Thursday, 5 March 2015

Travel Cots Review - Big Test for Mother & Baby magazine

by Roz

Over the Christmas holidays, A and I found ourselves testing six travel cots for Mother & Baby magazine, an item we hadn't actually got around to buying yet but was on our list. I wasn't approached for this because of or through the blog, I simply replied to a journalist request on twitter. To be honest I hadn't really looked in to travel cots, I just knew I wanted something that was portable, had a good mattress for A sleeping on and was easy to assemble and take down.  We have a playpen that my mum and dad bought for A's Christmas, it's excellent and thankfully stays up in our living room pretty much all the time, but the first time I built it I wanted to throw it out the window in a rage!!

The magazine we are in!

We were sent six different cots which were all different both in style, features and of course price.f The price points of the cots varied from about £50 all the way up to £200. There were three cots I thought were great and my favourite was the Baby Bjorn, which also happens to be the most expensive (B will tell you I'm pretty good at liking the most expensive one of things!). The point of the Big Test is to rank the cots against each other for value, practicality and quality and also list some pros and cons for each cot. I have included my full reviews of the cots below incase this helps any of you who are looking to buy a travel cot soon.

Baby Bjorn Travel Cot Light £200

Pros: The Baby Bjorn is a true travel cot as it is light weight and portable. I found this model the easiest to assemble, it only took me a few seconds and I didn’t need to refer to the instructions. I liked the design of the cot, from both a practicality and looks point of view. The mattress is really good, it has a nice thickness to it and I would be happy for my son to sleep on it every night. The mesh sides meant I could keep an eye on my son whilst he was playing or sleeping in the cot, and the cot itself does not take up too much space but the mattress is quite long, so should last till baby is older.

Cons: The mattress takes a while to flatten out after the cot has been in the carry bag, this is simply due to the way the mattress folds in to the bag. There is no solid base on this cot (the cot is made of mesh) so it would be unsuitable for use outdoor / in a tent.

Overall: This cot is not a cheap option for a travel cot but I believe it is worth the price for the light weight design, which makes it a truly portable travel cot,  and quality of the cot, especially the mattress.

Value: 4 out of 5
Practicality: 5 out of 5
Quality: 5 out of 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Our favourite the Baby Bjorn


Pros: This cot is a nice size travel cot, it is squarer in shape and had plenty of room for my son to squirm about in his sleep or equally play in with his toys.  I was able to use our standard cot bedding which I liked and I also really liked the look of the cot (navy and white striped). This cot is easy to move about once assembled as it has wheels. You can fix a ‘changing station’ to top of the cot which I think could be very useful when travelling.

Cons: This cot has snap fix sides that I found difficult to fix in place on my own. The cot is not difficult to build but it is definitely easier and quicker if there are two of you to do it. The rocking section (one of the extras) looked like a good addition when I was building it but unfortunately seems to only be suitable for young / small babies (the instructions say up to 12 months), as the area where my son’s head came to rest was not soft or padded and he would have bumped his head if we used it.

Overall: This cot came with a lot of extras which would add to the overall weight (and space required in your boot!) of the cot if you choose to take them with you when travelling. I really liked the look of the cot on its own and my son was happy to sleep and play in this, I’m not sure the extras are necessary but my opinion is based on A being to big to use them already!

Value: 4 out of 5
Practicality: 4 out of 5
Quality: 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Pros: This is a true travel cot and is very light and portable.  When the cot is in it’s travel bag it is very compact and takes up very little space, ideal for taking on trips or storing on a cupboard shelf. The carry bag is good and has a shoulder strap. I really liked the mattress for this cot, you actually inflate it (simply by blowing in some air), which made for the comfiest sleeping area for baby. The cot is also a really good length and I think it would last a good few years before my son outgrew it.

Cons: This cot takes a good amount of time to build. Once you have built it the first time, it would probably take less time as you know what you are doing. Despite the cot coming in a number of parts, I did find it quite intuitive to figure out how it all went together but after a long journey you would certainly have to factor in some build time before your child’s bed is ready. Although I loved the mattress for this cot, I found it almost impossible to attach the mattress to the base of the cot! It took repeated efforts from both myself and my husband and over twenty minutes to attach just the first loop on the base of the mattress to the clip that secures it.  The clips only have a small gap and the loop of fabric on the mattress is just too rigid and small.  

