We all know how important children being well-rested is to a happy family trip. But how do you ensure a good night’s sleep away from home for your baby or toddler without your normal bedding and familiar surroundings?
Do you rely on your accommodation providing you with a baby travel bed or do you always prefer to take your own?
If it’s a single destination trip, we always check that one is provided at the accommodation to save on luggage space.
However, more commonly we are making multi-stop trips that often involve staying with family and friends who may not have the right baby gear on hand. We find it so much easier and less strain on everyone if we travel with our own portable baby bed or travel bassinet.
Using our many years of experience traipsing the globe with infants (and learning the very hard way that there’s a huge difference between a pack n play and a proper, portable travel cot!) we have put together our top choices of modern, lightweight travel cots, bassinets and toddler beds that will make your travels easier.
On this page we will talk you through:
- The key features to look for in travel cots and infant travel beds
- Our top picks – best travel bassinets and baby travel beds
- Extra infant sleeping items you will need to pack
- Alternatives to taking a baby travel bed with you
This post is part of our travel product reviews series. Pop over to check out everything from kids comfort products to the best compact travel strollers.
Key features to look for in travel cots and infant travel beds
Portability – Undoubtedly the most important feature for our savvy family travellers. We are already carting everything but the kitchen sink with kids let’s not make it any more hard work! Ideally, a cot that can fit inside your existing luggage and weighs under 15lbs.
Ease of assembling – The last thing you want when arriving late at night to your destinations is to be battling instructions and constructing a rocket ship. Quick clear, easy folding mechanisms are a must.
The material – more specifically, can it be washed! When needs must, can you give is a quick sponge down or do parts easily come off to be washed?
Age range – Are you choosing something for a certain trip or stage of life or something that will last you for many years and children? Newborn models might be ultra sleek and compact but only last you for a few months. Larger models might be too much to carry for a baby but see you well into those toddler years.
Indoors or outdoors – Is this purchase for hotel and house stays only, or are you looking for something versatile that you can also take camping or out to the park with you as well? (We have a detailed review of our favourite baby beach tents here).
Accessories – The key extra feature to check is does your cot comes with is a travel bag? If it is too large to fit in your suitcase and needs to be carried in as an extra item or gate-checked you will want something secure to transport the item in. (Note many airlines allow a portable travel bassinet as an extra item to your usual weight allowance, but please always check this with your airline.) Also, check whether a fitted sheet specific to the mattress is included or needs purchasing separately.
Cost – The sleek ultra-compact models don’t come cheap, but if you are a frequent traveller and plan on using for more than one child you can definitely see why the investment is worthwhile.
Our Top Picks – Best Portable Baby Bassinets & Toddler Cots
|Product||Product name||Product weight||Suitable for||Travel bag included?||Price estimate|
|phil&teds Traveller Crib||6lbs - 2.8kg||0 to 3 years||Yes||$150USD - check latest prices here|
|Lotus Travel Crib||11lbs - 5kg||0 to 3 years||Yes||$200USD - check latest prices here|
|Uonuo 2 in 1 Portable Playard||8lbs - 3.6kg||0 to 3 years||Yes||$100USD - check latest price here|
|Munchkin Brica Fold n' Go Travel Bassinet||2.4lbs - 1.1kg||Newborns||No||$40 USD - check latest prices here|
|KidCo Peapod |
(+ PeaPod Plus)
|2.45lbs - 1.1kg|
3.65lbs - 1.7kg
|0 to 12 months|
1 to 5 years
|Yes||$70USD / $85USD - check latest prices here|
|Baby Delight Snuggle Nest||2.7lbs - 1.2kg||Newborns||Yes||$50USD - check latest pricing here|
|Dock-A-Tot Deluxe+||1.25lbs - 0.6kg||0 - 8 months||No||$175 USD - check latest prices here|
|The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed||6.6lbs - 3kgs||2 to 5 years|
(30 - 100lbs)
|Yes||$70USD - check latest prices here|
Let’s look at each of these travel beds and cots in a bit more detail.
Update March 2021 – since we first published this list there have been several new contenders in this market – and some discontinued lines we’ve removed. There are many new “sleep pods” or outdoor tents for baby. As our kids have now outgrown this phase we are just waiting for some friends and family to give us their feedback this summer then we will update our review to include these newer products.
phil&teds Traveller Crib
If you love their strollers you’re going to love the phil&teds portable travel cot too. Coming in a compact travel bag, it’s a full-size infant cot that will last you from newborn right through to the toddler years but at a fraction of the normal porta cot weight.
The phil&teds Traveller has breathable mesh sides that can zip down and you can also get a UV cover, ideal if you are using outside as a playpen as well. The mattress is self-inflating but in our opinion, not do with being a little thicker still.
Pros – One of the most versatile models for sleep and play and super light at 6lbs
Cons – It is a little complex to build. Easy once you get the hang of it but needs some practice at home with interconnecting parts, not just one hand unfold. And those feet really do stick out!
Related Reading: Our Ultimate Guide to Airplane Baby Bassinets
Lotus Travel Crib
If you want ease of construction, this is the one you’ve been looking for! This beautiful product by Guava Family is only 11lbs and with side zip doors it doubles as a play cot too.
Pros – Easy of construction, this is one if you want to avoid those late-night battles, and it is rather sleek looking!
