As the mother of three young children, a keen traveller and camper I have tried a number of different travel cots over the past 7 years, searching for the ‘perfect’ one for our needs. This post is not a review of particular brands or models, rather it is an overview of the pros and cons of different styles of travel cot based on my experiences. I hope that this overview will assist you in choosing a travel cot that works for your family and your style of travel.
Disclosure: any travel cot I name by brand is simply because it is a brand I have used or am aware of. I have purchased all travel cots we own and receive no commercial benefit from this post.
TRADITIONAL TRAVEL COT (PORTA COT)
This is the kind of cot most people will think of when they think of a travel cot. If you hire a travel cot when traveling it is most likely going to look like this. I actually didn’t own a cot like this until my second child was born – here is what I like and dislike about this style of travel cot.
- They are large a spacious
- They often have quite thick padded mattresses
- We bought one with a zip-on bassinet attachment which I really liked when travelling with a newborn. It made it much easier to sit and pat her in the night if needed.
- It was really good to have at home to use if we needed to offer the nursery to visitors staying with us.
- They are heavy (usually 11-13 kg) which makes them difficult to travel with if flying.
- Awkward to juggle with all your other bags before checkin. I would always rent one at the other end if flying.
- Bulky – this became an issue for us on road trips and camping trip. It would take up a lot of room in the boot which made fitting everything else in a juggle.
POP UP TENT STYLE
This was the first style of travel cot we ever used. We were attracted to how light and compact it is which would make it easy to travel with. They fold up a bit like a sunshelter, into a flat circle, and then pop out to be a little tent (see pic below) with a zip entry on the side. We bought a KinderKot and I was very happy with the quality of the product. I think there are now a few other brands making a similar style now. I know many families who have owned these and loved them but it never really worked well for our kids.
- Very light (3 kg)
- Fits into a suitcase or can be carried as hand luggage on a plane
- Very quick and easy to set up
- Lots of ventilation which can be covered up if cold or if you want to make darker
- There is a knack to fold up again (like a sunshelter) but once you have the hang of it it is quick to pack away
- For safety reasons the self inflating mattress slides into a sleeve under the floor of cot. However this means you can’t tuck a sheet over it. For older kids this is OK – we would just lie a padded blanket or something in there for them to sleep on. For little babies I never felt safe having anything under them, not tucked in, so they would just sleep on the tent floor material which I never liked.
- My first baby would always wake when I did the zip up on the side. For the first 6 months I used to leave the side open, but then one night I almost trod on her because she had rolled out of the cot onto the floor when we were away on holiday. The zip waking her became a significant issue for us.
LIGHT WEIGHT TRAVEL COT
I bought a second hand Phil & Ted travel cot after the birth of my third child and I love it – I wish I had bought this in the first place. I believe the latest model has all mesh sides on it. I know BabyBjorn also make a similar style travel cot which I have heard very good things about. There may be others on the market now too.
- Lightweight (latest model is around 3kg) which makes it easy to take on a plane. We have taken ours to France for a 23 month old.
- Compact when folded up – it can be taken as hand luggage if needed
- Narrow when set up – great when trying to squeeze into a hotel room with you
- Load baby in from the top like a traditional cot so no need to “zip up” and wake a baby
- Also has side zip if you prefer access that way – an older child may prefer to be able to crawl in this way.
- Has a mesh panel that can be zipped across the top if you need it – perhaps to stop toddlers throwing things in on the baby?
- In my Phil & Ted travel cot the self inflating mattress can either be placed in a sleeve under the floor (like the KinderCot) which complies with Australian Safety Standards or inside the cot (which complies with UK safety standards).
- It is a bit fiddly to set up. Not difficult, just fiddly
This photo shows how our Phil & Ted packs into our family suitcase when we fly.
What sort of travel cot do you use? What do you like and dislike about it?
I hope that by sharing my experiences you will find it easier to choose a travel cot that is right for you.