What is a travel cot?
There is nothing more important to caring parents than the comfort and safety of their babies, whether their babies are at home or away. Second to that, it is important for parents to have easy set up, collapsibility, ease of clean up, and portability with any travel item they invest in for their child.
Travel cots are cribs or beds for when a baby or toddler is away from home, either on a trip to see grandparents or on family holiday. Many travel cots fulfil multiple functions for both baby and parents such as doubling as a playpen, or having a convenient nappy-changing feature.
While some travel cots are lighter than others, all are light enough to transport by hand to and from your vehicle and will collapse small enough to fit easily into the car interior or the car boot. Some even fold down as small as a travel carry on.
They are generally made of lightweight but sturdy material, which covers both side and front walls and which is supported by a tubular type of frame. Some come with a base for the child to be laid on while others offer a mattress.
Until recently, almost all travel cots weighed between 8 to 15kg, in order to meet the safety standard of cot stability when set up. The necessary weight to ensure the travel cot would not tip over while in use, made carrying the collapsed travel cot a bit of a burden.
In recent years new, much lighter versions have passed safety standard tests for stability. Some are as light as 6kg. This was accomplished by designing the base of the erect travel bed to be wider than the top. The legs both diverge and slant, which offers additional stabilization benefits. For example, if the legs were 935mm apart at the bottom, they would be approximately 710mm apart at the top. Much attention has been given to using lightweight material for the frame of the travel cot as well. Materials such as aluminium, among others, are now being used for travel cots.
Additionally, travel cots come in variety of sizes and shapes. Some are designed to be pop up style while others are inflatable. Still others come with insect netting or a rip proof material for outdoor holidays. All of these choices make it a sure bet that the parent who is intent on providing safety and maximum comfort for their baby when it is away from home will be able to achieve their goal They will be able to do so without having to injure themselves by constantly lugging around remarkably heavy travel items.
Things to consider before buying
Once you are ready to purchase a travel cot for your baby or toddler these 7 points are the most important to keep in mind.
- Safety is the most important consideration for every parent. Make sure that the travel cot is stable when set up. Test it. Take into consideration not only now, when they baby is tiny but consider how well a particular travel cot will work as the child progresses to toddler and young child. Make sure that construction has been accomplished without sharp edges and that it possesses safety features so that it does not return to its collapsed position while in use.
- Also, make sure that the wheels are either lockable or are limited to two wheels and two legs for safety reasons. Finally make sure there is a locking mechanism that secures the travel cot in its in use position.
- Comfort is the second most important consideration. Check the mattress that comes with a particular travel cot model, if one does come with it. Push down into it. Is it soft enough? Is it supportive enough? Is the mattress covered in a vinyl type of material that could cause sweating and discomfort while sleeping. Could a travel cot mattress cover, and/or travel cot sheets alleviate the problem?
- A final point to consider regarding comfort is with regard to the size of the travel cot when it is in use. A majority of travel cots are for ages 0 to 3 yrs. However, many newborns prefer the comfort of closer quarters; some enjoy being swaddled for comfort sake. While most of us like to get maximum use out of any product we invest in, in the case of a newborn, it is often wiser not to purchase a travel cot he or she will grow into. If the newborn is uncomfortable, he or she will not sleep in it now and may or may not adapt to it later. In your attempt to be sensible, you may lose use of the travel cot for now, later, or both.
- Easy cleaning is vital in a travel cot, especially one that will do double duty as a playpen and/or nappy changing table. Babies make messes and a product that cannot be cleaned properly or easily will quickly become an unsanitary place to put a baby. Is the mattress cover removable and easily washable? What about the frame cover? Is it removable and easy to clean? Difficult product clean up will add hours to parenthood chores, which means fewer hours you can spend with your rapidly changing baby.
- Ease of use/Set up & Break down design is another value consideration. Try setting it up and breaking it down a couple of times. The first time may take a bit depending upon the model. Ask yourself if it will get much easier with a bit of practise. Does it fold up easily and is it easy or quite difficult to repack in its carrying case? If it is difficult now, chances are this element of the break down will not get much better with practise.
- There are also some terrific travel cots that detour from the design norm such as the pop up travel cot and the inflatable travel cot. Beware! Some travel cot models may not fit into a car boot when folded. This is why it is good to try out folding it down and setting it up. That way, you can determine for yourself if it will be a good fit.
- Portability, size and weight of a travel cot matters especially if you will be using the travel cot daily or even two or three times a week. Try lifting them in their packed state and imagine carrying it about regularly. If you sense a backache coming on, check the weight on the travel cot package and consider shopping for a light weight travel cot. Some travel cots have wheels on the carrying case; perhaps one of those models would be better for your baby and you. This variation between lift and carry and simply drag could make all the difference in the world.
- Versatility may not be as vital as the points above but it can make the difference between two models that are similar regarding the above points. Can the model do double duty either as a playpen or as a nappy changing station?
- Quality/durability is yet another valuable consideration. Does the craftsmanship and material appear to be of good quality? What about the carrying case, is it of good quality? Taking into consideration that this is a travel cot and moving anything back and forth involves more wear and tear than stationary beds, is the one that you are considering buying appear durable?
A few good buys for you to consider
Graco Contour Electra Travel Cot Hedgerow
This Graco Contour Travel Cot is one of the most popular travel cots for newborns. It weighs in at a hefty 14kg but if you are in good shape, it may not be a problem for you. In addition, it has all the extras a new mother and father could need such as a raised bassinet so you do not have to lean over to care for or lift the baby. It also features five legs for greater stability, two of which are on wheels for easy mobility from room to room, and a foldable changing table. It even has a control box with a timer for mattress vibration, music, and night light. It is specified for ages 0 to 3 years, and considering all the extras that are included, it is priced cheap at £96.99.
Dimensions folded L78cm x W25cm x H25cm
Graco Petite (Bassinet Travel Cot) Dots
The Graco Petite Travel Cot is smaller but also far lighter than the Graco Contour Electra Travel Cot above. It weighs less than 10kg and is a bassinet travel cot for newborns. Many parents use it as both baby’s first crib and a travel cot. Babies love it because it offers a much snugger and more secure feeling fit. It comes with a shade canopy and two legs and two wheels for easy mobility from room to room. A travel cot mattress is included. It is priced affordably at £69.99.
Dimensions folded L77cm x W25cm x H25cm
Samsonite Pop-up Travel Cot
Do you need a super lightweight travel cot? Here it is. It weighs in at less than 1 kg, this model detours from the traditional travel cot design. It is a pop up travel cot for super fast and easy assembly. Made of 100% soft cotton, it also easily folds into it travel carrying case. Select the blue travel cot for baby boys and the pink travel cot for baby girls. It is Samsonite’s second most popular bassinet travel cot, falling only slightly behind the Samsonite bubble travel cot.
Dimensions folded L60cm x W89cm x H54cm