Portable cots review 2007

Of the 10 portable cots we tested, only three passed all our safety tests.
 
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  • Updated:25 Oct 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Portable-cots

Test results for 10 portable cots from $90 to $220

Portable cots are very handy when you need to put your baby down to sleep while visiting friends, or when you're leaving them with the grandparents for the day. But how can you tell which portable cots are safest? What features should you look for? Are accessories like change tables useful, or a potential hazard?

Please note: this information was current as of October 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Portable cots review 2011.

To help you make the right choice, we went out and bought 10 portable cots — in retail stores, just like you would — and tested them in our lab.

Our testers examined the cots against the safety requirements of the Australian standard, AS/NZS 2195:1999, looking for strangulation hazards, limb and finger traps and footholds that a toddler might use to climb out of the cot. They also checked how easy the cots are to set up, pack away, move around and store.

Our test results give you clear, unbiased advice on which portable cots are safest and easiest to use. You might also be interested in our 2009 test of regular cots.

Update February 2008: Standard made mandatory

A new mandatory safety standard for portable cots was announced in February, and will take effect from 1 March 2009. It includes requirements for ensuring the folding mechanism is secure, that there are no gaps that could trap a child’s head, the mattress is safe and that the cot has adequate warnings about safe use. 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.

We welcome the introduction of the mandatory safety standard, but it is a minimum standard. Portable cots should ideally comply with the full voluntary Australian standard.

Brands tested:

  • Babylove Momento 3 in 1 BL950 #
  • Bertini Jet 3 in 1 003945 #
  • Childcare Galaxy 077200
  • Graco Pack 'n Play 9120JEGU #
  • Love N Care Play Land BP998
  • Mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854
  • Phil & Teds T2
  • Quicksmart Easyfold B77720 #
  • Steelcraft Sonnet 32416
  • Swallow Lite 'N' EASY Echo

# Model is discontinued, but some stock may still be available.

See our lastest article on Portable cots.

 
 

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What to buy

Brand and price

  • Bertini Jet 3 in 1 003945 # - $199
  • Love N Care Play Land BP998 - $170
  • Mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854 - $160
  • Childcare Galaxy 077200 - $120
  • Steelcraft Sonnet 32416 - $109
  • BabyLove Momento 3 in 1 BL950 # - $180
  • Swallow Lite 'N' Easy Echo - $79

# Discontinued, but some stock may still be available in stores.

The models in the 'What to buy' list are recommended based on the base cot only. We found some cots were let down by their accessories, but we didn't fail those cots as you might not use the accessories. See Accessories, below, and the profiles for more details.

What about the rest?

  • The Graco failed due to holes in the upper corners of the cot which could trap or snag a child’s clothing to become a strangulation hazard. There were also minor failures, including potential limb entrapment.
  • The frame of the Quicksmart provided a foothold through the mesh sides of the cot. An older baby or toddler could climb out of the cot and fall to the floor. Regarding ease of use, the frame required a lot of strength to pull the legs into place.
  • The Phil & Ted failed because it has an internal mesh pocket which provides a foothold (see its profile for more about this). It has a lot of short poles which need to be put together to make the frame. This is easy but time-consuming — it takes about five minutes or so.

Results tables

  Performance
Brand / model Price ($) Safety and performance Design Ease of use
Recommended        
Bertini Jet 3 in 1 003945 #
www.bertini.com.au
199 Pass (A) (B) Pass Very good
Love N Care Play Land BP998
www.lovencare.com.au
170 Pass (C) (A) Pass (A) Very good
Mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854
www.motherschoice.com.au
160 Pass Pass Very good
Childcare Galaxy, 077200
www.childcareproducts.com.au
120 Pass Pass Good
Steelcraft Sonnet 32416
www.britax.com.au
109 Pass Pass Good
BabyLove Momento 3 in 1 BL950 #
www.babylove.com.au
180 Pass (C) (A) Minor fail Very good
Swallow Lite 'N' Easy Echo
www.babyco.com.au
79 Minor fail Pass Good
Not recommended        
Phil & Teds T2
www.philandteds.com
220 Minor fail Major fail Good
Graco Pack 'n Play 9120JEGU #
www.gracobaby.com
100 Major fail Major fail Good
Quicksmart Easy fold B77720 #
www.funtasticnursery.com.au
169 Major fail Major fail Good
 


  Features Specifications
Brand / model Mesh panels on three sides Pocket Wheels Brakes Insect net Bassinet Change table Maximum weight / height suitability (kg / cm) Weight (kg) Folded dimensions (cm, L x W x H) Assembled dimensions (cm, L x W x H)
Recommended
Bertini Jet 3 in 1 003945 #
www.bertini.com.au
14 / 86 15 77 x 25 x 24 114 x 84 x 76
Love N Care Play Land BP998
www.lovencare.com.au
13.6 / ns 13.5 81 x 34 x 23 109 x 79 x 80
Mother's Choice Nova 2 in 1 005854
www.motherschoice.com.au
14 / 86 13 77 x 27 x 23 114 x 84 x 76
Childcare Galaxy, 077200
www.childcareproducts.com.au
13.6 / 86 11 78 x 29 x 27 110 x 77 x 78
Steelcraft Sonnet 32416
www.britax.com.au
15 / 90 12 79 x 30 x 28 115 x 80 x 78
BabyLove Momento 3 in 1 BL950 #
www.babylove.com.au
14 / 88 16.5 83 x 28 x 23 110 x 78 x 83
Swallow Lite 'N' Easy Echo
www.babyco.com.au
13.6 / 85 11 83 x 28 x 27 111 x 77 x 83

