If you will be traveling with your toddler, you need to get a good quality travel bed or crib for your child to sleep safely and comfortably as you visit different places. Having the right surroundings will enable your child to fall asleep more easily.
What is a portable travel crib?
A portable crib is a slightly smaller version of the baby crib you normally use at home. These cribs usually have flexible arms and legs, allowing them to fold down compactly into a carrier that can be moved around easily when one is on the move.
Do you really need a travel crib?
When most people hear of travel cribs, they often assume these are only necessary for parents or families that travel a lot. But, in reality, a travel crib is a great addition even in the following situations.
At home-yes, we get that you have your nice baby crib where your baby sleeps every night, but what happens if your friends or relatives bring along their baby to visit? We bet they would be grateful to have a nice place for their little one to sleep right next to them.
Hotel-while it’s true that many hotels now offer small travel cribs for booking by their guests, you cannot be sure of its cleanliness or safety. Having your own is the only way you can guarantee cleanliness, safety, and comfort for your baby.
Airbnb- when most people want some peace and quiet away for a few weeks away from home, Airbnb is their go-to option. The only challenge is when you want to bring along your baby because most Airbnb doesn’t usually provide a camping crib. So it’s best to bring along your own. And if you buy a play yard crib for travel, it also doubles up as a safe place for your baby to play during the day.
Factors to consider and when not to use a crib
Below are some things to consider so you know if a travel crib is suitable for your family or not.
Most portable travel cribs are designed for use until three years of age. However, you want to avoid putting your baby in a crib if they have shown the potential to climb out because they can fall and be injured.
Crib Length/ dimensions
If your child is tall, the weight restriction on a portable crib may not apply. You want to purchase a large portable crib whose dimensions will allow enough room for your child to sleep comfortably. Always check if your child still fits before packing your crib for travel because you might be surprised to learn your child has grown so much that they no longer fit in the crib.
We have listed a great selection of travel cribs suitable for taller kids, which you might love.
Weight limits vary between cribs. For example, some cribs with the mattress sitting on the ground do not have a weight limit, while others with adjustable mattress height are specified. If weight is a concern for you, ensure you learn these particular details before buying the crib.
Co-sleeping is the easiest option when traveling because, well, you don’t have to carry any cribs or bassinets. But, not every family is comfortable doing this. Plus, it is not a safe practice, as it is one factor that increases the risk of SIDs.
If co-sleeping is not for you, get a portable travel crib.
What is the difference between travel pack and play, travel bassinet, and toddler travel crib/bed
There are so many travel bed options available in the market today for children available to parents, making traveling so much easier!
But if you are looking at all these options, you may begin to wonder which one you should choose. Is it a travel crib, portable bassinet, travel pack n play, or a toddler travel bed? All are great choices, so we will discuss each one to help you make an informed choice on which is best for your family.
A portable bassinet is a small bed and a fantastic sleeping option if you have an infant or newborn. Most bassinets are designed to be used until 3 months of age. Once your baby starts to roll or sit up, you need to transition them from the travel bassinet to a travel crib. Travel bassinet is smaller and lighter than travel crib, hence best for a newborn. You may also consider a pack n play with a bassinet insert for a newborn.
Pack n play crib
Originally pack n play is a Graco creation, but many parents still refer to any portable crib and playpen combo as “Pack n Play.” You can choose a pack and play crib from other brands, but Graco Pack n Play is still rated best by many parents.
The traditional pack n play is portable but quite bulky and heavy and not essentially the best as a pack n play travel crib. These are great for newborns and toddlers up to 35 pounds, as a spare to keep at home or at grandmas for when you go visiting. In contrast, a travel pack n play is smaller and lightweight, and specifically designed for easy travel.
Toddler travel bed
Once your toddler outgrows the portable travel crib, they may need a bed when traveling due to factors like location, availability of beds, etc. There are many toddler travel bed options to choose from, including portable bed rails to air mattresses.
Portable crib comparison table
|Brand||Weight in lbs||Dimensions||Age limit||Features||Amazon rating||price|
|Guava Family Lotus||13||Assembled42 x 32 x 25Folded24 x 7 x 11||0 – 3 years||Zippered side openingCarry caseMattressGreenGuard certified||4.8/5 by 1671Customers|
|BabyBjornCrib||13||Assembled44 x 32 x 24Folded23.5 x 19x 5.5||0-3 years||Removable machine-washable fabricsThick mattress carry bag||4.9/ 5 by 37 customers|
|Dream on Me Onyx Playpen||13.5||Assembled53.5 x 53.5 x 29.5||0-3 years||Zippered side opening extra large spaceASTM certified||4.8/5 by 406 customers|
|Graco Pack n Play Playard Travel lite Crib||12.8||Assembled36.5 x 28.5 x 30||Bassinets,15poundsPlayard ,30 pounds||BassinetDiaper ChangerPlayardStorageThick mattress|
|Phil &Ted Traveller Crib||7||Assembled45 x 22 x 26Folded27 x 10 x 8||0-3 years||Zippered sidesSelf inflating mattress fitted sheet||3.8/5 by 51 customers|
|KidCo PeaPod Plus Infant Travel Bed||3.5||Assembled52.5 x 34 x 22Folded19 x 3.5 x 19||1-5 years||No assembly needed suitable for indoors and outdoors use inflatable sleeping padCarry bag||4.3/5 by 166 customers|
|Joovy Gloo Infant Travel bed||5.5||Assembled51.5 x 28 x 24.5Folded18 x 4.5 x 17||0 to 5 years||Self-inflating sleeping pad suitable for indoors and outdoors use available in six colors and two sizes||4.6/5 by 240 customer|
How to choose the best portable travel crib
When choosing the best travel crib, these are some of the features to be on the lookout for depending on your specific need and type of travel.
