Do You Need a Cot Bed? Pros/Cons and Alternatives
Selecting the best bed for your newborn is not an easy task with all the various options available on the market. Your choice should be focused on your use, space, and financial plan. You’ve looked at co-sleepers, and other types of bed, but you’re still unsure. Do you need a cot bed?
You need a cot bed because it provides more space, is more durable, and versatile than its alternatives. A cot bed has removable side rails and a height adjustable mattress which allow it to grow with your baby (for up to 4-5 years).
However, if you have limited space or if you are planning for multiple children to sleep in the same bed (long term), then my answer is no. You need to weigh the pros and cons of using a cot bed in order to see what suits you best.
What is a Cot Bed?
In case you’re unfamiliar with cot beds, here’s a quick guide to help you answer your question: What is a cot bed?
- A cot bed has removable sides and a height adjustable mattress.
- A cot bed is suitable for both newborns and toddlers.
- A cot bed is wider than a cot but smaller than a single bed.
A cot bed has removable side rails and a height adjustable mattress
The cot bed has removable side rails (here are some manufacturer's instructions) and a height adjustable mattress which make it convertible into a low toddler bed. Some cot beds can even upgrade into sofas and last years longer. The height of the base should be adjusted according to the baby’s growth and development. As the baby grows and becomes able to sit up alone, the lowest base position should be used for safety and support. The cot bed is therefore practical and long lasting as a cot and a toddler bed. You can learn how to assemble a cot bed using our guide.
A cot bed is suitable for both newborns and toddlers
A cot bed can be used from birth up until the age of five. Cot beds can also be used for co-bedding twins for a few months. This will depend though on how fast the child’s body develops. The side rails protect your baby from falling out of bed. As your child grows into a toddler, the side rails can be removed and the mattress lowered, allowing your baby more freedom of movement. Curious about whether you can use a cot bed from birth and when you should transition?
A cot bed is wider than a cot but smaller than a single bed
A cot bed is wider than a cot but smaller than a single bed. Therefore, it provides more space for the baby to roll and stretch, while fitting comfortably in medium-sized rooms.
Why do you need a Cot Bed?
Reasons you need a Cot Bed include:
- Cot beds provide more space for the baby to move and stretch.
- Cot beds are long-lasting from birth up until five years.
- Cot beds are convertible to toddler sized beds.
- Cot beds are cost effective.
- Cot beds ease the child’s transition to bigger beds.
Cot beds provide more space for the baby to move and stretch.
The average size of a cot bed is 140 x 70 cm, which corresponds to the size of a toddler bed. It provides enough space for your baby to turn, roll, and stretch, even as your baby grows and develops.
Cot beds are long-lasting from birth up until five years
It can be used from birth up until the age of five. It can even convert into a little sofa after your child has outgrown it.
Cot beds are convertible to toddler sized beds
The cot bed can evolve as your baby grows. It is designed to be easily converted into a toddler bed. It has detachable sides that can be dropped down or removed to allow your baby more freedom of movement as he/she grows. It also has an adjustable mattress height, which allows you to raise or lower the position of the mattress to suit the child’s growth. Additionally, by raising the height of the base, you can have storage space underneath the bed for baby supplies in the form of a drawer.
Cot beds are cost effective
A cot bed is slightly more expensive than a regular cot. However, it is more cost effective given the fact that it can be converted into a toddler bed and therefore used as a longer-term sleep option for your child.
Cot beds ease the child’s transition to bigger beds
A cot bed makes your child’s transition from a cot to a bigger bed much smoother. When your child is ready for a bigger bed, he/she will already have gotten used to the toddler bed without sides, this allows your child to adapt to his new bed while staying comfortable. Here's how you can remove the sides off a cot bed and help transition a child by removing one side at a time.
Reasons you don’t need a cot bed may include
- Cot beds may look too large for tiny newborns.
- Cot beds are not suitable for limited space in the mother’s bedroom.
- Cot beds are not cost effective when you have two children with a small age gap between them who need to share a bed.
Cot beds may look too large for tiny newborns
A cot bed may seem too large for a tiny newborn. Some parents prefer a small bed for their baby. Babies grow fast, however, and if you buy a smaller bed, you will have to upgrade to a bigger bed soon.
Cot beds are not suitable for limited space in the mother’s bedroom
Ideally, the baby should share the same room as the mother. A cot bed requires enough space in the bedroom. If you lack enough space, a cot bed may not be appropriate for you.
Cot beds are not cost effective when you have two children with a small age gap between them who need to share a bed
Cot beds are designed for a single baby. If you are planning for another child, the cot bed will be needed for your newborn before you get the chance to transform it into a junior bed for your older child. In this case, you will need to purchase a second cot bed or other sleep furniture.
