In our effort to find the best products on the market, we commissioned Ruth Lumley to write about and test travel cots.
Ruth is a journalist with three young children who has used a number of travel cots over the past six years – from the newborn stage through to toddlerhood, and while holidaying abroad and visiting friends and relatives in the UK.
Which travel cots did we test?
Ruth began by researching the types of products available (this took approximately two days) and then narrowed down her search to focus on the travel cots rated highly by Mumsnetters, baby sleep experts – primarily from The Lullaby Trust – and other product review websites.
This left her with a shortlist of 14 travel cots covering a range of prices, from pop-up products to sturdier models more suited to a home environment:
- Joie Kubbie Sleep
- Littlelife Arc 2
- Red Kite Sleeptight travel cot
- SpaceCot Alfa
- BabyBjorn Easy Go
- Phil & Teds Traveller
- Baby Dan travel cot
- Joie Commuter Change
- Chicco Zip and Go
- Nuna Sena
- Hauck Sleep and Play Go
- Mothercare Classic Travel Cot
- Graco Contour Electra
- Koo-di Sun and Sleep Pop-Up
Who tested the products?
Over the course of four months, Ruth tested each travel cot for at least three nights at home and at the grandparents’ house.
She tested the products with the help of her youngest child who was 18 months old at the time of testing.
This meant that all the models were subject to the same environmental factors and all held a child of the same age and weight, reducing any potential variables during the testing process.
They were inspected for safety and stability, assembly, ease of use, comfort, aesthetics, cleanliness and value for money, and tested in rooms with both carpet and laminate flooring.
What are the best travel cots?
Five travel cots triumphed, scoring highly across the board in all areas: the Joie Kubbie Sleep (Best Travel Cot 2019), the Littlelife Arc 2 (Best Lightweight Travel Cot 2019), the BabyBjorn Easy Go (Best High-End Travel Cot 2019), the Red Kite Sleeptight (Best Budget Travel Cot 2019) and the SpaceCot Alfa (Best Easy-Folding Travel Cot 2019).
The Joie Kubbie Sleep impressed us most because of its versatility. We think it’s the best travel cot for most parents and awarded it Best Travel Cot 2019.
How did we test them?
Safety and ease of use were the overarching themes while researching the best travel cots on the market – as a parent, you’ll want to know that your child is going to be happy, comfortable and secure in your travel cot of choice.
This is echoed by The Lullaby Trust, an organisation that raises awareness around sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and provide expert advice on safer sleep for babies.
According to The Lullaby Trust, travel cots must comply with British Standards and parents should always look out for this on product packaging and websites.
A spokesperson told us, “We also recommend that you carefully follow the instructions that come with any product you buy. If you buy a second-hand product, it’s very important that you get hold of the instructions from the manufacturer.”
How did you test for safety and stability?
Ruth looked at a number of factors when testing the safety of each travel cot, including durability, materials, how well each product was made and finished, and the safety features of each, studying everything from the frame to the mattress.
Before placing her child in the cot, she looked for any visible choking hazards or parts that could come loose by shaking it, walking into it, knocking it against furniture and dropping it when it was both assembled and packed away.
This also demonstrated how much force the cot could withstand if an adult or another child was to accidentally fall into it.
She also looked for the appropriate British Safety Standard labels, whether the cot felt strong and robust, and if there was potential for a baby’s head or fingers to become trapped.
She looked at the locking system to see whether a child could climb out easily and leaned into the frame to test for for noise (no one wants to wake a sleeping baby).
When it comes to mattresses, The Lullaby Trust says, “It needs to be firm, entirely flat, waterproof and with no soft or cushioned areas, particularly around the baby’s head.
“Soft mattresses are known to increase the risk of SIDS as they make it harder for babies to lose body heat, which can cause them to become too hot.
“You may find that the mattress in the travel cot feels thinner and harder than standard baby mattresses, but don’t be tempted to place folded blankets or a quilt under your baby.”
The Lullaby Trust also advises that travel cots aren’t placed against radiators or in direct sunlight, and remain out of reach of blind cords.
How did you test for assembly and folding?
Not all travel cots come with separate, written instruction manuals. Some have assembly instructions or diagrams on the side of the cot, but instructions can usually always be found online in a written or video format.
Our tester looked at how straightforward the instructions were, whether they were easy to access and follow, and whether any steps were missing.
Each cot was assembled and taken down 20 times to test its durability, and so our tester could time see if any extra tools were needed or if any parts required screwing together. This was also timed to see how long it would take each time.
We also wanted to see which travel cots might cause difficulty for people with mobility issues and which were the easiest to put up.
She also considered how easy it would be to access spare parts and whether each cot came with a warranty.
How did you test comfort and day-to-day use?
Ruth looked at how much space the travel cot took up in a room – did it slot in easily or stick out like a sore thumb? And was it more suited to indoors or outdoors?
She also tested whether the cot could be moved easily (particularly through doorways, from one room to another) without having to take it down and whether it was easy to place the child inside.
When inside, was the little one comfy? Did they like it and was there enough room to sleep and to play?
When it came to extra features, any attachments – such as a changing table, bassinet or mobile – were tested for ease of use.
Once the cot was folded down and packed away, the tester lugged it up and down stairs to assess weight before putting it in the boot of an average-sized family car to gauge how much space it took up.
What about aesthetics?
We analysed each cot for its looks, including colours, fabrics and overall design.
Did the travel cot fit in with the décor? Was the design attractive and, more importantly, user-friendly, and were there different colours to choose from?
How did you test for cleanliness?
Cleanliness is key and if a travel cot gets dirty, you want something that is easy to wipe clean.
Ruth tested for cleanliness by smearing and spilling the likes of mud, sand, peanut butter, milk and orange juice onto the interior and exterior of each crib to see how easy the stains were to remove.
She also looked for removable bedding that could easily be thrown into the washing machine.
Value for money
The cots we tested covered a range of prices so we used a scoring system to compare how the more expensive travel cots fared against those that were cheaper.
Our tester checked if compromises could be made so that parents could spend less if more expensive travels cots were out of budget.
How we chose our top five travel cots
Ruth used the same score sheet when it came to testing, with the highest scoring travel cot coming out on top as the overall winner and honourable mentions given to four other top-performing products.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and in those years we’ve seen, tried and reviewed hundreds of travel cots. We’ve watched trends come and go and safety features and engineering become more and more slick. We tested each of the travel cots with real children in real situations, as well as standardised lab-style testing, and we’re confident that our testing left no stone unturned.
About Mumsnet Reviews
All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust – brands can’t pay to win a Mumsnet Best award.
The aim of Mumsnet Reviews is to produce the best product reviews on the market for parent and baby products. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.
You might also like
Still not sure which travel cot is for you?
Take a peek at our favourites
We promise, it's all in the timing
Getting your baby to sleep in the day
After months of testing, the results are in
The best baby carriers for 2019
Fancying familiar shores for a family holiday?
Stay in the UK and grab yourself a 'staycation'