Which travel crib is the best for your baby? After researching over 25 options, we bought more than 8 portable cribs for testing. We conducted side-by-side testing of the travel sleep spaces for ease of use, portability, quality, comfort, and more. After months of side-by-side testing, we learned details to help you find the right option for your little one and your goals. Continue reading to learn more about travel baby cribs and what stands out.
Weight in Bag: 12.8 lbs | Packed Size: 19.5"H x 23.6"L x 6.6"W
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Harder to put a baby in
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is easy to use, lightweight, and compact, making it a super portable option perfect for travel. It uses materials free of flame retardants, and it has the most comfortable mattress in our tests, with a soft but firm pad wrapped in a softer cover. We like that the BabyBjorn is easy to set up and fold with a functional travel bag that the crib fits in nicely without a struggle.
The price for this option is high compared to much of the competition. While this might make the Bjorn a no-go for tighter budgets, we think it's an excellent choice if your budget allows it. This crib is a quality option that feels sturdy using high-quality materials.
Weight in Bag: 13.9 lbs | Packed Size: 12.6"H x 24.8"L x 9.3"W
REASONS TO BUY
Zippered side access
REASONS TO AVOID
Involved mattress attachment
The Lotus Travel Crib by Guava is a stylish, portable crib with a unique zippered side opening for snuggling with your little one. This eco-healthier option lacks flame retardants and has a soft mattress. It folds into a compact and lightweight travel-ready package with a unique backpack bag with straps that leave your hands free. The Lotus is easy to set up and close once you read the instructions and watch the company video on how to do it properly.
While this option isn't as high quality as the BabyBjorn, it does come close and is just as comfortable for your baby sporting a wallet-friendly price. If a budget-friendlier price and straightforward hands-free bag (woohoo!) are priorities for you, then the Lotus should make your short list of considerations.
Weight in Bag: 10.25 lbs | Packed Size: 22"H x 24"L x 7"W
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen is an easy-to-use, less expensive travel crib that still gives you the necessary features and functionality without breaking the bank. This lightweight and smaller compact travel crib is a good choice for parents who need something for travel but perhaps don't travel often or aren't sure how frequently they will use it. This crib has a quick setup time, feels sturdy when open, and features a side zip panel for in-and-out play or easy comfort in the middle of the night.
This crib may have potential eco-health concerns as we aren't sure about the exact materials and can't find information about the contents on the product or the internet. The pad isn't as comfortable as some competitors as the foam pad compresses easily, and little ones are hitting the plastic board quickly. However, despite these imperfections, we think this option is similar to higher quality, more expensive choices and will give your little one their own sleep space no matter where the road takes you for a price most families can afford.
Weight in Bag: 20.3 lbs | Packed Size: 10.6"H x 27.7"L x 10.3"W
REASONS TO BUY
Good quality for the price
REASONS TO AVOID
Possible flame retardants
Harder to transport
The Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go is a budget-friendly portable crib/play yard with an infant bassinet. This crib is average for ease of setup and folding, with a travel bag that is large enough to prevent frustration when it's time to pack up. The best thing about this option is its longer lifespan and various uses. While it might not hit the mark for all families, we like that it can serve as a bassinet, travel crib, or play yard all in one.
This option potentially uses flame retardants. It is also heavier and larger than most top competitors, making it a no-go if your space is limited or you have difficulty lifting heavy things. Despite this, it is a good choice for families with a tight budget who long for a multi-use option with above-average performance. If you must have a travel crib or play yard, and a bassinet wouldn't hurt, this Graco is tough to beat for value over the product's lifespan.
Weight in Bag: 10.6 lbs | Packed Size: 20"H x 24"L x 6"W
REASONS TO BUY
Good quality for the price
REASONS TO AVOID
Not for sleeping
The Dream On Me Travel Light Playard is not a travel crib. This product is not designed for sleeping babies despite appearing in searches online for travel cribs. The company recommends children not sleep in it and suggests supervision at all times and the movement of little ones to an appropriate sleep surface should they fall asleep inside the playpen. We worry that parents will mistake this product for a travel crib as it looks almost identical to popular travel cribs. Even we didn't realize this was not a travel crib until we purchased it and read more about it. We worry parents will make the same mistake we did, which is why we decided to include it in this review as a Not Recommended option since it is not a product designed for sleeping. We believe it would be helpful if the manufacturer provided clear and accurate information about this playpen to help parents avoid making the false assumption that it is suitable for sleeping.