Cons – Weighs more than others (though they’ve reduced it from 13lbs to 11lbs. And the price tag.
OUNUO 2 in 1 Portable Playard
I know we said no more Pack & Plays! But this one is different. New, lean and mean the OUNUO has some design features seriously worth considering as a long term baby travel cot investment.
It folds down seriously small for a playard to just 36″ x 30″ (91cm x 76cm) and weighs 8lbs (3.63kg). A little bulkier than the two above which we’d also call full-sized travel cots, but the Ounuo can also be used as a bassinet from newborn. The “One button” collapse model is a major win!
Pros – multiuse bassinet and playard – ideal for camping and a safe play area when you’re away from home
Cons – a little bulky but not many
Brica Munchkin Fold n’ Go Travel Bassinet
This is a brilliant portable choice for newborns. Contains a firm mattress with a fitted sheet with a sturdy outer frame. Once they are sitting upright though you will need to move on.
Pros – At only 2.4lbs its a super lightweight option that fits inside your suitcase or even your carry-on.
Cons – Only suitable for those first few months so isn’t a longer-term travel solution
Related Reading: Looking for the absolute essentials for your next journey? There’s are our all our baby Must-Have’s
If you’ve graduated from newborn, here’s our next best recommendation. In a pop-up cocoon style, this ultralightweight model is super easy to fold out and use so no late-night battles. The mesh sides provide ventilation and its a great model for indoors or outdoors. Comes with a gate check bag.
If they have outgrown the standard model, there’s also the Kidco PeaPod Plus which can last up to around 5 years of age.
Pros – Ability to anchor it to the ground. Easy fold mechanism
Cons – Child cannot stand up
Related Reading: Outgrown the plane bassinet? Here’s how your infant can still get cosy on the plane
Baby Delight Snuggle Nest
A great option for when you want to co-sleep on the go, or for keeping a smaller infant snug and cosy on a larger bed or cot. With rigid sides and breathable netting but a firm waterproof mattress, it folds up beautifully compact for transportation.
Pros – Really light and easy to include with your luggage
Cons – only for newborn
You can also look into the Baby Delight Snuggle Next Traveler XL, it folds up into a larger backpack style and is suitable for larger infants.
This is the best solution if you would like to place your infant safely on a bed without a full-sized cot. Good also for tummy time on the floor or using as a play space as well for younger tots. It is only 1.25lbs but you will need to fit it in with your luggage as no bag.
You can also get it in a larger size as your child grows.
Pros – Light and great for use on any flat surface. Use at home too when you’re entering that transition phase.
Cons – Despite the lightweight, it’s quite bulky and will take up suitcase space, pricey.
Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed
Once they have outgrown the Dock-A-Tot style of bed, this is the next step up. An inflatable bed it folds down to a small bundle and weighs in at 6.6lbs, ideal for your toddler who might not quite be ready for a big-kid bed but still prefers more freedom than a travel cot.
The inflatable rails keep them snug and secure (or you can purchase just the inflatable rails separately -see below). The outside blown up dimensions are 60″ x 37″or inside dimensions 47″x 24″.
Pros – Super for use as an extra bed at home, camping, sleepovers and fits most standard cot sheets – our top pick for camping with toddlers
Extra infant sleeping items you will need
Don’t forget bedding to go with your cot!
Although most the products above might come with a fitted sheet, you will most likely need your own blankets and infant sleep bags.
Infant sleep bags are a superb travel accessory. If your child is already familiar with sleeping in one, they will find the travel transition much simpler. Think about the climate where you are travelling as they come in different “tog” ratings. Somewhere warm and summery you will only want a 0.5 tog or ski and snow trip you will want a 2.5 tog or more!
Camping with toddlers? Learn more here about camping sleeping bags for toddlers.
Alternatives to needing a baby travel bed
I won’t deny it, of all the baby gear we’ve lugged around the world, travel bassinets and cots are amongst the most cumbersome items and I am glad to finally see an end to them!
That said, they have over the years been essential. We all know what a huge difference it can make to have your kids sleep soundly, particularly in an unfamiliar environment. But do you always need to bring a travel cot?
- If you are relying on your hotel or accommodation to provide the cot ALWAYS CALL TO CHECK AVAILABILITY. Do they have the bedding as well or will you need to pack some sheets and blankets? Would they pass modern safety standards?
- For very young infants, are you taking a travel systems stroller that includes the flat bassinet? There is no harm in a young infant sleeping in this while you travel (our favourites over the years have been Mountain Buggy and City Select)
- Is there a baby equipment hire company at your destination that could help? Do make sure you read reviews and that they are able to deliver at your specified dates to either you or the property owner.
- Why not get a new cot delivered? If it’s too cumbersome to take back home with you see if your hosts will then buy it off you or discount your stay for leaving them some handy new equipment – you never know!
- Will you need baby to sleep at the beach? Check out our portable sun tent options for baby.
- If all else fails, can children co-sleep or create a make-shift bed out of existing bedding?
You can check out this guide for the best co-sleeping baby cribs.
Looking for more baby & toddler travel advice?
We have travelled the world extensive with our three children since they were born for the past 10 years – and gathered A LOT of handy tips along the way!
We share them all here with you on the Globetrotters blog so you can become confident world travellers too.
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