You can't beat having a break with your baby, and whether you're heading off on holiday with your family or just visiting the grandparents overnight, finding the best travel cot for you will help make sure that your baby sleeps soundly, even when you're away from home.
A travel cot is a portable, lightweight option designed to fold away compactly with its collapsible sides in its own storage bag, making it the perfect solution for trips away.
We've enlisted the help of expert mum testers to put the best travel cots through their paces, taking into account the weight, size, price, assembly, age suitability and stability to help you find the best travel cot for your tot.
Do you need a travel cot?
You most likely won't need a travel cot for the first few months, especially if you already have a Moses basket, portable crib or a carrycot or car seat suitable for overnight sleeping. If you don’t go away very often, then you might be better off borrowing a travel cot from a friend as it can be an expensive purchase if you’re only going to be using it once a year.
A lot of hotels and holiday cottages now provide travel cots and other baby equipment, but if you’re away from home often, then purchasing a travel cot is a safe and wise idea. It will last well past the newborn months and will prove extremely useful at other times too, for example, for your baby’s daytime naps when you’re visiting friends for the day.
Many mums use sturdier, floor level travel cots as playpens, too, or as a safe place to pop their toddler for a minute, especially when baby number two comes along and you suddenly find yourself running out of hands.
What to look out for when buying a travel cot
Here are some travel cot features to look out for when deciding on which travel cot is best for you and your baby:
Bassinet: A bassinet attaches to the top of the travel cot - creating a raised crib for younger babies, so you don’t have to bend down low to lift your baby in and out of the main cot.
Mattress: Travel cots come with a mattress supplied, and some are plusher than others. Choose a thick, supportive mattress to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.
Folding mechanism: As well as checking how simple it is to assemble the travel cot, make sure you can fold it away into its storage bag again quickly and easily. If you have older children, check that inquisitive little fingers can’t easily access the mechanism to fold the travel cot when it’s in use.
Fabric: Mesh sides are best as they encourage airflow, prevent overheating and enable you to see your baby when their sleeping. Some travel cots have removable, machine-washable covers, which is useful if you’re using the travel cot regularly.
Wheels: Some models have wheels to allow you to move them around easily once assembled. It is useful if you want to move it from room to room once your baby is asleep and want to position it elsewhere in the house for daytime naps or playpen use, especially if it’s a heavier design.
Bedding: It must fit the mattress properly to use as a sheet, remember that this must have no loose fabric. Standard cot bedding won’t necessarily fit - so check what size bedding is required and factor in any extra expense.
Musical features: Some have light and sound features, which can be useful for helping to soothe your baby when they're sleeping away from home.
Insect net: Some travel cots come with fitted insect nets to protect your baby from mosquitos and other harmful bugs.
Size: Travel cots come in a variety of sizes and styles, with different upper age and weight limits so make sure to consider this in relation to your little one and how long you'd like to use it for.
The cots we tested can be used from birth and with the exception of two, they can be used until your baby weighs around 15kg (between two to three years). However, an adventurous toddler may be able to climb out of a travel cot before they reach three years old, at which stage it would be safest for them to sleep in a bed.
The best travel cots for babies and toddlers
Best lightweight travel cot
Shortlisted for Best Travel Product over £25 at the M&B Awards 2015
This travel cot is a real doddle to assemble – just slip it out of its travel bag and it practically unfolds automatically, so there’s no grappling with poles or fiddling with extra accessories. It’s also easy to fold away, and really light and portable.
It's also easy to move around your home, making it convenient to take with you on trips or overnight visits away. We love that the fabric can be removed and popped in the washing machine – a real bonus if you have a baby with reflux. The materials of this travel cot meet the requirements of OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products which essentially means kind to your baby's sensitive skin.
Tried and tested by mum Nicola: "This is the easiest travel cot to carry as it’s amazingly light, but it’s less robust than others – Amelia can push it around by herself. It’s really practical, taking seconds to pop up. It’s less attractive than others in terms of design appeal, but Amelia slept well in it and seemed very comfortable. It also comes with a nice carry bag, which makes it easy to transport."
Read our full review of the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot Light here
- Suitable from birth to three years
- Weighs: 6kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 82 x 112 x 64 cm
- Folded dimensions: 49 x 60 x 14 cm
Best travel cot mattress
Shortlisted for Best Travel Product over £25 at the M&B Awards 2018
This stylish, contemporary travel cot takes seconds to put together and is reasonably quick and easy to fold, even with a baby in your arms. We love the bassinet accessory, which makes this brilliant for use from birth. It has a sturdy aluminium frame and a triple-layered mattress.
