Most Navy SEAL operations require less coordination than the average vacation with a baby. Diapers, wipes, bottles, toys, monitors, humidifiers, bottle brushes, baby carrier … it goes on like this for a few more hours. And, of all the ass pains, few are bigger than the crib.
There are really just 3 things you need in most travel cribs: Light weight (because you have enough crap to drag to the airport), compact size (because you don’t want any guff about checking it), and sturdiness (because once you unfold it, you don’t want it to fold back up on the kid).
Whether you’re just using it to corral a toddler or give your infant a place to sleep on the go, here a 5 of the best picks for easy-to-set-up and easy-to-take-with travel cribs.
BabyBjorn Travel Crib
Pros: Baby Gear Lab has nothing but love for the BabyBjorn “It is our top scoring product in this category earning a 9 out of 10. Setup is so simple and intuitive we could have done it the first time without even glancing at the directions,” and added, “This is the travel crib we’d choose to use with our own children in order to give them a safe, comfortable sleeping area when we’re away from home.” Cool Mom Picks raves it’s “the easiest-to-put-together piece of baby gear I have ever seen. Ever. It is the answer to my oh-my-goodness-I-need-to-put-this-baby-down-somewhere-safe-for-5-minutes so-he-won’t-eat-electrical-cords-while-I-cut-carrot-sticks-for-my-big-kids woes.” And Gear Patrol points out the ease-of-travel, saying “it’s no problem to toss in a car for a road trip, and when flying it fit perfectly into a traditionally-sized suitcase with extra room for fitted sheets, diapers, a baby monitor, etc.”
Cons: Your standard crib sheets won’t work on this thing. And one reviewer cites that it’s not compact enough to fit into an overhead bin, saying “My biggest reason for returning the crib is that most airlines (United, in my case) will not check it for free. We had to pay $35 each way (as it counted as a second bag), so $70 total. With that money, I could have bought a Graco Pack n Play at our destination!” To be fair, that sounds more like a United problem than a BabyBjorn problem.
Dimensions (unfolded): 44″ x 25″ x 32″
Dimensions (folded): 19″ x 5.5″ x 23.5″
Weight: 11 lbs
Lotus Travel Crib
Pros: Winner of Baby Gear Lab’s Editor’s Choice Award, the Lotus is the only crib on this list that folds up into a wearable backpack (which is also airline carry-on size). BGL touts its construction, saying “all materials are free of harmful chemicals and flame retardants” and “the overall attention to detail is excellent.” Cool Mom Picks digs the zippable mesh flaps on the side, saying, “It’s handy for grandparents, or tall people (like me) who don’t love breaking their back to get a sleeping baby in and out of the crib.” And in terms of set up, BabyGizmo confirms the manufacturer’s claim that setup takes just 15 seconds — they even add a bunch of exclamation points to show how much they love the thing.
Cons: Again, your standard crib sheets won’t work on the Lotus. And the biggest complaint from one Amazon customer, “THOSE BLEEPING VELCRO TABS! The Lotus’s mattress is secured to the fabric base of the unit with 6 velcro tabs that run from the mattress through slots in the base and then attach underneath the unit … it is a true challenge to insert the tabs through the slots and then keep them there while you secure them on the bottom of the unit!” Clearly, this reviewer failed to understand that this why your kid has such tiny fingers.
Dimensions (unfolded): 45″ x 32″ x 25″
Dimensions (folded): 24″ x 7″ x 11″
Weight: 13 lbs
Nuna Sena Mini Travel Cot
Pros: Parents digs the travel cot’s compactness, saying “The smaller size of this chic travel crib makes it perfect for trips to Grandma’s — and your cramped living room.” While another Amazon reviewer says, ” love the design, color and it’s easy to set up.” Sold!
Cons: The same Amazon reviewer says, “consider this cot as a “large” bassinet! It can be used up to 18 months. However my son who is 5 months, occupies the entire length of the cot. He will probably use it for another 2 months before he outgrows it.” Although she may just have one of those Benjamin Button situations.
Dimensions (unfolded): 31.9 x 11 x 11.3
Dimensions (folded): 28″ x 10.5″ x 10.5″
Weight: 22 lbs
4moms Breeze Playard
Pros: Another (pricer, heavier) option is the Breeze by 4moms. BabyGizmo says, “It comes with the playard, of course, a bassinet portion, changing pad and a travel bag. It’s not the lightest thing on the market. As a matter of fact, it’s downright heavy. But don’t let that deter you because almost all playards are heavy. It comes with the territory.” And while the Lotus claims you can set it up in 15 seconds flat, Gear Patrol goes one better saying “their Breeze playpen can be set up and broken down in seconds.”
Cons: One Amazon reviewer has a bunch of complaints about the Breeze, from the fact that it’s not always a snap to set up (“It’s not a ‘breeze’ to open on carpet.”). It’s heavy. (“The whole reason you buy this pack ‘n play is because it’s easy to transport.”) And lastly, it’s not that comfortable. (“The padding — especially on the bassinet is hard! I even bought the waterproof liners for extra cushion and softness. I can’t imagine making my little one lay, much less sleep, on it.”) But beyond that, a fine buy.
Dimensions (unfolded): 46″ x 32.5″ x 29″
Dimensions (folded): 35″ x 15″ x 13″
Weight: 26 lbs
Graco Pack N’ Play
Pros: The Graco was, “the most affordable travel crib we tested at a List price of $80,” according to Baby Gear Lab, “but we found it lacking in the safety department, namely, its independent materials certification.” However, reviewers mostly looked past that and instead praised its quick set up. Outside pointed out, “It’s sturdy, with a rigid yet comfy mat that elevates the baby off the ground and won’t deflate if you accidentally put it on top of a cactus.”
Cons: BGL says, “This portable crib is significantly more difficult to set up than many of its competitors. This is primarily due to the way in which the top rails fold and lock.” And the same person at Outside who was placing their kid atop cacti said, “Way heavy, at 20+ pounds, and big: 28″ x 40″. Taking one into the backcountry might tarnish your hard-core cred: This thing looks more at home in grandma’s guest room than in a desert canyon, but what the hey. No one said having kids would make you cool.” Babies. Always ruining your cred.
Dimensions (unfolded): 40″ x 28.5″ x 29″
Dimensions (folded): 28″ x 10.5″ x 10.5″
Weight: 23 lbs