Each side should be mostly made from a breathable mesh material that extends all the way to the floor of the cot.
Don't use a portable cot if your child weighs more than 15kg.
Inside surfaces should be free of bumps, ledges and protruding parts so children can't hit their heads, get their clothing snagged or use them as a foothold to climb out of the cot.
The mattress should be firm enough and fit snugly without gaps on any side and should not be easily moved or lifted out of place by the child.
The rails should have two locking mechanisms to prevent accidental collapse and closure. The cot floor shouldn't sag. Press down on the base to check this. If you're using a portable cot that doesn't have a sturdy, rigid base, make sure you always use it on a flat floor and not an uneven surface that could distort the mattress shape.
The easier it is to put up and down, the better. Check what size it is when it's packed down. The smaller the better, for fitting in the car when you're travelling or storing it away when not in use.
Despite "porta" being in the name, many portacots are still quite heavy, with some clocking in at over 14kg. Make sure you're able to lift and carry it comfortably.
Portable cots sold in Australia must meet a mandatory standard based on sections of the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2195: 1999. The standard includes requirements for ensuring the folding mechanism is secure, that there are no gaps that could trap a child's head, that the mattress is safe and the cot has adequate safety warnings. We still commonly find cots that fail some of the mandatory safety criteria.
The Phil & Ted's Traveller Cot, $199, is lightweight at just 2.8kg. The Traveller features full mesh sides for breathability, and a zip opening for easy access. Quick assembly with an inflatable mattress and included fitted sheet makes travelling a breeze.
The BabyBjorn Travel Cot Easy Go, $395.95, has an easy set-up in one simple motion. It also features breathable mesh sides and weighs just 6kgs.
The Joie Excursion Change & Rock Porta Cot, $399, has a portable changer, bassinet and snoozing pod/rocker which can be used on or off the cot.
The Nuna Sena, $379, folds easily with one hand, has a quick and easy upper cot attachment and a soft, quilted mattress. Product weight is 9.8kg.
The Bambino Dormire Portacot, $299, is a 2 in 1 cot that can be zipped up to a bassinet level for flexibility and convenience or used with just the porta cot level, so it grows with your child. The mesh sides allow for full breathability and visibility and the cot includes an extra thick deluxe mattress. Cot weight is 9.8kg.