Cot Bed For Baby

A cot bed is designed for infants and very young children. It can be adjusted into a low bed for a toddler or an older child. Cot beds can be pricey, but many parents find the investment worth it. The beds last long because your baby can use them until they are about 3.5 years of age. 

You should know that there’s a slight difference between a cot and a cot bed. Cots are smaller in size and cannot be adjusted to fit toddlers or older children. If space and finances aren’t an issue, we recommend a cot bed over a cot. Read our guide to transitioning a child from a cot bed to a toddler bed.

Still, the tips below will apply to whichever bed you choose. Either bed can be large for some babies, especially newborns. 

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Why Would You Need to Make a Cot Bed Smaller?

If your baby has been sleeping beside you or in a bassinet, they might find a cot bed too spacious. They may feel disoriented and less snuggled compared to the warm coziness they enjoyed before.   

Even if they’re newborn, they’ll find the cot bed different from the comforting climate of the womb. 

Your little one may also feel like they’re far away from you. And if they wriggle in their sleep, a spacious cot may make them restless. 

You don’t have to wait for months before you can use that cot bed. With a few modifications, you can make it smaller and cozier for your little one. Then, they’ll feel all snuggled up and sleep peacefully.   

The FDA has not approved any products for prevention of SIDS. A safe sleep environment, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services does not include any sheets, blankets, or bumpers so please be cautioned when reading the tips below. 

Use Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Cushions Made from Sheets/Blankets

Step 1: Get Breathable Beddings 

Rule one of any cot bed bedding for a newborn or young child is that they must be breathable. This applies to mattresses, cushions, sheets, and blankets. Your baby should breathe freely, no matter their sleeping position. Breathable bedding helps with temperature control and makes sure that your baby can breathe even with their face buried inside the bedding. 

Step 2: Pick out At Least 3 Soft Sheets/Blankets 

Fold each breathable sheet/blanket from corner to corner until you have a long cylindrical cushion. Ensure that the cushions are long enough to fit the sides of the crib. 

Step 3: Create a Box-Like Nest in the Cot Bed

Insert the cushions along the sides of the cot bed and put a sheet over them. Tuck them in snugly. The point is to make a nest-like area in the spacious cot so that it feels smaller and comfier for your baby. The child will feel cozy in the nest and sleep for much longer. 

Use Pool Noodles along the Sides of the Cot Bed to Make It Smaller for Your Baby

Step 1: Get Four Pool Noodles 

Pool noodles aren’t just for the swimming pool. With some creativity, you can use them in your baby’s cot bed. Pool noodles are cheap and come in different sizes. Go for a size which you can cut in half. 

Step 2: Cut the Pool Noodles in Half and Adjust Their Lengths to Fit the Inner Sides of the Cot Bed 

Measure the cot bed’s length and width. Use these measurements to adjust the length of the pool noodles. We recommend cutting the noodles in half to give them a flat side so that they’ll be more stable when you lay them down in the bed. Pool noodles with flat sides are safer if your child wriggles a lot in their sleep. 

Step 3: Tuck Them in Snugly to Form a Nest 

Insert the noodles along the sides of the crib and on the cot mattress. Lay each noodle on its flat side. Put a fitted sheet over them and ensure they’re tucked in snuggly. You should create a nest-like space in the cot bed where your baby will sleep. 

You might also enjoy this article on safe cot bed bumper alternatives

Use pool noodles to make a cot bed smaller

Use Cylindrical Cot Cushions to Form a Nest-Like Cot Bed for Your Baby

Step 1: Buy High-Quality Breathable Cot Cushions

Cot cushions come in many colors and designs. Choose cylindrical cushions that will fit the sides of your cot bed. And ensure that they are soft, breathable, and hypoallergenic. 

Step 2: Tuck Them in Under a Sheet

Insert the cushions in your cot bed and tuck them in under a soft sheet. They should form a cozy little nest. Place your baby in the nest-like space to check if they are comfortable and snug. Adjust the nest so it’s not too wide or too tight for your infant. 

Use breathable cushions to make a cot bed smaller

Is There an Insert to Make a Cot Bed Smaller?

