There’s no winging things when you’re a parent, especially when you’re a parent during a pandemic. If you’re going on a road trip with your baby, you need a safe, clean, and comfortable portable bassinet or portable crib for said infant to sleep in. It’s why a travel crib is a smart investment that, if chosen wisely, should serve you for years to come.
Before you go crazy buying the most tricked-out portable crib on the market, put away your wallet.
“A firm mattress should be the only thing in the crib. A baby can’t appreciate a fancy crib,” says Dr. Sumit Bhargava, a pediatric pulmonary and sleep medicine doctor at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto. “Your baby should be sleeping on a firm, flat surface, with nothing inside the crib. That’s it.”
A travel crib, an easy transportable, enclosed sleeping surface designed for babies, makes it easy for your baby (and therefore parents) to get some shuteye after a long day navigating different time zones. First and foremost, you want it to have a flat sleeping surface, because those are the safest options for your baby, as stated above. The portable cribs on our list are lightweight and fold up compactly. They’re easy to carry, and they open and shut smoothly with minimal effort; custom included tote bags are an added bonus for hauling them around. They also have removable mattresses and/or washable mattress covers, because, you know, babies.
Also worth nothing: All the cribs below can be assembled in under five minutes. Some other options may be more versatile or look cooler, but honestly, at the end of the day, you do not want to be threading anything through anything.
This wheeled play yard doubles as a portable crib, has wheels for easy movability, and is great if you plan on using it until your kid is a toddler. This one works from birth on and fits kids who are up to 35 inches tall. It comes with a travel bag and folds up for trips. Unzip the carry case, pull apart the crib, and pop it out. It stabilizes on its own. The pad that’s wrapped around it is the mattress.
Ease of use is a huge factor here. You push the Breeze down to open it. You lift the lever to close it. It's that easy. It has a removable bassinet, if you want your baby close, and a flip changer for diaper changes. The max weight capacity is 30 pounds, and this also turns into a play yard.
The updated style of NUNA's popular travel crib has more airflow, so your baby is cooled off from any angle. The mattress can be placed in a higher bassinet position for younger babies, and lowered for older ones. It has a one-handed fold that's refreshingly simple and to open it, you simply push down and snap into place using one hand; to put it away, pull up on the tab. The legs are skid-proof. It can be used from birth until your baby is 30 pounds.
The beauty of the Lotus is that it's designed to save your aching back. Rather than having to lean over the mesh walls of the crib to put down and pick up your baby, this clever crib features a zippable side-panel door that lets you slide your little one in easily. Even better, you can leave it open during playtime so you kid can crawl in and out on his own. In transit, the backpack straps make it easy to carry with you. And when you arrive at your destination, it only takes 15 seconds to set up the Lotus. You unzip the case, and the crib is wrapped in the mattress. Take both out. Unlatch the crib, get the legs out, and unfold the thing. Then straighten the legs and they click into place. Add the mattress and you're done.
If you have a newborn, this is another great travel crib. This go-anywhere bassinet weighs less than two-and-a-half pounds and has a built-in carrying handle. To break it down, all you have to do is push the four release buttons and fold it in half. The removable, water-resistant mattress pad and fitted sheet set are included and the weight limit is 15 pounds. To set it up, you press the blue buttons on either side. Lift up the metal frame until you hear a click.
Here's a no-frills but ultra-durable portable crib with snap-on legs and a washable mattress pad. It's easy to set up and easy to take apart. It's sturdy, and its simple design makes it fit with any decor. You take the mattress pad and frame out, unfold the frame and lock it into place, and then attach the four legs onto each side; you hear them lock into place. But do note that it's not height adjustable, does not work or vibrate, and the weight limit is only 20 pounds.
Ease of use is paramount when it comes to portable travel cribs, which is why the Baby Bjorn's one-motion set up is so attractive: simply pop the frame open and the legs automatically swing into place. The slightly tapered shape makes this crib nice and stable, and the mesh sides make it both cool for your sleeping baby and lightweight for your back. Best of all, there is no set weight limit.
Here's a genius full-sized crib that folds flat without any disassembly required. This is the cost-effective solution for parents who want a full-sized crib at home that segues into a travel crib when you hit grandma's house for the holidays. It has locking wheels, and folds flat thanks to its patented folding system. No tools required. It fits babies up to 50 pounds. And when your kid outgrows it, you fold it up and store it.
This folding enclosed napping spot doubles as a play space with included hanging toys. This dome-shaped crib from Fisher-Price has a canopy that'll keep your baby safe from sun and bugs if you decide to have a picnic. It's great for travel because it folds flat easily, and when your baby is able to roll over, you can use it for tummy time.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.