Short Version: Cot purchase and safety/environmental/animal welfare announcement in one.

I nearly posted to ask you to resolve a moral dilemma for me, except then I thought of the perfect answer. So now I'm posting to boast about my answer under the pretense of keeping kids safe by disseminating information about the hazards of cots. Let's face it - most of you are well-versed in this stuff already, being the info-savvy, long-prepared, safety-conscious people you are. Frankly, if anyone knows this stuff and takes it seriously, it's an infertility blogger, think about it. Then again what the heck, you can't repeat an important safety message enough times, and there's always the chance you'll tell me how wise and clever I am. Therefore on with it.

It started when we saw a second-hand cot for sale. I know, we have the bassinet for starters, but it won't last for long, and I happened to see this at a good price, plus, hey! recycling! so I arranged to view it, tape measure in hand. Why a tape measure? Because I wanted to make sure it conformed to safety guidelines (pdf), and for that you need a tape measure to figure out how big all the gaps and things are. Happily, the cot passed the test and we arranged delivery to our flat.

That's when the dilemma started. Because the people wanted to get rid of not only the cot, but also the bedding, and they were using far more of it than is recommended by Sids and Kids in their safe sleeping FAQ (pdf). There is also the issue of using second-hand mattresses, which is discussed in the above brochure, and although the SIDS people haven't found enough reason to recommend against using one provided the mattress is otherwise safe, I am paranoid enough to want a new one anyway. So my dilemma was this: so much bedding, so little desire to use it. What does one do with two cot bumpers and five tiny pillows that one considers to be a death trap for infants? As well as a second-hand mattress which is arguably safe, but you never know?

When you have things to get rid of you have several choices: you can sell them, you can give them away, or you can chuck them. Now, whilst chucking them seems wasteful, selling them or giving them away involves a high risk that someone else will use stuff on their baby which you consider to be below acceptable safety standards, and there's something not quite moral about that. Profiting from their ignorance (by selling) does seem worse than passively accepting their ignorance (by offloading for free) but it doesn't really make the second option right.

Of course, ultimately there's a limit to my responsibility for other people's parenting decisions. I don't, for example, feel the need to picket stores that sell cot bumpers and baby pillows, or accost strangers wheeling prams in order to grill them on their tot's sleeping arrangements. On the other hand, I am clearly responsible for advertising used equipment as "used" and for being honest about my reasons for getting rid of something if asked. If I were to make up some reply about not liking the colour, that would obviously cross the line. But am I required to explain myself to people who don't ask me? If I am, is that enough, or should I go further by refusing to hand over the goods to anyone intending to use them for a baby, contrary to safe sleeping guidelines? If the second, am I required to ensure, absolutely, that the products don't get used for someone's baby in the future, or is it enough to gain reasonable satisfaction of such? What about my responsibility to the environment - to recycling and reducing landfill?

These were the questions I was going to pose to you when the answer hit me. The perfect place for unwanted and unsafe baby bedding is the local animal shelter or vet clinic. (Or, if you know someone, a neighbour with an elderly dog.) Why?

  • Cot mattresses are ideal surfaces for medium to large sized dogs with mobility problems (including those with arthritis or those temporarily bed-bound from illness). The soft cushiness will help guard against debilitating and potentially dangerous bedsores, yet the surface is close to the ground and therefore relatively easy to get onto and off. Depending on the make of the mattress, it may also include protection against leaky bladders and drool.

  • Small pillows can be used in clinic settings to prop patients into good positions - for comfort, ease of breathing, attachment and use of IV lines and other equipment, extra protection of wound areas, or positioning for x-rays.

  • Cot bumpers, with the help of scissors, needle and thread, can be turned into mini-mattresses for small patients, or a number of thin pillows.

Any way you look at it, vet clinics and animal shelters can make good, safe use of your unwanted baby bedding, and I feel that by handing it over to such an organisation for that defined purpose, I have made a reasonable enough effort to ensure that no harm comes from their future use. So that is what we have decided to do. Perhaps you can think of further ways to safely dispose of unwanted cot bedding (and if so, please add them in the comments).

To sum up, there are a few reasons I went ahead with this post:

  1. I wanted to remind people to check their safe sleeping guidelines when setting up their nursery. These guidelines can save little lives!

  2. I wanted to remind you not to dump when you can recycle! The planet (and your local vet clinic, animal shelter, or whatever) wants to put your unwanted stuff to good, safe, alternative uses.

  3. I was feeling smug about my solution and wanted to display my smugness publicly.

So there you have it. Goodnight and sleep well.


Jackie said...

Bea, those seem like wonderful ideas. I now feel the need to explain all the extraneous crap in my crib in that video (that sounds like didn't work for you either, but did work for Caro, wtf?). Anyway, my mom gave us the bedding, and I initially made the video for her and my dad. So, when we actually put the kid in the crib, it will be stripped back to the bare minimum of only the fitted crib sheet which will actually be layers of crib sheets with mattress protectors between each so that on messy nights, we can just strip of the sh*tty sheets/pads to the next clean layer. I am hoping that later one when the kid moves into the toddler bed we may actually get to use the quilt, but I might just hang it on the wall cuz yikes the walls are bare in that room!
Thanks for the PSA!