Overall: I actually thought this cot would be my favourite, I really liked how light weight it was and how portable this made the cot. The mattress itself was excellent but the frustration caused by trying to attach the mattress quickly made me dislike this cot (as the sleeping environment wouldn’t be safe without the mattress properly attached).

Value: 3 out of 5
Practicality: 2 out of 5
Quality: 3 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Note: this cot make me so grumpy that I never actually got a picture of A in it and packed it away after the initial test!

Pros: This cot was the easiest of the snap fix sided cots to build, it literally took a minute and I was able to assemble the cot on my own without needing to read the instructions. The travel bag that comes with the cot allows the wheels of the cot to act as wheels to pull the cot along when travelling rather than having to carry it which I thought was a great idea. The mattress on the cot is fine for occasional use and the cot is large enough to use as a playpen and comes with small toy bag attached to the outside of the cot for storage.

Cons: The cot is large and takes up a lot of room once assembled, this could limit where the cot could be used if space is an issue. The cot is not especially light or small when packed away and again this would need to be considered when travelling with the cot.

Overall: This cot offers a good all round travel cot and playpen for a great price. There are some compromises, such as the weight and folded size of the cot and the thinner mattress, which need to be considered.

Value: 5 out of 5
Practicality: 4 out of 5
Quality: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5

We got to keep the Baby Dan after testing and it now lives at my mum & dad's house for when either A or one of his cousins goes to stay :) I don't actually have any photos of A in it, that aren't blurry, but the purple star blanket in the shot above shows you how big the cot is.  No chance of A growing out of this in a hurry, I think it's actually longer than his cot bed!

Nuna Sena Mini travel cot £120

Pros: This is a compact and very sturdy travel cot.  It is ideal for using where space is limited.  The mattress is excellent for a travel cot and is surprisingly thick which makes for a comfy sleep. You can also use standard bedding with this cot which keeps things simple. You can raise the height of the mattress in this cot which is great for younger babies (and your back!)

Cons: Despite the smaller size of this cot, it was quite heavy and a bit awkward to assemble.  I found turning it upside down and shaking the snap fix sides was the quickest and easiest way to build it on my own. It will last a shorter length of time than most other travel cots due to the length, the instructions say till approximately 18 months (v c.3 years for most travel cots). Unfortunately my son, at 7 months, was already touching both the top and bottom of the cot.

Overall: Whilst I really liked both the look and feel of this cot, it’s smaller size means it will be outgrown a lot quicker than the other travel cots. Personally I would be reluctant to buy a cot that had such a limited lifespan. 

Value: 2 out of 5
Practicality: 3 out of 5
Quality: 5 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Erm at 7 months Aaron is too big for the Nuna Sienna Mini which is sold as for up to 18 months!

Pros: This is a large and sturdy cot.  It is brightly coloured, with an animal theme and therefore doubles as a good playpen. The cot is easy to move about when assembled as it has wheels (which lock in place). You can also raise the height of the mattress on the Jane, which would be very useful for young babies who cannot yet sit / stand up.

Cons: The mattress for this cot is quite thin. It is okay for playpen use but my son did not sleep very well in the cot and this may have been because of the hard base of the cot which can be felt through the mattress. I also struggled to fit a sheet in this cot as the mattress is attached to the base with velcro loops through the base of the cot. This keeps the mattress very secure but as these loops are near the edge does not leave much room to secure a sheet under the mattress. The sides and base of the cot are made out of a thin, water resistant type fabric, whilst this may be ideal to keep clean, it is not very soft and I think it might cause my son to sweat in hotter weather.

Overall: If you were looking for a playpen that doubles as an occasional cot, and have the room for such a large cot, then the Jane would be ideal.

Value: 4 out of 5
Practicality: 3 out of 5
Quality: 3 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

A in his Elf outfit :)

As I mentioned above, I wasn't contacted through the blog to take part in this review, nor was I asked to publish a post on the cots.  I simply thought it could help someone pick the best cot for them.  If you have any other questions on the cots above feel free to ask me in the comments below.

Roz xx

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