Older relatives will tell you that their babies spent their formative years sleeping in drawers, but in this age of plenty there’s no need to stick your offspring in with your underwear.
A decent cot will pay dividends, because if there’s one thing no parent has ever said it’s “I wish my baby slept for shorter periods and woke up more frequently through the night”.
When it comes to choosing a cot bed, forget about price to begin with. Think of practicality: is it height adjustable so you can reach baby without having a hernia? Does the mattress come in an odd size that means it’s incredibly expensive to buy even simple sheets? Can it convert into something else - we’re thinking toddler beds or chairs, not helicopters - when your child has outgrown it?
It’s worth thinking about the future, too. A huge sleigh bed is a beautiful bit of furniture, but it also needs lots of room - and that size may make it hard to swap between rooms, or to sell on when you’re done with it. Then again, it’ll retain value in a way that a fifty quid no-name cheapie won’t, and it may last longer than you do. Work out what really matters before letting the in-shop displays seduce you.
For any home that is short on space, there are plenty of cot beds with storage options out there. Typically the under cot storage is the most popular and ideal for keeping cot bedding and other non-bio washed baby garments.
If your little one is likely to be going on some sleepovers at Grandma's, think about the travel cot options available. There is a school of thought that these travel bed options can be flimsy and not stand the test of time, but there are some good choices out there for 2018, as you'll find in our list below.
Boori products aren’t cheap - this cot is £999 without mattress, and if you want the three piece room set with small wardrobe and chest of drawers you’re looking just south of three grand - but they’re beautifully made, look fantastic and will last for decades. We know from experience, because our one is still going strong with a new family after laughing off our own two kids’ best attempts to destroy it. It offers two height settings and when baby becomes a toddler you can pop off the side to make it into a bed. Even that isn’t its last function: when your toddler outgrows that, it converts to become a roomy chair which makes this beautiful piece of home furniture really worth the money. This is an investment baby cot, no doubt. It’s absolutely massive and weighs more than the moon, but if money’s no object it’s a hell of an object to spend your money on.
If you fancy Boori style but don’t have a Boori budget, skip past Mamas and Papas’ own incredibly expensive offerings and check out this package instead. Recently reduced, you get not just a three-position cot but an over-cot baby changer, under-cot storage and a mattress. That represents great value for money and while the cot itself is a little bland compared to some of the more exuberant sleigh cots and day beds out there, it’s solid and functional, won’t annoy you every time you look at it and doesn’t require the stable-sized space of some sleigh beds. You can buy cheaper cots, but you’ll find it hard to beat this package’s value for money. If your home is limited on space, the design of this cot bed will really help you out.
The SnuzPod is our favourite smaller cot, suitable for placing right next to your bed as well as being one of the best stand-alone cot beds. There are curved rails that enable you to gently rock your baby and a mesh wall to keep baby safe without preventing easy access. We like it because it does three jobs: co-sleeping cot, stand-alone cot and Moses basket. The SnuzPod is height adjustable between 37 and 58cm and includes a mattress; it’s an unusual size but it’s the same as the Chicco Next2me, so getting bedding shouldn’t be difficult or expensive. The design of this cot bed allows it to fit seamlessly into any style bedroom or nursery and, as most cot beds are, it's gender neutral in colours too. At 18kg it’s hardly portable, but it’s easy enough to slide around. It’s as pretty as it’s practical, and while it’s not going to last into the toddler years as others do it’s still a great multi-functional product.
Cots don’t get much more minimalist than IKEA’s Stuva: its ends are flat slabs of white, its sides are free from flair or flourish, and while the cot base can be placed at two different heights you’ll need long arms to reach baby at the lower setting: unlike other similarly sized cots, the Stuva’s sides aren’t movable. It’s basic, then, but it’s also quite cute in its use of colour: the Stuva system comes with an under-cot drawer whose face comes in a range of bright colours, and if like us you appreciate a bit of brightness you’ll like that a lot. The mattress is sold separately for £40, and IKEA’s own bedding comes in at £10 for a quilt cover and pillowcase. This is a simple cot bed that tuck neatly into the corner of any bedroom or nursery but won't give you the wow factor of some of the fancier choices on this list.
It’s possible to get very small and dainty travel cots, but while they’re pretty and portable they’re also something baby will outgrow in a fortnight. A travel cot such as ASDA’s affordable and often discounted Red Kite Dreamer is a better bet unless you really need to travel light: it’s big enough for older children, doubles as a playpen and is high enough to foil even the most dedicated climber. Like most such cots there’s a knack to putting it up and down - once you get it it’s effortless, but until you do you’ll be teaching baby all kinds of bad words - and the padded cover that doubles as a mattress is far too hard, but these are easy things to address. It’s cheap, convenient, effective and should last years. Plus, the simple grey colour and inoffensive design means it'll look just as stylish propped up in your own home as it will during sleepovers in other peoples houses.
Once you've got your cot bed sorted, let us help you find the best cot bedding for your baby.