Rach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Inbar said...

Great idea! I'm so impressed at the thought you put into this... BTW, I used bumpers and really don't get how they could be dangerous... and believe me, I'm VERY safety conscious.

Caro said...

Good re-cycling.

It's interesting that all the advice is so anti-duvets. Everyone here uses duvets with their babies from birth.

That said I'm planning to use a sleeping bag in our crib (bassinet).

Vee said...

You certainly deserve to feel smug. I love that you thought of that ! Well done.
Oh and I am looking forward to seeing some nursery pics.

beagle said...

A pulic display of smugness . . . love it!

Great solution.

Piccinigirl said...

Furtherp proof that you ROCK! What a great post and solution.

Jess said...

Great ideas!!

We used a bumper till Ava got big enough to go hog wild in the crib and started enjoying having her face pressed against the sides. As for the second hand mattress....We had an old one that I'd used, but we bought new ones anyway. For $50 we figured we'd not chance it.

Way to be innovative!!

Elizabeth said...

brilliant! The funniest thing to me is that, since we sleep on a mattress on the floor, we had joked about buying a large-ish dog bed to use as a bassinet...

Aurelia said...

I send all the unsafe stuff directly to the garbage, in fact, I watch the garbage truck mash it up in the back, on the off chance that the garbage man will try to use it for his own kid. (I had this happen with a carseat that was recalled and totally unusable, but looked perfect.)

Same reason I wouldn't do the vet donation idea. I just don't trust them to actually use it for the animals and not use it for the assistant's kid.

Yes, maybe too much, but I couldn't live with myself if someone used an unsafe piece of baby equipment and a baby got hurt. And I've watched waayyy too many people fishing through the garbage at curbside to not think they will take unsafe stuff and pass it off. Especially people who are poor.

Yes, I am too cynical.

Anonymous said...

I like your idea of giving things to a vet. I am sure they will appreciate it and there will be a pup or two who will benefit.

Schatzi said...

All right... Not apparently being one of the well-prepared infertility bloggers... I knew nothing of the safe sleeping guidelines. So although I am muy impressed (!) with the solution you found to the moral dilemma (quite the creative one, you are!)... I am very grateful for the link to sids and kids :-)

The Town Criers said...

You are seriously so freakin' smart. I would have never thought of that. We do have this problem here with garage sales and used car seats. Do you sell them? Dump them in a land fill?

Ellen K. said...

Excellent information, Bea. It can be difficult to reconcile safety concerns with ecological ones.

Bea said...

Car seats are tricky. I guess I'd be prepared to sell/give away anything I'd be prepared to use myself on my own children, and then it's up to others whether they trust me. When buying? Personally, I bought our carseat new because apparently I don't trust anyone enough.

As to safe, alternative uses, though...? And I do think I'd be more worried about the misuse of a car seat than cot bedding - more expensive so more tempting, less likely for people to get as gifts or have fun buying as decor, and just less likely to be otherwise useful.


Barb said...


A woman after my own heart with the environment, baby safety and animal concern. I'm sure those puppies and kitties loved it.


Lut C. said...

Great solution!

Next comes the dilemma of what new bedding to buy. I've been trying to find a eco-friendly matrass for the (second-hand) cot I have. Frankly, it's been giving me a headache.
The EU has a nifty eco-label for matrasses, alas, I have yet to find a matrass with the label in the shops.
Sure, they have self-proclaimed eco-friendly matrasses, but why should I take their word for it?
Polyurethane sounds pretty chemical to me, even though I gather that it is somehow sustainable. The search continues.

What type of cloth nappies have you picked out?
I have pre-formed cotton nappies. They're very good. The first few weeks my daughter was way too small for them though. They leaked around the legs.
If you want to do cloth from the beginning, you may want to try traditional cloth diapers (big squares) that you have to fold. A thing called a 'snappi' is handy to fasten them, I'm told. I used masking tape. :-)

MrsSpock said...

Our Ped told us that a bumper was OK only until they were able to roll over, then it should go.

I've had the same moral twinges about all the cans of formula and disposable diapers and nursing pads I've gotten in the mail. And (don't tell!) the chemical-laden lotions and powders, wipes, and plastic toys people gave me as gifts. I do appreciate the gifts, however, my child will not be using them. I hate to pass them on, considering I feel so uncomfortable using them myself, but the truth is most American mothers do like those sorts of things. So they are getting passed on to a program that provides items to needy single mothers.

As far as small pillows, etc, I do know we use them in ICU for positioning, etc. Folks with disabilities and the elderly would likely appreciate them for the same reason.

Keeping The Faith said...

I really love this idea. I immediately told several of my friends about the suggestions you wrote...and plan to do this myself when I'm done w/ our crib bedding and crib mattresses. What a great way to do something helpful for animal shelters. (I'm a huge animal lover)

Thanks for the info.


GLouise said...

Great idea!

We use any small pillow gifts as decorations in my rocking chair.

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