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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Product Review: KUB Tundra Cot/Bed

What? From the KUB furniture range, the Tundra cot/bed.
How much? RRP £220
Where from? Exclusive nursery retailers 

Part of the process of getting ready for the imminent birth of your new baby is getting the nursery sorted out. Some people go all out for a real nursery look, with colourful borders and co-ordinated photos on the walls, some people find out the sex of the baby before it’s born so that their son is welcomed into a blue nursery with car, train or football themes, or their daughter has a pink princess room with fairies and butterflies and flowers.

We chose not to find out the sex of our baby: We much preferred what is viewed by some as the ‘old fashioned’ idea of having a surprise when the baby arrived. I understand that some people like to find out in advance, but for us it’s like opening your Christmas present early. We painted the bedroom cream and brown, with a teddy bear theme from Mothercare for the accessories; the curtains, the bedding, the cot mobile, etc. We made it suitable for a boy or a girl, and to compliment the colours of the room we chose a cream and oak chest of drawers and a Tundra cot/bed from KUB furniture.

We chose the Tundra cot/bed partly because it fitted so well with the colour scheme in the bedroom and partly because of KUB’s eco-friendly design and build principle, and partly because it seemed like a sturdy, well made product. Designed to be used for many years as it has the ability to be changed into a junior bed when baby is old enough to not have the cot sides, we decided that while it was expensive to make the purchase it would be worthwhile in the long run as we wouldn’t need to then buy a junior bed when baby grew out of the cot.

The Tundra cot/bed in cot mode

The Tundra has three settings for the bottom; the highest setting, for a newborn baby, the mid-setting as they get a little older and the lowest setting for older babies and toddlers, when they’re able to stand. It comes complete with plastic teething rails down either side so that when your little one starts chewing they won’t damage the sides and more to the point they won’t damage themselves by ingesting pieces of paintwork.

Though we set the cot/bed up prior to our baby being born, we used a Moses basket in our bedroom to begin with. We had hoped that it would last til baby was six months old, but he grew out of it length-ways and width-ways by the time he was three and a half months old, and reluctantly I had to start sleeping him in his own room in the cot/bed. (There was no way I could fit that in our room to continue sleeping him with us, and we couldn’t afford to spend more on a rocking crib or other alternative to fit in our room for the next few months). My first night without baby by my side was a fretful one for me, but The Boy was absolutely fine and he’s slept in his own room since.

The first issue we discovered with the Tundra was when we needed to move the base down to the mid-level. The Hubby, being the handy DIY type that he is, quite merrily undid all the necessary bolts and removed the base carefully – and at that point, three of the four wooden lugs broke off. These lugs fit from the two base side bars that slot into the ends of the cot/bed and they sheared off because they were so weak and thin. The Hubby was disappointed as he commented that even on cheap sets of drawers you have better quality dowels than they are, and as they’d broken so completely he ended up drilling much larger holes than the factory drilled ones, and fitting replacement dowels that are thicker and better quality. We were disappointed, but it wasn’t an issue that we dwelled on; after all, we’d rectified the problem easily and the cot/bed was safe to continue using with the replacement dowels in place. When we changed the setting from the mid-level to the lower level after The Boy learned to stand up while holding onto the sides (and leaned over the railing!) we had no problems.

When The Boy started chewing on everything thanks to his teething, I thought the cot/bed was a safe environment for him to be in. Unfortunately one afternoon time was getting on and I thought he should have woken up from his nap, so I looked in on him and found him standing at the foot end of the cot/bed chewing on the foot board. While the sides have teething rails, the ends do not. At the time, he had two top and two bottom teeth, and the scraping action of these razor-sharp teeth had removed the white layer of paint from the foot board of the cot/bed, revealing the chipboard underneath. In a few minutes, he had scraped a patch the size of a postage stamp and had bits of white paint in his mouth. Fortunately I’d realised and I’d gone to him and was able to extract the paint and take him out of the cot/bed; I photographed the damage and sent it to the customer services department voicing my concern about this and enquiring whether there was a teething rail for the end sections that they could send me. The response I received was less than satisfactory: All KUB furniture is VOC free, contains no formaldehyde in the glue and the finish is tested for non toxicity and also for any emissions so your baby is not in any danger from toxins. We don’t have a teething rail that will cover the ends but generic rails can be ordered from Mothercare online for £14.99 and they’ll fit square and round cot bed ends.

