Travel cots are a necessity for new parents who want to travel or simply want to stay with family who live further afield. Babies do tend to sleep better in familiar environments, so you might find it tempting to just take the pram or baby carrier, but the baby should associate night-time with one particular place, and not where he or she naps during the day. That’s why a travel cot is a good stand-in for the baby’s cot while you’re away from home, as once the baby adapts to its new bed, they’ll understand that it’s for sleeping purposes only. You may wonder how on earth you should choose a travel cot, when there are so many available, but it honestly depends on what you really want, and how long baby will be using it; for one night every now and again you don’t need a luxury cot, but for a week long holiday you’ll need something more comfortable so that you and your little one don’t return home from a relaxing holiday more sleep deprived than when you left. To get more use out of their travel cot, many parents like to use it downstairs for nap times, which is also a good way to get your baby used to sleeping in it before a trip away from home.
How to choose a travel cot?
Lightweight or traditional travel cot?
A lightweight travel cot has a pop-up style which allows for quick installment, they can weight as little 2 or 3 kilograms and are usually very compact, which is ideal for travelling and storage. However, they can be less comfortable as they’re more flimsy than traditional travel cots, and as your child grows and becomes more active, you might want something more robust. The classic travel cot is bigger, more solid and heavier, which isn’t ideal if you don’t have much space, not only where you’re staying but also for transportation. However, you might be more at ease leaving your baby in a bigger, more robust model, particularly if baby can already move about by themself. A traditional travel cot is also big enough to use as a play pen during the day. To decide which type of travel cot is best for you, you have to decide when and where you will use it the most, if it will serve several purposes or if it’s simply for your baby to sleep in. It also depends on mode of transportation (you can check a large cot into the hold of an aeroplane, but if you have a small car, have to carry it or take public transport with it, it might be too big and bulky, especially if you’re also lugging around a pushchair and suitcases.) If you want to use the travel cot for over a year, you have to consider the size as a small, lightweight crib might not be suitable over 12 months, but you should check the individual model before you buy to make sure it’s suitable for the age range you require.
Which qualities should I look for when choosing a travel crib?
Simplicity is the key to many things in life, and when choosing a travel cot it is without a doubt the most important. If you need a travel cot it usually means you’re away from home, and having to install a complicated travel cot after a long journey with a baby is a nightmare, so you need something that pops up quickly and simply, with no fuss or bizarre attachments.
I’m stating the obvious here, but if your baby isn’t comfortable he or she isn’t going to sleep well, and therefore neither are you! It’s easy to be distracted by the funky design or the low price of certain travel cots, but you need to really look at the comfort factor, or consider buying a different mattress to increase the comfort and encourage a longer night’s sleep. If you’re short for space, you can find inflatable mattresses which give comfort to the baby but are nice and compact whilst travelling.
Low cost travel cots might seem great at the first glance, but do make sure it has everything you need, because while you may not need a detachable mobile, music player or sensory lights, you do still need a mattress and bedding, which might be different to the bedding you use in your crib at home and you may end up forking out more than you expected. So don’t forget to check what is included when purchasing a travel cot.
Best Travel Cots 2020
Here are the best travel cots that I have chosen according to price, design, comfort and my general favourites. All travel cots here have passed safety tests and are suitable for different ages, so do check the age suitability before purchase.
Cheap travel cot
The Red Kite Sleeptight is a basic travel crib which assembles easily and comes with a carry bag. for such a low price travel crib you can’t expect a super padded, ultra-comfortable crib, but if you’re only going to use it from time to time and don’t have a high budget, this crib will suit you perfectly. This cheap travel crib was selected as the Amazon Choice travel crib, for its practicality, simplicity and of course, the low price. It comes with a mattress and instructions and weighs 8kg. The Sleeptight is suitable for babies of all ages, but I would recommend buying a more comfortable mattress as the mattress provided is very basic and not well padded. It’s very easy to put up but slightly harder to take down the first time, but there are instructions to help. It’s is smaller than the typical classic travel crib, which can be more practical when travelling.
Fully equipped travel crib
This BabyCenter travel cot by Hauck has everything included with it that you might possibly need with a travel cot. The travel cot accessories included are a carry bag a changing mat, a mobile, and organiser and a foldable mattress. The mobile has a music box to soothe your baby to sleep and soft figures, and the organiser is in the form of a tray on the side with plenty of room for nappies ad other baby items, which can be extremely useful for easy access when changing the baby using the changing mat on top of the cot, as if it were a changing table. An extra mattress is available to by separately if you want something more comfortable than the mattress provided, or you can buy another brand, and I personally would always recommend buying a mattress slightly more comfortable than the one provided. This crib is quite heavy at 12 kilograms, and is also large which isn’t practical for small spaces or public transport but is great for baby to move around and use as a playpen during the day. The BabyCenter comes in two colours, neutral beige with a giraffe theme, or pink with a little birdie theme. The cot has two wheels to allows for easy movement. It has a bassinet so is suitable for newborns, and can be lowered to ground level for older babies.
Pop-up travel crib
The Koo-di pop-up travel bubble cot does exactly what is says on the tin: it pops up. This lightweight travel cot functions like a pop-up tent, it is released from its bag and is immediately ready to use. It’s suitable from 6 to 18 months, however parents have used it at a younger age, and of course it can be used for playtime way beyond 18 months, so it’s really great value for money. It is small and compact and available in four colours. It is extremely lightweight at 1.4 kilograms, probably the lightest I’ve come across, and folds extremely small as well; it’s so compact it can literally fit into your changing bag. The Koo-di bubble cot comes with a mattress (I would still recommend buying a thicker one for more comfort with longer use) and an integrated mosquito net, which makes it ideal for holidays in warmer climates. If you’ve ever used a pop-up tent you’ll know that while they’re easy to pup-up, they’re not as simple to put away, and this crib is the same on the first attempt, but once you get the hang of it it’s quite simple and quick. With a side opening, it’s very easy to access and you can lie next to your baby if he or she doesn’t like new surroundings. This product has been nominated for and won awards for best travel item, and it’s easy to see why. You can literally take this cot anywhere, even to the beach as a tent if you fancy!
Co-sleeping travel cot
For me, Chicco cribs for newborns are superb, with simple yet modern designs and high quality materials. The Next2Me is no exception. It isn’t strictly a travel cot, it is a cot that you can you use at home and away, ideal for newborns, suitable from birth up to 6 months. A travel bag is included as well as a comfortable mattress, and instructions. The height is adjustable to 6 levels and is inclinable, which helps babies with reflux and congestion. This cot is a co-sleeper which means that not only can it be used alone, but can also be attached to the parents’ bed to sleep right next to your baby, without sharing a bed which can be dangerous. The mesh sides are great for easy vision and ventilation for easy breathing. The lining is removable and washable, and there are wheels with brakes for easy and safe movement.
Small and simple
BABYBJORN have created this lightweight travel cot in 5 colours, which is comfortable, stylish and simple. With quick and easy assembly in one simply movement, it folds to be small and compact, and when it’s up it take sup very little space, but doesn’t feel cramped due to its mesh sides, which allows easy vision for parents, improved ventilation and lets the baby see everything going on around him. It is suitable from birth up to 3 years old, and weighs less than 6kg (13lbs). It comes with an owner’s manual, carry bag, fitted mattress and a fitted sheet. There’s no upper weigh limit for using this travel cot, but you should stop when the baby is big enough to climb out. The sheet and child-friendly cot fabric are removable and machine washable. The base touches the floor which means it’s extremely safe and many parents love the simplicity of putting up and taking down this travel crib, as well as the high quality.