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With mixed up schedules and new environments, getting a baby or toddler to sleep while traveling can feel like a nightmare. While having the right travel crib won’t guarantee your child will sleep well away from home, having a safe, comfortable place for your little one to lay his or her head will certainly help your prospects. Travel cribs are for more than just trips, too. They come in handy if your child goes to a nanny, has a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house or needs to nap when you’re just away from home for the day.
In addition to being safe, travel cribs should have many of the same features as a regular crib, including quality materials, good design and affordability. Being on-the-go also necessitates special qualities. Travel cribs should be easy to assemble and highly portable, without sacrificing comfort.
Read on to learn more about considerations to make when choosing a travel crib as well as our picks for the best travel cribs. We base our picks on extensive research and customer reviews, so you can cross one more thing off your list when planning your next trip.
Best Travel Cribs of 2018
Editor’s Choice – BabyBjorn Travel Crib
Best Affordable Travel Crib – Graco Pack ‘N Play Jetsetter Lite
Best Eco-Friendly Travel Crib – Lotus Everywhere Travel
Most Portable Crib – Phil & Teds Traveller
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib combines portability, ease of use and comfort for your child. At just 13 pounds, the crib is lightweight and folds up into a compact travel bag that can be worn over your shoulder. It unfolds with a single movement, and there are no parts to attach. The mattress is softer and more comfortable than those that come with most travel cribs, and the crib comes with a mattress pad for added comfort. Fitted sheets are sold separately.
Though it comes it at a higher price point than other travel cribs, the BabyBjorn is a sturdy crib made from high-quality materials. You know it will last through multiple trips with multiple children. Crib materials are approved by OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products, so you know they’re safe, and all fabrics are machine washable. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib is an all-around convenient, high-quality option.
The Graco Pack ‘N Play Jetsetter Lite is not only more affordable than other models, it also includes some unique features and add-ons. The crib comes with an attachable bassinet for young babies under 15 pounds that includes 2-speed vibration to soothe baby. If you’re going to use your crib outside—think camping trip or nap on the beach—the crib comes with a detachable domed canopy. A portable changing pad is included as well.
At 19 pounds, the Jetsetter is the heaviest travel crib on our list, but you may find the extra features worth the added weight. The crib (including bassinet) folds fairly easily into a backpack travel bag, which has a pocket on the outside to hold the canopy, changing pad and other accessories you may want.
The Lotus Everywhere by Guava is an excellent option for eco-conscious parents who still want a travel crib that’s convenient to use. The Lotus Everywhere is the only travel crib on the market to have achieved GREENGUARD Gold-certification, which tests for harmful chemicals and VOC emissions. It is also free of other harmful substances, like PVC, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde and heavy metals.
The Lotus Everywhere is lightweight, weighing only 13 pounds. It folds up fairly easily into a convenient backpack that can be used as a carry on. The crib also has a unique zippered side that allows easy access. This can be great if you need to be close to your baby for middle-of-the-night nursing sessions or morning cuddles. Fitted sheets are sold separately, and all fabrics are machine washable.
If you’re a world-travel and don’t plan to slow down after having a baby, you might consider the Phil & Teds Traveller crib. At only 7 pounds, the Traveller boasts that it “weighs less than your baby.” The crib folds down to be very compact and fit into a small shoulder bag. The mattress also self-inflates, like a camping mat, contributing to the crib’s portability.
To be as portable as it is, the Phil & Teds needs to be broken down into several pieces. That means assembly might take a bit longer than for other travel cribs, but it’s likely worth it considering how compact the model is for transport. The crib has a light, aluminum frame, and the fitted sheet (sold separately) is made from OEKO-TEX-certified cotton.
Keep the following in mind when searching for a travel crib, and you’re sure to find one that’s the perfect fit.
As is the case with any product for babies or children, safety is of the utmost concern. Just like regular cribs, travel cribs are regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as “play yards.” Among other requirements, the CPSC specifies that top rails must lack properly to prevent folding, that the mattress cannot be moved by the child and that the materials used are strong.
To ensure your travel crib is up to snuff, you’ll probably want to buy new. And be sure to use your travel crib as intended. Only use the mattress that comes with the crib, and don’t cover it with extra padding, especially if your child is under 12 months. Read the instructions and check to see the crib is assembled correctly each time to ensure your child sleeps soundly and safely.
Considering you’ll break down and reassemble your travel crib multiple times during its life, you want it to be made to last. Quality of materials can be largely gauged by sight and touch. If the crib wobbles when you press the sides, it’s likely not very sturdy. Look for a crib with a strong frame and fabric or mesh sides that pull tight.
It’s also important to pay attention to what’s in the materials used in your travel crib. Flame retardants and other chemicals can be harmful. Look for cribs that meet standards for healthy materials, like OEKO-TEX or GREENGUARD, or otherwise specify that they do not use flame retardants, PVCs, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde or other harmful substances.
Most parents quickly realize that babies come with a lot of stuff. If you’re traveling with your baby or toddler, you won’t want to carry a bulky, heavy crib along with everything else. Aim for a travel crib that folds up small and can be carried easily. Some cribs even come with backpack carriers. You’ll also want to think about how much space the crib takes up when folded. Some travel cribs fold up small enough to be placed in the overhead bin on an airplane. Finally, you’ll want something lightweight. Look for something under 20 pounds, if not lighter.
When you’ve made it to your destination after a long day of travel, the last thing you want is a complicated crib assembly (especially if you have a cranky baby on your hands). Most travel cribs require some unfolding of legs and snapping rails into place. Some involve just a couple of steps while others need full assembly, similar to pitching a tent. Think about how you travel and how much time you want to spend assembling your crib. A long setup might not be a big deal for a week at one destination, but becomes a problem if you’re traveling to a new spot every day or two.
Most travel cribs range from $100 to $300 in price, though there’s some variability. Think about your travel habits to decide what makes sense for your budget. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but higher priced travel cribs tend to be made of higher quality materials and thus will last longer. The lightest travel cribs also tend to be on the pricier end of the scale. If you travel frequently, you might want to look into a higher-quality crib. The longevity and portability will probably be worth the investment.
While some travel cribs are just that—a crib—others come with additional features that you might want to consider. Many parents prefer a travel crib with a bassinet option for newborns to make it easier to set down and pick up their baby. Bassinets are either attached toward the top of the travel crib, or there is an option to convert the crib into a bassinet.
Travel cribs are often used for more than just sleep. If your travel crib will double as a play yard, you might consider one with a zippered side for easy access. A canopy can also be helpful if you plan to use your travel crib outside for either sleeping or playing. Some travel cribs even come with accessories like portable changing mats. Keep in mind that each additional feature adds weight.
Most travel cribs follow the same basic design, but there are differences that impact usability. Some are shaped like a box, while others are narrower at the top. Some parents find that a narrow top does a better job of keeping climbing toddlers in the crib, while others think it makes it more difficult to lean in and place a sleeping baby. Mattresses on some cribs are directly on the floor, and others are supported by a beam that elevates them a few inches. Consider where you’ll be using the crib. If it’s in a cold area, you might want the mattress off the floor. Mattresses that are elevated, however, also come with a weight limit, while mattresses on the floor do not.