Given how much we love to travel, and that we are now a family of three, a travel crib was always going to be an essential piece of kit for us.
For the first 4 months our baby slept in a Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Comfort which was extremely portable and light. It allowed us to have the baby in bed with us without the fear of accidentally rolling on her. As soon as she could roll and turn we needed to get something that would keep her more contained! On reflection the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Surround might have given us an extra month before having to move to a full on crib. A feature that we love about the Snuggle Nest is the detachable night light and music maker which we continue to use even though she has graduated to the crib. Other pods that are popular for the first 4-5 months are The First Years Close And Secure Sleeper and the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper.
The best travel crib needs to be portable, easy to assemble/disassemble, and comfortable and safe for the baby. In this review we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most popular traveling cribs available.
We were lucky to inherit one of these from my sister-in-law who had been traveling around the USA for a year with her family and was returning to NZ. We use it as our baby’s crib at our home base in Las Vegas, and we take it with us on road trips if the places we’re staying in don’t provide a crib. It is straight forward to put up and fold down once you have carefully followed the instructions the first time. I don’t find it especially easy to squeeze back into it’s carrier bag but most people are fine with it. While you do want a firmish surface for your child to sleep (i.e so that nothing obstructs the baby’s airway) I do think the crib pad is a little to firm, so I recommend purchasing a crib mattress and quilted mattress protector for some extra comfort if you are using this as your home crib and once your child is 6 months old. There are purpose-made fitted sheets easily available on Amazon but do check that they will fit the depth of your additional mattress if you purchase one. available This crib has wheels at one end for easy manouverability and it’s rugged frame is perfect for the riggers of travel. When assembled the mattress is off the ground which make the crib easier to vacuum around and underneath. The weight is a reasonable 20 lb and the folded dimensions are approx. 26x10x10 inches so for most airlines it would be too long for carry-on and need to be check on flights. Note there is no bassinet feature for this crib. Our crib is now onto it’s 3rd child, with 2 young cousins having used it before ours. The nylon material forming the floor of the crib is starting to fray and give in a few spots, but given the battering this crib has had I think it has done very well. The Graco travel crib is great value for money and very affordable.
This is a popular travel which has some great features. Like the Graco crib above it has me mesh sides so that your child can easily see out and feel connected to you. With the Baby Bjorn travel crib it’s walls are slightly slanted in, so this combined with mattress being on the floor makes it very stable. The mattress is thicker, more cushioned and therefore more comfortable than the Graco. The mattress cover and the material padding around the top of the crib can be easily removed and machine washed. Assembly is fairly quick but not as quick as the Graco because you need to secure the mattress at easy corner of the crib. The crib is only 13 lb in weight and when folded and packed in it’s carrier case it looks like a slim suitcase. It is too tall to be taken as carry-on on a plane. Most but not all airlines will check this crib for free but it is best to check with the airline beforehand. This crib is smaller that the Graco Pak’n Play and with it’s concave walls it is more of a sleeping crib than a combined crib/play area. The Baby Bjorn has no bassinet feature for new born babies. It is more expensive but customers do love it.
This has a design similar to the Pack’n Play above but most reviewers think it is a little less sturdy. The base plate/mattress is thin and not overly comfortable so many people recommend buying a further mattress for comfort. Again it would be too big to take as carry-on when flying. For around the same price as the the Graco so I see no advantage in getting this crib.
This option has the advantage of having a bassinet sleeper feature for young babies from newborn to 15lb ( or . The bassinet’s sleeper mattress is on an incline which is excellent for babies who have reflux. Also it can be removed and machine washed, as can the play yard cover. Once your baby can roll it then needs to transition to a crib. The play yard can and is used as a crib by many people but we recommend buying an extra mattress to make it more comfortable for your child as the padded base mat with this is thin. It is important to note that any extra mattress that you buy must fit properly with no gaps and not be too soft at to obstruct your baby’s breathing. As with other cribs whose play yards rest on the floor there is no weight limit for your child. As a extra this option also has a separate changing mat. It’s hard to be sure from the manufacturer’s specifications but it looks like the weight with bassinet included is approx. 21 lb and without approx. 15 lb. The unit is easy to assemble/disassemble and has a carrier bag which carries like a suitcase. The Fisher-Price travel crib needs to checked with your other luggugae when flying. Enquire with your airline as to whether they will charge you for this. At US$90-100 this has a good price point between the two more expensive options above.
This is a combination bassinet (removable) and crib/play yard is a great option for babies right from newborn until 15 lb or they can pull themselves up. The bassinet component requires some minor assembly but is straight forward once you have followed the instructions for the first time. The bassinet has the bonus of a toy bar to help stimulate your baby’s environment. The crib/bassinet uses the classic Graco push folding system like the one above. The whole thing weighs 22.9lb (obviously considerably less once you no longer need the bassinet portion) and fits into a rectangular carry bag that would need to be included in your checked luggage when flying. Once the firm mattress of the bassinet is removed the rest of the bassinet folds with the crib which is excellent. The base of the play yard is 2-3″ above the floor. The padded mattress of the bassinet/play yard is thin and quite firm and it has a nylon cover that is not waterproof and cannot be removed. Because it is thin it is easily to sponge wash and dry. This mattress is fine to sleep on short term but most people prefer to purchase an additional mattress if they are using it as their main crib for a baby over 6 months. The bassinet is flat and cannot be rocked. It can be used up until your baby is 15lb or able to pull themselves up. The play yard is stable and fine from children under 36lb and/or they are able to climb out! I believe the play yard is the same size as the Pack’n Play Play Yard above i.e 40 x 28.5 x 29″.
It just gets better and better. This is an amazing 4 in 1 option. As well as the bassinet it has a removable “napper” with a slight incline for babies under 3 months (and that can’t roll) that flips over and converts to a changing area, complete with wipeable surface. Note there is no storage area for diapers and wipes with this crib.
We preferred to sleep with our newborn baby next to us in bed safely in her sleeping pod, but for those who want a better night’s sleep 🙂 and/or don’t have a bed large enough to accommodate this, this is a great system. It also has a toy bar for the larger bassinet feature, both which are the same system as the On the Go Playard above. The bassinet component requires some minor assembly and does need to be disassembled to pack away with the play yard into the carrier case. The napper/changing area needs to be carried separately so if you were traveling I’d just leave it at home and use the bassinet. The play yard doubles as a travel crib and looks to be the same size as the Graco play yards mentioned above. You might which to purchase an extra mattress if you were using it as your home crib for a child > 6 months.