How We Converted A Cot Into a Co-Sleeper

First off, I have to give a massive shout and thank you to the lovely lady behind this blog, for pretty much giving me step by step instructions on how to do this.

When we had the Squishy one, we had a crib set up in our living room and we had a big cot in our bedroom (on hubby’s side of the bed). You see, I learnt when I had the boy that the best way of reducing sleep-related resentment while night-feeding, was to nudge the husband violently and pass him the baby to put back to bed. This meant he shared a degree of the broken nights with me and our relationship didn’t fall apart over a game of I’m-more-tired-than-you. I hoped to repeat this pattern with Squish, but she had other ideas. I’d nurse her and manage to instantly fall asleep despite my best efforts to stay awake. I’d jump awake half an hour later and panic about the baby that was in the bed with me, I’d nudge the husband, pass her to him and guaranteed somewhere en-route from my arms to her mattress she would wake up, start crying and we’d have to repeat the whole process. Eventually I gave up, she stayed in the bed and her cot slowly filled up with laundry before I finally got around to donating it to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. We used a toddler rail to stop her from falling out and things stayed that way for the next 18 months.

But I’m nervous about out and out bed sharing from day zero (yes I KNOW it can be done safely, the point here is I am nervous about it). From the start of this pregnancy I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how our sleeping arrangements are going to work. What I really wanted was one of those fancy dan co-sleeping cots, so I started to research them. Then I saw the price.

After I’ve come around again after fainting I thought there must be a cheaper way to do this! I refused to spend £250 on something that the baby might only be in for six months, especially as my co-sleeping concerns centred around sharing the bed with a neonate, once they are a bit bigger I have no qualms about it at all. So I started googling and lurking in co-sleeping and family bed forums. I started asking questions and trying to work out what other people were doing.

I can’t remember where I came across this, but at some point I hit on a site that recommended buying an Ikea Gulliver cot for around £60 and jigging that so it could work as a co-sleeper.

GULLIVER Cot IKEA The bed base can be placed at two different heights.

GULLIVER Cot IKEA The bed base can be placed at two different heights.

The beauty of the Gulliver, of course, is that it can happily exist as a 3 sided cot. You just have to ignore the big warning on the instructions that tells you not to have it three-sided with the base at the higher level. It must be said that £59.99 seemed like a vast improvement on the “proper” co-sleeper prices I was seeing elsewhere so we decided to give it a whirl.

So here’s the cot put together, sitting beside our bed. We now had to start the fun task of side-carring it.

Well to begin with we were going to attach it on hubby’s side of the bed (but this time we were going to swap sides). We need to raise the height of the bed to make it level with the cot mattress so after a bit of scouring the internet for something that wasn’t going to cost us £80, we found “Raise Its”  at amazon.co.uk. They were an infinitely more reasonable £16.99 and would take the bed up by the inch we needed it. The problem was, once the raise its were in place the cot would no longer fit into the alcove alongside the head of the bed. We needed to re-think this. We decided to shunt the bed over and put the cot on my side instead (I had initially been concerned about the cot’s proximity to the power sockets on the wall next to my side of the bed, but luckily there was a big enough gap when we moved it for it not to be a problem. So…. we shifted the bed over and moved the cot around and then discovered that for some bizarre and unknown reason, with the cot on my side of the bed we didn’t need the Raise Its after all. Perhaps we have a wonky floor or a wonky mattress. So that was a giant waste of money for us, however if YOU need something to raise the furniture, I do recommend them.

So with the furniture moved and the cot on the other side of the bed (and height issues addressed) we looked at securely attaching the cot frame to our bed. As per the suggestion from the blog linked at the top of this post, we used bungee cords. I picked up a pack of 100cm bungee cords for £8.99 from Halfords.

Two were sufficient to stretch across the width of our kingsize mattress and the width of the cot. We attached them to the bars of the cot and then slipped them under the mattress and secured them to the handles of the mattress on the far side of the bed.

The cot mattress could now be pushed up flush against our mattress. The problem now being that there was a 5cm gap between the cot mattress and the cot bars.

Once again google was my friend. I had a look around to find somewhere that sold custom cut foam. I found this company http://www.thefoamshop.co.uk and it was all looking very positive. They sold nursery grade foam and could cut it to size no problem, AND it would only cost around £4. Great! No not great. They then tried to charge a ridiculous shipping cost of £18 to send it to N. Ireland. This is a pet hate of mine, UK based companies that charge stupid amounts of postage to N. Ireland. We are part of the UK people! Without us it wouldn’t even be the UK, it would just be Great Britain. I ranted about it on facebook “Right that’s it. I’m finally going to become political. Let’s leave the union and become a united Ireland because maybe then I won’t feel so screwed by the ridiculous postage costs that UK companies try to charge to Northern Ireland!”. My dear friend Adrian then put it all in perspective with the reply “Violent oppression caused a fair bit of nationalist sentiment, but postage and packaging costs may be what lights the touchpaper.” I love him.

Luckily I managed to find another company TW Foam. They charged £8 for the requisite piece of foam, but had free P&P and despatched the item very quickly, so all in all I was very, very pleased with them.

