Having a travel cot means your baby can sleep or rest in a familiar environment away from home.
Modern travel cot designs include rip-proof tent fabrics, pop up or inflatable constructions and lightweight poles that your suitcase will happily accommodate. If you’re a regular channel-hopper and spend many an hour in the air to get to your destination of choice, a portable, lightweight and hard-wearing travel cot is likely to be at the top of your list. On the other hand, if your idea of travel is a weekend at grannies, you can probably afford to go with one of the more traditional travel cots which are bulkier in weight but tend to offer bassinettes and a few additional accessories for your baby. Which style you choose really depends on your lifestyle, cash flow and personal preference for your child.
As with all baby purchases, it’s essential to get it right so you don’t end up wasting money on something that may spend most of its time in the back of your storage cupboard. If you’re a ‘one holiday per year’ family, steer clear of the expensive options and go for something versatile that will double up as a playpen, toy box or beach pod.
There are four main types of travel cot to look out for:
Travel cot in a bag
What most people understand as a travel cot is a sturdy fabric cot on a frame, which folds down into an oblong shape and packs away into a zip-up travel bag with carry handles. This type of travel cot fits easily into the boot of a car or with the luggage when travelling. Depending on style and make, a travel cot might weigh from 8 to 12kg.
Travel cot / playpen
Some travel cots are now designed to double up as playpens, but they have to be extra sturdy to fulfil this second role. A travel cot playpen sometimes comes with a toy tidy or detachable toy flaps included in the price.
Bassinette travel cot
This is a travel cot which has the added feature of a special insert (bassinette) which allows a newborn baby to sleep much nearer the top of the cot. The bassinette is usually only suitable for use up to 3 months age or around 6kg baby weight. After that you use the travel cot in the usual way.
If you’ll only need a travel cot now and again, a folding cot may be a cheaper option. This is a fabric cot on a frame which folds flat for storage and is very quick and easy to put up and take down. It doesn’t always come with a travel bag although some manufacturers sell them as an optional extra. It may not be as portable as other types of travel cot although it will usually fit into the boot of a car.
Features to look for
- The quality of the mattress that comes with the cot
- Are fabric covers removable for washing? Or will they wipe clean?
- Is at least one side made from mesh, to enable you and your baby to see in and out?
- Is there a roll-down blind to cover the mesh when you want to make the cot darker for sleep?
- How easy is it to erect and fold down? Ask the retailer to give you a demonstration
- Are the erecting and folding instructions printed on the cot fabric? Useful if it’s
a complicated procedure
- How long will you use it for? If you travel regularly think carefully about size, length, width and fabric quality.
Longevity is key for regular holiday-makers so look for a style that will provide plenty of room for your growing baby. Some of the more compact models are fantastically portable but are generally only suitable for the first 12 months. Research wisely and you’ll end up with a cot that’s perfect for your family’s needs, whilst providing comfortable accommodation for your baby until they are old enough to sleep in a big bed.