Not recommended

Phil & Teds T2
www.philandteds.com
ns 3.5 57 x 24 x 24 138 x 90 x 66
Graco Pack 'n Play 9120JEGU #
www.gracobaby.com
14 / 86 9 80 x 26 x 25 102 x 72 x 80
Quicksmart Easy fold B77720 #
www.funtasticnursery.com.au
20 / 89 10 78 x 23 x 60 114 x 78 x 70
 

Table notes

# Discontinued, but some stock may still be available in stores.

ns not stated
(A) Failed due to changing table accessory.
(B) Failed due to toy bar accessory.
(C) Failed due to bassinet accessory.

How we tested

Safety performance and design was tested to the requirements of selected clauses of the AS/NZS 2195:1999 Folding cots – Safety requirements.

To determine ease of use, the portable cots were assessed on:

  • How easy they are to set up and pack away.
  • How easy they are to move around.
  • How easy they are to store.

Accessories

A bassinette is simply a means to raise the sleeping platform from the bottom so you don’t have to bend down so far to reach the baby. The BabyLove and Love N Care bassinettes have gaps in which little fingers and limbs can get trapped — more distressing than deadly. The Mother's Choice or Bertini are better choices if you want a bassinette.

If you use a change table at home, you’ll appreciate their convenience while you’re away. Three of the cots on test (see the table below) have a table that you can attach to the top of the cot. But our testers discovered it’s really important to remove the change table when your child’s inside playing or sleeping — they have the potential to trap a baby’s limbs, fingers or even head.

The toy bar that comes with the Bertini is best left in the box: we found it was easy to break off bits of foam that could choke an infant.

Finally, while not strictly an accessory, the superfluous internal pocket of the Phil & Ted cot proved its undoing — it provides a foothold for an older baby to climb (or fall) out of the cot, so it fails against the Standard. But this cot does have certain advantages and if it takes your fancy, it could be worth rectifying the problem with a pair of scissors — see its profile for more.

Product profiles - the best

All these portable cots passed our major safety tests, but some of their accessories didn't (see the profiles below for details). 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 #

Price: $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.

# Discontinued but might still be available in some shops.

Love N Care Play Land BP998

Price: $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

Price: $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

Price: $120

Good points

  • Passed all safety tests.

Bad points

  • No wheels.
  • Heavy.

Steelcraft Sonnet 32416

Price: $109

Good points

  • Passed all safety tests.

Bad points

  • No wheels and it’s heavy to carry.

Baby Love Momento 3 in 1 BL950 #

Price: $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.

# Discontinued but might still be available in some shops.
* The manufacturer disagreed with our results.

Swallow Lite ‘N’ Easy Echo

Price: $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 disgreed with our results. It's possible that manufacturing variations might explain why our sample failed.
 

Product profiles - the rest

The remaining portable cots are profiled below. Prices are recommended retail prices, as advised by manufacturers in August/September 2007.

Phil & Ted T2

Price: $220

Good points

  • Very light, very small when packed and easy to carry — a genuine travel cot.
  • Zip-up insect mesh.

Bad points

  • Mesh pocket inside the cot provides a potential foothold for a toddler to climb. You could cut off the pocket to avoid this hazard.
  • Minor risk of finger entrapment in the zipper tags.
  • Takes longer than the others to set up and fold away (about five minutes).

Graco Pack ‘n Play 9120JEGU #

Price: $100

Good points

  • Easy and quick to set up and fold away.

Bad points

  • Cot has gaps which could trap child’s clothing and cause strangulation. *
  • Limb entrapment hazard at the top corners of cot. *
  • Fails design requirements for folding mechanism, but passes performance requirements. *
  • No wheels.
  • Heavy to carry.

# Discontinued but might still be available in some shops.
* The manufacturer told us this cot complies with European standards.

Quicksmart Easyfold B77720 #

Price: $169

Good points

  • Quick to set up and fold away.

Bad points

  • Cot has accessible footholds, which could cause child to climb and fall out of the cot. The manufacturer told us they've redesigned this cot to remove that problem.
  • Heavy to carry.
  • When setting up the cot it requires strength to extend and lock the legs into the required position.
  • No wheels.

# Discontinued but might still be available in some shops.

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.

At present manufacturers don't have to make their portable cots to meet the Australian Standard. However, for safety's sake our advice is to check that the portable cot you buy complies with the voluntary Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 2195:1999).

Features

  • The cot should be easy to assemble and fold up (all the ones 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?

Well, you probably could if you were determined, but it’s better to use a regular cot on a daily basis. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, 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.

Also, they’re higher off the ground than a portable cot, so you don’t have to bend so far to pick the baby up.

See our test of regular cots for more information and product recommendations.