From almost the moment of conception, parents start to think about where their little one will sleep. The Lullaby Trust recommends that your baby should sleep in your own bedroom with you for the first six months of life, so many parents choose a crib, moses basket or bedside crib for the early months.
Choosing a cot bed that will last for several years is a smart choice to follow this and can save you money. There’s lots of choice, from a simple wooden model through to a stylish sleigh cot bed.
Cotbeds tend to be around 140 x 70cm in size and will typically last your child until they are around five to eight years old, but do check each one’s dimensions before you buy.
Be sure to measure the available space in your child’s room too – and always keep the instructions and any additional parts handy in one place for when you want to transform it. Some cotbeds change not just into toddler beds but also into different pieces of furniture, such as a sofa or even a double bed, so think long term.
You’ll need to buy a separate mattress for most of these cotbeds and some require additional elements to change them into other pieces of furniture.
There are several things to look out for when buying a cotbed:
Height adjustable mattress base
Many cotbeds have a base that starts in a high position, helping you when putting a tiny baby to sleep and avoiding backache. The base can be dropped to a low position once your baby can sit and pull themselves up, for safety, and some have an intermediate position too, often used when you change the cot into a junior bed.
Each side of the cot should have baby-safe guards over the top rails, to stop your baby chomping on the wood when teething.
Cot top changer
If you want to save space, you can add a changing mat and base to the top of the cot, saving having to buy a changing unit.
Great for additional storage, some cotbeds come with a drawer that slides beneath the base.
If you need to move the cotbed, wheels can be helpful.
As this bed is used for several years, it’s important to spend as much time choosing a mattress as you would for your own bed. Never accept a second-hand mattress.
If you’re used to putting together a flatpack, you should have no problem assembling a cotbed (top tip; don’t do bolts up completely until you have it loosely assembled). Usually, once you have made a piece of furniture, however fiddly it is, it’s done. However, cotbeds usually have two modes at least, so make sure that you keep all separate pieces, instructions and additional bolts etc. in one place. If there’s an additional piece of kit you may want in future, we’d suggest buying it now in case the style becomes obsolete.
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Gaia Baby Serena complete sleep+co-sleep
The Gaia Serena has quite a different look to many cotbeds, as it is gloriously curvaceous, even down to its curved feet, and it is one of the most adaptable of the cot beds we have seen. It’s easy to assemble with just a screwdriver and Allen key, though there are lots of parts, so make sure you lay them all out and identify each piece before you begin. This model has a very important first stage, as you use half of the cot as a bedside crib, attached to your own bed to have your baby right next to you for the first few months of life (you’ll need some extra pieces of kit for this).
Next it becomes a small and cosy cot, with two mattress base positions; the higher one for small babies up to six months and the lower suitable for two years. When you reach this stage, you can swap parts on the cot bed around to create a really sweet little toddler bed that can be used for four or five years, with curved head and foot boards. If you then decide you can’t bear to part with it, you can buy an extension kit so that the bed can be used for up to 10 years.
Silver Cross nostalgia sleigh
Combining old-fashioned grace with modern practicality, the Nostalgia comes in two styles, both as a standard cot bed and as this sleigh-style cot bed with gently curved ends. In pure white, the Nostalgia has three mattress base heights and a handy full-length drawer underneath it to store bedding and other baby items, which slides really smoothly and holds quite a lot of items.
It makes a cosy cot for newborns with the mattress base in its highest position and transforms easily into a toddler bed by removing the sides (make sure you store the pieces somewhere handy, as you need them later), and is suitable up to around five years. It can be a little fiddly to reach some of the bolts when removing the sides but you only need to do this once, so be patient. Next, replace one side to change it into a daybed, which can stay in your child’s room as a cosy place to sit and read, or even be a spare bed for little visitors. It’s solid, fairly easy to assemble and feels sturdy.
