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Cots are a contained sleeping environment where children can be left to rest. It is important that cots are safe and secure.

All new and second-hand cots must meet specific safety requirements:

  • the base of the mattress to the top of the lowest side of the cot must be more than 600mm
  • the mattress must fit firmly in the cot. Any gaps at the ends and sides should be less than 20mm
  • The bars must be smooth, securely fixed, and not have any gaps:

    • between 30mm and 50mm that can entrap a child's limbs
    • greater than 95mm that could trap a child's head or neck

  • the 4 corner-posts should be no more than 5mm higher than the cot sides (8mm for second-hand cots)
  • the drop-side catches must lock securely
  • screws and nails must not stick out
  • cot ends must not have fancy cut-outs
  • there must not be any bars, ledges or other footholds that a young child can use to climb out of the cot
  • the base of the cot must be firm with no parts to collapse or bend when pushed down

In Australia, all new and second-hand cots must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2172:2003 Cots for household use — safety requirements. Antique and collectable cots must also display a warning sign that they are for display purposes only.

Second-hand cots

Before you buy or use a second-hand cot, go through the safety checklist (above). Second-hand cots also need additional checks:

  • ensure all parts are in working order
  • repair broken or wobbly bars
  • make sure all bolts and screws are firmly in place and not sticking out, both inside and outside the cot
  • check old cots for poisonous lead-based paint. If you are unsure if the cot contains lead based paint, you will need to strip it back and repaint it

Where to put the cot

  • Place the cot away from curtain or blind cords and other cords or ropes in which the baby could get tangled.
  • Keep the cot away from power points.
  • Have mobiles and toys well out of reach.
  • Keep the cot away from heaters, electrical appliances and lights.
  • Keep the cot away from windows, especially if the window is not on the ground floor.
  • Make sure the walls above the cot do not have pictures or mirrors that could fall and injure the child.


  • Remove plastic wrapping from new mattresses, which could suffocate a baby.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm and well-fitting (no more than 20mm gap between mattress and cot side and end).
  • Do not use a thick mattress in a portable cot as a baby can get caught between the mattress and the stretchable cot side.
  • Mattress protectors need to be strong and fit the mattress firmly. Remove any loose plastic coverings.
  • Tea-tree mattresses may become uneven as the baby becomes heavier and allow the baby to roll over more easily. If you decide to use one you need to check it often to make sure it stays firm.
  • Some mattresses have a note saying they are approved by health professionals. This does not necessarily mean that the mattress is safe or right for your cot.

It is recommended that you don’t use pillows or leave toys in a cot. These may suffocate the baby, be used as climbing aids, or pose a choking risk.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2019

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This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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