“ Mothercare / Ashton Cot / 2-handed drop-side mechanism / 3-position mattress base height / pine. „
I was on a very limited budget when the time came to buy Freddy's cot, with just £100 to spend, I was shocked at the prices that are now being charged and that's without mattresses. So when I saw Mothercare selling the Ashton cot with a mattress for under £100 (or £65 without), I just had to snap it up. Yes, it is a basic cot without any bells and whistles, but Freddy doesn't really need anything more, he has toys and mobiles to keep him entertained. A cot is simply somewhere safe for him to sleep and the Ashton does that job perfectly.
===In the box===
As with most cots, the Ashton comes flat-packed in a large unwieldy box, it's far too heavy to carry any distance and I would recommend that you get this delivered rather than picking it up from the shop. Within the box is virtually everything you need to assemble the cot, all that's missing is a couple of screwdrivers (both cross-cut and flat-head are needed). Assembly is extremely quick and simple, it took me (a reasonably seasoned flat-pack assembler) just over 10 minutes to put the cot together following the easy to read instructions. There was only one point where I had any real difficulty and could have done with a helping hand, and that was when I fixed the base into place.
The Ashton is a very understated piece of nursery equipment, the warm pine finish means it looks far more expensive than it actually is. Every surface is finished to an extremely high level, with not a single rough edge in sight. All the panels feature bars that are 7cm apart, meaning that little arms and legs are unlikely to get stuck and little heads won't fit through at all. Although at first, the cot looks a little on the compact side, appearances are deceiving and the Ashton takes a standard size cot mattress. This is in no way a fancy cot, there are no playballs or fancy swirls, but this makes it far easier to clean as there is nowhere for the dirt to accumulate. The lack of teething bar might be a problem for some, but with five children I've never used one and the cots have always survived (just make sure there's plenty of toys in the cot).
The cot base can be fitted at one of three levels, with the highest being rather unsafe for all but the youngest of babies. I've personally set the base in the middle position which is the perfect height for me to lift 3 month old Freddy in and out, and will still keep him safe even when he's able to sit-up. Once he gets older and starts pulling himself up, then I will need to drop the base down to the lowest position, which while not particularly difficult is a little awkward. This is due to the fact that the drop-side needs to be removed before the base can be moved. The drop-side itself is a breeze to operate, even while holding Freddy, the one-handed operation is smooth and yet once up the side is secure.
===The Cot in Use===
I moved Freddy into this cot at a little under 2 months of age, starting by placing the Moses basket inside for the first few days and then putting him in the cot itself after a few days. The fact that there are bars all the way round means that there is plenty of room to attach lots of toys to help make the cot a fun place as well as somewhere safe for him to sleep. Even at 3 months, Freddy is a long and very active baby, who manages to get himself in all sorts of positions. There have been a few occasions where he's managed to end up with an arm or leg hanging out between bars, but has never got them jammed. There's plenty of room in the cot for him to move about and it's big enough to last him at least the next eighteen months after which he'll be ready to move to a big bed. One thing's for sure, Freddy has been sleeping much better since the move from Moses basket to this cot.
With this being a standard size cot, bedding can bought at a very reasonable price. The fitted cotton sheets I bought cost a paltry £4 for 2 from Tesco and they fit beautifully. It's not however a good idea to buy bumper and duvet sets, not only are they not recommended for babies under a year, but are really a waste of money. Yes they look nice, but bumpers can be a strangulation hazard and duvets increase the risk of cot death. Stick to blankets, it's not only cheaper but also safer.
As Freddy has reflux, he will often vomit and there have been occasions when the cot bars have had a liberal coating of half digested milk and due to the simple construction it was very easy to clean up. The smooth, varnished finish doesn't allow the milk to be absorbed into the wood and a wipe down with anti-bacterial cleaner is all that's needed to keep the cot hygienically clean.
This cot was a fantastic buy, almost every other cot I had looked at cost in excess of £100 and didn't include a mattress. At a paltry £65 for the cot (£100 with a thick foam mattress), I couldn't help but recommend the Ashton to any parent (or parent-to-be) looking for an inexpensive cot for their precious bundle. Personally, I actually wish that I hadn't bothered with a Moses basket and had just bought this to use from newborn.