Perfect! Now the only issue was the fact that our mattress has a memory foam layer on the top of it. This means it’s thinner at the edges than it is in the middle and dips down, rather an unpleasant and dangerous little curve where the two mattresses meet. I came across someone suggesting the use of a bed bridge to sort this out. Basically it’s a sort of T shaped piece of foam that you can use to convert two single beds into a double. It’s stocked by Bed, Bath and Beyond for around $14, but the only place I could find retailing it here in the UK was looking to charge £35 (around $58 dollars), and that was before postage costs were added. So I ordered it from Amazon.com and even with postage it only came to £15. Bargain. Of course as the Bed Bridge is supposed to fit an ordinary single bed we had to cut it to size.

but that was the work of moments with a ruler and a pair of dress-making scissors.

Okay I’ll be honest, the bed bridge is about 1-2cm thick, so the join with the mattresses aren’t flat. I’m not sure how we get around this. I also need to work out the logistics of covering the bed bridge and the foam block. Hopefully I have a few weeks to work this one out.

Still I prefer that to the rather large dip that was there before. I think this is a safer alternative.

So that’s it folks, our new co-sleeper. I hope the baby likes it. Squishy certainly does.

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10 thoughts on “How We Converted A Cot Into a Co-Sleeper”

  1. Very nice! We have the Arm’s Reach co-sleeping (thanks to a very generous aunt of mine). The Arm’s Reach actually has a bit of a wall between the co-sleeper and the bed. It just goes up a couple inches and the baby mattress is several inches below that. I think I like your alternative better. With the Arm’s Reach I’d still have to put baby back after nursing and sit up to pick her up out of the co-sleeper in the middle of the night.

  2. I really like this, looking for a co-sleeper now and this seems a much better alternative. What height does the cot sit at though? Thanks for this.

  3. Hi, I know this article was a while ago but I’ve just come across it – really useful thanks! Just wondered what you did if anything when your little one started to stand up/pull themselves up, to help prevent them falling over the side of the cot? I’m almost at that point, have in mind cushions and duvets etc for the floor in case he rolls or crawls off the bed, but he’s so active and ‘bouncy’ that I’m worried he’ll pull himself up and throw himself over the side! Of course I can cushion the floor but it would be a higher fall than from the bed were it to happen. I have the cot flush with the bed so it’s at the highest setting – equally I could lower the cot but then it wouldn’t be the same kind of co-sleeper I want! Any thoughts would be appreciated – I’m starting to have sleepless nights about it! Yep first time mum….:)

    1. To be honest it was never an issue, if she wanted to get down she would climb into our bed and onto the floor from there. She never tried to climb over the side of the cot. With my older daughter we co-slept with just a toddler rail on the side of the bed and she never tried to climb out over it either. She’s 19 months now and we have converted it back into a traditional cot a few months ago (so she can’t escape at bedtime when she’s not so keen on saying goodnight to everyone!) She generally comes into the bed with us (with a toddler rail) whenever we go to bed so I don’t have to worry about her trying to climb out the wrong side. Hope that helps, it’s just never come up as an issue for us.

      1. Sorry I hadn’t realised you’d responded! Many thanks for getting back. I fear it’s going to be an issue for us as our little one is as bouncy as a spring and doesn’t keep still for a moment. We may just have to turn our bed around so it is against a wall, we’ll see. Any tips on toddler rails – good ones/ bad ones, where from etc? I hadn’t considered getting one but now they seem to be popping up everywhere so I’m considering investing in one. Thanks again for your response.

  4. Also one other question.. Would you still recommend the bed bridge? I hate the seam and sort of gap between the mattresses but the bed bridge looks bulky from the photos. Did it work for you in the end? Thanks…:)

    1. I had a Safety 1st toddler rail which lasted 12 years before the plastic snapped on it a few weeks ago. I just bought a replacement Baby Dan one from Argos today for £24.99.

      The bed bridge worked fine for us, but in hindsight if I was doing it again I would probably order a custom mattress instead that would be wide enough and tall enough to bridge any gaps (though you would need to buy a new one should you want to convert the cot into a standard enclosed cot). I know some people use a pool noodle in between the mattress and the cot mattress as an alternative to the bed bridge, but because of the dip in our mattress it wasn’t an option for us.

      This site http://babymattressesonline.co.uk/custom-size-mattress-for-cots-cot-beds does custom mattresses. You can buy a pool noodle for just a few pounds on ebay. Hope that helps!

      1. Really helpful thanks. Not sure how pool noodle or custom mattress would get over the connecting seams (or small gap however flush the mattresses are) which are uncomfortable even with a blanket and sheet over the top! But I’m hoping the bed bridge will remedy this. Prefer the sound of foam to seams. Have been putting off as I’m so much more comfortable with him tucked up in bed next to me but really the bed’s too small for all of us… And one of us always seems to be on or lying across the gappy seam so I need to get onto it now! Thanks again for all the advice:)

  5. you could taper the edges of the bed bridge with a sharp knife so it blends into the surface of the mattresses better – plus then stitch a modified fitted cot sheet at the appropriate point onto a modified fitted adult bed sheet?

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