A travel cot is the perfect way to ensure that your little one sleeps safely and soundly while on the move. If you are a family who travel regularly, then a good travel cot will be a worthwhile investment whether you’re going on holiday or if you’re simply planning a weekend at a friends house. A well-chosen travel cot will provide comfort and familiarity to your child and hopefully enable them to get the rest they need when travelling.
The market for baby and toddler products is a vast one and knowing what type of cot to opt for, what cost to expect and what safety considerations are necessary can be daunting when purchasing your first travel cot. Here are some things to think about as you search for the right travel cot for your family.
How does a travel cot differ from a regular cot?
Most travel cots essentially follow the same design; a low lying, segmented bottom with mattress, a sturdy metal or plastic frame and mesh sides. They offer a fold-out option and are easily collapsible, making them portable and thus ideal for travel. Newer pop-up models quite literally spring into shape when needed, making them super quick and easy to assemble.
What sort of accessories do I need for a travel cot?
At the very least, a travel cot should come with a mattress and carry-bag. Sometimes these bags have wheels to make them easier to transport. The importance of other accessories will depend very much on your child’s age and needs. For example, children under 3 months may benefit from a bassinet which fits over the top of the travel cot in order to create a crib.
This means that they are higher to the top of the cot which makes it easier for you to pick them up and also avoids them being potentially colder as a result of being close to the ground.
Some travel cots come with a changing board so that you can use it for dual purposes. And because the mesh sides let in light, you can also pick up blackout sheets to block out the light when its time for baby to go to sleep.
How much should I spend on a travel cot?
Again, this is dependent on your taste, budget and how often you’re likely to use the cot. You can pick up a travel cot for around £50 but this will usually only include the basics. More expensive models offer luxurious finishing touches including sumptuous fabrics, a thicker mattress and even built-in lighting and lullabies. A more expensive model is also likely to have been crafted from more technical materials designed to make it lighter to carry while still being sturdy and safe.
And what do I need to know about travel cot safety?
If you are buying a travel cot in the UK, then there are specific safety standards that all cots should meet before they are approved for sale. Check that your cot has the BS EN 716 safety standard – this especially applies if you are buying the cot second hand. Try to use the mattress that comes with the cot as it will be the best fit.
Some people like to buy softer mattresses but they might not fit into the base of the cot as well and this can create gaps and affect the structural stability of the cot. It can also mean that the mattress is slightly higher which may make it possible for an older child to escape!
You should also be aware of any zips, snagging or holes that might pose a safety risk to your child.
Are there any other things that I should know?
Many people like to double their travel cot up as a playpen. This is fine as the high sides offer security. But it’s important to ensure that any toys that are being used during the day are removed when it comes to bedtime. Machine washable covers and fabrics are also a good idea for keeping your travel cot clean, particularly if it is going to be used for dual purpose. You can even buy a sunshade if you want to take the travel cot come playpen into the garden on warm days.
Do I really need a travel cot?
Studies show that 41% of parents who bought a travel cot found it very useful. But you will probably only get substantial use from it if you are a family who regularly make overnight visits to places where a suitable bed for a small child isn’t available.
Even in it’s folded state a travel cot can still take up a lot of space. That said, a travel cot does offer the possibility to travel freely and very simply with young children and its multitude of other uses (including playpen and changing unit) make it a very common purchase for parents of young children.