Top 5 tips for choosing a travel cotMake sure your baby sleeps safely this summer

24 July 2015

Travel cot with mesh sides

A travel cot with mesh on all sides means you can keep an eye on your baby

Having a travel cot can ensure your baby has somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep or rest while you’re on holidays – whether it’s abroad or just down the road at the grandparents’ place.

But finding one that's easy to use and your baby finds comfortable to sleep in is a must.

Which? surveyed more than 1000 parents to find out the best travel cot brands. Parents were asked to score brands they owned on ease of getting their baby in and out of the travel cot, how comfortable their baby was, easy of assembly, ease of packing away, portability and value for money. Find out which travel cots were worth it and which were less impressive in our rundown of best and worst travel cot brands.

Which? travel cots expert Lisa Galliers says: 'Travel cot costs vary widely, so it's important to know that the travel cot you're considering is going to be worth it. In our survey, the winning brand was the only one to score five out of five for value for money.'

64% of parents we surveyed in March 2015 own a travel cot. If you're thinking about buying one this summer, here are our travel cot expert's top five shopping and using must-knows: 

1. Check the folding mechanism and instructions on the travel cot

Make sure you fold and unfold the travel cot in store to check how easy it is to do before you buy. It’s good to check for detailed instructions and even ask the shop assistant to walk you through any quirks of assembly and folding so you don’t start your trip off with a flatpack furniture row. More importantly, you need to be able to set up your travel cot so that it is secure and stable for your child to sleep in.

2. Try out the travel cot for size

Lift the cot to check its weight and see how compact it is when folded, as you’ll have to be okay to carry it around and possibly book in some extra baggage allowance if you’re travelling by plane. Some travel cots come in wheelie bags or have carry handles when folded, which make them easier to manoeuvre when transporting a lot of luggage.

3. Remember safe sleeping tips for babies

If you’re holidaying to warmer climates, make sure you know how to keep your baby sleeping safely in hot weather. Do not use a duvet, pillow or cushion in the cot, and keep to light bed sheets and clothing for your baby. Avoid putting the travel cot in direct sunlight. Read more safe sleeping tips.

4. Look out for extra, useful features

Most travel cots have wheels for ease of moving around the room, but make sure the wheels are lockable, or that there are two wheels and two legs so that the cot stays in place. Some cots have add-ons like a changing unit, which allows you to save on extra packing. An attachable bassinet can be useful if you are using the travel cot for a younger baby. 

To get more use out of your travel cot, you might want one that could double as a playpen for home. Most travel cots will have at least one mesh window, but choose one with four mesh sides if you’re intending to use it as a playpen.

5. Consider a second hand travel cot

If you don’t travel too often, you might want to look into getting a second hand travel cot or borrowing one from a friend. If you do purchase a travel cot second hand, 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 is a proper fit, and check the base of the cot for any damage – make sure when the cot is unfolded that everything clicks into place properly. 

More on this…

• Travelling with children checklist. Essential products for packing.
5 holiday car seats safety tips. Hire car and taxi must-know
Common baby sleep mistakes most parents make