Updated on August 24, 2017 by Lyric Fergusson
What is a travel crib?
A travel crib is a lightweight, folding, and easily portable crib that often doubles as a play yard (playpen). Travel cribs are perfect for many situations, from an overnight at the grandparent’s house, to your tiny European hotel room. Travel cribs meet safety standards and many can grow with your child.
Why do you need one for travel?
While you might think that cribs are standard in hotel rooms around the world, this is not always the case. And even when they are available, your baby might not sleep in one, and you may not even feel safe using it! Why?
1) Because the crib you request from the hotel might not be available, or worse. Do you really want your baby sleeping in a crib that might have been damaged by a previous guest? There are countless horror stories of broken, out of date, and even recalled cribs being lent out by misinformed hotels. Sometimes, the crib you requested isn’t even available, and many hotels don’t offer this service in the first place. Save yourself the headaches (and night time panic) and bring your own cozy travel crib instead. Your baby and your sanity will thank you!
2) Because hotel rooms are most likely not going to be baby proofed. Even if your child is used to co-sleeping in a big bed at home, a hotel room is a different story. Unless you plan to plug every outlet, wrap up every cord, cover every sharp corner, (and the list goes on) you can’t just let baby be in a place where they can get up and roam in the middle of the night. A travel crib is a must for containing your little one in a hotel room, Airbnb rental, a campsite, or even at grandma’s house!
Here are my top 7 picks for the best travel crib:
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light ➜
(If quality and comfort are your main concerns)
Pros: This crib is exceptionally well made and as light as a feather (only 12 lbs.), so it can go anywhere and will last for many years of travel sleeping. This chic design and unique mattress design make this crib an excellent option for those who want something extra comfortable for baby travel.
The Bjorn opens up and folds down in less than ten seconds, which is pretty much unheard of for any baby gear! The mattress on this crib is more luxurious than most, which practically guarantees your child will have a decent night of sleep, even in an unfamiliar environment. Finally, this crib is secure, incredibly sturdy, and really built to last, so you will get your money’s worth on this investment!
Cons: I don’t really have anything negative to say about this travel crib! It is a bit more expensive than some other options, but if you look around you can find a good deal on some of the different color options on Amazon.
Also, don’t forget to bring an appropriate travel sheet.
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard ➜
(If easy access to baby and eco-friendliness are your main concerns)
Pros: This crib has an awesome zipper on the side, so you have really easy access to baby… makes it the perfect choice for those who nurse to sleep or need to scoot their baby into bed after baby has already hit dreamland. You can actually open the zipper, lay down in the crib with your baby, and then sneak out once they are out for the night! The Lotus is also easy to put together, and super light at only 8 lbs. The neat looking backpack style case makes this one great for carrying around between locations, and it also happens to be thoroughly tested for offgassing and chemical emissions, since it is certified Greenguard Gold standard. This makes it a wonderful choice for the eco and health conscious, or for anyone with chemical sensitivities.
Cons: This mattress is a little thin. Ok, it’s super thin and it also has three big creases in it, which seems like a design flaw! You might want to only use this crib for short bursts and not as a long term sleeping solution. Also, it isn’t exactly easy to get it the crib folded down and stuffed back into that awesome backpack, so it might take just a bit more time than the 15 seconds advertised!
Graco Pack n Play Playard ➜
(If price is your main concern)
Pros: Super budget friendly, this travel crib is really popular for a reason! It’s under $50, folds up without much fuss, and comes with a nice carrying case to keep it all contained. This sleeper and playard has wheels on one side for extra convenient movement, good for small spaces where you might have to park the crib in different spots throughout the day.
Cons: This one is a little heavy at just about 18 lbs., and the mattress is pretty thin as well. While overall it feels sturdy and secure, bigger kids trying to stand or jump in it will make it wobble, and the mattress is low to the ground and not as stable as I’d like it to be.
Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard ➜
(If accessories and inclined sleeping are your main concerns)
Pros: This Fisher-Price travel crib has the unique feature of an inclined bassinet for infant sleeping. If your child needs to sleep on an incline for medical or comfort reasons, this crib is really your best bet! Plus, the bassinet doubles as a changing station when you cover it with the included vinyl pad, which will provide really easy and clean diaper duty while on vacation. It has a small footprint and strong multifunctional use, an overall winner in my book!
Cons: Some users complain that it is hard to take apart once you have it set up, and the buttons can be tricky to release when folding for storage. Luckily, the super compact storage bag almost makes up for a slightly annoying break down process, doesn’t it?
Kidco Peapod Plus Infant Travel Bed ➜
(If appropriateness for camping or rugged travel are your main concerns)
Pros: The unique design of this travel pod style crib is perfect for travel to more rugged or offbeat locations, but it works just as well for a hotel stay too! The mesh sides and enclosed top keep excellent airflow on your baby, while keeping bugs or sun away, and the material is also UV blocking as well. The best part? This travel sleeper is ultra portable! It folds down small enough to pop into a purse or stroller basket, and weighs less than 4lbs. It fits infants through age 5, so it really is bigger than it looks. Perfect for backpacking, camping, beach vacations, and more.