Weight limit and size of your child
As earlier mentioned, your child’s weight and size (height) will determine if a crib is right for them or not. Check the dimensions and manufacturer’s weight limits and decide. If you have a newborn, you may opt for a portable bassinet or a travel crib with a bassinet insert.
Weight of travel crib
A lightweight travel crib will make your life so much easier, considering that you will also carry around your toddler and heavy luggage during travel.
Size and dimensions of the crib
If you are a frequent traveler, you want to find the most compact crib for easy storage and travel. Some portable travel cribs are so tiny when packed that they can fit inside a backpack or suitcase-talk about convenience!
You also want to consider the size not just when folded but also when fully assembled. Though it would be nice if the crib fits small spaces, you also want your child to have enough room to sleep comfortably.
As always, you should not compromise on the quality of the product you are buying. Consider these things
- High quality components- traveling involves moving the portable crib and assembling and disassembling the components many times. Ensure the travel crib is not made using cheap materials that will break off within just a few uses.
- Mesh panels- choose a crib with mesh panels to allow maximum airflow so your baby is breathing nice and easy.
- Easy to clean fabrics-kids come with a lot of mess; you want a crib with removable parts for cleaning and easy to wipe down.
- Safety-ensure that your travels bassinet or crib adheres to safety regulations. Additionally, you may want to steer clear of those made using toxic chemicals and flame retardant materials.
Ease of assembly
After all the exhaustion that comes with traveling, the last thing you want is a screaming baby and a crib that is impossible to set up. Luckily, most portable travel bed options are foldable and easy to set up. Some are even more intuitive, faster, and easier than others. You can compare reviews by parents who have used the product you are interested in to see how easy or hard assembly is. Also, to avoid headaches, make sure you practice as much as possible to set the crib up at home before you travel.
It’s always a good idea to know which accessories are needed for your portable crib and if they are included or need to buy separately. some things to look for include
- Travel crib mattress
- Travel crib bedding/ fitted sheet
- Travel bassinet
- Carry case
Travel crib for twins
For those with twins, you do not need to buy two travel cribs. There are travel cribs with double sleeping space or sleeping space with separation.
While the cost is a deciding factor when choosing the best travel crib for your family, there seems to be a correlation between the more expensive models being lighter, sturdier, and easier to set up than cheaper options.
It would be ideal to say that if you are a frequent traveler, you need to buy a travel crib from a good brand, and these can be pretty costly but will be worth your while.
However, if you only need the travel crib occasionally, you can consider a more budget-friendly option.
Reviews of the Best Travel Cribs in 2021
To start us off on this list is the Lotus Travel Crib by Guava Family because it checks all of our boxes. Not only is it one of the lightest travel cribs in the market (13pounds), it also folds down compactly and fits into the included carrying bag. So you can carry it like a briefcase or a backpack. This makes it highly convenient for travel.
This crib is easy to set up in seconds, and disassembling is also equally easy and fast. In addition, you can use it as a playpen or even for co-sleeping, thanks to a zip downside that creates an access door. If you have a bad back or are too short, you can pick or lay the baby down with ease thanks to the zippered access door.
It is also the only travel crib on this list with GreenGuard Gold certification. This means it has been tested for thousands of toxic chemicals and VOCs that could harm your baby and found safe. Plus, all four panels are mesh, so your baby has maximum breathability.
- Incredibly quick and easy set up
- Ultra-light and compact fold
- Comfortable mattress
- Comes with a backpack carrying case
- Zippered easy access door
- GreenGuard Certified
- Flying friendly size
- Sheet is not included (customers complain they are hard to get because the mattress is not standard size)
BabyBjorn is the closest competitor of the Lotus as they share a similar design and weight. However, BabyBjorn crib is slightly bigger than your standard ‘Pack n Play’, making it a suitable option as a toddler travel crib.
The Bjorn crib uses high-quality Oeko Tex certified fabrics and is very sturdy. It is also one of the few cribs that do not use fire retardants, hence very safe for your little one. We love that it doesn’t have a weight limit since the mattress sits right on the floor. This means you can use it from newborn through toddlerhood. The maximum age limit is up to 3 years.
