Mother and Baby

The best travel cots - tried and tested

Section: Shopping Ideas
The best travel cots - tried and tested

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, you'll need the best travel cot to make sure that your baby sleeps soundly even though you're away from home. 

A travel cot is a portable, lightweight cot designed to fold away compactly in its own storage bag and is the perfect solution for trips away. 

Do you need a travel cot?

You most likely won't need a travel cot for the first few months if you already have a Moses basket or a carrycot suitable for overnight sleeping. If you don’t go away very often, then you might be better off borrowing a travel cot from friends 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 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. Travel cots come in a variety of sizes and styles, with different upper age and weight limits.

The cots we tested can be used from birth until your baby weighs around 15kg (between 2-3 years) - except one, which is for younger babies only. However, an adventurous toddler may be able to climb out of a travel cot before she reaches three years old, at which stage it would be safest for her to sleep in a bed.

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 a 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.

What to look out for?

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 she’s sleeping. Some travel cots have removable, machine-washable covers, which are useful if you’ll be using the travel cot often.
  • Wheels: Some models have wheels to allow you to move it around easily once assembled. This is useful if you want to move it from room-to-room once your baby is asleep or position it elsewhere in the house for daytime naps or playpen use, especially if it’s a heavier design.
  • Bedding: The sheet you use must fit the mattress properly, with 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 she’s sleeping away from home.
  • Insect Net: Some travel cots come with fitted insect nets to protect your baby from mosquitos and other harmful bugs.​

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.

Tested by mum Kathryn: "The most difficult cot 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
  • Weighs: 16kg
  • Measures: 106 x 75.4 x 87.5 cm

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, inspired by the way satellites unfurl in space. It comes with its own travel bag and a lovely, plush mattress, plus a really handy crib attachment for newborns.

Tested by mum Kirsty: "So easy to set up and put away – you really can do it in one second! It’s the perfect height for lifting my baby in and out of comfortably. It’s sturdy, but wobbles gently when Rikku moves, so she actually rocked herself to sleep. It takes up quite a bit of space in my car boot but once assembled it’s compact and easy to move around. I feel like it’s great value, too."

Tested by mum Kathryn: "Inspired by rocket science, and it shows – it’s really well-designed. The sides are deep, the mattress is comfortable and the cot is sturdy yet lightweight. It’s also really easy to assemble – it literally pops up. The removable covers are great, especially if your baby has reflux, as Olly does. It doesn’t have as many ‘novelty’ features as other cots, but it’s well-priced and has everything we need."

Read our full review about the Spacecot

  • Suitable from birth
  • Weighs: 6.7kg
  • Opens and closes in 3 seconds
  • Playpen measures H81 x L97 x W58cm, Full gate measures 3.8m (151in) wide and 74cm (29in) tall

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. This travel cot 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. Of all the cots we tested, Amelia slept best 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
  • Weighs: 10kg
  • Measures: H74.5 x W107 x L73.5cm

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. We love that the fabric can be removed and popped in the washing machine – a real bonus if you have a baby with reflux.

Tested by mum Kirsty: "Quick and simple to set up, and light and easy to move around. I struggled to put it away, but that gets easier with practice. The storage bag is good quality. The mattress isn’t very plush, and the base touches the ground, so it’s a long stretch to reach my baby. I think it’s expensive, particularly as there are no extras included. This one seems better suited to a toddler."

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
  • Weighs: 6kg
  • Measures: 49 x 60 x 14 cm

Graco Contour Electra

The Graco Countour is 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. 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 in this one. The cream colour looks lovely, but I imagine it will 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
  • Weighs: 14kg
  • Measures: 104 x 73 x 91 cm

We love the innovative way the Chicco Zip & Go travel cot converts between two different modes, from travel crib (from birth to six months) 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 tested.

Tested by mum Kirsty: "Simple and quick to assemble in crib mode. The rocking function is a nice idea, but it caused us problems – it meant Rikku kept rolling on to her front, and I couldn’t switch it back to fixed mode while she was in the cot. The mattress is a lovely thickness and the depth of the cot is good – getting Rikku in and out is easy. It’s reasonably priced, too."

Tested by mum Kathryn: "Quick and easy to assemble, despite a few fiddly velcro straps. The rocking base is great for helping little ones drift off. The mesh sides are good for preventing overheating. It’s light, and folds in half so it takes up very little room. The zip feature is handy, but overall this is a little on the small side. It also seems expensive, since Olly will outgrow it sooner than the others."

  • Suitable from birth
  • Weighs: 7.3kg
  • Measures: 101 x 60 x 69.5 cm

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 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
  • Features 2 carry handles and an over-the-shoulder strap.
  • Folded size: W48cm x H35cm x D14cm.
  • Unfolded size: W48cm x H35cm x D77cm.
  • Suitable to about 4-6 months (or when baby is rolling)

 

This deluxe travel cot has a bassinet attachment that clicks easliy on to 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 compared to others I’ve tried. 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."

This was Shortlisted in the 2019 M&B Awards Best Travel Product Over £25 category. Read our full review of the Cuggl Deluxe here

  • Suitable from birth 
  • Weighs: 11.8kg
  • Measures: H76 L70 W100cm

Did our top picks help you make your choice? Let us know on Facebook - we'd love to hear from you 

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  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing Editor

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited motherandbaby.co.uk before moving on to write about family cars for Parkers.co.uk - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, Yours, Garden News, and WhatsTheBest.co.uk 

She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Sophie studied History at the University of Sheffield and has been in journalism for 16 years. 

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