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How to choose the best travel cot | Bugaboo

How to Choose the Best Travel Cot

When it comes to travelling with your baby, there’s one product that can make life a whole lot easier: travel cots. Designed to be ultra-portable, you can take them with you on long journeys and always have a cosy space for your baby to sleep. Choosing the best travel cot is easy once you know what to look out for, which is why we’ve broken down all the key features of a travel cot right here.

What is a travel cot?

Travel cots, also called portacots and play yards, are collapsible cots that can be folded away, making it a piece of cake to pack them into a car or carry them around with you. The best travel cots are super easy to assemble—you just pop them up whenever you reach your destination and instantly have a comfortable sleeping spot for your baby. Folding travel cots are an extremely handy product for any parent who travels frequently or visits cot-free homes.

How to put up a travel cot

Travel cots are usually designed using clicking mechanisms that let you pull up the sides until they’re rigid, and then push down the base. The Bugaboo Stardust travel cot is designed to pop open within one second—you simply pull open the two sides and the base automatically unfolds.

How to choose the best travel cot | Bugaboo

What age is a travel cot for?

Travel cots come in different sizes and some also have attachments that make them suitable for children of different ages. Newborn travel cots come with travel cot bassinet inserts, which can be used from when a child is born until they are three months old. The biggest travel cots can be used up until a child is five years old. Make sure the travel cot you choose is the right size for your child so that they can sleep comfortably and safely.

How long can a baby sleep in a travel cot?

Travel cots are generally designed for short trips and overnight stays, as the mattresses tend to be thinner than a standard cot mattress. They’re not intended to be used instead of a regular crib, and we’d recommend only using your travel cot when you’re away from home or don’t have access to a standard cot.

How to choose the best travel cot | Bugaboo

Travel cot features to look out for

This is a list of useful features to look out for when choosing the best travel cot. A travel cot with all of these things will be easy to use, highly portable and durable.

Storage bag

One of the first things to look for when choosing a travel cot is portability. Check to see if the travel cot you’re looking at comes with a travel cot storage bag or shoulder strap. This is especially important if you plan to take it on long journeys by plane or train.

What’s nice about the Bugaboo Stardust is that the straps keep it closed even without the bag, making it easier to travel with for short distances. The Bugaboo Stardust folds down to only 14 cm/5.5 in wide and fits neatly inside a velcro closing bag. It also weighs just 8.2 kg/18 lbs, making it light enough to carry with ease.

Woman in matching orange top and trousers holding the Bugaboo Stardust in its black travel case. Text reads: ‘The lightweight pop-up travel cot. Bugaboo Stardust: bedtime made easy’.

Easy to assemble

Something that can make or break a travel cot is its assembly time. Ideally, you want something quick and simple to set up, and just as easy to pack away again when it’s time to go. For instance, the Bugaboo Stardust is designed to fold in one second and unfold in three seconds, without you having to assemble or disassemble it at all. Everything, including the mattress, stays in place. If you happen to visit the stores, have a go at folding and unfolding the travel cot. Look for simple clicking mechanisms and check that everything locks into place without too much hassle. If you’re online shopping, look for travel cot assembly instructions like our ‘How to use the Bugaboo Stardust travel cot’ tutorial.

Washable

To make sure things stay clean and fresh for your baby, you want a travel cot that either has removable, washable covers or one that is made with a wipe-clean fabric. Travel cots are more exposed to the elements than the cots you have in your home and frequent travelling can leave them needing a good scrub. You might also want to choose darker colours, such as a grey travel cot, which will make any dirt stains less visible.

Bassinet

Some travel cots come with built-in bassinets, which are perfect for newborns. The main differences between a bassinet and a crib are their size and height. Bassinets create a much smaller sleeping space, ideal for babies under five months, and they’re often raised to make it easier to lay your baby down and lift them back out.

Even better than built-in bassinets are travel cots that come with removable bassinets, allowing the product to grow with your baby. Bassinet inserts sit at about waist level within the cot, making it easier to reach your baby. The Bugaboo Stardust travel cot comes with an adjustable height bassinet insert that you can raise or lower, depending on your baby’s age and your own height.

A woman in a red dress, sitting and reading on the sofa. In front of her a baby is sleeping in the Bugaboo Stardust travel cot.

Mesh sides & Mattress

Most travel cots are made with a mesh material for two key reasons. One is to make it easier for you to see your baby (and for them to see you). The other is that this material allows for better airflow and increased comfort for your child.

Another important factor to consider is the mattress. The Bugaboo Stardust comes with a mattress made from durable and high-quality fabric, designed for optimum comfort.

Dual-purpose

One of the great things about a good travel cot is that it doesn’t just have to be for sleeping. It can also often double up as a playpen, which is perfect for when you’re visiting homes or staying in hotels that haven’t been childproofed. Look for a travel cot playpen with a roomy base that gives your baby lots of space to have fun.

How to choose the best travel cot | Bugaboo

Travel cot safety tips

Like a lot of baby products, travel cots need to adhere to a set of safety regulations. In Britain, these are called BS EN 716—make sure that any travel cots you look at meet this safety standard before you buy.

Some other things to remember when it comes to travel cot safety are:

Stability

It’s essential to make sure that your travel cot is as stable as possible. One way to ensure this is to always use the baby travel cot mattress that comes with the product. They are designed with specific dimensions so that they don’t upset your cot’s balance.

Mattress

Travel cot bedding tends to be thinner and harder than standard cot mattresses. For the reasons mentioned above, don’t try and change the mattress, and only add cushions or other soft furnishings if your baby is over one year old. This travel cot mattress safety advice is in accordance with the guidelines for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How to choose the best travel cot | Bugaboo

Flexible sides

Pop up travel cots have many benefits—primarily their ease of use and the speed of assembly. But they often have flexible sides, which means that if you fall into them, there’s a chance they’ll tip over or wobble. If you have a travel cot with flexible sides, make sure to be extra careful when using it.

: A man sitting in a swivel chair in his music studio, looking over at a baby lying in the bassinet insert of the Bugaboo Stardust travel cot.

Buying second hand

Buying a second hand travel cot can be a good option if it’s not a product you’re likely to be using often. But there are a few things you should look out for, to make sure the product is safe for your baby:

  • Make sure the label states that it complies with the British Standard Institution safety standards. The number on the label should read: BS EN 716-1:2008+A1:2013.
  • Make sure there isn’t any obvious damage to the cot, such as broken corner coverings, holes in the mesh or broken zips.
  • Check the condition of the mattress, and that it’s the mattress that was designed for the travel cot. If you have the wrong mattress, it might not be safe for your baby and could also hinder the packing away process.


If you’re looking for more advice when it comes to buying your baby products, check out The Essential Newborn Baby Checklist and How to Choose the Perfect Pushchair.

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