A portable cot is one of those baby items that is not necessarily an essential item, not like a carseat or stroller. That is, until you need one! Whether it’s to go away for the weekend, have to stay overnight at a relative or friend’s house or visit out of town for the night, your bub will need somewhere to sleep. Then, a portable cot becomes an essential item and you may realise then that you know nothing about them!
There are so many portacots on the market that it can become very confusing which one to buy. The prices vary so much – anywhere from $49 to $500 or more – that even if you only use it a few times a year, it’s worthwhile knowing what features look for and what is good value.
We have owned three different portacots and rented many more while on holidays. The first one we used with my first baby was loaned to us and while comfortable enough for our baby, was so heavy that I could not lift it alone. It was complicated to put together – you had to be incredibly strong to lock it in place and unclick it to fold it up again. Size-wise it was so wide that it wouldn’t fit through doorways once assembled, so to move it to another room it had to be folded up again.
Our second one was a cheapie I bought for a last-minute getaway and was made from such low quality plastic material that my baby sweat so much in it, even after 20 minutes, that it was dangerous! Others I have used have been too hard to put together, too large and heavy, have too many complicated poles, were too constrictive visibly or made from such low quality material I wondered if they would ever meet the important safety standards.
The Bambino Dormire portacot by Babyhood is our third portacot and is easily the best. Voted number one by Choice Magazine several times including as recently as last year, it is multi award-winning and has also just been nominated in the 2016 Mother and Baby Magazine Awards for the third time.
The feature I love the most is the versatility of this portacot, and just how simple it is to assemble. Versatile, because it can be zipped up to bassinet level for a newborn weighing up to 8 kgs (17.6 lb) as well as used for a baby and toddler up to 18 kgs (40 lb). The higher level is ideal for a newborn, so you can easily put them to bed, and lift them out again without breaking your back or waking them up! The higher level also means you can keep an eye on your newborn from your own bed if you happen to share a room (which happens so often on holiday).
Meanwhile the assembly is so easy and quick – and believe me that is a quality that not many portacots possess but definitely should. There’s nothing worse than having an overtired, crying baby while trying to put a portable cot together. I can easily lift it out of the storage bag and assemble it myself (in under a minute!) while still keeping an eye on three little ones!
It also has a comfortable thick mattress which, while not so essential for a newborn, as your child grows bigger a comfortable mattress that is thicker than a standard portacot mattress means your baby, then toddler will happily go to sleep, and hopefully stay asleep, in it. The mattress fits into the portacot perfectly and even when it’s made up with a sheet has no gaps and will not move around, making it extra safe and secure.
Many portacots we’ve used have such thin, hard mattresses that you can barely call them mattresses. Your baby might as well be sleeping on the floor!
I’m really cautious about safety for my children, especially when it comes to sleeping, so the four open sides with breathable mesh allowing plenty of air flow for your baby, as well as visibility, is a great feature. As most portable cots are made from plastic material it’s so important to use one that has open sides for maximum air flow.
It’s so lightweight at just over nine kilograms (19.8 lb) which makes it very easy to set-up, pack up, lift in and out of the car boot or cupboard and carry or wheel around. And because it’s not too heavy, once assembled you can lift it at one end and roll it from room to room, or even move it while your baby is asleep if you need to. Just make sure you lock it in place once it’s in position.
Another fantastic feature that is unique to the Bambino Dormire is the separate change table. When your baby needs nappy changes anywhere from five to 10 times a day, having a change table at your waist height that easily clips onto the top of the portacot, then folds over for storage to hang down the side during sleeps is a genius idea. SO handy, and so clever.
We have only travelled with it in the car, but with a carry bag that allows the wheels to pop out for convenient wheeling it could so easily be used for travelling via public transport, train, bus or plane if you needed to take a portable cot with you.
Safety wise, the multiple independent locking system on each side of the cot and in the base means that it’s safe when other children are around who won’t be able to accidentally collapse it. Though it assembles and collapses very easily, you need an adult-sized hand to click the sides together, and click them to collapse it again.
It comes in a waterproof storage bag with the mattress; whilst the change table, a toy bar and other accessories are sold separately, and it’s available in beige or black.
And most important of all it meets the Australian Safety Standards for Portable Cots.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a portable cot, I can highly recommend the Bambino Dormire by Babyhood. There’s a great Buyer’s Guide for Buying A Portacot at the Choice website if you want more information on what to look for.
For a guide to cot and nursery furniture safety in Australia, visit the Consumer A!airs website at www.consumer.gov.au Please always make sure you’re purchasing a product for your baby that meets your country’s safety standards. The safety of our little ones is too important!