How we test travel cots
By Lisa Galliers
A travel cot needs to be easy to use, safe and durable, so that when you go away with your baby, it won't add to your stress. We put each travel cot through a series of safety and durability tests, so you can choose the best one.
We've independently tested a range of big-brand travel cots so that you can be sure the one you're buying won't lead to sleepless nights (we can't make the same guarantee about your baby, though!).
Our Best Buy travel cots are easy to use, simple to assemble, safe, durable and comfy for your baby.
Every travel cot goes through the same set of lab tests at our expert labs, so you can directly compare each one's strengths and weaknesses. Our tests look at the most important aspects of travel cots to reveal the best ones.
Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about each travel cot:
- Is it safe?
- Is it durable?
- Is it stable?
- Is it easy to put up and take down?
- Is it easy to use?
- Should I buy it?
Find out which ones are the best travel cots.
Is my travel cot safe?
Our test experts put every travel cot we review through a series of British Standards safety tests. A travel cot has to pass these tests to be sold on the UK market, but we know from our testing of baby & child products that this isn't always a guarantee the product is trouble free.
We check each travel cot for choking hazards, flammability, sharp edges, places a baby or child's head could get trapped, places fingers can get trapped and squeezed, snag points where your baby's clothes could get stuck and potentially cause strangulation. Our experts check the locking systems work properly, and they also scrutinise instructions and warnings to make sure everything is clear.
Is my travel cot durable?
Our experts make sure the travel cot is durable. It's folded and unfolded 50 times to check it won't break, and we test the frame and joints to make sure they're up to the job and won't collapse when you need to rely on them.
Is my travel cot stable?Babies can wriggle around a lot when sleeping, so each travel cot that passes through our expert labs undergoes several different stability assessments. These are designed to ensure it won't tip over when your baby is asleep inside. We also check to see how stable it is when a weight is placed on the side, to replicate an adult stumbling into the side of the cot.
Is it easy to put up and take down again?
Our lab experts, as well as parents and their children, get hands on assembling each travel cot, before taking them apart and putting them back into the bag again. The best ones make this a simple task and won't leave you wrestling with poles and fabric.
We test with the supplied mattress, but if the manufacturer sells another mattress to go into the travel cot, we buy that and the lab tests it alongside the supplied one.
Is it easy to use?
Parents and their children, along with our lab experts, get hands on with each travel cot to check how easy they are to use. So you can decide which one is the best for you, before you buy. We check the instructions, get our volunteers to put up the cots, add any inserts or extras, make the bed, put their children inside, and then fold it all away again and try to get it back into the bag. We get the help of mums and dads, as well as lab experts, and they test it more than once.
Should I buy it?
A decent travel cot should be safe, durable and easy to use. Once we've got the full results from all of our expert testing, we analyse it to create an overall test score and recommendation.
All of the assessments listed above go into making the final overall score for each travel cot we review. Because we know what's most important to you, some elements are more important than others, so carry different weights:
Our travel cot total test score can be broken down as follows:
- 50% convenience (including instructions, cleaning, set-up, folding and putting away)
- 30% durability (strength, durability)
- 20% stability
Any travel cots that fail a key standard safety test will have its score significantly limited to reflect the issues.
A Best Buy travel cot needs to score 89% or above.
Any travel cot that scores 45% or less will automatically be deemed to be a Don’t Buy.
*Figures based on a February 2016 survey of 1,018 parents with children up to five years of age who own a travel cot