How to buy a travel cot Buying a travel cot

Mothercare travel cot

Ask to see the travel cot being assembled in the shop before you buy it

A travel cot could be really useful if you and your baby are often on the go.  If you want some advice on where to start, check out our review of the best and worst travel cot brands.  We've listed some helpful tips below on what you should check in the shop before buying.

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What to check when trying out a travel cot

If you’re buying a new travel cot from a high street shop, ask to see it being assembled, and try carrying the packed cot around for a few minutes.

If you're buying online, be prepared to hunt for bargains. Some price-comparison websites, such as Google Shopping, can help you compare deals – but many comparison sites are little help in this area as they offer too many unrelated products for you to trawl through, rather than a concise list of suppliers and prices.

Check the cot wheels

Some travel cots have wheels or castors, a useful extra feature if you’re likely to need to move the cot around. For safety reasons, to stop the cot being moved inadvertently, there should be either four wheels, two of which should be lockable, or two wheels and two legs.

Look for cots with wheels or carry-handles that protrude when they're folded, as these make them easier to shift around.

Wheels on the storage bag – either separate from those on the cot or poking from the cot through the bag – can be valuable, as travel cots are often heavy to carry.

Travel cot weight and size are important

Some baby travel cots are more spacious than others. Look at the measurements – you may want to choose a larger size if you plan to use the cot as a playpen. 

Cot weights can vary a lot. You’ll probably appreciate a lighter one if you plan to travel by public transport or plane, rather than by car. However, lighter ones are also likely to be smaller. The weight should be labelled on the cot’s instructions or specifications, but it may not be.

Test the cot folding mechanism

Folding mechanisms can be fiddly – although practice is often all that’s needed. Try unfolding, folding and lifting a few cots in the shop before you buy. If this isn’t possible, or you're buying online, find out whether you can return the cot if you’re not happy with the folding mechanism once you’ve practised at home.

Can a travel cot double as a playpen?

If you want the cot to double as a playpen, then four rather than two mesh sides will give you and your baby a better view.

Extra travel cot features

Some models have a range of extra features, such as a changing mat that fits over the top of the cot, sun blinds and toy storage pockets. Think about whether you’ll use these – if not, you may be paying extra unnecessarily.

Easy cleaning travel cots

Look for a removable frame cover and mattress cover for easy washing.

Check out the instructions

Clear, permanent instructions printed on the base of the cot are more useful than an instruction leaflet you can easily lose.

Buying a second-hand travel cot

Because travel cots may be used only occasionally, it's tempting to buy second-hand. This is fine, but bear the following advice in mind:

  • Ask for the original instructions if there’s nothing printed on the cot.
  • Make sure it's labelled as complying with British Standards Institution (BSI) safety standards. It should be labelled with the number BS EN 716:1 2008.
  • Check the mattress is in good condition and there's no obvious damage to the cot, such as holes in the mesh sides.
  • Make sure the mattress is a proper fit. Travel cots don’t all have the same basic dimensions and the way the mattress folds is integral to the packing-away process – so one that’s the wrong size can make it difficult to store neatly. For safety, the mattress top should be at least 50cm below the top rail of the cot.
  • Check the base for damage and the frame for flaking paint and sharp edges.
  • Try folding and unfolding the cot several times to check it locks securely into place every time.

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