There are quite a few travel cribs on the market these days — some expensive, others cheap, some bulky, others lightweight — which can make it challenging to choose the right one for your pint-sized travel partner.
Taking into consideration safety, comfort, convenience for travel, and recommendations from parents and travel experts, U.S. News compiled this list of the best travel cribs on the market.
Note: All dimensions are listed in order of length by width by height.
Best Overall: Guava Lotus Travel Crib
— Crib weight: 15 pounds
— Folded dimensions: 24 x 12 x 8 inches
— Age range: Newborn to 3 years
— Weight limit: None
Parents, grandparents and other caregivers agree the Guava Lotus Travel Crib is a worthy expenditure. Convenient for air travel, it is lightweight and can be worn like a backpack in an included carrying case with padded straps, then checked as a bag or packed in your checked luggage. “Even if you’re not flying, the backpack straps are really handy for road trips or moving from hotel to hotel,” says Jasmine Alley, a travel blogger and mom. The Guava Lotus is also easy to set up (and take down): The sturdy aluminum frame’s hinges easily and securely snap into place. Once the frame is assembled, a fabric cover with mesh sides — including a zippered door for easier access to your baby — can be zipped on before you place the included waterproof mattress and sheet inside. The mattress is easy to wipe down, and the crib’s fabric portion is machine-washable.
While the Guava Lotus Travel Crib can technically be used from birth, you might also consider the Lotus Bassinet Kit for newborns.
Price: $229.95 or less Shop now: Guava Family
Best Lightweight: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
— Crib weight: 13 pounds
— Folded dimensions: 23.5 x 19 x 5.5 inches
— Age range: Newborn to age 3
— Weight limit: None
At 13 pounds, the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light is one of the lightest travel cribs on the market. Parents also appreciate how simple this crib is to set up and take down. “It’s so easy and intuitive that it can be set up in a minute,” says Marianne Perez-Fransius of Bébé Voyage
, noting that she immediately bought this portable crib after borrowing it from a friend.
The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light comes with a mattress and carrying bag, and a fitted, organic cotton sheet is available for purchase. The crib fabric and mattress cover are machine-washable, and all materials meet OEKO TEX Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products — meaning the crib is safe for a baby’s skin and curious mouth.
Price: $299.99 or less Shop now: Amazon | buy buy Baby
Best Budget: Dream On Me Nest Portable Playard
— Crib weight: 17 pounds
— Folded dimensions: 28 x 8.5 x 8 inches
— Age range: None recommended; for babies and toddlers less than 36 inches tall
— Weight limit: 30 pounds
Parents say they’re impressed by the quality of the Dream On Me Nest Portable Playard despite its surprisingly cheap price tag, giving it an average 4.5-star (out of 5) rating on Amazon. You can fully assemble the portable crib in two swift motions before placing the included mattress insert inside. Some caregivers note that the mattress insert feels thin and recommend purchasing additional padding, such as the Dream On Me On-the-Go Trifold Fiber Playmat.
The Dream On Me Nest Portable Playard is available in six color variations and features mesh siding for breathability. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Price: $75.99 or less Shop now: Amazon | buy buy Baby | Walmart
Best Multiuse: Graco Pack and Play on the Go Playard
— Crib weight: 21.43 pounds
— Folded dimensions: 29 x 10.5 x 9.25 inches
— Age range: None recommended; for babies and toddlers up to 35 inches tall
— Weight limit: 25 pounds
If you’re looking for a travel crib that can be used at home and on the go, consider the Graco Pack and Play on the Go Playard. While many Graco cribs work well for travel, the On the Go Playard is especially ideal since it comes with a full-size bassinet insert that folds with the playard when it’s time to transport or put away the crib. Simply hit the push-button to disassemble (or assemble) the crib. “I love how well it consolidates into the carrying bag,” says Elizabeth Von Tersch, a mom and senior editor of travel at U.S. News. Nicola Wood, another mom and senior editor of travel at U.S. News, agrees, noting that the crib is also easy to clean.
Other features include a soft overhead toy bar and storage bag for additional toys and other essentials. The only downfall of the Graco Pack and Play on the Go Playard is that its mattress is somewhat thin, Wood notes. “As our baby gets older and heavier, she seems a bit more uncomfortable sleeping in the pack and play because of it.”
Price: $79.99 or less Shop now: Amazon | Graco
Guava Lotus vs. Baby Björn
When choosing the best travel crib to purchase, the final decision for many buyers often comes down to the Guava Lotus Travel Crib and BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light since they’re so similar. If you’re undecided between the two, see which crib wins in the following categories:
— Weight: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
It weighs 2 pounds less than its competitor.
— Ease of transport: Guava Lotus Travel Crib
This one is easier to carry since it can be worn as a backpack.
— Safety of materials: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
The Guava Lotus is GreenGuard Gold Certified, which means its emission levels are even lower/better than industry standards. The BabyBjörn meets OEKO TEX Standard 100, Class 1 requirements for baby products, which means it permeates low levels of chemicals and is also free from as many as 350 harmful chemicals.
— Setup: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
Many parents agree the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light is slightly easier to set up than the Guava Lotus Travel Crib.
— Additional features: Guava Lotus Travel Crib
The Guava Lotus has a zippered mesh window that allows you to help your little one fall asleep. The crib can also double as a bassinet (at home or on the road) with the Lotus Bassinet Kit.
— Price: Guava Lotus Travel Crib
The Guava Lotus Travel Crib is about $230, while the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light is approximately $300.
Travel Crib Accessories
When purchasing a travel crib, think about the other essentials your baby will need for restful naps and nights in your destination — especially since they’ll be in an unfamiliar environment. These might include:
Room-darkening curtains: If your little one is accustomed to sleeping in a pitch-black room at home, you’ll want to ensure your hotel room or vacation rental bedroom is as dark as possible. There are a few ways to do this:
— Use foil and duct tape: It won’t look pretty, but covering the windows with foil and duct tape is a cost-effective option.
— Invest in a Slumberpod: The highly rated SlumberPod ($180) is essentially a tent that goes over the travel crib, ensuring total darkness for a peaceful night’s rest. For a cheaper alternative, check out the Brolex Mini Crib Canopy Cover on Amazon.
— Buy portable blackout curtains: Purchase a set of curtains that won’t take up too much space in your luggage. These portable blackout curtains from Amazon Basics are highly rated and come with a storage bag.
White noise machine: Even if you already have a white noise machine you plan to pack, you might consider buying an additional, more portable option to use in tandem with it — especially if you’ll be in a small space with older siblings who stay up later. U.S. News editors say they’ve had good experience with both the Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Sound Machine (also useful for stroller rides) and this small but mighty option by Magicteam.
Portable fan: A small battery- or USB-powered fan is a useful accessory when traveling with little ones — you can attach it to the travel stroller and car seat on hot days and secure it to the travel crib on warm nights. There are a variety of affordable, well-rated stroller fans on Amazon, including this adjustable option by AMACOOL.
Why Trust U.S. News Travel
Amanda Norcross is a family travel expert who regularly travels with her toddler. Shortly after she found out she was pregnant, she excitedly bought the Guava Lotus Bassinet Kit & Travel Crib and — despite its hefty price tag — hasn’t regretted it once. The travel crib was first used as a bassinet at home and is now used as a portable bed for adventures near and far.
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— How to Get Your Child a Passport
— The Best Family Vacations in the U.S.
— The Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts in the World
— The Best Spring Break Family Destinations
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The 4 Best Travel Cribs of 2023, According to Parents and Experts originally appeared on usnews.com