The crib has airy mesh fabric, which allows supervision, and the fabrics are removable and machine washable. To fold, it only takes one quick motion, and you can pack it into a suitcase.
- Includes thick, soft mattress
- Quick and easy assembly and takedown
- Easy to wipe down and removable and machine washable fabrics
The Onyx Playpen by Dream on Me is the best budget option for parents who want a lightweight and easy-to-use travel playpen without spending too much money.
The playpen has removable legs for compact fold and stores in the included carry bag. Setting up is extremely easy and can be done within seconds, making the Onyx perfect for traveling families.
Because of its hexagonal-shaped interior, the Onyx is stable and roomy enough to allow one adult and child to sit and play together. It has a thickly padded floor, so it doubles up as a travel crib. The transparent mesh walls allow maximum ventilation and complete visibility. There is also a zippered door your little one can crawl in and out.
- Extra large playing space
- Easy to set up
- Meets ASTM safety standards
- Can be wipe down easily
- Zippered access door
- Available in two colors
- Great pricing
- Bottom pad is thin; some parents had to place it on top of a carpet for comfort
- Not suitable for sleeping
Pack n’ plays and portable travel cribs are synonymous among parents since they are much lighter and portable than regular baby cribs at home.
The Graco Pack n Play includes a removable travel bassinet so you can use it from newborn through toddlerhood. When your baby begins to sit up in the bassinet, you can switch them into the playard, which is very spacious for play. In addition, it has a thick quilted mattress for your baby to nap and sleep comfortably.
Parents also love the diaper changer feature for quick and convenient diaper changing right where the baby is. Don’t worry about the messes; the fabrics are easy to clean with a simple wipe down. There is also storage for essentials like diapers, wipes, toys, and the likes.
The Graco portable crib is the lightest in the market, weighing about 12.8 pounds. It has a quick one-step fold, hence an easy option for moving from room to room or when you go visiting friends or relatives.
- Great accessories such as travel bassinet and diaper changer
- Thick quilted mattress
- Quick fold
- Easy to wipe fabrics
- Spacious playard
- Storage for baby’s essentials
If you are looking for the lightest travel crib, your search ends here. The Phil and Teds travel crib is lighter than your baby, literally weighing just a mere 6 pounds! Add to the fact that it rolls up into a size that fits the included carry case, and it becomes a winner for all traveling families. Whether you use an airplane, train, or bus, this travel crib easily fits in overhead luggage compartments.
This travel crib is one of the most spacious in the market, hence suitable for bigger toddlers who need a safe place to sleep. It is made using high-quality Oeko-Tex certified fabrics that are gentle against your baby’s skin. The walls are airy mesh with zippers to allow easy access in and out. It also includes a self-inflating mattress and a fitted sheet.
- Ultra lightweight
- Zip down side, which is great for co-sleeping and playtime
- Self inflating and insulated mattress plus a fitted sheet
- Has accessories like sun canopy hence suitable for outdoor playpen
- Lengthy and difficult setup
- Easy to tip over due to the low weight and has no anchors
- Padding is too thin for comfort
This very cute tent is a great travel bed option for infants and newborns that can’t move around much. That said, it’s the largest travel crib on this list with 52 inches in length, hence one of the best travel bed options for tall toddlers or older kids, so long as they can lie still through the night.
Weighing only 3.65 pounds, KidCo Peapod makes it top of the lightest travel cribs in the market. The travel bed is incredibly easy to set up, and it folds compactly for storage in the included bag or suitcase.
One thing to keep in mind is that while this tent-style sleeping is fantastic outdoors, like when camping, picnics, and in insect-infested areas, it also means that it can become pretty warm inside if completely zippered, which could be quite uncomfortable and unsafe for your little one. Also, because it doesn’t have a sturdy frame, there is a risk of tipping with an active toddler.
- Super lightweight
- Easy assembly
- Comes with a bug net, hence great for outdoor use
- Seems made of cheap quality materials, with reports of broken components after a few uses
- Only suitable for sleeping, not playing
Joovy Gloo is another great travel bed option. It is extremely easy to set up and use. You just need to unpack, and it automatically pops up and is ready for use in seconds.
The Joovy Gloo comes in two sizes: regular size for children up to 3 years old and large size suitable for kids up to 5 years of age. The large size is the same as the Peapod Plus. It is also available in six colors: light blue, dark blue, purple, dark grey metallic silver, and bright orange.
The travel bed itself is made with breathable mesh sides and zippered opening on one side. It comes with a self-inflating sleeping pad. It is also dew resistant, bug proof, and has UPF 50 sun canopy, hence great for both indoors and outdoors use. You can use this travel bed from birth up to toddlerhood. And at 5.5 pounds, it shouldn’t be a problem to bring anywhere you want.
Like we saw earlier with Peabody, these travel beds have the potential to tip over, so it’s best to place them on the floor. Also, they are too low for kids to stand, but they can sit comfortably.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at 10BabyGear. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.