Doubling up as a play space, this travel cot has padded edges to prevent pinched fingers and it also comes with an organic cotton sheet included, and its own bag to store and transport it in.
Tested by mum Kirsty: "This is reasonably straightforward to set up but it doesn’t fold very neatly, and packing it away is fiddly. It’s sturdy but feels heavy and it takes up lots of space in our small car boot. The bassinet makes it easy to lift Rikku in and out, but I found it fiddly to detach. I like that this comes with a machine-washable sheet, which stays in place with velcro."
Tested by mum Nicola: "I really like this travel cot because it’s so sturdy. It also looks very stylish. Amelia slept really well in this. It’s simple to assemble and comes with a lovely, thick mattress plus a machine-washable sheet. The only disadvantage is that it’s quite heavy. I think I would struggle to get this from one place to another by myself."
Read our full review about the Nuna Sena Aire here
- Suitable from birth to 15kg
- Weighs: 10kg
- Unfolded dimensions: L73.5cm x W107cm x H74.5cm|
- Folded dimensions: L24cm x W28cm x H86cm
Best newborn travel cot
This versatile travel cot comes with lots of extra accessories, so it’s great value for money. There’s a full-size bassinet, which snaps easily on and off as required, as well as a change unit and portable bouncing seat. It folds compactly and comes with its own travel storage bag.
There are lots of sound and light features, including a soothing sound vibration, plus five classical lullabies and nature sounds. The two integrated wheels make it easy to move from room to room and there's also a nightlight with 3 brightness settings.
Tested by mum Kathryn: "This was quite difficult to assemble – I had to enlist my husband’s help. It’s sturdy and almost as big as a normal cot. The wheels make it easy to move. Olly is too old for the extra accessories, but they’d be fantastic for a newborn. Olly likes the sounds, and the light is great for night changes without fully waking him. A real investment that will grow with your baby."
Tested by mum Nicola: "The mesh sides enabled me to check on Amelia without getting out of bed, and she liked being able to see us when she woke up. The mattress seems very comfortable, and the colours and pattern of this travel cot are really appealing. The extra accessories aren’t suitable past 12 months, and this travel cot is quite heavy – I would struggle to move it from room to room without help."
- Suitable from birth to 15kg
- Weighs: 16kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 106 x 75.4 x 87.5 cm
- Folded dimensions: 84.2 x 26.3 x 21 cm
Best value travel cot
The Graco Contour is a good-value travel cot with lots of extra features. It comes with a toy bar and a handy removable changing table. It has a nightlight and musical feature, as well as the option to set the mattress to vibrate to help soothe your baby.
There are four mesh side so you can keep an eye on your little one and also great for ventilation. It’s heavy, but the wheels make it easy to manoeuvre, and it comes with its own carry bag.
Tested by mum Kathryn: "One of the heaviest travel cots we tested, but it’s a good size for an older baby – almost the same size as our normal cot. It’s easy to assemble and put away and I like the neutral colour. The wheels make it very easy to move around, but you have to bend low to reach your baby. This would have been great for daytime naps when Olly was younger. Great value, too."
Tested by mum Nicola: "This is quick and easy to assemble. It seems compact, and fits really well in a smaller room without taking up lots of space. The mattress is very thin, and Amelia didn’t sleep very well. The cream colour looks lovely, but I imagine it could get dirty very quickly. The changing unit is a great idea, but it’s only suitable for use up to 12 months."
Read our full review about this Graco Contour Electra
- Suitable from birth to 15kg
- Weighs: 14kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 104 x 73 x 91 cm
- Folded dimensons: 22.4 x 22.4 x 79.8 cm
Most compact travel cot
This is a really clever invention; it looks like a really spacious changing bag, but then off you pop for your overnight stay, take everything out of the bag, and it changes into a travel crib. It doesn't take long to assemble and comes with a padded mattress.
It isn't as long-lasting as the other travel cots on our list, as it's really only suitable until baby is four to six months old, or when they start rolling; it's the smallest travel cot but the most compact and easy to carry.
Tested by mum Jennifer: "The design is stylish and the item is extremely easy to use. The travel cot section folds out in a few seconds and the rods are easily inserted to make it very sturdy. This means a new mum (who has little time on her hands) can easily erect this in minutes. It is easily transported and takes up no more than a bag's room in the car or walking, so it can be taken anywhere. I have only used this at friends/ families homes but definitely would take it on weekends away or on holiday. It means I don't have to buy a big travel cot. It is also lightweight so don't have to worry about carrying something heavy."