If you are bored with plain old wooden cot beds, the Snuz collection is worth a look, as you can choose between six colours including a sleek black and white model or a white and pine version with contemporary grey bars. Its Scandi vibe offers curved corners, slim pointed feet and narrow upright bars instead of the more usual slatted sides and it can be used from when your little one is born, right up to 10 years. Starting life as a cot bed, the Skandi has three mattress base heights and then becomes a toddler bed, followed by a junior bed (with a separate extension kit). It’s pretty easy to assemble, though having two people really helps, despite Snuz’s assertion that one person can make this.
The highest position is a godsend if you are sore from giving birth or have had a caesarean, as you simply lay your tiny baby down without having to bend or stretch. Though it has a middle base height, you probably won’t use it for long, as once a baby can roll or pull themselves up, you’d be better off putting them at the lowest position, for safety. The lowest position can be used for a few years but the cot bed is rather shorter than some; however, if you have chosen to add the extension kit, that’s no problem! The wood used in its construction is sustainably sourced and it uses no MDF, veneer or chipboard. Snuz also offers a matching changing unit and a range of coordinating bedding.
Mamas and Papas Melfi
One of the most popular nursery colours now is deep blue and this stunning midnight cot bed with brushed metallic handles will look great with contemporary décor. Unlike some cot beds, this has quite a different look when it’s converted into a toddler bed, suitable up to four years, with lower head and foot boards that look sleek and it’s quite easy to transform it too, as the base remains in place. The mattress base can be swapped between three heights, so it’s easier to lower a small baby in at night when it’s at the highest position. You can buy this alone, or as a bundle, including a cot top changer that doubles as an under-bed storage unit to hold all your little one’s essentials.
John Lewis & Partners Alex
If you’re looking for a sturdy, classic cot bed that will go with any bedding or décor, this simple model from John Lewis is ideal. Well priced, it’s made from solid pine and MDF and is a fairly simple and easy to use piece of furniture – you can assemble it yourself with a little difficulty but it’s much easier if you have two people to do it. Use it as a cot from birth, with its three mattress base positions. Once your child is ready for their own little bed, remove the sides and the head and the footboards split in half to make a sweet little bed that doesn’t overwhelm the room. It has teething rails on both sides, keeping it looking good for longer.
Cam Cam Copenhagen harlequin
Fancy a fairytale theme in the nursery? This cot bed combines classic Scandinavian style with a pretty twist and it adapts as your baby grows up. It has three mattress base heights that can be changed to suit a newborn, a larger baby or a toddler and then when you’re ready to transform it to a junior bed, the side comes off really easily with patented and child-proof buttons – one of the simplest we’ve seen.
Simply pull and twist the buttons, then the side slides up within the frame and straight off. No need to take out screws or bolts and nothing that you can lose! Made from birch and FSC-certified MDF, it has a painted finish and closed ends that are cosy if there’s a breeze from a nearby window and comes in a white, grey or sand finish. There’s a matching changing table and a wardrobe to complete the look.
Every piece in this stylish Danish range has been created by designer Stig Leander and adapts to your growing child. First, you can use the cot for a newborn with the mattress base raised to its highest position and then as your child grows, lower the base to the lower position for a toddler. Though easy to use and stunning to look at, the internal dimensions are smaller than some cot beds, so it may not last as long in its cot bed stage.
Remove one side to create a toddler bed (you’ll need a new mattress for this stage, which adds to the already quite healthy price) and finally, the cot bed transforms into a sweet little sofa by adding a cosy cushion set (sold separately). It’s made from solid lacquered oak and there are matching pieces of furniture including a changing table and chest of drawers to complete the look.
For those who want luxury and a stunning centre-piece for the nursery, the Cadogan cot bed, with two mattress base heights, is made from beautifully modelled beech with cushioned upholstered ends and carved accents. It’s made to order, so you can choose from a selection of colours including warm white, pure white, mushroom grey, light French grey or cream, or you can choose a bespoke shade that matches your nursery design. It comes with a handy under bed drawer to store all your baby’s essentials and there are additional pieces of furniture available to complement it. When your child has grown out of the cot function, the sides come off so that you can continue to use the Cadogan as a junior bed, suitable to around five years.
