'Success? Failure?' Rating: ★★★☆☆
There are all sorts of portable travel cots available out there (a particular favourite is Phil & Ted's 'Traveller'), but most are heavy (which kind of defeats the purpose in my eyes) and/or expensive. So I thought I'd have a go at making one...
My idea focused on using an adult-sized Thermarest (or equivalent), folded in half and slid into a cotton 'sleeve', as the mattress. Around this went an open-top 'box' made out of fabric - tent-type nylon on the base, mosquito mesh (edged with bias binding) around the sides. To hold this box up I attached an elastic loop to each top corner of the box and threaded this onto a pair of flexible, fibre-glass poles borrowed from a children's sun shade (purchased at The Warehouse for about NZ$12). To use the cot I would recommend some kind of 'Safe T Sleep'-type device (I made myself one of these, too) to keep the wee one from wriggling around in their sleep - the mesh sides aren't weight-bearing (obviously, this cot is for sleeping in, not for general 'child containment' like some other cots).
Technical details: the dimensions of the base depend on your mattress dimensions; the height of the box is 60cm [24"]. The fibre-glass pole 'footprint' is made from 10mm polyester ribbon and is 182cm x 106cm [72" x 42"] in size (again, tailored for your specific mattress size and pole length), with M8 washers stitched into each corner to hold the pole tips. This design took about 4 hours to assemble and cost around NZ$40 to make (excluding the Thermarest). Total weight (excluding the Thermarest, including the cotton mattress 'sleeve') is 1.0kg [2.2 lbs].
Pros: Very lightweight/portable; easy to erect and take down.
Cons: Non-rigid sides mean you need to restrict how mobile the baby can be; has a larger foot-print than most other portable cots.
Enhancement Suggestions: Build a 'sleeve' into the base that can hold the mattress (rather than having the mattress loose inside the cot).
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