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I first had experience of this travel cot whilst visiting my parents when my baby was three months old and used to sleeping in his moses basket. It impressed me as it seemed a good size and well built. Despite the size difference between the moses basket and this travel cot my little boy slept well in it. Recently we travelled to Europe so needed a travel cot so I thought of this one. It comes in two bags one for the mattress and one for the cot frame. This is designed well as the outer cover unwraps to form the base of the cot which is secured by velcro. Remember that when packing the cot away for the first time as I couldn't understand how to secure the wrap until I remembered that some velcro points are used for packing away and others for the mattress. Doh! The cot is relatively easy to assemble just remember to click the four frames into place before anything else. When folding away the points to unclick are clearly marked. A possible disadvantage of this travel cot is the weight of it as it is heavy than others such as the Samonsite bubble travel cot. I would suggest that it suits best if travelling by car rather than flying. Depending on where you are travelling to an ther possible disadvantage is that it does not come with any form of netting to protect against insects. I personally did not find the cot too low to lean in and out of but I think if you are smaller than 5 foot 4 then you should definitely try before you buy to ensure that you can reach comfortably in and out of the cot with your baby. On the positive side my son has slept well in the cot each time it has been used. I particularly like the size as will fit into bedroom until my son is six months and moves into to his own room. Unlike some other travel cots this cot keeps baby off the ground which I prefer especially when travelling to places which have tiles rather than carpets. In addition the size of the cot does mean that you can also use it as a play cot for when your baby is able to move around more. I also liked the bright colours of this cot and think it will look good in the nursery. The travel cot is available from a range of retailers including Mothercare and Amazon and costs around £40to £60 so worthwhile to shop around.
Although being parents is wonderful and something that we wouldn't change for the world, it's still nice to have the occasional night of being a couple rather than a family. We're very lucky and there is a queue of people lining up for the privilege of looking after 14 month old Freddy and has been since he was tiny. One very important consideration was somewhere portable for him to sleep while he was at Nana's or his godparent's overnight. After a little research we chose the Hauck Dream N Play Travel Cot in Sunshine Red, that was available from a number of different retailers for a very reasonable £40 (and still is). We've now been using the travel cot for just over a year, both as somewhere for Freddy to sleep and a safe place for him to play in the garden. ==First Impressions - Looks, Setting-Up and Putting Away== The Hauck Dream N Play Travel Cot (henceforth known as the cot) appears to be available in two colour schemes, Ocean, a rather muted, pastel blue, green and yellow and the much brighter Sunshine Red. I can't remember my reasoning behind choosing the brighter colour scheme, but it was probably something to do with how funky I thought the colours where. The cot is supplied folded down, wrapped in the mattress and enclosed in a polythene zip up bag. Rather than the instructions being printed on a sheet of paper, they are printed on the mattress, which at least means that they can't get lost. Although the bag feels very thin and flimsy it has stood up to a year's use without tearing or the seams splitting. The zip run smoothly, although it can be a little awkward to zip around the top of the cot. Although the zip closes easily, I do find that it tends to start opening while the cot is being carried. Talking of carrying, the bag also features a pair of handles that, in theory, make it easier to carry from place to place. In practice, at 9.9kg the cot is rather heavy and the positioning of the handles means that the cot needs to be carried in a horizontal position, which makes avoiding other's people's legs on public transport almost impossible. Although we don't have a car, we have transported this cot in the boot of a small hatchback (Skoda Felicia) and it fitted width wise without any difficulty. In fact at approximately 80cm in length and 20cm squared in depth, this cot will fit in almost any car boot. I firmly believe that to say putting any travel cot up is tricky, is an understatement and this is no exception. There is a definite knack and the instructions aren't entirely clear. I must say though, that it's a knack that I have now perfected even though my partner hasn't. I would say it takes me no more than a minute to set it up, but it took me far longer when we first received it. If you do decide to buy this then it's a good idea to print the next couple of paragraphs off, as I'm now going to try and explain the method. To set the cot up, you simply need to remove it from the bag, undo and remove the mattress and then make sure you have plenty of space. Although this is a travel cot it is actually the same size as a standard cot so you will need at least 125cm x 65cm floor space plus enough room to walk around it. I really would recommend setting this up and then moving it to where you want to place it if at all possible (it will fit through a standard doorway when opened up). To actually set the cot up you need to partially open it by pushing on the base just where the handle is, and then clicking each of the four side bars into place. To click the side bars into place, you simply lift them to above horizontal and then let them drop into place. Once all four sides are in place all that's left to do is push the base right down and place the mattress into the base, where it is kept in place by a piece of Velcro in each corner. While it's easy to think that folding the cot back up is