The mechanism on which the sides slide up and down should not be able to be manipulated by a child and, most important, there should be nothing on which the child could hook her clothes. The horror of the child who is strangled by her clothes hooking on to an exposed bit of metal or wood is tragically common. If you make sure of no other safety factor, be sure to preclude this danger.

The slats should not be too wide apart. Safety regulations suggest a maximum space of 7 cm. The danger here is that children have the uncanny knack of getting into amazing situations such as putting their heads through bars and not being able to get them out again.

Cots with net sides are not suitable because legs and arms are apt to get hooked in the netting and the child could climb out.

The other important point to watch out for is lead-based paint, particularly if you are buying secondhand equipment. The teething eight-month-old will gnaw anything including the woodwork. New items should not present a problem, but remember to ask for non-toxic, lead-free paint when doing a repaint job. If you are not sure what paint has been used and you are repainting, you as the mother, should not sandpaper or strip the woodwork if you are pregnant. Lead poisoning is insidious and cumulative. (See p. 201.)

D The mattress should be made of non-allergic material and should fit snugly so that there is no space between it and the sides of the cot.

Almost anything can cause an allergic reaction, so you are safer with a foam plastic or rubber mattress than a coir or feather type. Again I’m not in favour of a plastic covered mattress but it is essential if the child happens to be allergic to the house dust mite. Otherwise you can simply use a piece of uncovered foam and make a cover out of heavy cotton fabric. Then put your flannel-backed waterproof over the lower half, covered by a sheet. A fitted cot sheet is easy to make and gives a neat finish.


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