All cots sold in Australia, whether they are new or second-hand, must comply with Australian safety standards. If you’ve bought a new cot, it must have a label attached that confirms it meets these standards. If you’ve bought or been given a second-hand cot you need to check that it complies with the regulations and you must not use a cot if it does not meet this standard.
Some of the safety requirements are that:
- The cot is deep enough to prevent your child falling out (minimum 60cm from the base of the mattress in lower base position)
- The mattress fits snugly around all sides (maximum 2cm gap on each side when the mattress is centred)
- The spacing between the bars is between 5cm and 9.5cm – narrow enough to prevent your baby’s head from getting through or getting stuck
- There are no smaller openings where limbs or finders could get caught
- There are no footholds that a baby could use to climb out
- There are no sharp edges or protruding parts.
Cot bumpers and soft bedding have been associated with fatal sleep accidents and should not be used.
Bassinets are usually used for just the first few months, before babies become active, after which time is it safer for them to sleep in a cot.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommends that bassinets:
- Have sides that are at least 30cm higher than the top of the mattress
- Are wide and stable with a sturdy base to prevent tipping
- Are used with a mattress of no more than 7.5cm thick that fits well and is firm and smooth
- Cannot accidentally fold during use if they have folding legs
- Are not used with pillows or folded quilts that could cause suffocation.
Other nursery safety tips
Curtains and blinds with cords are best avoided, as dangling cords can be a cause of strangulation. If you cannot avoid them, make sure they are tied up well out of baby’s reach. Always close drawers of storage units and make sure that wardrobes and bookshelves are secured to the walls to prevent the risk of furniture from falling over on your child.
Change tables are a notorious cause of baby injuries, and you should never leave your child alone on the table. If you need to look away from them for a moment to pick something up, keep a hand on your child. It is amazing how quickly they can wriggle out of position. If you have a super-wriggly baby, you may even want to use a changing mat on the floor to take away any risk of falling.