Best Travel Cribs of 2020
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.
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.
Best 6 Travel Cribs
- Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard
- BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
- Graco Pack ‘n Play On The Go Playard
- Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer
- Cosco Funsport Play Yard
- Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard
1. Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard
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.
2. BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
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.
3. Graco Pack ‘n Play On The Go Playard
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″.
4. Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer
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.
5. Cosco Funsport Play Yard
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.
6. Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard
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.
To get the best travel cribs, here are some things to take care of:
Are cribs comfortable?
When buying a travel crib, you need to make sure that it is comfortable. After all, you want your baby to have a good night’s sleep. Check and see how soft the mattress is and if it has enough padding or not. Make sure the crib has enough space and it offers air circulation. Options with canopies and toy rails aren’t that important; however, they might make the crib more comfortable and fun for your child. However, do make sure to see if these extra features help in making the crib more comfortable or are they just adding extra weight instead. Also, make sure to check how much space is available between the sides, and if the mattress provides ventilation. Also, see if the sheets are fitted around the mattress. All these factors will tell you how comfortable the crib actually is.
Do you have the right-sized one?
You need to make sure that the crib isn’t just comfortable for your child but is also comfortable for you to carry around. You want a travel crib that can be easily transported. Any option that is similar to the cot that you use at home isn’t worth the purchase. See how easily you can carry it around, if it lightweight and compact with a smaller size, yet if it can be opened up to provide a big space enough for the baby to be comfortable. Travel cribs with additional accessories such as wheels or a carry bag are only a good option if they do not hinder the portability of the crib.
What material is used to make it?
The material used in the crib is something that you should not ignore when making your purchase. The material used should not increase the weight of the crib, making it difficult to travel with. The fabric used should provide your child with comfort, especially if you live in an area with extreme temperature.
Make sure that the material is breathable and allows air circulation so that your baby doesn’t sweat too much. Also check and see if the fabric is hypoallergenic, especially if your baby has any allergies. This way, you’ll be sure that your baby is sleeping comfortably.
Many cribs are made using high-grade nylon along with a breathable mesh. This combination of fabric can withstand your child’s movement along with the bump and knocks experienced by travel.
How durable is the option?
Make sure that your chosen travel cribs and is lightweight, durable and hard-wearing. A travel crib usually lasts until your baby grows up into a toddler; therefore, it needs to be durable enough so that it can be carried around. The crib also needs to be sturdy enough that it can withstand the constant opening and closing over the years of being used. Check whether there are any gaps in the crib from where your kid can get out. Make sure that your chosen crib is sturdy enough and that it doesn’t get knocked over if your kid moves around. Some travel cribs that provide you with sturdiness come with points where you can tie them down, making them more secure.