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  • Have these stages personalized and emailed to you: Sign up now Cot safety features: Find out about what to look out for when choosing a cot and read our guidelines for cot safety. Babies need lots of sleep, and during the first two years of their life they will on average spend more of their time sleeping than not. If your baby sleeps in a cot, you should definitely take cot safety into consideration. Choosing a cot As well as considering the design and look, the cot you choose must conform to British safety standards BSEN The reason for these safety standards is to reduce the number of accidental infant deaths each year due to strangulation or suffocation.

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    The following guidelines have been developed to help when looking for a cot: Cot bars should be vertical; if they are horizontal your baby could use them as a ladder to climb out. Also, the distance between the bars should be no more than 6. It is also recommended by some experts that a cot with bars on all four sides is better, as it allows air to circulate freely while your baby sleeps. Cot mattress The Lullaby Trust recommends you buy a new cot mattress, or - if using a second-hand mattress - carefully check that it's clean, dry and free from cracks or tears.

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  • Your cot mattress should be firm, with no sagging and fit the cot snugly, with no gaps. Mattresses tend to come in two sizes, standard and continental and should fit the equivalent sizes of cots commonly available in the UK.

    Throw away anything past its use-by date. Do not use talcum powder as it contains ingredients that could irritate your baby's skin. She said she had just had a bath on the morning of April 9 when she discovered the baby lying lifeless at their home in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

    The mattress needs to be kept as clean and hygienic as possible. You can either use one with a wipe-clean covering or a removable top panel that you can wash at a high temperature.

    Alternatively, you could use a mattress protector, which covers the mattress to stop it getting wet if the baby dribbles or their nappy leaks. Choose a mattress that feels firm rather than soft, your baby needs support while he is sleeping.

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    It should be no thinner than 8cm. There are three main types of mattresses you can choose from: There are pros and cons to each of these. Do your research, test, touch and feel each type and decide what suits you and your family best.

    Cots made before could have used leaded paint, which is toxic. If there are any stickers or transfers on the inside of the cot, remove them, as they may peel off and present a choking hazard. Unless you know the history of the mattress, and have checked it for cleanliness and size, and are happy with it, it is recommended that you buy a new one. Check that there is nothing on the inside of the cot that your baby can use as a foothold to help him climb out.

    Blind cords are also a risk as babies have been known to become entangled with these and strangled. Some items added to a cot may increase the risk of head-covering and can also increase the risk of accidents.

    Babies should sleep on their back with their feet at the foot of the cot to stop them wriggling down under the covers. Nappy rash can be caused by:

    Duvets can also make the baby too hot. Find out more about why a clear cot is the safest option.

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  • Here are some guidelines which help towards cot death prevention and encourage safe sleep for your baby: The room should not be too hot as babies who overheat are at an increased risk of SIDS. They can get too hot because the room is too hot, or because they have too much bedding or clothing. Babies should sleep on their back with their feet at the foot of the cot to stop them wriggling down under the covers.

    Babies should not sleep with electric blankets or hot water bottles, although, if you are worried about the cot being too cold you could use one that is removed before the baby goes in. The Department of Health and The Lullaby Trust say the safest place for your baby to sleep in the first six months is in a cot in your room. However, many parents sleep with their baby in their bed; you can read about how to do so safely here. Further information NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

    The Department of Health has information on how to reduce the risk of cot death. The Lullaby Trust has lots of useful information and support for parents about safe sleep.

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