Cons: This probably isn’t the most comfortable option for long term use, since the mattress is cushy but thin. Also, while it does fit up to a five year old child, older kids might feel cramped or claustrophobic within the fully enclosed pod.
Travel Portable Bassinet and Diaper Bag ➜
(If portability and infant use are your main concerns)
Pros: A bed, changing station, and diaper bag all in one? Seems almost too good to be true, but this product fulfills its promises. This infant bassinet folds into a diaper bag for easy carrying, and can even hook onto the back of a stroller. Use it as a diaper changing station by day, and a bassinet for sleep, once you attach the included infant sheet. The ultra-light and uber portable sleeper is perfect for infants under six months, and can even be used as a secure co-sleeper in a hotel bed. The low price tag isn’t bad either!
Cons: Limited shelf life seems to be the main problem with this travel bassinet. Once your baby is sitting up or over 30”, this won’t be the right solution for your travel sleep needs. Luckily, it should have good resale value for when you decide to part with this lovely little bed!
Graco Travel Lite Crib with Stages ➜
(If small size is your main concern)
Pros: This travel crib has an extremely small footprint, as it is about 20% smaller than traditional travel cribs. This makes it easy to squeeze it into even the smallest of hotel rooms, like the ones you will often find in Europe and Asia. It has a cute bassinet attachment so it is suitable for infants and toddlers, and it can be used as a contained (although quite small!) playard as well. This crib folds down with just a push of a button, and the mesh sides keep baby cool, comfortable and safe.
Cons: This travel crib might be too small for older or taller toddlers to fully stretch out. Also, it doesn’t have a lot of extra features that you might expect to find in this style of travel crib.
FAQs about Travel Cribs
1. Can you check a travel crib at the airport?
Of course! In fact, most airlines will allow you to check a travel crib, a stroller, and a car seat for free at the ticket counter. Make sure to check with your specific airline before booking.
2. How big is a travel crib? Will I be annoyed by carrying it around?
All of these travel cribs are incredibly small and lightweight. If you have an infant, the bassinet versions even double as a diaper bag. The larger portable cribs are all under 20 lbs, and fold down to a compact size for travel. The convenience of having a proper place for a good night of sleep will easily outweigh any annoyance at having to travel with a crib.
3. Isn’t it easier to just rent a crib at my hotel?
Nope. Hotel cribs are notoriously out of date, and often don’t meet current safety regulations. Plus, how many other guests have used these cribs, possibly damaging them? Half the time, a crib you reserved isn’t even available when you arrive! It is much better to plan ahead and bring your own, which you know is safe and secure.
4. Will I really get any use out of this, how long can my baby use a travel crib for?
You sure will! Not only can you use a travel crib while on the go, but most of these also double as a playard when you are at home. They are great for people with larger or two story houses, so baby has a place to sleep outside of their regular crib or bed. Most of these portable cribs have quite a high weight limit, so your child can likely use it for several years.
5. Why do I even need a travel crib, can’t my baby just sleep in my bed?
Hotel rooms and other travel sleeping accommodations are not usually baby proofed. That means your child could easily get out of bed at night and wander without your supervision, possibly getting hurt. A travel crib will keep them in one place, so everyone stays safe and secure all night long.
6. How will I even manage to fit a crib into my exceptionally tiny hotel room?
I know some hotel rooms can be practically micro-sized! Luckily. These cribs do not have a large footprint, and several options are smaller than the size of a typical suitcase. Also, never be afraid to ask to remove any items from your room that you don’t need (like that annoying side table that you have no use for!) to make room for baby items. If you need to, move around some beds, or even place the travel crib in an open closet.
7. What if I am already bringing a stroller, will the airline charge me extra to check my travel crib as well?
Most likely no! Almost all airlines provide free checking services for baby items such as cribs, strollers, and car seats. Most airlines check any and all baby items for free, but make sure to check before booking your flights.
8. I’m nervous that my child won’t sleep outside of his regular crib, is there anything I can do to make the transition easier on all of us?
There sure is! Buy your travel crib several weeks before your planned travel, and pop it open at home. Let your baby play in the playard portion, and nap in their when appropriate. Also consider bringing a well fitting sheet to make the mattress portion of the travel crib feel just like a regular crib at home.
If you are thinking of adding a travel crib to your arsenal of baby travel gear, make sure to consider your own specific needs. If you plan to spend a lot of time camping or doing other more rugged travel, select a smaller crib or bassinet with a mesh top to help avoid critters and possible weather elements. If hotel travel is more your style, think about buying one of the larger cribs that might accommodate your child for more time, and even look into options with accessories such as changing tables and bassinet add ons. Check out the weight limits and dimensions if you will have an older child in your travel crib as well. Overall, make sure to get your baby used to the crib before travel! A travel crib should be a safe, secure, and cozy place where your child is able to easily sleep, their own little home away from home!