Instead of sheets and cushions, you can buy a cot bed insert. The best inserts to make a cot bed feel smaller are baby nests and sleepyheads 

Use a Baby Nest to make a cot bed smaller 

A baby nest is a breathable sleep pod designed for infants. Most baby nests fit babies ranging from zero to six months. They are designed to fit in large cot beds, and most of them are lightweight and portable. A good baby nest should have sturdy side supports and back support for your baby. You can also check for baby nests that mold around your baby. Such nests will add extra security and coziness. 

You can keep the baby nest beside you if you are co-sleeping, and then move it to the cot bed when you are ready to transition your baby to their bed. 

Lots of moms report that their babies sleep much longer when they use a baby nest. The nest also helps to reduce acid reflux and startle reflex

A Sleepyhead snuggle pod insert can make a cot bed smaller

This is a snuggle pod designed by a Swedish mom. Made with comfort in mind, it will help your baby relax. The sleepyhead has a cocoon design that keeps your baby safe and cozy. It’s made with high-quality materials and is durable. You can easily insert it into your cot bed, and your baby will feel much calmer in the smaller environment of the sleepyhead. 

Buy a sleepy head to make the cot bed more cozy for your baby

Unfortunately, the sleepyhead pod is expensive. And many people may prefer not to spend so much on one item, but it is of excellent quality, safe, hypoallergenic, super cozy, luxurious, and stylish. 

Tips to Make a Cot Bed More Cozy and Safe 

Finally, let’s take a quick look at how you can make a cot bed more cozy and safe. If you haven’t already assembled your cot bed, you might also enjoy our article. You might also want to read our list of cot bed accessories and why you need them.

Use Comfortable Beddings

Baby bedding should help your child sleep in a good position. It should also promote temperature regulation so that the baby isn’t too hot or too cold. Use a well-fitting crib mattress that is firm, and get sheets or blankets that are soft and cozy. 

Put the Baby Down for Naps in the Cot Bed During the Day 

Transitioning from a bassinet or co-sleeping to a spacious cot bed can be a little tough for many infants. You can try putting them in the cot during the day. Then, the cot bed will be a familiar environment when night time comes. 

Warm the Cot Bed 

Putting your infant into a cold bed will startle them. You can put a hot water bottle in the cot before the baby’s bedtime and remove it before you put them down. The baby will find the cot bed warm and toasty which will help them relax. 

Baby’s Head Should Not Be Covered When They Are Sleeping

Lay your baby close to the bottom end of the cot bed. Many experts recommend laying your infant on their back when you put them down to sleep. Tuck in the sheets securely so that they won’t cover the baby’s head, or you can use an infant sleeping bag. 

Add Your Scent to the Cot Bed

Your baby loves your scent. They find it reassuring. They know by your scent that you are close by and ready to snuggle and comfort them. Instead of a sheet, you can add a cotton t-shirt that has your scent to their crib. 

Reduce Distractions 

Create a restful environment. Dim the lights in the room and remove anything that may stimulate the baby. You can play a white-noise sound to calm the baby. White noise can help drown out other sounds while soothing your baby.

Portable Cot Bed For Baby

The best travel cots for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Babybjörn travel cot light: £272, Babybjorn.co.uk
  • Best for grab and go – Dooky traveller portable travel cot: £38.50, Hippychick.com
  • Best for children that climb – Little Life arc 2 travel cot: £114.99, Littlelife.com
  • Best for dual use as a playpen – Micralite sleep & go travel cot: £175, Micralite.com
  • Best for grandparents’ houses – Joie excursion change and bounce travel cot: £129.99, Discountbabyequip.co.uk
  • Best for speedy assembly – Bugaboo stardust travel cot: £215, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
  • Best for newborns – Silver Cross voyager co-sleeper: £199, Silvercrossbaby.com
  • Best value for money – Graco contour electra travel cot: £120, Gracobaby.eu

Babybjörn travel cot light

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

We really rate this travel cot for both the main reasons you’d want a travel cot: sleep and for taking on the go. It’s super lightweight (6kg, which includes the durable carry bag) and a total doddle to put up. The legs click out, and then you just link on the bottom of the mesh and pop the mattress in. Because the legs fold out at an angle, it feels very sturdy once up and the sides come high enough so that it’d be a real challenge for any escape artists to breach the perimeter.