simply a case of reversing the above process there are a couple of points where you can become unstuck. While it's true enough to say that the first process is removing the mattress and then un-clicking each side, there is definitely a knack which caused me a few problems. Once the mattress is removed the base needs to be lifted ever so slightly, before each side is released by pressing on a button, lifting it up and then letting it drop before releasing the button. If the base is lifted too far then it's impossible to release the sides, so this takes a little practise. Once the sides are released the cot can be folded back down before being wrapped up in the mattress and replaced in the bag. If you find the cot won't fold right down (as I regularly did) then you need to put it back up and try again, but this time as you release each side, make sure that both halves of the side bar are released as often only one is, which is why it won't fold down. While setting the cot up only takes me a matter of seconds, I will admit that folding it back down takes considerably longer and is something my partner cannot manage even now. Once set up the cot sits on five feet and feels very stable, it somehow feels far lighter once set up than it did when folded. While I struggle to carry it in the bag, I have no trouble moving it into position once unfolded. Being short, I do have a little trouble reaching into the base to put the mattress into position though. Look-wise the cot is very bright, the padded side bars are bright yellow and the end panels are an equally bright blue, the mesh panels are black while the rest of the cot is red. Personally I would say that this is definitely a unisex piece of nursery equipment, and it makes a nice change from blues and pinks. ==In Use - As a cot and a playpen== We originally bought this when Freddy was a couple of months old and at that point we only used it as an actual travel cot, that is somewhere for him to sleep in occasionally while being babysat. As this is the same size as a standard cot, Freddy did look a little lost in it to begin with, but this meant that it would still be big enough for him to sleep in for some time to come. In fact it's still plenty big enough now, a year later and is easily big enough to last until he is eighteen months or even older. At 76cm in height it is as deep as Freddy's actual cot meaning that it will be a while until he can climb out, but also means that if you're short like me it can be a bit of a struggle lifting a lying baby. The mattress is rather thin and quite hard, so if your baby needs a soft surface to sleep then you will need to add extra padding. Of course being the same size as a standard cot, you can add a cot mattress, but this does rather remove the idea that this is a travel cot. We're lucky, Freddy has always slept well in this cot, without the need for extra padding, but there again until he was six months he would happily sleep on the floor if he was tired. The mesh panels are brilliant for allowing baby to see his surroundings and be comforted without being picked up, and as Freddy will tell you they make a great noise when you scrape your fingers along them. While the mattress is rather hard, it does provide a firm base for baby to sit on while they are getting ready to go to sleep. The padded side-bars are great for protecting an over-enthusiastic baby's head, arms and legs as they are being put into and taken out of the cot. As well as being used for the occasional night away, we also took this cot with us when we went on holiday last year, using public transport (trains and taxis). I must say that both my partner and myself thought it was a little too heavy and unwieldy, we had to take frequent rests while carrying it and there was more than one occasion that we accidentally bashed it into people. Once we got to our destination, it was perfect as a cot and the then seven month Freddy, slept, well like a baby. While the cot has only had occasional use as an actual cot, it has been indispensable in the recent hot weather. For the last few weeks, we've been regularly setting it up in the garden to give Freddy somewhere safe to sit and play while we get on with the gardening and cooking food on the BBQ. Freddy actually gets quite excited when he sees this being taken down the stairs and out into the garden (again I have trouble carrying it) and loves to sit in it watching the world around him, while surrounded by toys. Again the mesh sides means that he has a good view of everybody and everything and we can get on with garden tasks without worrying that he is going to hurt himself or eat something he shouldn't. (I'd just like to point out that he doesn't stay in here all day, but only for short periods). I also like that I can move the cot around the garden so that Freddy is always in the shade. The only real problem with taking this out in the garden is that the bright colours do tend to attract bugs and these needs to be cleared before bringing it back inside. Over the last year the cot has proved to be extremely durable, it has been regularly used both inside and out without any sign of damage or fading. Although it cannot be taken apart to be cleaned in the washing machine, being made of nylon means that it is easy to wipe clean, even after it has been the recipient of projectile vomiting. All that's needed is a damp cloth and a little antibacterial spray and it comes up looking like new. ==Final Words== Over the last year this travel cot has proved indispensable, both as a safe place for my baby to sleep and a place for him to play. Although it is a little difficult to both set up and put down, I don't think it's any more so than any other travel cot I've had the pleasure of using. The only major downside I can think of is that it is quite heavy and awkward to carry. But otherwise this is a fantastic piece of nursery equipment that I would recommend to anybody looking for a portable cot for their baby to sleep in on nights away or safe space for in the garden. And so I'm giving the Hauck Dream N Play Travel Cot in Sunshine Red a healthy four stars out of five.