Tested by mum Esther: "Designed as a travel sleeping pod, for night time and daytime naps, and a changing bag. It's intended to be quick to assemble and easy to use. I assembled it in a couple of minutes, it weighs as much as a bag or two of sugar and the bag would easily fit in amongst other items in a packed car. When assembled, the sleeping pod is a reasonable size, probably usable up to 4-6 months (unless your baby is rolling lots). We used the pod whilst away for the weekend and found it very useful, as we already had a travel cot packed for our older child and couldn’t have fitted a second in the car."
Read our full review of the Bizzi Growin POD Travel Crib here
- Suitable from birth to about 4-6 months (or when baby is rolling)
- Features 2 carry handles and an over-the-shoulder strap
- Folded dimensions: 48 x 35 x 14 cm
- Unfolded dimensions: 48 x 35 x 77 cm
Best budget travel cot
Shortlisted for Best Travel Product Over £25 in the M&B Awards 2019
This deluxe travel cot has a bassinet attachment that clicks easily onto the top, perfect for changing nappies; it has wheels so it's easy to move around, and setting up and folding away takes just seconds.
Tested by mum Tori: "I would definitely recommend this product to other mums. It’s so easy to put up and down and transport with its handy bag. It folds up thin and small fitting in our boot along with the double pram and a few bags! My little one slept perfectly."
Tested by mum Sarah: "If you’re looking for an inexpensive no-nonsense travel cot then I would recommend this. It was lightweight so I could easily carry it around. It was also compact making it small enough to pack into the car alongside everything else you need when going away with a little one! Once I’d done the initial set up of the cot, it was easy to put together and to take apart too."
Read our full review of the Cuggl Deluxe here
- Suitable from birth to to 24 months
- Weighs: 11.8kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 68 x 85 x 56 cm
- Folded dimensions: 50 x 61 x16 cm
Best long-lasting travel cot
Four star rating, reviewed by three real mums for Mother&Baby magazine
This travel cot represents good value for money, especially because it can be used from birth up to approximately three years of age.
It's also very sturdy which means it doubles up as a playpen for smaller babies. And although fairly large, it features wheels and a brake to make it easier to transport. The cot also comes with a small toy bag attached, which could be useful for storing nappies or other baby essentials when you’re on the move and away from home.
Corinne Hills said: ‘Basic but sturdy, and easy to assemble and fold away. Standard cot bedding fits, but the mattress is thin, so we had to pad it out with blankets.’
Roz Walker said: ‘The mattress is fine for occasional use. I like that you can wheel this travel cot rather than carry it, but it’s rather large and heavy.’
Read more mum reviews of this travel cot here
- Suitable from birth to for babies up to 13.6kg
- Weighs: 8kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 77 x 127 x 66 cm
- Folded dimensions: 77.5 x 20 x 21 cm
Best travel cot for helping your baby sleep
We love the innovative way this travel cot converts between two different modes, with a bassinette level for younger babies to cot, and the fact that you can use it in either fixed or rocking mode. This travel cot is worth considering if you’re really short on luggage space, as it’s particularly compact once folded, and one of the lightest travel cots we found. This is another top pick for newborns so be aware you won't be able to use it much beyond 6 months old.
Mum Eileen said: "This was the best purchase we made for our baby. We can't fit a cot in our bedroom and needed something that would last longer than the moses basket. Our little boy sleeps so well in it and it's so easy to pick it up and carry downstairs. We have travelled with it too and it folds down neatly."
- Suitable from birth to 6 months
- Weighs: 6.5kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 70 x 95 x 55 cm
- Folded dimensions: 55 x 20 x 55 cm
Best travel cot for easy set-up
If you’re looking for a travel cot that’s a doddle to set up and folds away in seconds, this is it – no more grappling with unwieldy parts when you arrive at your destination with a tired baby. We love the clever design, which gives a seamless experience on-the-go.
Convenient for carrying around your home, it comes with a zip-in carrycot insert, all-around mesh panel for airflow and a lovely firm and comfortable mattress. The suspended base will protect your little ones from draughts.
Mum Meg said: "Very sturdy, easy to pack and unpack, folds up reasonably small, carrying handle makes it easy to transport. Seems comfortable - the newborn bassinet is super convenient for little ones and my babe settled immediately in it."