This brings together the elegance of a sleigh bed with the practicality of a robust cotbed with three mattress base positions. Once your child has grown out of needing a cot and wants more independence, you can transform it into a toddler bed with lower head and foot boards, topped with a beech or white trim. Both the initial build and process of changing it from cot to bed are fairly simple, and it feels very strong and robust once it has been properly assembled. It will last your little one as a bed up to around five years. It comes with a double-sided mattress in naturally hypoallergenic and anti-microbial bamboo fabric and you can also add a chest of drawers with a top changer and a wardrobe to fill your nursery beautifully.
East Coast Angelina
If you need an inexpensive cot bed that comes in either a traditional antique wooden finish, in white or in white and grey, the Angelina is a very good choice. It is quick and easy to put together and has a great build quality, meaning that it will withstand small children bouncing and playing for years and has the potential to stay in use for a second or third child.
It has slatted sides and solid ends with curved tops and there are three mattress base heights to choose from. The side rails have teething protection and the cot bed has been made from solid, sustainably sourced wood. When your baby has grown out of the cot function of the piece, remove both sides and split the head and foot boards in two to create a sturdy little toddler bed.
Made from solid, stained beech with a clear acrylic lacquer plus fibreboard, the Sundvik is one of the most cost-effective cot beds around and has a timeless look that will suit any home. It has two mattress base heights, with slatted sides and solid head and foot boards. When you have a child that needs to be able to get in and out of bed independently, you can remove one side to create a toddler bed. It is put together in the same way that most IKEA kits are but be wary about doing all bolts up tight until you have all sides put together. You can choose from a gentle grey-brown stained beech or a white finish.
Stokke is renowned for its innovative children’s products and its rounded crib-to-bed product, the Sleepi, is a best-seller. Suitable from newborn as the Mini, (the crib in its smallest configuration), is a little round crib with handy castors underneath that means it can double as a bedside crib. It is let down a little by not having teething protection and when the mattress is in its lower position, it can be quite a stretch to place a sleeping child down at mattress height.
Add two side pieces to create a small cot that can be placed in the nursery, with two mattress base heights. Next, one side can be removed to make a small toddler bed; the mattress base can be left low so that your child can get in and out easily without any danger of falls. Finally, the Junior extensions are added and the base raised to create a bed that can be used up to ten years. It comes in natural wood, in a white finish, in mint or in grey and there’s a range of bedding and accessories to go with it.
Boori Eton convertible plus
If you’re looking for longevity and sustainability, plus a handsome piece of furniture that you’ll want to have in your home for years, the Eton is a good buy. Made from sustainable, FSC-certified Australian Araucaria wood plus yellow poplar, it is painted in your choice of three colours with baby-friendly finishes. It has two mattress base heights, so as a cot it can be used in its higher position for small babies and in this mode, it’s fairly easy to get your baby in and out; however, once your baby can sit, roll or stand, you need to move the base to its lower position. This is right at the base of the cot and if you’re short, it’s hard to put a sleeping baby down without waking them.
In this mode, it can be used to around 18 months to two years, at which point you can convert it into a toddler bed that will last to five years; the side comes off quite easily here and you can simply bolt on a toddler guard panel to stop your child from rolling out in the night. Once your baby no longer needs a toddler bed, you can transform the Eton into an adult-sized double bed and a sofa, by buying a conversion kit. This cot is big, heavy and cumbersome and it’s quite a feat to transform it between its different modes due to the weight and size of the parts but once made, it’s sturdy and solid feeling.
The verdict: Cotbeds
There really is something for every style and every pocket when it comes to choosing a cot bed, so it pays to think about longer-term plans when you are buying. Do you want to buy something that will last a few years, or do you want to choose a piece that will be in your home for much longer? The Gaia Baby Serena complete sleep+co-sleep is our overall winner across the board, but for the budget-conscious, the John Lewis Alex is one of the best priced and well-made cot beds, and for those wanting classic elegance, the Silver Cross Nostalgia is right on the button.
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