Baby furniture buying guide

Don't purchase a cot, cradle, playpen or highchair until you've read our informative guide.
 
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03.Portable cots

Going on holidays, visiting relatives with your baby in tow, leaving junior with friends when you go out, or looking after others’ offspring are some of the occasions when a portable cot can come in handy.

A new mandatory safety standard for portable cots came into effect on 1 March 2009. It’s a basic set of safety tests based on the voluntary Australian standard for folding cots, AS/NZS 2195:1999. The full standard includes many other tests, such as for finger and limb traps; sharp edges and points; and strength of construction. CHOICE welcomes the introduction of the mandatory safety standard, but it is a minimum standard. Portable cots should ideally comply with the full voluntary Australian standard.

What to buy

CHOICE tested portable cots in October 2007. All the recommended shown below portable cots passed our major safety tests, but some of their accessories didn't. All are quick and easy to set up and fold away. Prices are recommended retail prices, as advised by manufacturers in August/September 2007, or the price we paid.

Bertini Jet 3 in 1 003945

(Discontinued but might still be available in some shops)
Bertini Jet 3 in 1Price: $199
Good points

  • Easy to move around using wheels while set up or packed.

Bad points

  • The changing table has finger and limb entrapment hazards.
  • Parts of the toy bar can be broken off and swallowed or inhaled.
  • It’s heavy to carry when you can’t wheel it.

Love N Care Play Land BP998

Love N care Play Land BP998Price: $170
Good points

  • Easy to move around using wheels while set up or packed.

Bad points

  • The bassinette has finger entrapment hazards.
  • The changing table has a finger entrapment hazard, and could trap the baby’s head if the table’s in place while the baby’s in the cot. It also has openings where child’s clothing could get caught and cause strangulation. You should always remove the change table when the child’s in the cot.
  • It’s heavy to carry when you can’t wheel it.

Mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854

mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854Price: $160
Good points

  • Passed all safety tests.
  • Easy to move around using wheels while set up or packed.

Bad points

  • It’s heavy to carry when you can’t wheel it.

Childcare Galaxy 077200

Childcare Galaxy 077200Price: $120
Good points

  • Passed all safety tests.

Bad points

  • No wheels.
  • Heavy.

Steelcraft Sonnet 32416

Steelcraft Sonnet 32416Price: $109
Good points

  • Passed all safety tests.

Bad points

  • No wheels and it’s heavy to carry.

Baby Love Momento 3 in 1 BL950

(Discontinued but might still be available in some shops)
baby Love Momento 3 in 1 BL950Price: $180
Good points

Easy to move around using wheels while set up or packed.

Bad points

  • The cot has two locking mechanisms, as required by the Australian Standard, but in the unlikely event that both fail, there’s a risk the baby’s head could become trapped. *
  • The bassinette has a finger entrapment hazard. *
  • The changing table could trap the baby’s head if the table is in place while the baby’s in the cot. You should always remove the change table when the child’s in the cot. *
  • It’s heavy to carry when you can’t wheel it.

* The manufacturer disagreed with our results.

Swallow Lite ‘N’ Easy Echo

Swallow Lite N Easy EchoPrice: $79
Good points

  • None to mention.

Bad points

  • Gaps in the top corners of the cot could trap a limb. *
  • No wheels and it’s heavy to carry.

* The manufacturer disagreed with our results. It's possible that manufacturing variations might explain why our sample failed.

What to look for

Safety

Portable cots can be dangerous. Here's how to keep your child safe.

  • Don't use a portable cot if your child weighs more than 15kg.
  • Don't put additional mattresses in the cot.
  • Inside surfaces should be free of bumps, ledges and protruding parts so children can’t hit their heads, get their clothing snagged or use them as a foothold to climb out of the cot.
  • There should be no entrapment areas, where children can trap limbs, heads or fingers.
  • There should be no sharp edges or points where a child could injure itself.
  • The mattress should be firm enough and fit snugly without gaps on any side.
  • Remove all toys from the cot when the child is sleeping.
  • The rails should have two locking mechanisms to prevent accidental collapse and closure. Check these before placing your child in the cot.
  • The cot floor shouldn’t sag. Press down on the base to check this.
  • Check that the portable cot you buy complies not only with the mandatory standard but also with the voluntary Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 2195:1999).

Features

  • The cot should be easy to assemble and fold up (all the recommended in this test are), not be too heavy and have a carry bag. Some models fold such that the wheels protrude from the carry bag, so it's easier for you to wheel the bag around.
  • The mesh sides should provide good ventilation and allow you to easily see the baby.
  • A pocket on the outside — out of reach of the baby — is handy for storage. An insect net for the top will keep out larger insects, but smaller ones like mosquitoes may still get in through the side mesh.
  • Some cots have a removable fitted sheet, which can be taken out for washing.
  • Accessories like a bassinette or change table can be useful, but they also have risks. See What to buy and the profiles for more details.

Why not use a portable cot all the time?

Portable cots are often cheaper than regular ones, plus you can move them around easily and take them with you when you’re out and about. So why not skip buying a regular cot and just stick with the portable? It’s better to use a regular cot on a daily basis.

  • Regular cots are sturdier and more durable than portable cots. They can also accommodate larger babies, so you’ll get more use out of them. An average two-year-old will be slightly larger than the recommended size for most portable cots, whereas a regular cot — especially one with a bed-conversion kit — can be used till they’re three or four.
  • Regular cots are higher off the ground than a portable cot, so you don’t have to bend so far to pick the baby up.

Small travel cots

Travel cots have foldable wire frames so they’re lightweight and very compact when folded, UV-resistant fabric to help protect against the sun, and mesh to keep out the bugs.
CHOICE reviewed two small travel cots in February 2008, to see how robust they were, and how easy they were to transport and use.

Baby NationBaby Nation Pop-Up Sleep Easy

Price: $85
Weight: 1kg
Dimensions when folded (H x W x D, cm): 28 x 31 x 22
Dimensions when assembled (H x W x D, cm): 57 x 55 x 95
Contact: (03) 9553 0024; Dale Importers (Australia)

Kinderkot Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed

KinderkotPrice: $140
Weight: 3kg
Dimensions when folded (H x W x D, cm): 44 x 48 x 24
Dimensions when assembled (H x W x D, cm): 62 x 135 x 89
Contact: www.kinderkot.com.au

Update July 2008: Kinderkot has advised that this product has changed since our test to include velcro strips on the base and sleeping bag to stop the sleeping bag moving around, changes to the ties and strengthening of the metal frame joiners.

Safety

  • Neither cot has any major safety risks. They’re robust enough in construction, and don’t have any potential head, limb or finger traps. However, there is some risk from the soft bedding (the Kinderkot has a soft sleeping bag and the Baby Nation has a soft fabric mattress). A baby sleeping face down on these could be at risk of suffocation.
  • A firm mattress is better for a baby, though it might make the cot harder to fold. As long as your baby sleeps on his or her back, as recommended by the SIDS Council of Australia, there shouldn’t be any significant risk from these cots.
  • The Baby Nation is suitable for babies up to about 18 months old. Kinderkot now recommends that the sleeping bag shouldn’t be used for children under 18 months and is suitable for children up to the age of four years. Unlike standard portable cots, both are too small to use as playpens.
  • If you use one of these cots outdoors — such as at a picnic or when camping — you should anchor the cot to ensure it can’t move around. The Kinderkot has four loops suitable as anchoring points, though no pegs are provided. The Baby Nation has no anchoring points, so might not be suitable outdoors on a windy day.
 

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