Children can fall when trying to climb out of folding cots, or become trapped if a cot accidentally collapses. Make sure you buy a cot that meets the mandatory safety standard.
Folding cots are designed for for temporary use. They are also known as portable cots, travel cots or portacots because they are easily collapsible for transport. Products referred to as playpens are also included if they have a floor, where the floor is provided as a supportive base and is an integral component of the product.
Children can suffer serious injuries if they fall when trying to climb out of the cot using footholds or objects left in the cot.
If there are gaps in the cot, created by ill-fitting or additional mattresses, infants can roll into the gaps, become trapped and suffocate.
Infants can also become trapped and strangled if cots accidentally collapse when they are not properly assembled and locked into place.
To minimise risks, there is a mandatory safety standard for folding cots.
- If you need to buy a mattress, get one from the supplier that meets the specified dimensions.
- Ensure that the mattress, padding and cushioning material is sufficiently firm to prevent it from moulding to a child's face.
- Look for folding cots with a locking device that cannot be operated by the child inside the cot.
- Only buy folding cots that feature the required safety and assembly messages.
- Ensure you follow the instructions provided when assembling the cot. Keep children away from the cot during assembly to avoid potential injury.
- Only use the mattress specifically designed for the cot—an ill-fitting or extra mattress can create dangerous gaps that can trap a sleeping child and cause suffocation. Never use inflatable mattresses or similar products with folding cots. They may cause babies to suffocate by forming to the shape of their face.
- Keep the cot well clear of blinds and curtains cords. Infants have died after being strangled by loose blind or curtain cords hanging in or near cots. Similarly, keep decorative mobiles out of reach.
Folding cots should only be used as temporary sleeping facilities. They are not suitable for long term sleeping arrangements (no more than a few days). These cots are subject to more wear and tear due to folding and are generally less robust than permanent sleeping enclosures such as household cots.
- Always check folding cots are safely assembled and that locking mechanisms are secure. If cots collapse they can trap and strangle infants. After use, safely fold away the cot according to instructions.
- Always remove cot accessories such as change tables and bassinette inserts when the cot is in use to avoid entrapment, entanglement or other hazards for your child.
- Children who can stand confidently in a cot, shake the sides and ends and attempt to climb are usually ready for a low bed or a toddler bed.
This cot safety video is part of the Keeping Baby Safe series. It provides you with tips and advice on choosing and using a cot safety.