Prop up the cot on bricks?


Would you be surprised to know that lifting the cot legs 6 inches (3 house bricks/about 9 books) only gives you 6 degrees of incline? One of the most common questions we get asked is:

…can’t I just stick some books or bricks under the cot legs? Doesn’t this do the same job…?

The answer is simply – it doesn’t do the same job. The sole reason of providing an incline is to raise the babies head and upper body well above the tummy so that gravity reduces the amount of stomach acid (and contents) that travels upwards to the oesophagus and into the mouth. Technically the bigger the incline the stronger the force keeping the stomach contents down.

Although propping the bed up may be sufficient for very mild reflux it does not achieve any where near the same incline as a wedge positioned locally to the baby, in the cot.

The amazing fact is that a standard cot wedge will provide nearly three times the incline of using 6 inches worth of books or bricks! Sound far fetched? Let’s do the maths…

OK, a standard cot with all feet on the floor using a standard Wedgehog

The cot wedge is 60cm wide and 40cm long. The incline along the 40cm length gives the wedge a height of about 13 cm and an angle of 18 degrees. We know the length of a standard cot and applied the incline created by raising the legs.

Now we need to work out how high the bricks need to be if the cot bed is to have the same 18 degree angle as the wedge. Amazingly the bed needs to be raised by 37.51cm (15 inches)! That is nearly SIX house bricks…and at that height the bed isn’t very safe from tipping over.

The reason it’s so high is because the angle is created along the whole bed, whereas a wedge has the incline over just its 40cm length, local to baby.

If you prop up the legs at the head of the cot with 6 inches (15cm) of books or bricks then you create an angle of ONLY 6 degrees. Any higher than this it becomes very unstable and there is the danger of the cot toppling. 6 degrees is better then nothing – and if it helps your little one then this is a great result. However, in most cases of reflux you will need to start at a minimum of 15 degrees before any results are noticeable.

The summary bit…

So to achieve the same incline as a standard wedge – how high do you have to lift the head of the cot?

  • 6 house bricks
  • (at least) the length of the keyboard you are using
  • 1.3 x the length of a one foot ruler
  • the height of an adult Wellington boot


In summary, the only safe and effective option is to use is a Wedgehog


About Author


As well as being one of the founding members of refluxSUPPORT...Jonathan is a Board Member and trustee of Living with Reflux – the only UK Charity for infants with reflux related conditions.He is also a stakeholder in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – Gastro-oesophageal reflux in children and young people.He has three daughters of which the eldest is now seventeen. Two suffered from severe reflux.