, when children learn to stand, they start making efforts to climb the sides of the cot bed. You can tackle this problem initially by lowering the mattress level or keeping the cot bed such that the higher side is at front and the other side is towards the wall, making sure that there is no gap between the wall and that side of the cot bed.
However, when the climbing becomes aggressive, it is very likely that your child is ready to transition from cot bed to a less restrictive toddler bed.
How to convert your cot bed into a toddler bed?
To convert a cot bed into a toddler bed, follow these steps:
- Remove the sides from the cot bed.
- Adjust the mattress height.
- Install toddler rails.
Once your child is ready for the transition, you can convert the cot bed into toddler bed. Most cot beds come with easily removable sides and an adjustable mattress height. Follow these easy steps to convert your cot bed to a toddler bed.
Remove the sides from the cot bed.
To remove the sides of some cot beds you may have to use screwdrivers or drills to loosen the nuts and bolts. However, in other cot beds you just have to undo a lock and slide down the sides without having to remove them.
Adjust the mattress height.
Most cot beds come with a height adjustable mattress. With the sides on, the cot bed mattress level is set high. After you remove the sides and turn the bed into a toddler bed, it is important to lower the mattress level such that it is nearer to the floor. This reduces the risk of the baby getting any serious injury in case of falling out of the bed.
Install toddler rails.
If your child is a restless sleeper and you want some extra protection, you can also install safety rails on the sides to minimize the chance of your baby falling out. Safety rails are lower in height than cot bed sides and allow your child to get out of bed him-/herself. Most cot beds come with toddler bed safety rails so that when you can easily make the conversion from cot bed to toddler bed.
Until What Age Can You Use a Cot Bed?
According to Babymore, a cot bed manufacturer, you can use a cot bed until the age of four or so. After four years your child will likely be too big for the cot bed.
As the age of your child increases, his/her height and weight also increases and as a result there is soon not enough space on the bed for the child to sleep comfortably.
What Can You Do With Your Cot Bed After Your Child Outgrows It?
After your child outgrows a cot bed, you can:
- Donate your cot bed.
- Gift your cot bed to friends or family.
- Sell your cot bed.
- Keep your cot bed for your next baby.
- Repurpose your cot bed into something new.
Donate your cot bed.
There are many babies whose parents do not have the means to afford new furniture; you can help those parents by donating the cot bed which is not of use to you any longer. If you can afford it we advise you to also consider getting a new mattress installed in the cot bed before you donate it so that the bed is as good as new. This is a great way to serve your community and provide a comfortable sleeping space to an underprivileged baby.
Gift your cot bed to friends or family.
You can also gift the cot bed to your loved ones. If there is someone in your family or among your friends who is expecting a baby, you can gift them the cot bed for their baby shower. A great way to gift the cot bed is to add a personalized touch to it. Adding a personalized touch by painting the cot bed or doing something of this sort will add value to the gift.
Sell your cot bed.
You can also resell the cot bed at a low price and use that money to meet the growing needs of your baby. You can use that money to buy something for your baby right away, or keep it in your savings for the baby’s future needs.
Keep your cot bed for your next baby.
If you are already pregnant with a new baby or are planning to have another baby in the future, you can keep your cot bed and for your next baby. You can always donate, gift or sell it after your new baby outgrows it.
Repurpose your cot bed into something new.
If you want to do something creative with your old cot bed, there are many things that you can repurpose it into. One simple idea is, for example, to transform your cot bed into a sofa for your kids’ room.
In order to repurpose a cot bed into a sofa, you just remove only one side of the cot bed and let the other one remain standing. Having done that, all you need is to put a few soft cushions and some stuffed toys on the cot bed, and you are good to go. Your kids will love their new sofa!
Another easy idea is to transform your cot bed into a desk for yourself. All you have to do is remove one side, move the mattress board to the lowest level and turn the cot bed upside down. Once inverted, you will be able to use the mattress board as the table top. You can also add another board on top of needed. These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing!