Do Travel Cots Need a Separate Mattress on Them?

Whether they provide a protective, personal play place or a comfortable, safe sleeping space while away from home, travel cots help to make parenting a tad easier.

Most travel cots have soft, plush sides to provide maximum comfort for your child and have a mattress included. Even so, after enough time spent on online parenting forums or reading product reviews, you may start to wonder if a separate mattress is needed for a travel cot.

Do travel cots need a separate mattress? Travel cots don’t need a separate mattress on them, nor is it recommended to add one. Many travel cots come pre-furnished with either a soft or firm mattress, which is often removable. Some parents may choose to replace the mattress to suit their preferences, and some may remove it altogether.

In this article, I’ll consider why or why not a separate mattress should be used on travel cots, with feedback and opinions from parents’ own experiences in using them. I’ll also share some tips for what to consider when purchasing a mattress for a travel cot and offer some purchase recommendations.

Reasons for Needing a Separate Mattress for a Travel Cot

Some parents may choose to replace the mattress that comes with a travel cot for a variety of reasons. Even if the original mattress is used, over time, a change often becomes necessary to continue to use the cot safely. 

Do Travel Cots Need a Separate Mattress on Them?: Reasons for Needing a Separate Mattress for a Travel Cot

Here are some of the common reasons why you might need to buy a separate mattress for your travel cot:

The Current Mattress Isn’t Suited to Your Needs

There are some travel costs for newborn babies with a bassinet attachment that can’t be used for long hours of sleep and only for daytime naps. If you have this type of travel cot, and you need your baby to sleep overnight in it, it’s best to purchase another mattress to better support longer periods of sleep. 

By and large, many parents say the mattress included with their travel cot isn’t satisfactory. The most common complaint is that the mattress is so thin and hard, and a separate one should be purchased either as a supplement or a substitute. 

Your Child Has Outgrown a Mattress

It’s only a matter of time before your baby outgrows a mattress. Travel cot manufacturers provide guidelines on the ideal mattress based on your baby’s age and weight to guarantee safe and sound sleeping. If you notice your baby has started having trouble sleeping in your travel cot, it may be time for something new.

The Original Mattress Is Worn Out

Normal wear or tear is to be expected in any cot, but this is hastened if you travel with it often and use it frequently. A worn-out mattress can create habitats for mold or pest infestation, which can be harmful to your baby’s health. Once you notice a deterioration in the mattress’ quality, it’s best to purchase a new one to avoid health risks or other bodily injury. 

Can You Use a Cot Mattress With a Travel Cot?

More often than not, if a travel cot needs a mattress, then it’ll already be equipped with one that’s specifically designed for the cot to ensure optimal performance and – more importantly – your child’s safety.

Usually, travel cot mattresses are firm, supportive, and flat as a measure of prevention against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Compared to the conventional cot mattresses, the travel cot mattress is thin and lightly padded. Generally, it’s not advised to swap out the cot mattress with a conventional one, as it risks injuring your baby. Yet there are some easy ways to avoid this.

You can use a cot mattress with a travel cot if you ensure a seamless fit. Measure the mattress to ensure any gap between it and the travel cot doesn’t exceed 3 cm (1.18 in). Typically, it’s not recommended to use cot mattresses with travel cots due to the gap caused by their inappropriate size. 

For the right amount of support, a travel cot mattress should also be 8 – 12 cm (3.15 – 0.79 in) deep. Still, generally speaking, an ideal cot mattress is any mattress that seamlessly fits your cot, and the best way to find a proper fitting mattress is by first measuring its size. 

Do Babies Sleep Well in Travel Cots Without Mattresses? 

Many babies sleep well in travel cots without mattresses. However, only travel cots designed to be used without a mattress are suitable for naptime and shorter rest periods to ensure comfort and safety. Keep in mind, cots without mattresses aren’t intended for regular, longer sleeping schedules.

What’s the Best Mattress To Use in a Travel Cot?

The best mattress to use in a travel cot is one that’s breathable, hypoallergenic, and waterproof. Some mattresses feature breathable fiber and include a waterproof and washable cover for a clean, hygienic, and safe sleeping surface for your child. 

What’s the Best Mattress To Use in a Travel Cot?

Best Travel Cot Mattresses

The best travel cot mattress for you is one that offers everything you need. However, the better quality options tend to come with a hefty price tag that most parents can’t justify, especially if it won’t be used much before it becomes obsolete.

To help you in your search, here are a few of the more affordable mattresses with some of the best features most favored by parents for you to consider. 

Stock Your Home Pack and Play Mattress Pad 

This mattress is tri-fold for easy portability and made with a high density, hypoallergenic foam to avoid aggravating allergies or other sensitivities, like asthma. It’s also designed with a waterproof lining to protect it from accidents, and it comes with a convenient carrying bag for travel. 

hiccapop Pack and Play Pad 

There are few things more appreciated in a parent’s world than multi-purpose items. Exclusive in its design, this mattress is great for home use or travel and made with a dual-sided foam to support your child’s developmental needs as they grow.

One side is firm to support newborns, while the other side is more plush, softer memory foam for a comfortable play space. 

While the mattress is specifically made for use with 38 x 26 in (96.5 x 66 cm) travel cots only, round corners and exceptional edge support guarantee to create a perfect, snug fit with this common size cot.

Milliard Memory Foam Pack N Play Mattress Topper

If you think your travel cot mattress could benefit from a little assistance, consider this mattress topper to help your little one rest comfortably. It’s made with the highest quality, CertiPUR-US certified memory foam to help calm restless sleepers and includes a hypoallergenic cover that’s removable and safe for machine washing. This topper is also easily rolled-up for storage or transportation.

Conclusion: Do Travel Cots Need a Separate Mattress?

Buying a separate mattress for a travel cot isn’t necessary. Yet, keep in mind that using an additional or ill-fitting mattress isn’t recommended for travel cots.

More often than not, travel cots come with a mattress that’s sturdy and comfortable enough for your toddler to sleep or relax. Still, certain circumstances may lead to buying a separate mattress for your travel cot, which is fine so long as you find a suitable fitting option.

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