If you’re planning your baby’s first holiday, a travel cot is a must-have item for helping you pack light.

While they can’t necessarily replace a regular cot (as it’s not usually recommended to have them for sleeping in permanently), travel cots are an ideal solution for short trips and sleepovers, since they can be popped in the boot, built in minutes and quickly stored away when not used to save space. 

However, knowing which one to buy is more difficult. With a range of brands offering everything from budget buys to cots that cost hundreds of pounds, it’s difficult to know which sleep solution to invest in. 

When making the decision, you’ll need to consider your own personal needs – how often you plan to use it, the age range you need it for and whether you also want a model that can double up as a playpen.

It’s important to take practical factors into account too, such as how easy it is to put up, how heavy it is to carry, how much space it takes up and affordability. We recruited a team of parent testers to put a range of products on trial for this roundup. These are the cots that made the cut

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.

Nuna sena aire travel cot: £180, John Lewis & Partners

This travel cot by Nuna might be on the pricier side but our parent tester, whose daughter is seven months old, was completely won over by it. First up, its modern design won praise, with our tester commenting that the frost grey colour was perfect for any nursery and fit in seamlessly with her decor.

Suitable from newborn (through the use of a bassinet level) to toddler age, our tester commented that it was very easy to lower for this purpose and, since it’s really sturdy and roomy, it works perfectly as playpen too. It took less than a minute to put together and was a doddle to collapse. It comes with a thick, padded mattress, an organic cotton fitted sheet and a plush travel bag too. In other words, the superior quality of this item easily justifies the higher price point and makes it our best buy.

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Baby Elegance kangu foldable crib: £90, Baby Elegance

If you’re looking for a portable sleep solution for your newborn but need something that can also be used everyday, this Kangu foldable crib is ideal. Unlike most in our round-up, this crib is actually designed as a fixed bedside sleeper to use when you’re at home but it can be transformed into a travel crib almost instantly. Our tester found the crib super easy to fold in half so it could swiftly be moved from room to room and, when popped in the accompanying travel bag, it easily fit in the boot of their small car.

It doesn’t come with any extras but one nifty feature is that it can be switched from a static position to a rocking one; ideal for soothing your baby to sleep. Given its design, this one is only suitable up until six months so we think it’s perfect if you plan to travel often in your baby’s early months and don’t want to buy a separate crib and travel cot.

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Joie commuter change petite city travel cot: £90, John Lewis & Partners

This travel cot from Joie also doubles up as a changing station through a super simple click-on compartment that fastens over the top of the travel cot, saving space when travelling and avoiding you from having to bend down to floor level to change your little one. 

We found this cot incredibly practical: it folded open in seconds and then, with the push of a button, collapses to fit in the accompanying travel bag. As well as a snap-on changing station, you can also clip on a bassinet for younger sleepers, which makes it easy to pop babies down for naps. Our little six-month-old baby slept much better in this than in an open cot. If that wasn’t enough practical points for you, then you’ll love the fact it can be wheeled around too.

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Mamas and Papas classic travel cot: £47.20, Mamas and Papas

Travel cots can cost hundreds of pounds but there are budget buys to be had too, like this impressive offering from Mamas and Papas. But how does this cheaper model stack up against the pricier brands? Well, pretty well actually. Like most, it’s suitable from birth to toddler stage and can easily double up as a playpen.

This stylish grey and mint coloured cot can be collapsed and popped in a bag or moved around the room super easily with the inclusion of two wheels on one side. Our tester said after a couple of attempts, it was easy to pop up and put down, although it doesn’t match the swiftness and ease of some of the pricier models. Overall, this one offers excellent value for money, the only downside being that the included mattress is a little on the thin side.

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Chicco zip and go travel cot: £89.99, Chicco

This model by Chicco is a great idea for those looking for a cot that grows with their little one. For use from birth to six months, it can easily be assembled as a travel crib and then when the time comes, simply opening the zips at the base transforms it into a much longer, traditional style travel cot which will last until your child is around two-years-old.

Our tester praised it for its simplicity: the zip design is incredibly straightforward and it collapses down just as swiftly too. It’s also really easy to activate the cot’s rocking mode by adjusting the legs. The only downside to this one was not the cot but the bag itself, as it feels quite flimsy compared to the bulkiness of the cot, so it could be worth purchasing a sturdier bag if you plan on carrying the travel cot around quite often.

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BabyBjorn travel cot light: £214.99, John Lewis & Partners

Swedish brand BabyBjorn is known for its high end, practical parenting products and this travel cot is no exception. Available in classic colours of navy, black and silver, our tester, whose daughter is eight months old, loved everything about this model. A big bonus is just how lightweight and compact it is; it only weighs 6kg and is also perfect for families who need something space-saving, since it could be stored down the side of the sofa and slipped into a packed car boot with ease. It works equally well as a travel cot and playpen: all four sides are mesh which means its breathable and your little one will love looking out as they play.

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Bizzi Growin pod travel changing bag: £65, Amazon

This innovative travel cot solution by Bizzi Growin is perfect for impromptu sleepovers or for parents who are travelling on public transport and therefore aren’t able to lug around a travel cot. At first, it appears to be just an ordinary travel bag, in a stylish neutral grey with separate compartments for your essentials, an insulated bottle pocket and a changing mat to the side of the bag – but in a couple of minutes, it folds out to nifty travel crib.

It’s no heavier than a regular changing bag, making it a genius piece of kit. Of course, the design does mean it has limitations when compared to other standalone travel cots; it’s only suitable until babies can pull themselves up and, although our tester was quite surprised at how padded the mattress was, they felt it was probably best designed for occasional trips rather than regular stays.

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Sleepyhead baby pod: From £130, John Lewis & Partners

For fussy babies who just won’t be put down, this could be a good option. This cosy, cushioned pod – which comes in size deluxe (birth to eight months) and grand (nine months to three years) – may look simple but it’s actually a really versatile solution that is specifically designed to recreate the environment of the womb. We found this perfect for daytime naps and it also helped our little one settle quicker than they did in a travel cot.

It’s also really easy to transport as there’s no construction needed: simply pop it in the travel bag and you’re all sorted. It’s so useful in providing a space for your little one to safely play, kick their legs and nap, making it a lifesaver for when going to visit relatives. And, because it takes up so little space, you can keep your baby with you rather than setting up a cot in another room. We think this product lived up to the hype, and works best using it in addition to a travel cot, as it’s designed for naps and tummy time, and doesn’t replace a cot.

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LittleLife featherlite lightweight travel cot: £149.99, LittleLife

If you’re looking for a travel cot that can be lifted with one hand, this offering from LittleLife will suit, as it is truly as light as the name implies. It only weighs 3kg; making this one ideal for C-section mums who need to avoid heavy lifting. Its weight isn’t the only selling point – the airy, mesh travel cot comes with a substantial mattress which snugly attaches onto the cot to prevent shifting and a fitted sheet too. The supplied metal poles initially seemed overwhelming to assemble but actually clicked together smoothly in around five minutes. The roomy size makes it an ideal play space, too.

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The verdict: Travel cots

We love Nuna’s sena aire travel cot. It’s stylish, sturdy and worth every penny in our eyes. If you’re looking for a cheaper model, Mamas and Papas’ offering is great value for money. Finally, a special mention goes to Bizzi Growin – its travel cot might only be suitable for up to six months but we still think the changing bag design is genius.

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.