Dad Matt said: "We bought this for the ease of it 'popping up and down' but also because we could raise the height of the mattress when our baby was very little. There don't seem to be many travel cots that have that design, we used it as much at home for naps as we did on the road. It's a great bit of kit."
- Suitable from birth to 15kg or 2 years
- Weighs: 6.7kg
- Unfolded dimensions: 64 x 98 x 85 cm
- Folded dimensions: 65 x 14 x 85 cm
Taking into account all the mum reviews, the best travel cot for families who don't go away too often would be the Cuggl Deluxe Superlight Travel Cot. Not only is this a very affordable option and great value for money, but it's also easy to assemble and does exactly what it promises to do.
If you are regular travellers however and have the cash to invest in a pricier option, the Bugaboo Stardust Travel Cot is a brilliant option as it folds away in seconds and can be used to the age of two, doubling as a playpen.
Travel cot FAQs answered
How compact should a travel cot be?
If you’re buying a travel cot to take on holiday and are travelling by plane, boat or train, choose one that folds as compactly as possible to make it easier to transport. If you’re driving, make sure it fits in your car boot and still leaves enough room for the rest of your luggage.
Think about where you’ll keep the travel cot when it’s not in use, too. If space is not an issue, you could look into the larger options available.
How light should a travel cot be?
All travel cots are designed to be light enough to carry, but some are heavier than others, and there’s generally a pay-off between how light it is and how durable it is.
If you’ll be carrying it a lot on your journey, such as through an airport, then weight may take priority, but if you’ve got a cruising toddler, and throwing the cot in a big boot is about the extent of your lugging it around, then a sturdier, perhaps heavier, cot would be better.
How easy are travel cots to assemble?
Wrestling with an unwieldy travel cot and a tired baby after a long journey is stress you really don’t need in your life, so choose one that doesn’t require an engineering degree to set up. Some travel cots can be assembled and folded away within seconds –even with one hand– and that’s a really helpful feature if you’re going to be assembling it with your baby or other children in tow.
Where can I buy a travel cot?
Whether you need one pronto or want to spend your time researching the best travel cot, there are plenty of places where you can pick one up. We'd recommend these trusted retailers that offer great products and plenty of reviews so you can make sure you're buying the right one for your little one:
Supermarkets like Aldi and Tesco also hold baby events where you can often pick up travel cots and other accessories for a great price.
Can I buy one second hand?
If you're looking to buy a second-hand travel cot, there are a few things to check before you make your purchase:
- Check that it assembles and folds down correctly
- Make sure it is sturdy
- Make sure the seller provides you with the original instruction booklet
- It's also worth purchasing a new mattress for the travel cot
How to clean your travel cot
Whether your travel cot has been tucked away in the loft for a few years and it smells a bit musty or your child has turned it into a bit of a mess, a good tip for cleaning and maintaining your travel cot is to use warm soapy water and a sponge to clean your travel cot and leave it out in the fresh air and sunlight to dry.
Travel cot safety
According to Which, there are a number of safety aspects to check on your travel cot for your peace of mind.
- Stability: Be sure to use the mattress that comes with the cot as changing it could affect the stability of the cot and could make it easier to tip.
- Escaping: Swapping for a thicker mattress could give your tot more height and make it easier for them to escape.
- Corners: Be wary of how smooth corners are - make sure there is no chance of your baby's clothes getting caught on them to avoid any chance of strangulation.
- Flexible sides: Pop-up style tents may be easy to erect and dismantle however the flexible sides mean that if you were to stumble onto the cot, there would be no ridged sides to stop your fall.
- Zips: Make sure you check all zips are secure as any loose zips that become unattached could potentially become choking hazards.
- Wheels: The wheels must be able to securely lock into place or have two wheels and two legs for sturdiness.
- Test it out: Make sure you try it out before you travel to check all of the above safety aspects.
Safe sleeping in a travel cot
The general consensus is that you need to be following the same sleeping guidance for your baby in a travel cot as you would at home. Here's what The Lullaby Trust have to say:
"The same ‘safer sleep’ rules apply to a travel cot, which should have a rigid frame and base, and a firm, flat mattress, covered in a waterproof material. Travel cot mattresses are often thinner and feel harder than those in a permanent cot, but don’t be tempted to place folded blankets or a quilt under the baby to make them ‘more comfortable’. If you are very tight for space, you may have to consider re-arranging the furniture in the room to ensure that the travel cot isn’t against a radiator, in direct sunlight, and is out of reach of blind cords and hazards."
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