Cot Bed Pros and Cons
|Advantages / Pros of Cot Beds||Disadvantages / Cons of Cot Beds|
|They provide more space for the baby to move and stretch. Here are some tips to make a cot bed cozy.||They may look too large for tiny newborns|
|They are long-lasting from birth up until five years.||They are not suitable for limited space in the mother’s bedroom|
|They are convertible to toddler sized beds||They are not cost effective when you have two children with a small age gap between them who need to share a bed.|
|They are cost effective|
|They ease the child’s transition to bigger beds|
Alternatives to Cot Beds
There are several alternatives to cot beds on the market, any of which may better suit your budget, style, parental preference, and your child’s safety. Choosing between the options can be challenging. Therefore, have a look at the following alternatives to help you with the selection.
Here are some alternatives to cot beds:
- Floor beds
- Moses baskets
- Co-sleepers in bed
- Bedside co-sleepers
- Pack and Play cribs
Floor beds are portable mattresses with sheets, which can be folded and moved easily from room to room or anywhere. They are used as a comfortable sleep surface and a soft play-pad as well.
The Pros of floor beds:
- They are affordable.
- They are long lasting and suitable for newborns, older babies, and toddlers.
- They are transportable.
The Cons of floor beds:
- The baby could roll off the mattress.
- The surrounding needs to be baby-proofed to guarantee security.
- The transition from a floor bed to a regular bed will be harder.
Moses baskets are small baskets made from palm or wicker. They are designed with handles, which allow them to be easily carried. They can also be placed on a stand to be at a more handy level next to the parent’s bed. However, they have a short lifespan since your baby can only use them during the first three-four months.
The Pros of Moses baskets:
- They are small in size so they do not take up much space and can fit anywhere especially in the parent’s bedroom.
- They are lightweight and transportable.
- Their enclosed small space makes most babies feel embraced and safe.
- They become a stylish piece of nursery furniture after the baby outgrows the basket.
The Cons of Moses baskets:
- The handles could be inappropriate and could flop onto your baby if not folded down outside the basket.
- Due to the small size of the basket, the baby (if not wrapped) may wake up by hitting his limbs on the sides of the basket.
- The transition from the basket to another bed like a cot will be challenging.
- Moses baskets have a short lifespan, which means they are not cost effective.
Co-sleepers in bed
Co-sleepers are little bassinets that sit on the mother’s bed while preventing the parents from rolling over onto the baby. This reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome incidents associated with bed sharing accidents.
The Pros of co-sleepers in bed:
- They are lightweight and portable.
- They allow safe bed-sharing since the baby is contained in a protected area.
- They extend the period of breastfeeding by increasing mother-infant bonding.
- They help you monitor your baby, making it easier to quickly respond to your baby’s needs.
The Cons of co-sleepers in bed:
- They have a short lifespan because the baby outgrows them at around six months.
- They occupy a lot of space in the bed, and may be uncomfortable in a bed smaller than king-sized.
You may also consider adding a trundle bed to your nursery. Take a look at our article, What's the Best Bed For a Parent in a Nursery to find more options.
Bedside co-sleepers are intended to sit at a very close proximity to the parents’ bed rather than in it. You can easily adjust the height of the baby’s sleeping surface to make it even with the level of your bed or sofa. Bedside co-sleepers are designed with a solid base and are equipped with a detachable sidebar and ropes, allowing them to be attached safely to the bed.
The Pros of bedside co-sleepers:
- They provide easy and quick access to the baby.
- They minimise the risk of Sudden Infants Death Syndrome incidents associated with bed sharing.
- They are useful for mothers who underwent a C-section and are finding it difficult or painful to stand up.
- They increase the baby’s sense of security.
The Cons of bedside co-sleepers:
- They have a short lifespan because the baby outgrows them at around six months old.
- Their sturdy base makes it difficult to move them from room to room. However some models may come with wheels.
- They can be expensive.
Cots are beds for babies that have bars or panels around the mattress so that the baby does not fall out. They are smaller than cot beds so they can fit easier in smaller spaces. They are easy to assemble or store away when not needed.
The Pros of Cots:
- They are space savers, so you can position them anywhere or compact them and store them away when not needed.
- Some models are designed with a detachable side so that you can align them with your bed.
- They are worth the money for parents who wish to have kids with a small age gap between them. The cot is therefore used for the new baby as soon as the older baby is ready to transition to another bed.
- Some models come with wheels, which make it easier to move around.
- Some models come with a teething rail to protect the infant
The Cons of Cots:
- They have a shorter lifespan than cot beds. So the baby can quickly outgrow the cot and require a larger area
- They vary in size, which makes it more difficult to find the appropriate beddings.
- They are aesthetically less pleasing than cot beds.
Pack and Play Cribs
Pack and play cribs are portable cribs. They are moved around easily when packed. They are ideal for travel and can fit into a carrying bag. They also have a sturdy construction, which ensures that the baby is protected while sleeping or playing inside the crib.
The Pros of Pack n’ play cribs:
- They are affordable.
- They are easily packed and transportable.
- They are perfect for sleeping somewhere outside the house. They make sure that the baby stays in a familiar sleep environment..
- They serve as a sleep surface and a play area.
The Cons of Pack n’ play cribs:
- They do not come with a mattress or sheets.
- Some liners are difficult to clean.
- They are not convenient for newborns as it is difficult to lift the baby in and out of it.