10 best travel cots for a restful trip away with your little one

These safe and sturdy portable cribs will help children sleep tight while away from home

Rosie Shephard
Wednesday 06 January 2021 15:34
<p>They are an ideal solution for short trips and sleepovers</p>

They are an ideal solution for short trips and sleepovers

When planning a trip with a young family, parents are always flabbergasted at the amount of stuff they need to pack. Space is always scarce, so bulky travel cots simply aren’t an option for most. 

But there are plenty of choices out there – from super simple models to all-singing, all-dancing travel cots with in-build soothers.

We recommend thinking about what kind of sleeper you are catering for and the type of trips you are likely to take – do you need home-from-home comfort for a peaceful night? Or a cot-come-playpen for naps on the beach?

Sharon Morrison, senior product and fashion manager at Graco Baby UK, has this advice: “When looking to buy a travel cot, a top priority has to be how easy it is to assemble, but also consider the extra features you will benefit from when travelling.”

“Chances are when you arrive at your destination, on holiday or at a friend or family member’s house, it’ll soon be nap time or bedtime and you may need to assemble the cot quickly,” Morrison says.

Cots should also be “simple to use” and sturdy enough to provide a good night’s sleep, but easy to transport and store away. It’s also good to consider additional features that will make your life easier, such as a gentle vibrating mattress, nightlight, music or an integrated changing unit.

We’ve tried out a range of cots in different styles and at different price points so that you can choose which is right for you from our top picks.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Micralite sleep&go

This travel cot caters for kids up to three years old – it has a bassinet for newborns, which means tiny babies can sleep next to their parents, while the mattress for bigger kids is lightweight and comfy. The side also unzips to make a toddler-friendly playpen. It pops out and packs away simply, with no fiddly parts – we didn’t even need to read the instructions. Weighing in at 7kg, we also loved the streamlined design. Our little tester, meanwhile, slept like a log.

Maxi Cosi iris travel cot

This is one of the most handsome travel cots on the market. It suits babies from birth up to three years due to its two mattress heights. The whole kit weighs just 6kg and packs up flat, making it easy to transport. We love the wood-effect legs, the fact that the fabrics are machine washable, and how easy we found it to assemble. The mattress is thick and has a waterproof layer – good thinking by Maxi Cosi. We love the price, too.

Nuna sena aire travel cot

The Nuna sena aire promises that it can be opened in seconds and it certainly delivered – we were all set up in under a minute. The design keeps the cot well ventilated from all angles, even below, which is ideal in warmer climates. We also like the fact that baby sleeps on a raised platform and away from any chilly drafts.

We’ve suffered several injuries while wrestling with travel cots over the years, and not only is this cot simple to use, it has padded edges to protect parents as well as children. It is super sturdy, meaning it will last for many trips away. And it looks great, so we don’t mind it in our living space. A changer and an insect net are also available.

Bugaboo stardust travel cot

Sturdy and stylish, the Bugaboo stardust is suitable for babies up to two years old. Bugaboo says it is made with chemical-free materials and is designed to unfold in seconds using just one hand. It packs away fairly quickly and simply too, with the mattress still inside. Bugaboo is known for comfy prams and this cot mattress felt like the same quality.

It comes with a bassinet for little ones up to 9kg and all the materials are machine washable. We love that it stands up on its own when it’s folded down – perfect for tucking away when not in use during the day. The black version looks slick and smart. It’s so easy to assemble and light to manoeuvre, a toddler could do it. 

Dooky portable travel cot

This has to be the most lightweight and portable travel cot we’ve ever seen – what a clever idea. The whole thing weighs just 1.2kg, folds up to the size of a briefcase and can be stowed under a buggy or in a car door. We love that the risk of an impromptu nap doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have to take the buggy everywhere.

It simply folds out into a safe, comfortable sleeping space for babies, from newborn until they are able to sit up independently. We love that it allows little ones to nap anywhere, in those early days before a regular sleep routine is established. It even has pockets to store wipes and nappies, and is great value too.

Baby Bjorn travel cot light

This travel cot features mesh all the way down to the floor so that babies and parents can keep a good view of each other at all times. We love that it can be set up in one easy movement and there are no fiddly parts. The last thing you want to do when you arrive somewhere with a tired child is construct a complicated cot.

The mattress is super comfy and all the materials are machine washable. It weighs only 6kg and will fit babies and toddlers up to three years old. We loved the fact that the mattress is included and folds up with the cot.

Graco contour electra travel cot

We had to double check this travel cot to see if it came with a kitchen sink – it certainly has everything else. It has a bassinet with a mattress that can vibrate to soothe your baby, a changing mat, hanging bar for toys and even a control box for added lights, sounds and movement. It also has a larger, sturdy mattress for older children. It weighs 12.95kg, comes in a handy carry bag and lasts well into toddlerhood. It has two wheels too, so you can easily move it from room to room.

We managed to assemble it easily using just our common sense, although the instructions were there if we needed them. The extras were fun and helped sooth the baby, although the vibration proved quite strong for tiny newborns. But on the whole we loved it, and it looks nicer than our permanent cot at home.

Koo-di Sun and Sleep pop-up portable cot with mattress

This travel cot is perfect for beach holidays – it weighs less than 2.5 kg and the design keeps out the sun and sand. Do they do adult sizes, please? It is great value and comes with a mattress and mosquito net, so there are no sneaky extras to buy.

It is designed for children from six to 18 months, but toddlers will love it as a playhouse, and it seems sturdy enough to last a few siblings. It’s ideal for families who love outdoor adventures as it forms a base camp for little ones. It’s not really for overnight sleeping, but it is lightweight and good enough value to buy in addition to a bigger travel cot.

Phil & Teds traveller travel cot

This travel cot weighs less than 3kg and folds down to the size of a yoga mat. We love that it is compact enough to fit in a suitcase, and can be taken on outdoor adventures as a play pen.

It requires some assembly, but it is very simple to do. Our little tester loved the cosy size of his portable nest, and always snuggled down happily into a sound sleep on the self-inflating mattress. The cot feels sturdy and will last through several siblings, meaning we think it’s worth the price. We also love that the base is bigger than the top, which makes climbing out more difficult and means it takes up less room in small spaces.

Baby Elegance bedside travel cot

This bedside cot is perfect for trips away with really tiny babies who still need the reassurance of parents nearby and regular nighttime feeds. It connects securely to the side of your bed for easy and safe co-sleeping and comes with a bassinet for babies up to 9kg. We simply removed the bassinet and unclipped it from the bed to use it as a regular travel cot for little ones up to 15kg.

It feels sturdy, looks great, comes in a handy carry bag for travelling and folds up super small. It even has wheels to move it about easily. These extra details mean that it’s not the lightest travel cot, but is great if you are travelling by car. Do be aware that we needed to buy the mattress separately, directly from Baby Elegance, due to its unusual square shape.

The verdict: Travel cots

Travel cots should be safe, simple and stylish. That’s why Micralite is our best buy – it provides the perfect space for sleepers, doesn’t give parents a headache and looks great too. For new babies, the bassinet insert is a must have. We also loved the Dooky for its ingenuity – a great buy for active new parents who like to get out and about.

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