Will a Cot Mattress Fit a Travel Cot?

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Travel cots are great for when you visit with family or even when you go camping. They’re a light and portable sleeping solution for your little one, but you might notice that the base feels a little firm. Is that normal, or do you need to buy a separate mattress?

Cot mattresses aren’t recommended for travel cots as they tend to run small, and it’s essential for safety reasons that the mattress be fitted. If there is a gap, the baby could roll over and get stuck. Similarly, it’s advised that babies sleep on firm surfaces to avoid suffocation.

This article will cover the most common questions surrounding travel cots and mattresses and offer some excellent products for purchase that come highly reviewed.  

Do You Need a Mattress for a Travel Cot?

You don’t need a mattress for a travel cot, as most come with a sleeping surface sized to keep the pen stable. The sleeping surface for babies under a year old should be firm to prevent any risk of suffocation or choking. However, extra padding might be needed for older babies and toddlers.

Most manufacturers keep this in mind when designing these products, so if the mattress that comes with your cot feels thin or hard, it’s normal.

If you have an infant on your hands, buying extra bedding for one of these is usually not necessary. 

As they get older, though, adding blankets to keep them comfortable and warm or using a softer mattress is a good idea. Typically, this isn’t done before the baby turns one

An important note: To ensure the item you’re looking at has passed the appropriate safety standards, look for a BSI number. BSI stands for the “British Standards Institution”; if you can’t find a serial number, stay away.

Can You Use Any Mattress for a Travel Cot?

If your child is over 12 months old and has gained a firmer handle on their motor skills, you might want to upgrade them to a softer mobile bed.

It’s not advised to use just any mattress for a travel cot as they’re made specifically for the bed that comes with it for stability purposes. Many travel pens pop open or fold closed and would be a liability without their original parts. In most cases, you can simply flip the existing mattress.

Many cot mattresses have a reversible style, so they can be used throughout the first few years of your child’s life, meaning one side is firm and the other soft. Reversibility is often a handy feature to consider if you’re considering using a different type of mattress to save cost.

If you do choose to use a different mattress in your travel cot, conveniently, a British charitable organisation named the Lullaby Trust has laid out some safe-sleeping guidelines for babies based on years of research:

  • Your baby’s mattress should lie completely flat, with no raised bumps or curved sides. It needs to be firm and waterproof so it’s easy to wipe down.
  • Their blankets should be firmly tucked in when you put them to sleep. Alternatively, you can use a baby sleeping bag so that their blankets can’t accidentally cover their head while they’re sleeping.
  • Make sure they have no extra toys, pillows, or crib ties in bed with them. This will help avoid entanglement mishaps, as well as keep their head clear.

Can You Use a Cot Mattress for a Travel Cot?

Cot mattresses aren’t meant for travel cots as they tend to run a bit smaller. With a smaller mattress in the frame, it’s possible that your baby will slip into the space around the edges. If this happens, they could injure themselves or potentially suffocate.

If you’re still unsure of what to buy, these recommendations from Amazon.co.uk all come with excellent reviews and are very affordable:

  • Graco Compact Travel Cot – This cot comes pre-fitted with a firm, sturdy mattress and has a handy push-button fold design for easy dismantling. Plus it has mesh sides so you can see your baby as it sleeps.
  • Maxi-Cosi Swift 3-in-1 Travel Cot – This 3-in-1 travel cot is foldable, so it’s easy to put up and down. In addition to tripling as a bassinet, cot, and playpen, it also includes a “2-stage” mattress, so it works for both newborns and toddlers.
  • Hauk Travel Cot Set Sleep N Play Center – This sleep and play centre comes with wheels for easy manoeuvrability and side pockets for quick storage. Also, the side unzips for extra fun when your child isn’t sleeping.

Tips For Buying a Travel Cot

If you end up buying a travel cot that doesn’t come with a mattress, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make Sure the Cot Mattress Is the Proper Size

As previously mentioned, for safety reasons, you don’t want your infant or toddler to slide into any nooks or crannies where they might get stuck or have a hard time getting air.

Always double-check the dimensions of your cot and read reviews before you purchase the additional mattress to make sure it fits; it should lay completely flat once in the pen.

The mattress also shouldn’t be so thick that it raises the height enough that your baby can climb out of the top.

Watch for Choking Hazards

Many mattress designs have clunky or potentially removable parts to them, like buttons or zippers, so keep an eye on the amount of “flair” it has. 

You don’t want anything hanging off your child’s bedding they could potentially swallow.

Get a Waterproof Cover

Get a waterproof cover to reduce the risk of infection and deter bacteria from building in the material. It’s also handy to be able to wipe when it comes to spills or spit-ups.

Many manufacturers will use the power of advertising to sell you things you don’t really need. 

Cot Mattress Recommendations

The main things you need to look out for when purchasing a cot mattress are flatness, firmness, and the ability to repel moisture. 

Depending on how long it’s designed to last and the materials used, you can buy a mattress from as low as £30. However, some of the better brands charge close to £200.

Some popular choices include:

  • Mother Nurture Essential Eco Fibre Mattress – This mattress uses hypoallergenic fabric made with eco-friendly fibre and has a removable water-resistant cover that makes cleaning easy. Plus, it’s hand-sewn for lasting strength.
  • Millard Cot Mattress – The Millard mattress is reversible for use with a soft or firm side, depending on your child’s age. Having a 100% cotton cover that is both waterproof and washable makes this perfect for kids of any age, and it’s extra thick with memory foam on the toddler side for added comfort.
  • The Little Green Sheep Natural Twist Cot Bed Mattress – This is designed to be used from birth until five years of age and is dual-sided for infants and toddlers. Made from natural latex and hypoallergenic wool, it’s durable and all-natural. However, it doesn’t come with a waterproof mattress cover.

Cot Mattress Cover Recommendations

If you need to purchase an extra cot mattress cover, they usually run around £15-£20, and many companies will sell ones that match their bedding specifications.

If you buy a different brand than the mattress you’ve chosen, be aware that it may not fit perfectly. So, be sure to do some research on the sizing and material.

Alternatively, there are some with flexible fittings, like these: