It might not be on your “must have” list when shopping for a newborn, but once your baby arrives you’ll almost certainly want a travel cot. Whether it’s for sleepovers at their grandparent’s house, weekends away, or just late a dinner at a friend’s place, having a travel cot means your smallest family member can snooze while you relax. 

But – as with all baby products – the choice is bamboozling. Almost every baby brand sells a travel cot, and the price can range from £30 to over £200. All cots sold in the UK have to adhere to strict safety requirements. So we’ve reviewed all the top choices for size, portability, weight, value for money, comfort, and ease of construction – because, believe me, nothing puts a dampener on the start of a holiday quite like a late-night arrival and a huge parental bust-up about the stuck-in-a-zigzag-position travel cot not doing what it’s supposed to...

Be aware, though, of safety guidance: travel cots shouldn’t be used as permanent beds for long periods of time. The baby safety charity the Lullaby Trust advises: “A travel cot should have a rigid frame and base, and a firm, flat mattress, covered in a waterproof material. Travel cot mattresses are often thinner and feel harder than those in a permanent cot, but don’t be tempted to place folded blankets or a quilt under the baby to make them more comfortable.”

Also, don’t be tempted to buy a thicker, non-manufacturer-recommended mattress to replace the original – doing so could alter the distance between mattress and top of the cot, making it easier for Houdini toddlers to escape or even tip it over.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Spacecot Travel Cot: £115, Precious Little One

A cot designed by rocket-scientist dads who couldn’t believe how complicated it was to build an on-the-move baby bed – so they made their own. It unfolds in one second, with no effort required at all, and is instantly ready to use, with a thick, comfy mattress; invaluable when you’re arriving somewhere to stay and your baby really needs to get to sleep.

“After a long day at a wedding, it was so ridiculously easy to put up at midnight with a four-week old,” said one tester. Its bassinet insert is perfect for little ones, so they can sleep higher up (saving your back), whilst older toddlers (it can be used up to around aged three) are close to the ground so they can’t “escape”. It’s light too, weighing only 6.7kg, and easy to see your baby through the side mesh.

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BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light: £184, Kidly

Our parent-testers collectively tried a lot of travel cots – not just the ones for this piece, but also in innumerable hotels and friends’ houses, “and BabyBjorn’s has never failed”, as one mum put it.

It’s foolproof to erect: there are no loose parts. You unfold it until it clicks, pull out the legs, insert the mattress, and you’re done. Putting it back takes a few seconds longer, but not much: unlike most on the market, BabyBjorn doesn’t use button catches which often fail. 

The cot is light – 6kg – and easy to carry, all fitting into a compact bag without involving any sweat. Mesh sides mean you can see your slumbering baby (although most baby monitors can’t “see” through it) and the mattress is thicker than average so should be comfier.

The only downside is the price: it’s at the hefty end of the market, although our tester’s three-year-old still fitted happily inside. 

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Koo Di Sun & Sleep Pop-Up Travel Cot: £60, JoJo Maman Bebe

This tent-like cot is for younger babies aged six months to 18 months, and it’s weight reflects that: at just 2.2kg, it’s easy to pack away for holidays and even take on a plane.

One tester said of the baby bed: “We travelled a lot in my son’s first two years, and from six months this was a lifesaver.” It “pops up” without any effort, and has an integrated mosquito net and sunshade so can even be used for garden or beachside naps.

It has decent black-out blinds too, and a padded mattress which helped our testers’ baby enjoy their longest-ever sleep despite being in a brand-new place.

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Nuna Sena Travel Cot: £139, Precious Little One

Our testers loved the Nuna Sena for both style and substance: “It’s brilliant from newborn, with its hanging bassinet, so you don’t have to stoop, and the lower level makes it really stable – even for standing toddlers who are in a grump!” said one parent.

Thanks to “zig zag” legs it was very easy to erect and dismantle, and there’s an optional extra of a changing mat attachment (£35) which would be a compact way to organise a “full nursery” with minimal clutter at a grandparent’s house. There’s also a thick mattress included.

The only downside: the Sena was fairly weighty, at 10kg, so it was one for storing at relatives’ houses or car trips rather than schlepping on a train or plane. There is a lighter model, but it only lasts up to 18 months. 

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Red Kite Sleeptight Travel Cot: £25, Asda

This great-value travel cot was easy to use and spacious; it was easy to put up, although not the near-instant pop-up mechanism that pricier options include. Instead, you pull up the shorter side-bars and ensure they click into place before pushing the bottom down (do it i the wrong order and it won’t work).