Well, for a start, I checked Mothercare and every other nursery retailer I could think of, and I couldn’t find anything suitable for the end of the Tundra cot/bed. The ends are broad and square, and obviously they’re shorter than the sides, and every retailer that sells teething rails sells them for the cot sides (so I’d pay a fortune for side teething rails that I’d need to cut down) and the width of the average teething rail seems to be narrower than the dimensions of the Tundra. Where the quote for £14.99 online came from I don’t know, but I was unable to find anything suitable from Mothercare online in any price range. Unhappy I had no choice but to continue using the Tundra as I had nowhere else for The Boy to sleep; I couldn’t leave him awake in there while I popped to the toilet or did the housework upstairs as every time I left him in there awake he was chewing more.

It wasn’t that I was concerned about the toxicity levels of the paint he was potentially ingesting (I would hope that there was no toxicity risk!) – my point was more that he was peeling off pieces of paint that he could easily have choked on had I not realised what was going on. The Hubby was at work, and I messaged him to let him know what was going on. When he got home from work he had a look and we discussed what options we had; further trawling online searching for teething rails suitable to fit the ends of the Tundra cot/bed was fruitless and discussions with family and friends threw up a variety of ideas but all of them were decided against for one reason or another.

Then The Hubby was at work one day and he came up with a plan; white plastic angle from the DIY store (the stuff you use to protect corners on walls or the end of the kitchen worktop). He purchased a single length and then when he got home he measured it up and cut it to the required length and filed the edges round. We left The Boy with his grandparents to stay overnight and The Hubby fixed the angle in place over the end of the cot/bed and held it in place with the cot sides and No More Nails to ensure The Boy couldn’t remove it.

This not only has hidden the numerous patches where The Boy had peeled off the paintwork, but it has also provided a teething rail of sorts so that if The Boy started trying to chew it again he couldn’t do further damage and was no longer at risk of choking from the bits of paint he was peeling off. The Hubby put a matching length of plastic angle on the head end of the cot/bed to prevent the same thing happening there, and it seems to have resolved the issue for us for now.

The Tundra cot/bed is not a drop-sided cot/bed. Nowhere does it claim to be, so it isn’t falling down on another point or failing in some way, but I think it needs to be. I’m 5ft 6ins and The Hubby is over 6ft and now The Boy has the base on the lowest level it’s a hell of a bend over the side rail to get him in. It isn’t so bad getting him out – he’ll stand up and hold his arms up to you and it’s easy. But getting him in, especially when he’s fallen asleep in your arms and you’re trying to gently lower him onto the mattress is a knack that you have to perfect. Its hell on your back, as he’s now 23lbs, and you’re bending so far over, it really is awkward. We’re not planning another baby just yet, but if I was pregnant again there’s no way I’d be able to do it, which would leave me pretty much stuffed as I wouldn’t be able to put The Boy to bed.

Unfortunately, for the cost of this cot/bed, it falls down in too many respects for me to think of it as a worthwhile cost. It does look very nice, but the fact the sides don’t drop make it less than entirely practical and the problems we’ve had with the dowel pegs and the paintwork have really let me down as far as quality goes. I wouldn’t recommend this product to a friend and I wouldn’t buy it again knowing what I know. There are also marks on the cot bars on either side where he has knocked toys against them, and what child do you know that won't do that? I give it two out of five because it is an expensive mistake that I’m stuck with til The Boy needs a proper bed as I spent so much on it I can’t justify spending out even more money for a junior bed. I feel very let down by the response from the customer services department and I feel there are many improvements that should be made on this product to justify the extortionate high price.

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