CHOICE warning to parents: 85 per cent of portacots fail key safety tests

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

An alarming number of portacots have failed key safety requirements, according to consumer advocacy group CHOICE.

Of the 20 portacots tested by CHOICE over the past five years, only three have passed the safety requirements

These are the CHOICE recommended Target Adventure 3-in-1 Portacot with its highest rating of 74 per cent, and the Steelcraft 4-in-1 Portable Cot and the BABYBJÖRN Travel Cot Easy Go.

However, the latest portacots that failed its key safety tests were the Childcare Matisse 4 in 1 Travel Cot, Joie Commuter Change Travel Cot and the Chicco Lullaby Easy Portacot.

"It's unacceptable that we continue to see important children's items like portacots failing key safety requirements and testing," CHOICE expert, Kim Gilmour said.

"In our latest testing, we found that 85 per cent of portacots fail key safety requirements, which is a really disappointing result.

"CHOICE found a number of safety hazards associated with the cots. Often the mattresses were not firm enough, which creates a possible suffocation risk if your child were to roll onto its side or front."

The portacots were found to have a range of life-threatening safety issues. These included - mattress not neatly fitting the base, creating gaps that could potentially trap the head and cause suffocation. And cots not having breathable mesh zones on all sides, which could create a suffocation risk if a child rolled face first against them.  There are also some with folding designs that could trap a child's neck if the cot collapsed.

"When parents are purchasing a portacot for their child, they shouldn't have to be worried about whether it's safe or not," Ms Gilmour said.

"If you are looking to purchase a portacot, make sure the mattress is firm and snug-fitting all around, so that the baby's head doesn't get trapped. 

"Before you buy a portacot, you can check out the CHOICE website to see which models we recommend. The Product Safety website also has information on if there have been any product recalls or safety issues with particular brands or models." 

And the price you pay for your cot doesn't guarantee safety, with the full list of portacots that failed safety testing by CHOICE over the past five years (listed below), ranging in price from $49 to $500.

These portacots have failed the CHOICE safety tests:

  • Joie Excursion Change & Rock Travel Cot ($399) 
  • Love N Care Playland Travel Cot HK 999 ($130) 
  • 4baby Liteway Travel Cot EA11816 ($169)
  • Ingenuity Smart & Simple Travel Cot 10116 ($249)
  • Phil & Teds Traveller 4 ($199) 
  • Vee Bee Amado Travel & Play Cot N9560 ($149)
  • Vee Bee The Sierra N9338 ($215)
  • Elite Baby All in 1 Deluxe ($95)
  • Kmart Anko Travel Porta-cot 42001409 ($49)
  • Childcare Trio 3 In 1 Travel Cot 074260-357 ($180)
  • Babyco Edinburgh Statesman 4006375-377 ($150)
  • Babyhood Bambino Dormire 2 in 1 Porta Cot ($299)
  • Steelcraft Sonnet 32439 ($109)
  • Target Holiday Portacot BRT023A ($49)
  • Childcare Matisse 4 in 1 Travel Cot ($180)
  • Joie Commuter Change Travel Cot ($199)
  • Chicco Lullaby Easy Portacot ($500)

These portacots passed the rigorous testing process:

  • Target Adventure 3-in-1 Portacot ($99)
  • Steelcraft 4-in-1 Portable Cot ($199)
  • BABYBJÖRN Travel Cot Easy Go. ($500)

Here are CHOICE's tips on how to buy and use a portacot safely:

  • Travel cots are only designed to be used temporarily. They are not suitable to use as a permanent sleep solution.
  • Before you buy, check the Product Safety website to see if there have been any product recalls or safety issues with particular brands or models.
  • Only use the mattress or padded base supplied by the manufacturer – don't use other mattresses as they can pose a suffocation risk or make the cot too shallow so a child could climb out too easily.
  • The mattress should be firm and snug-fitting all around to avoid trapping the baby's head. Make sure there's nothing sticking out that could snag the baby's clothes or provide a foothold for the baby to climb out. Don't position the cot beside blind cords, power points, windows or other hazards.
  • Never put pillows, cot bumpers or soft toys in the portacot – not only because they're a suffocation risk, but these items can be used to climb out.
  • Once the baby weighs more than 15kg or can undo the folding latches, stop using the portacot.