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

·12 min read
They are an ideal solution for short trips and sleepovers (iStock/The Independent)
They are an ideal solution for short trips and sleepovers (iStock/The Independent)

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.

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How we tested

Heeding Morrison’s advice, we, and our mini testers, tried out a range of cots in different styles and at different price points. We tested to see how easy they were to assemble, pack up in the car, transport from place to place, and, most importantly, how well our little one took to sleeping in them. So, with our extensive guide, you can choose which is right for you.

The best travel cots for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Micralite sleep and go: £175, Micralite.com

  • Best for style – Maxi Cosi iris travel cot: £159, Maxi-cosi.co.uk

  • Best for temperature control – Nuna sena aire travel cot: £200, Johnlewis.com

  • Best for toddlers – Bugaboo stardust travel cot: £199, Bugaboo.com

  • Best for portability – Dooky portable travel cot: £38, Kidly.co.uk

  • Best for ease of set up – Baby Bjorn travel cot light: £272, Babybjorn.co.uk

  • Best for accessories – Graco contour electra travel cot: £99.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for beach days – Koo-di Sun and Sleep pop-up portable cot with mattress: £60, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

  • Best compact cot – Phil & Teds traveller travel cot: £118.99, Babyplanetonline.co.uk

  • Best bedside cot – Baby Elegance bedside travel cot: £79.99, Smythstoys.com

Micralite sleep and go

Best: Overall

  • Weight: 7kg

  • Folded dimensions: D 88cm x W 34cm x H 17cm

  • Assembled dimensions: L 112cm x W 80cm x H 67cm

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.

Buy now £175.00, Micralite.com

Maxi Cosi iris travel cot

Best: For style

  • Weight: 6kg

  • Folded dimensions: L 570cm x W 540cm x H 150cm

  • Assembled dimensions: H 690cm x L 670cm x W 115cm

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.

Buy now £159.00, Maxi-cosi.co.uk

Nuna sena aire travel cot

Best: For temperature control

  • Weight: 14.95kg

  • Folded dimensions: H 85.5cm x W 36.5cm x L 34 cm

  • Assembled dimensions: H 74.5cm x W 107cm x L 73.5cm

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.

Buy now £200.00, Johnlewis.com

Bugaboo stardust travel cot

Best: For toddlers

  • Weight: 7.7 kg

  • Folded dimensions: 65cm x 14cm x 85 cm

  • Assembled dimensions: 64cm x 98cm x 85 cm

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.

Buy now £199.00, Bugaboo.com

Dooky portable travel cot

Best: For portability

  • Weight: 1.2kg

  • Folded dimensions: H 41cm x W 26cm

  • Assembled dimensions: H 75cm x W 41cm

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.

Buy now £38.00, Kidly.co.uk

Baby Bjorn travel cot light

Best: For ease of set up

  • Weight: 6kg

  • Folded dimensions: 49cm x 60cm x 14cm

  • Assembled dimensions: 82cm x 112cm x 64cm

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.

Buy now £272.00, Babybjorn.co.uk

Graco contour electra travel cot

Best: For accessories

  • Weight: 12.95kg

  • Folded dimensions: Unknown

  • Assembled dimensions: 106cm x 72.5cm x H 90.5cm

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.

Buy now £99.99, Amazon.co.uk

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

Best: For beach days

  • Weight: 2.5 kg

  • Folded dimensions: Unknown

  • Assembled dimensions: 100cm x 77cm x 60cm

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.

Buy now £60.00, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Phil & Teds traveller travel cot

Best: Compact cot

  • Weight: 2.8kg

  • Folded dimensions: L 65cm x H 20cm x D 20cm

  • Assembled dimensions: L 117cm x D 63cm x H 79cm

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.

Buy now £118.99, Babyplanetonline.co.uk

Baby Elegance bedside travel cot

Best: Bedside cot

  • Weight: Unknown

  • Folded dimensions: L74cm x W 25cm x H 25cm

  • Assembled dimensions: L102 x W 71cm x H 80cm

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 (£22.50, Babyelegance.com), due to its unusual square shape.

Buy now £79.99, Smythstoys.com

Travel cots FAQs

What age is a travel cot for?

This will depend on the cot you buy – those with bassinet are designed for newborns up to three months old, while larger options are available for children up to five years old.

Can a baby sleep in a travel cot every night?

It’s not recommended to use a travel cot regularly for a long period of time, as they are not designed to support your baby’s development. Instead, limit their use for short trips away and daytime naps.

What to look for when buying a travel cot

You already have enough to think about while travelling with baby, so the best cots are hassle-free. It should be easy to assemble, collapse and store, while the addition of wheels and carry bag should make it easier to transport from A to B. If you’re shopping for a newborn up to three months old, a bassinet is the way to go – these are raised to give you a clearer view of your little one during the night, while you can lift them up without the risk of throwing your back out.

Do travel cots need a mattress?

Yes – the cots themselves are thin and hard, so a mattress is essential, though most of our top picks come with a mattress included.

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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