How to Choose Between a Cot and a Cot Bed

At first glance it’s pretty difficult to spot the difference between a cot and a cot bed – after all they’re both just miniature beds with bars, right? To the untrained eye, this certainly seems to be the case, however, as a self-certified bed expert (I can think of more glamorous titles!) I can reveal that there are in fact, a number of differences between these popular baby beds.

After the first few weeks of cocooning your baby in a cosy crib or portable Moses basket you may be ready to take the giant leap of moving your tiny bundle into a more permanent bed. Choosing the right bed can be a bit of a minefield, particularly as there so many gorgeous options!

As one of the most important (and expensive!) purchases you’ll make, it’s essential that you understand the difference between a cot bed and a baby cot, so that you invest in the best first bed to suit both yours and your baby’s needs.

SnuzKot Luxe Cot Bed in Grey

What is the difference between a Cot and a Cot Bed?

The two defining points of difference between a cot bed and a cot, are size and lifespan of use.

  • Size

Cots and cot beds do vary in size, with cots being the smaller of the two. Cots measure approximately 65cm x 125cm, requiring a 60cm x 120cm mattress, while the average cot bed measures 75cm x 145cm and requires a 70cm x 140cm mattress.

If you’re limited on space in your nursery, a cot may be the best option, allowing room for other pieces of essential nursery furniture. However, if your choice is not defined by space, a cot bed can offer up more options and is often a more economical choice in the long run.

  • Lifespan

The lifespan of a cot and cot bed is another point of difference. A standard cot will see your baby through until they are approximately 2 years old, while a cot bed will be suitable for your child until they are about 6 years old, because of its ability to convert into a toddler bed.

Some cot bed designs can be further adapted from a toddler bed into a day bed, as seen here with the Cam Cam Copenhagen Harlequin Cot, extending its life even longer and providing the perfect spot to snuggle with a book.

Cam Cam Copenhagen Harlequin Cot in Grey

Should I choose a Cot or Cot Bed?

Ultimately your decision will be influenced by a combination of factors, with the size of the nursery being the most common decision maker.

There are of course other considerations, such as whether you plan on having more children (who may need to use the cot), your budget and whether you like the concept of being able to convert a cot into a bed once your baby is old enough.

  • Benefits of a Cot

A standard cot is suitable from birth until your child is approximately 2 years old. They are smaller than a cot bed, therefore are a good choice for a small nursery.

Being smaller also means that if your baby is still sleeping in your bedroom, their cot is taking up less space that a cot bed would. The Vox 4 You Baby Cot with Storage in White & Oak has the added feature of a removable side, so it can be placed next to your bed, making nighttime feeding easier. It’s also set on castors for easy manoeuvrability.

If you are planning on having more than one child with a small age gap between, a cot may be a more sensible choice as you can use the cot for the new baby and upgrade to a kids single bed for your older child.

  • Benefits of a Cot Bed

A cot bed is a cot with removable sides and a removable end panel that means it can be converted into a toddler-sized bed once your child is ready to make the transition. The main benefit of this feature is that is eliminates the need to buy another bed, making it suitable from birth until approximately 6 to 7 years old.

Cot beds offer up more space for your baby (to wriggle and sprawl!) and are generally no more expensive than a standard cot.

There really is no right or wrong decision, it can sometimes be helpful to speak to other parents or there are plenty of baby forums where there is a wealth of information about choosing the best bed for your baby.

Vox 4 You Baby Cot with Storage in White & Oak

Things to consider when buying a Cot or a Cot Bed

Navigating the minefield of whether to buy a cot or a cot bed can be a little confusing, particularly as they both have pros and cons. I’ve highlighted the main things to consider before buying a cot or a cot bed (because I like to make your life a little easier!).


The overall design of cots and cot beds can be very similar, however cot beds often offer up a few more features and benefits. Here are a few key design features to look out for;

  • Adjustable height settings

For any new parent, this is a great feature that your back will be eternally grateful for! The main benefit of being able to adjust the height of the cot base is accessibility.

When your baby is tiny, the top setting is ideal for being able to lift and place your baby back into their bed, as shown here with the Vox Lounge Baby Cot in Light Grey & Oak.

As your baby grows, you can begin dropping the bed base, for safety reasons, until finally, once they are able to pull themselves up, it will be at the lowest setting, as shown here with the SnuzKot Luxe Cot Bed in Grey.

Most cots and cots beds include this useful feature, each product detail page will state the number of height settings, most commonly there are 3 base heights.

  • Removable bars

Removable bars offer your child a bit more independence once they start toddling. A happy medium between the total confinement of a cot and the complete freedom of a toddler bed, by removing a few of the cot bars they can get in and out of their cot independently.

This is a more common feature with cot beds, as seen here with the Vox Maxim Cot Bed in White, however Leander have recently launched their Luna Baby Cot that can be transformed into a cosy sofa, by removing the side bars, perfect once your baby has outgrown their cot.

  • Aesthetics

Your decision between a cot or a cot bed may be guided by the overall look and design of the bed. With literally hundreds of options, you may find it easier to whittle your selection down by colour preference, whether you like the look of a sleigh style cot or a more traditional cot bed or whether there is matching nursery furniture to complete the look.

I am personally a great fan of Vox Nursery Furniture for their choice of cots and cot beds, not only do they include super design features, they offer very affordable nursery furniture sets, without compromising on style.

Leander Luna Baby Cot


Anyone who has savoured the absolute pleasure of having children (no hint of sarcasm there at all!), knows that babies are expensive!

You may assume that because cot beds present more features than a cot, they will surely be more expensive. This is not the case, at Cuckooland you may be surprised to know that the best value baby bed is in fact the Grace Cot Bed, that comes in under £150! Leading nursery brand Obaby sure know how to help parents look after their pennies!

Whatever budget you are on, you’ll be pleased to know that Cuckooland cater for all and have a great selection of affordable cots and cot beds. If you see something that is making your purse tighten a little, then why not consider spreading the cost with a finance plan.

Tutti Bambini Modena 3 in 1 Cot Bed


While you can’t wrap your baby in cotton wool, keeping your baby safe while sleeping will certainly be at the forefront of your mind when you are deciding whether to buy a cot or a cot bed. The best way to check that your baby’s new bed is fit for purpose is to check that it complies with the required cot safety standards.

Vox Vintage Baby Cot Bed

As we’ve explored, there are pro’s and con’s to both cots and cot beds, but I hope I’ve enlightened you a little as to their main differences and perhaps now you’re one step closer to making that all important decision!

If you’re still wavering between options, our nursery team are only a phone call away +44 (0) 1305 231231 or if you can’t grab a minute of peace (how is it that babies always wake up the moment you make that all important phone call!) they’ll be super quick in answering your email.


With more than 8 years’ experience in providing advice and support to parents looking for their perfect kids bed, mother of 2, Nathalie Davis is passionate about helping children develop. In her role as Director of Product Procurement at Cuckooland, Nathalie has helped thousands of parents improve their children’s sleep and sleeping habits through the beds and mattresses she sources and the articles she writes. In her spare time she teaches her Golden Retriever to be a responsible vegetarian and is often spotted sifting through clothes at her local Charity Shops.

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