Once clicked into place, the Sleeptight felt very sturdy (it’s suitable for toddlers up to 15kg in weight), and it wasn’t too heavy itself, at 8.7kg.

The one major downside, though, is the travel cot’s thin mattress – our testers all said they’d prefer to upgrade to a thicker one for their baby’s comfort.

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Hauck Sleep N Play Centre II: £87, Amazon 

Our favourite thing about this travel cot is its adjustable floor height – newborns can sleep in the removable bassinet on a higher level, which can be zipped in or out, meaning less stooping. It also has an openable flap which makes for a fun play pen (only openable from the outside).

A mum of twins liked the fact that the Hauck is longer than average, “so good for topping and tailing twins”. And it comes with a changing mat (with raised edge) that sits on top of the cot, plus a side pocket to hold wipes, nappies, or toys etc, so it’s a great all-rounder.

It’s on wheels so you can easily move it around, but all those extras come at a cost: it weighs almost 10kg and takes a few steps to set up, but our tester soon learnt the knack. 

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Joie Excursion Change and Bounce: £128, Pramworld

This is a lot more than just a travel cot: it includes a portable changing unit that can be placed on top of the cot, a bouncy seat with a music (five classical lullabies and five nature sounds) and light attachment, a vibrate mode, and even a night light, plus a toy bar with plush toys if it’s being used as a playpen.

Once it’s up, it’s full of brilliant features, but our tester did find erecting the Joie involved a few more steps than some of the pricier models. It’s heavy too; with all the extra parts the total weight is 16.5kg.

Our testers thought it would be brilliant to have at relatives’ houses, though. “It’s basically a nursery, all in one package,” said one. 

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Arc 2 Lightweight Travel Cot: £94.95, Little Life

This travel cot definitely lives up to its name: packing away to a rucksack weighing 2.5kg, one of our tester’s two-year-old toddler insisted on carrying it all the way upstairs to its testing place. It’s super light and portable, but its one downside is building may take a little longer. Just light a tent, you click together the poles, thread them through loops, pop in the mattress, and it’s ready to use.

It has two zip-down sides and roof, so is ideal for use outside: it even has ground pegs to keep it steady, and the enclosed space could be kept insect-free.

The mattress is surprisingly thick and comfy, and the cot looks a lot more exciting for kids than most: one three-year-old tester has been sleeping in it with his duvet for the past week as he prefers it to his bed.

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BabyDan Travel Cot: £74.95, Baby & Co

BabyDan is known for its simple, safety-first baby products and its travel cot follows suit. It folds up small enough to fit under a bed, into 85cm x 24cm x 25cm, and comes in a black or blue design. It unfolds with the traditional “clicking” mechanism: you have to click the long sides into place, then the short sides, then push down the mechanism under the mattress; it’s quick and when one side “froze” it was easy to jiggle free and fold up.

Spacious mesh sides means it makes a particularly good playpen, and there’s a side bag to attach. Despite its small folded-away size, it opens up to a long travel cot, fit for older children (the manufacturer recommends up to 34in tall). Wheels allow it to be moved around a room simply – then braked into place.

It’s fairly heavy, though, weighing in at just over 11kg.

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Phil & Teds Traveller: £109.95, Bournemouth Baby Centre

This very light (2.8kg) travel cot was so portable one of our testers packed it in a suitcase and put it on an plane to use in a not-so-kid friendly Airbnb abroad. Another used it at the beach, buying the extra zip-top accessory (£19) for shade from the sun.

The self-inflating mattress feels comfy and firm, and you can unzip one whole side for easy access.

The downside is that it’s quite small: one tester’s two-year-old looked cramped in it. And it’s not the fastest or easiest to erect: it comes with several poles and parts to insert into the fabric frame, it takes about five minutes at first, though familiarity makes it easier.

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The Verdict: best travel cots

It was a tight race for first place between the Spacecot and BabyBjorn: while both are expensive, they are so much easier to put up and to put away. Their extended life (especially if you have more than one child) mean they’re good value in the long term.

They’re both also very light and portable, but since it’s £70 cheaper and erects in one second, the highly-engineered Spacecot pipped the number one spot.

For a cheaper option, though, the Red Kite was very impressive, albeit with a new thicker mattress, and for campers and adventurers big and small, the Arc 2 will wow.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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