The mattress is firm yet fair – our testers had many nights’ sleep on it with no complaints. The airy mesh allows for air flow through, reducing sweaty naps even in warmer climates. We liked the size of this travel cot too – it isn’t vast, meaning it fits in snug hotel rooms, yet is big enough for our testers to use from birth right up until they’re well over two. And yes, the price tag is a little punchy but this travel cot is sure to see you through several children and still be good enough to hand down to another bundle of joy.Buy now £272 Babybjorn.co.uk

Price comparison

Dooky traveller portable travel cot

Best: For grab and go

Rating: 7/10

Perfect if you want to take something easy and highly portable for your baby to nap in. This bed concertinas down into a flat package that you can easily chuck under your pram or into luggage. Once folded out, the sides come up fairly high and the mattress included provides a bit of cushioning.

You’ll need to make sure you put this on a firm surface for safe sleeping – it is definitely not suitable for a sofa or on top of a bed. And it’s only going to work for a baby up to about six months, depending on their size. We liked the side pockets for stashing spare dummies and the white noise machine. This is such a budget-friendly, smart option for the early days with a newborn.Buy now £38.50 Hippychick.com

Price comparison

Little Life arc 2 travel cot

Best: For children that climb

Rating: 9/10

This is a fantastic solution for all kids who still need a cot, but particularly those that are at that charming age of climbing out of their cot (deep sigh). The arc 2 comes with two poles, a mesh cot, comfy mattress and mattress cover, plus pegs. This all comes in a lightweight backpack that’s about the size of a large change bag.

The cot goes together easily like a standard tent. You can then zip down the side for access, or the roof. This solves several issues as it works well for outdoor naps in the garden or beach (you can buy a sunshade separately), but also as a standard travel cot. The mesh sides work well to ventilate the space, while also keeping bugs out.Buy now £144.99 Littlelife.com

Price comparison

Micralite sleep & go travel cot

Best: For dual use as a playpen

Rating: 9/10

A versatile number, you can use this as a travel crib for newborns, extend out to a full-size travel cot and also use it as a playpen. The main frame clicks together in less than 20 seconds. An easy-to-install insert zips and poppers into the main frame of the travel cot, creating a higher base for a new baby to sleep on. This means you can use it like a co-sleeping crib, with the bonus of being able to easily pack it away. And it saved our poor, tired backs from bending down too far.

Once your bundle is bigger, the upper bunk zips off and the mattress folds out. We rated the mattress on this cot – it cleverly folds, and is sturdy but with enough padding that it is comfortable for your child to sleep on all night long. The zip-down side allows your child to climb in themselves – which is great if you’re using it as a playpen. Once you’re finished, the whole thing folds remarkably easily and packs away into a swish-looking padded bag.Buy now £175 Micralite.com

Joie excursion change and bounce travel cot

Best: For grandparents’ houses

Rating: 9/10

Why take just the cot with you when you can take the whole nursery? This set includes the standard travel cot, plus raised bassinet for newborns, a change unit that pops on and off the top, and a cute bouncer. It even comes with a portable light, white noise and vibration machine that attaches to the side of the cot. We like our baby equipment to be multipurpose to save on space and money, and we were pleased that the bouncer chair can also be used on the floor, for extra versatility.

We loved the sweet toy arch, and gender-neutral fabric for the bouncer chair. Mesh sides guaranteed a sweat-free nap, and we liked being able to check on our sleeping baby from the comfort of our own bed. The folding mattress is heavy duty, but feels very padded too – perhaps one of the more comfortable ones we tried.

Indeed, the whole travel cot is very robust and large – we don’t fancy lugging it on a flight any time soon. And it’s a little less easy to put up and take down than some of the others. However, we still thought that it was a fantastic option as an extra bed at grandparents’ or in a holiday home, especially with all the extra bells and whistles.Buy now £129.99 Discountbabyequip.co.uk

Price comparison

Bugaboo stardust travel cot

Best: For speedy assembly

Rating: 9/10

This travel cot pops up in seconds – just pull the ends apart and it clicks into place. We appreciated that the mattress folds with the cot, so there’s no stuffing it in the bag and it getting battered. The sides are totally mesh, giving excellent views of your peaceful sleeping baby from all angles. Even the most adept climbers would struggle in this cot as the sides are pretty high. It includes a bassinet inlay for newborns, raising newborns higher up so you can tend to them more easily.

