A survey of portable cots for sale in New Zealand has uncovered potentially fatal safety defects - including folding mechanisms that could trap a child's neck.

Consumer NZ tested portable cots based on the joint Australian and New Zealand safety standard, which is mandatory for portacots across the Tasman, but is not here.

Suffocation while sleeping is the most common cause of death from unintentional injury in the first year of a baby's life in New Zealand. Between 2002 and 2009, 50 babies and children died as they slept, a quarter of those in makeshift beds.

The number of deaths has led the Government to review infant sleeping products.

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It was initiated before the Consumer NZ survey, which found the mattress of the Babyco Classic left a gap at the end of the cot and the Mother's Choice Kingdom Deluxe did not have breathable fabric in all the areas required by the standard.

The folding mechanism of the Chicco Lullaby could trap an infant's neck and the sides of its bassinet weren't high enough to keep a child safely inside. The folding mechanism of the Nuna Sena and Lullaboo Port A Cot could trap a child's neck.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the organisation had been concerned about children's products for some time.

"Parents think [portable cots] meet a standard and that's why they are for sale, but they need to be careful," she said.

There was a slacker attitude to standards in New Zealand than in Australia, she said.

"The New Zealand Government takes the attitude that it will act if something happens and until something does, it doesn't need to do anything."

After the release of the findings, the manufacturer of the Mother's Choice cot said it had been phased out, although it was compliant with earlier safety standards.

Babyco said its cot now met the latest standards. The Warehouse, which sells Lullaboo, said the cot passed its independent tests but if customers were not happy, it was covered by the chain's money-back guarantee.

Figures released by Dr Nick Baker - former chairman of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee and chief medical officer for the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board - show of the 50 children who died of suffocation in their sleep between 2002-09, a quarter were sleeping away from home in makeshift bedding arrangements.

Seven were in a cot and six of the deaths were the result of faulty portacots or standard cots that had been incorrectly put together. The research found there was insufficient information about the condition of the cot in the remaining death.

Mum-of-one Katie Cooper, who has been considering buying a portacot for her 3-month-old daughter, was dismayed by the number of children who had died because of faulty cots.

She "absolutely" would have expected mandatory standards. "I guess I'm somewhat naive about standards but I expect products I buy to be safe."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's trading standards division confirmed a review was under way into the quality of infant sleeping products.

"Trading Standards is very aware of the risks that are apparent when infants are left alone to sleep."

Consumer NZ's findings

Babyco Classic:

The mattress did not fit snugly and left a gap at the end. Sold at Baby Factory.

Mother's Choice Kingdom Deluxe: The cot did not have breathable fabric in all the areas required. This model has been phased out.

Chicco Lullaby: The folding mechanism could trap an infant's neck and the sides of the bassinet weren't high enough. The cot did not have breathable fabric in all the areas required. Sold at Baby City.

Nuna Sena: The folding mechanism could trap a child's neck. No back-up locking mechanism. Sold at The Sleep Store.

Lullaboo Port A Cot: The folding mechanism could trap a child's neck. Sold at The Warehouse.

Portable cots recommended by Consumer:
•Childcare Galaxy XL
•Jolly Jumper Roma
•Fisher-Price Deluxe 3-in-1
•Steelcraft Siesta 2 in 1
•Childcare 4-in-1