The use of baby cots has been an age-long practice by which most parents, particularly mothers, provide alternative beds for their newly-born babies, until they mature a little older to share the bed meant for adults.
Historically, the cots, also called cribs, were designed to safeguard the body movement of newly-borns, such that they do not fall off beds whilst their mothers may be sleeping.
Most mothers, especially in Ghana, have found the cots useful in raising their children, whereas others, for reasons normally rooted in culture and traditions, would prefer they share their bed with their newly-borns from the moment they are born.
Mrs. Esther Nyarko, a clerical worker in Accra, for instance, explained to The Spectator that she has never used baby cots because, “I have to share the same bed with my children at such early stages, to cover them with my spirit.”
In her case, she indicated, “I, the mother, sleep at one end of the bed, the child in the middle, and my husband, the baby’s father, at the other end. We do this to protect our children.”
Mrs. Nyarko did not have much to say about the situation where a parent, or both, bed-rolls during sleep. The child may be in trouble, like the account of the woman – and one other – brought before King Solomon in the Bible who slept on her baby.
To forestall such occurrences and more, more mothers in Ghana have used baby cots. What, however, remains an interest is how the make-up of cots has changed with time, as well as their patronage.
Unlike in the past when most Ghanaian homes used wooden cots normally made by local carpenters, contemporary mothers have now developed a taste for the plastic ones which are readily available at supermarkets, malls and other baby shops.
In an interview with The Spectator, Auntie Gertrude, of Dream World MotherCare, indicated that with changes brought about by time, “new mothers, in their own ways, try to look for cribs they find portable, convenient and fashionable.”
This, she observed, was unlike years past when a mother could use one wooden cot for all her children, and even a generation of children in one family.
She, however, said that although the wooden cots are not very common today, they may not have gone extinct, due to their durability.
“That said, mothers who come to my shop prefer the plastic cots since they are portable, easy to adjust and safe; because teething babies cannot chew on the sides,” she added.
Auntie Gertrude said that was the primary reason why she chose to sell plastic baby cots, because the demand for wooden cots had died down.
Touching on metal cots, Mrs. Gertrude said she had never sold a metal baby cot since she opened her mother-care shop, “because, like the wooden ones, no one comes asking for them.”
The price of baby cots, she disclosed, ranged between GHc 250 and GHc 1,000, depending on the type and function.
Some mothers The Spectator interviewed also shared their views on their preference.
Mrs. Afi Asare-Frimpong, a mother of two, said she still uses a wooden cot because of its durability and not because of price.
She said she had used the cot for her two children “and it is still strong, so obviously, all my children will come and also use it.”
Mrs. Sefakor Ablordepey, a mother of three, said she also preferred the wooden cot because it posed little or no risk to the baby.
Mrs. Divina Mensah Sarpong and Ms. Ruth Seddor, however said they preferred and used the plastic and metal cots, respectively, due to their portability and adjustability.
One other, Dzifa Asante Yeboah, said she rather used a playpen, a specialized type of cot made of metal but with plastic support system, a mesh, soft plastic or nylon sides.
She explained that the walls of the playpen were higher than the height of her child, “so he is more protected; that is why I prefer the playpen to the traditional cot.
By Sethline Frempong