This travel cot feels like a great balance between super lightweight and easy to use, while still being robust. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to collapse once it has our boisterous toddler in it, and like it’ll stand the test of time through several kids (even ours, which is saying something). It also looks smart, which is not something you can say about every travel cot. Even the bag is plush. It’s the perfect travel buddy for a jet-set family.Buy now £215 Naturalbabyshower.co.uk

Price comparison

Silver Cross voyager co-sleeper

Best: For newborns

Rating: 9/10

When we first came across this cot we didn’t realise it was a travel cot – it looks every inch the standard co-sleeper cot. But with quick removal of the bottom shelf, the legs fold down to the middle and the whole affair collapses down and slots into a travel bag.

Now, at 11kg you might not be slinging it over your shoulder and heading into the sunset any time soon, but it is handy for sliding into the car and taking it with you on holidays. We thought this was really handy if you or your baby are a bit sensitive to new locations – there’s nothing like your own bed, as our mum says.

The mattress is plush yet firm – it doesn’t fold, which means it will avoid getting worn out. There are also tilting options to aid babies with reflux or colds, and seven different heights so you can find the right fit against your bed. You can also fold down the side of the Voyager for true co-sleeping, or zip it up. There are also optional lockable wheels, which we found handy when using in a small room – getting around a cot in a room designed just for a double bed is quite a negotiation.

The fabrics are premium, yet you can sling them all in the washing machine, and the extra shelf under the cot is excellent for stowing all the baby stuff you have to take with you on the go.Buy now £199 Silverscrossbaby.com

Graco contour electra travel cot

Best: Value for money

Rating: 8/10

Probably the most substantial travel cot we tried, once up this almost-13kg cot isn’t going anywhere. That’s great news if your child is a little more spirited! The size of the sleep space is very generous – our two-year-old tester had plenty of room, and it’s designed to work up to three years. This is also helped by the high sides of the cot, which will keep even the most adventurous tots contained. The folding mattress is around 2cm thick – neither the thinnest nor thickest we tried – and is covered in a smart wipe-clean striped fabric.

The contour electra also comes with a newborn bassinet, which clips into the main frame and allows parents of younger babies easier access to their child. This is a godsend with this cot, as with sides this high you don’t want to be doing yoga moves trying to scoop your baby up from the bottom level.

We liked that the bassinet includes a removable toy arm, with monochrome toys dangling from it. It also includes a removable changing table – this is very handy if you don’t have one where you’re going or space is at a premium. Wheels on one side of the cot make it easy to shuffle it around a room without too much hassle. The mesh on the sides is expansive, which we liked as it was easy to check on our slumbering babe – and for them to spot us in an unfamiliar room.Buy now £120 Gracobaby.eu

Price comparison

Travel cots FAQs

What age is a travel cot for?

This will depend on the cot you buy – those with bassinet are designed for newborns up to three months old, while larger options are available for children up to five years old.

Can a baby sleep in a travel cot every night?

It’s not recommended to use a travel cot regularly for a long period of time, as they are not designed to support your baby’s development. Instead, limit their use for short trips away and daytime naps.

What to look for when buying a travel cot

You already have enough to think about while travelling with baby, so the best cots are hassle-free. It should be easy to assemble, collapse and store, while the addition of wheels and carry bag should make it easier to transport from A to B. If you’re shopping for a newborn up to three months old, a bassinet is the way to go – these are raised to give you a clearer view of your little one during the night, while you can lift them up without the risk of throwing your back out.

Do travel cots need a mattress?

Yes – the cots themselves are thin and hard, so a mattress is essential, though most of our top picks come with a mattress included.

The verdict: Travel cots

We know the price tag is a bit punchy, but the Babybjörn is impossible to beat on the pure travel-cot stakes so that’s why it’s our winner. But if you’re looking for something with extra functions, we really were impressed with the Micralite. And for newborns, we were incredibly impressed by the Silver Cross voyager for at home or away.

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