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Two-thirds of portacots tested by CHOICE fail safety standards

Our testing reveals portable cots from brands including Kmart, Love N Care, Target and 4Baby pose safety risks for babies. 

Last updated: 20 December 2023


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • 18 out of 27 currently available portable cots reviewed by our experts failed to meet key safety standards 
  • Most of the safety failures relate to soft or poorly fitting mattresses, which can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death
  • CHOICE is calling on the government to strengthen our product safety laws so products like this don't make it to the shelves

A portable cot (also known as a travel cot or portacot) is a handy item to have in the first few years of your child's life. It's great for holidays and sleepovers, and a convenient option if you want a second, collapsible cot at the grandparents' or another carer's house. 

But CHOICE experts recommend taking great caution when you're buying this product, as many popular brands pose serious safety risks to babies. 

In our lab tests, two-thirds of these products failed key safety requirements

Kim Gilmour, CHOICE testing expert

"In our expert labs, we regularly test a selection of portable cots currently available on the Australian market," says CHOICE testing expert Kim Gilmour

"In our lab tests, two-thirds of these products failed key safety requirements, which is a really disappointing result. Unfortunately, this is something we are used to seeing with this particular baby product."

"We assess all models in our labs against the most current Australian safety standard for portable cots. But there are still many models failing to even meet the minimum mandatory requirements, such as mattress firmness."

Portacot safety issues

"Several portable cots received performance scores as low as 20% simply because they had so many failures," says Kim. 

In fact, 18 of the 27 models in our current review failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements – that's two-thirds, a worryingly high proportion.


It's important that you not only buy a safe portacot, but that you also use it safely.

Products that failed did so for a number of reasons, including major head and limb entrapment risks and suffocation risks. 

Less serious hazards include finger entrapment risks, or the possibility a child may be able to open a zipper or combination of zippers and get out of the cot.

"Most of the safety failures we see relate to the portacot mattress either being not firm enough or not fitting snugly inside the portacot base," says Kim.

"Soft or poorly fitting mattresses can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death. We also see problematic cot designs that have 'puffy' covers that can also cause a risk.

Soft or poorly fitting mattresses can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death

Kim Gilmour, CHOICE baby and kids expert

"The good news is that although we haven't been able to recommend very many portable cots in the past, our latest review has revealed a few more products that do pass our safety tests, and which we can recommend to parents. Others have only minor safety issues.

"However, when choosing a portacot for your baby, you want to make sure you're making the safest choice possible, so we strongly recommend checking our reviews before you buy. You can also view a comprehensive list of all children's products that have failed our safety tests in the past on the CHOICE website.

"And if you've already purchased one of these unsafe cots, CHOICE recommends you return it to the retailer or manufacturer and ask for a full refund. You should note however that they may not oblige unless the cot has been officially recalled."

The portable cots that failed our key safety tests

Our full portable cot reviews include information on why these models failed safety tests (and responses from the manufacturers), plus portable cots that we do recommend as safe options.

Responses from manufacturers

In response to our tests, manufacturers from Baby Bunting (4Baby), Kmart, Childcare, Love N Care and Star Kidz disagreed with our results, showing us reports from other third-party labs, indicating that their products pass safety standards. Target also disagreed with our findings. 

CHOICE, which operates its own in-house accredited lab, stands by its results.

Tips for buying a portacot and how to use it safely

"Price or brand is not an indicator of how safe these products are," says Kim. "We find that even some of the leading brands of portacots have issues that pose safety risks for babies. 

"Our advice is to always check our reviews and do some research before you settle on which one to purchase." 

Here are some tips on how to buy and use a portacot safely:

  • Travel cots are designed to be used temporarily only – they are not suitable to use as a permanent sleep option. 
  • Before you buy, check the government's product safety website to see if there have been any product recalls or safety issues with particular brands or models. 
  • Only use the mattress or padded base supplied by the manufacturer – don't use other mattresses, as they can pose a suffocation risk or make the cot too shallow, allowing a child to climb out too easily. 
  • The mattress should be firm and snug-fitting all around to avoid trapping the baby's head. 
  • Make sure there is breathable mesh material all around where it meets the top of the mattress area.
  • Make sure there's nothing sticking out that could snag the baby's clothes or act as a foothold for the baby to climb out. 
  • Don't position the cot beside blind cords, power points, windows or other hazards. 
  • Never put pillows, cot bumpers or soft toys in the portacot – not only because they're a suffocation risk, but because they can also be used to climb out. 
  • Once the baby weighs more than 15kg, or can undo the folding latches, stop using the portacot.
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.