Baby Shopping Guides Buyer's guide to travel cots How to decide which travel cot will work for your newborn, baby or toddler, plus essential safety advice when using travel cots 1 of Ad break What is a travel cot?
A travel cot is a collapsible cot that can be folded down, stored in a bag and taken on holiday or packed in the car. Most travel cots have a plastic or metal frame and mesh sides, and come with a lightly padded mattress. Some have wheels or castors.
A travel cot can also double as a playpen. A travel cot can be an essential bit of kit if you plan on travelling with your baby or toddler or you make regular trips to cot-free homes.
How long do you plan to use it? The length of time you intend to use your travel cot for will help determine which one you buy. Different travel cots are suitable for specific age ranges and using them outside of the guidelines is not safe. If you want an option to use from birth, your newborn can sleep overnight in a travel bassinette but these are only suitable for the first few months, as they are quickly outgrown.
But for week after week of truck camping I figured there had to be a better way. The kids loved it and the convenience and comfort of the pad makes it a must for both young and old campers. We love cots because they get you high off the ground, and they can double as a couch for hanging out during the day.
Most standard travel cots can be used with a newborn baby if the cot is supplied with a bassinette insert. This allows the mattress to hang in the cot at waist height, rather than sit on the base of the cot. A bassinette insert is suitable from birth to around 3 months.
Travel cots differ widely in size. Some of the most compact cots are light to carry and easy to store but for this reason will only last from around 3 months to 18 months.
Others are bigger and you can use them from 3 months or 6 months up to 3 years or even 5 years of age, as with the Bushbaby Nestegg Pop-up Travel Cot. However, most pop-up cots, such as the Samsonite Pop-up Bubble Cot , are a great option for camping but they usually only last from 6 to around 18 months due to their size.
Make sure you check the manufacturers guidelines before buying and try before you buy to make sure the travel cot is tall enough, long enough and to your liking. A basic guideline is, if you think your toddler could tip the cot over, stop using the cot. Do you need to carry it? Some travel cots can be really heavy around 10kg , so look for a lightweight version around 2.
Some cots have wheels on the storage bag, which can make it easy to transport. Ask to see the cot folded down in the shop first and check out the dimensions. Do you want to use it for more than sleep? Some travel cots also work as a changing station and have a clip-on, wipe-clean attachment that fits over the cot.
A few travel cots on the market can also be used as beach shelter, complete with UV sun sheets. Ask to see the travel cot being assembled in the shop to get an idea of ease of use, or if you have a young baby look for a pop-up cot like the Samsonite Pop-up Bubble Cot , Koo-di Pop-Up Bubble Cot or the Koo-di Travel Bassinette.
To avoid the stress of trying to collapse the cot every which way possible, practice before you leave home. Will you need to move it?
Some travel cots have wheels or castors, which makes them pretty portable. If the cot has four wheels, two of these should be lockable to stop the cot moving by accident. A common feature is having two wheels and two standard legs, where to move the cot you simply lift up one end and push it along.
Do you need it to keep insects out? Zip-up sides or a zip-up top will help you solve this problem. Buying an insect net cover is also an option. Do you want an easy-to-clean option?
Regular use, air travel and slinging your cot in the back of the car will probably leave it looking a little shoddy, so go for a travel cot with removable machine-washable covers, or a wipe clean fabric.
Choosing a dark colour might also be wise — cream or beige is sure to suffer at the hands of a toddler or a baggage handler.
Travel cot mattresses are notoriously thin and hard, so you might want to buy your own mattress. However, remember that you'll have to carry it, too, so check how easy it is to fold or stow. All mattresses should be aired and kept clean and dry, and most travel cot mattresses are wipe-clean.
Some parents make the mattress more comfortable by putting a towel under the sheet and according to the FSID Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths this is a suitable way of adding extra padding, as long as the towel is the same size as the mattress, it fits tightly and the mattress underneath is waterproof. Do you want to buy second-hand? But before you grab a bargain there are a few points to remember: The seller should supply original instructions, or ask them to print them off the web most manufacturers publish them as a PDF.
Some cots have instructions printed on the base. Ask for a demo and practice unfolding and folding the cot. Inspect the condition of the mattress carefully. The mattress should be waterproof. Check the mattress size — ask to see the mattress folded out in the cot, and folded up in the cot. Look over the frame for damage. Make sure the carry bag is supplied — travel cots are virtually impossible to carry when not in the bag!
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