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Crib vs. Cot: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 16, 2024
Crib is a baby bed with high, slatted sides, primarily used in North America. Cot is a light, portable bed, often foldable, known as a crib in British English.

Key Differences

A crib, typically referred to in North American English, is a bed for babies or very young children with high, protective slatted sides to prevent the child from falling out. A cot, in British English, refers to the same type of baby bed, but in American English, it denotes a lightweight, portable bed, often foldable and used in temporary sleeping situations.
Cribs are designed to offer a safe, enclosed sleeping area for infants, usually stationary and made of sturdy materials like wood. Cots, in the American sense, are more about portability and convenience, used for camping, military use, or as temporary beds in childcare settings.
The design of a crib often includes adjustable mattress heights and may convert into a toddler bed. On the other hand, a cot is designed for easy setup and storage, with a simple frame and a fabric or mesh sleeping surface.
Cribs are a permanent fixture in a nursery, often reflecting a certain aesthetic appeal and matching other nursery furniture. Cots, being more utilitarian, are less about style and more about functionality, focusing on ease of use and mobility.
In terms of usage duration, cribs are used for a longer period, from infancy to toddler age. Cots, particularly in the American context, are typically used for shorter durations, like during travel or for overnight guests.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Long-term infant bed
Portable, temporary bed


High, slatted sides
Foldable, simple frame


Usually wood
Metal frame with fabric or mesh

Usage Duration

From infancy to toddler years
Short-term, temporary use


Often stylish, matching nursery
Functional, utilitarian design

Crib and Cot Definitions


Often has settings to adjust the mattress level.
We lowered the crib's mattress as the baby started to stand.


Often made of light metals and fabric.
The cot's lightweight frame made it easy to carry.


A central piece of furniture in a baby's nursery.
The crib matches the changing table and dresser in the room.


Easy to store and transport.
The cot folds up compactly, making it perfect for camping trips.


Designed to keep babies safely contained.
We just assembled a beautiful wooden crib for the nursery.


Used for travel or temporary sleeping arrangements.
We set up a cot for our guest in the living room.


Can transform into a bed for older children.
Our crib can convert into a toddler bed, making it a great investment.


Focuses more on functionality than style.
The army uses cots extensively for their practicality in the field.


Typically not designed for easy movement.
The crib will stay in the nursery since it's not portable.


Ideal for short-term use.
We have a few cots for overnight stays at the daycare.


A bed with high sides for a young child or baby.


A narrow bed, especially one made of canvas on a collapsible frame.


A small building, usually with slatted sides, for storing corn.


Chiefly British A crib.


Is a cot comfortable for long-term use?

Cots are more for short-term convenience.

What age is a crib suitable for?

From birth to around 3 years.

Can a cot be used for a newborn?

In British English, yes. In American English, it's not recommended.

Do cribs come with mattresses?

Typically, mattresses are bought separately.

Are cribs portable?

Generally, no, they are stationary.

What materials are cots made from?

Usually a metal frame with fabric or mesh.

Do cribs need assembly?

Most require some assembly.

How much space does a cot take up?

When in use, similar to a single bed; they fold up for storage.

Can adults sleep on a cot?

Yes, adult-sized cots are available.

Do cribs come in different styles?

Yes, there's a wide range of designs and styles.

Are cribs safe for babies?

Yes, when meeting modern safety standards.

What safety features do cribs have?

Slatted sides, non-toxic finishes, and stable construction.

How do you clean a crib?

Wipe down with a safe, mild cleaner.

Can cots be used outdoors?

Many are designed for outdoor use like camping.

How long can you use a cot?

Cots are meant for temporary use, such as a few nights.

Can cribs be converted into beds?

Many modern cribs are convertible.

Are cots easy to transport?

Yes, they're designed for easy portability.

Is bedding included with cribs?

No, bedding is usually purchased separately.

Are cots suitable for daily use?

They're more for occasional or temporary use.

What's the weight limit for a cot?

Varies, but adult cots can typically hold up to 250 lbs or more.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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