We purchased and tested each option in this review with side-by-side testing to see how it compares to the competition. This testing process provides insight like no other, as we are uniquely poised to determine which products outperform the competition with the most valuable features and designs. Unlike a review of a single product with no comparisons, we include the details on why some options stand out from the pack and have features that can make your travel life more manageable. Each travel crib is tested for ease of use, portability, comfort, quality, and eco-health. We conduct over 15 individual tests on each crib to assign scores and determine rank and award winners. Testing exposes the details you need to find the right travel option for your family and wallet. Award-winning cribs for travel should be easy to set up and fold into their travel bags. They are lightweight, relatively compact, and easy to carry or fit in smaller spaces, so you can quickly stow them on public transportation or in crowded trunk spaces.
We've been testing baby gear since 2013 with multiple updates to our travel crib review, including purchasing and testing over 15 options through the years. The portable crib team is led by our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier is a mother of 2 and a board-certified pediatrician. She uses her knowledge as a physician and her background as a mother in the crib selection process focusing on safety and quality. The test team includes Bob Wofford, father of 7 and our Senior Review Analyst. Bob performs side-by-side testing for each metric, comparing the products against one another before moving on to our real-world parents. Wendy Schmitz and Abriah Wofford, Senior Review Editors, round out the team and participate in testing and analyzing the final results to help select winners and product ranks.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested popular portable cribs using a rigorous process, including in-house lab testing and real-world use, to determine the most essential features and which cribs offer the best performance.
Looking for a baby gift?
A family member or friend may want to give you a travel crib as a top-ranked baby gift, hoping you'll use it to visit. Don't forget to add your favorite travel crib to your registry if you'll be traveling with little ones.
Because a travel crib isn't essential for baby gear, the cost may be more of a consideration than it might be on a critical gear item. Luckily, some options perform well, and sport reasonable prices, or the higher-quality (more expensive) options can be used for more than one child, thereby dispersing the price over a longer lifespan. The Graco On-The-Go Pack N Play is a versatile travel crib that works as a playpen and infant bassinet. Multiple functions build a value that goes beyond its low price, making it a versatile mainstay for many families. The Baby Joy Playpen is a higher-ranking option with a reasonable price that gives parents an easy-to-use crib that is lightweight and sets up in around a minute, which is perfect for when you reach your destination after a long day of travel. The Lotus Travel Crib is more expensive. Still, the quality is evident, and the crib can also be used as a smaller playpen and bassinet extending its useful lifetime.
Ease of Use
Testing ease of use for portable cribs includes setting up, folding, and fitting them in the travel bag. We did not test the accessories for these products, as these varied widely and were not comparable, but depending on what they are, you may want to take a closer look at them and how they might meet your needs.
Setup time for these products varies significantly between 1 minute to over 27 minutes for the initial setup. Setup time decreases considerably with practice, but the harder cribs remain challenging because they have more steps or assembly. While practice can make perfect (or at least quicker), you can't change a convoluted process into a simple one, no matter how many times you practice.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light earns a high score for ease of use with a 9 of 10 and an average setup of 1:37 minutes after multiple tests. This option requires unfolding, locking the legs (above left), and securing the mattress (above right). This short turnaround time means you can have a sleeping baby resting peacefully quickly after a day of travel. The Baby Joy also has a quick setup of 1 minute on average once you know what you are doing. The Phil and Teds Traveller, on the other hand, earns the lowest score with a 2. This crib takes an average of 8:34 minutes to set up, even after significant practice. The Traveller requires complete assembly and dismantling every time you use it. It comes with more parts than the competition, and your baby could be wide awake and crabby by the time you assemble it. This time seems excessive to us. Most of the competition is closer to 2 minutes, as the Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go takes an average of 1:47 minutes, and the Lotus Travel Crib requires 2:13 minutes.
We also test the ease of folding and fitting the cribs into their included travel bags. This experience varies between easy and unbelievably frustrating. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is easy to open and close and is the easiest to fit in its travel bag, thanks to its smaller size and a well-designed bag that includes some wiggle room (why don't they all do this?). Alternatively, the Lotus Travel Crib is easy to set up but a struggle to fold and fit into the bag (why can't they make the bag a wee bit bigger?). Sometimes we failed to squeeze the Lotus into the bag and had to open and refold it to fit it in the bag, which feels like a design flaw to us. The Phil and Teds Traveller is the hardest to open, close and fit into the bag. The crib parts need to be precisely arranged in the bag to ensure everything fits since it doesn't fold like the competition; if you get it wrong, you'll have to take everything out of the bag to try again.
The primary use for travel cribs is to provide a safe sleep location for your baby when you are away from home. If a crib is too heavy to lift and carry or too large to stow in small spaces, it could be a stress creator instead of helpful gear. For this reason, we think portability is one of the essential features of cribs you use for travel. The smaller and lighter a crib, generally speaking, the better.
Your fitness level or the kind of travel you plan to do could make this metric feel less critical to you. A more substantial option might work if you are a bodybuilder with an SUV driving to your destination. If you are a petite person who is traveling alone on a plane, the size and weight and how easy it is to stow will likely override most other considerations.
The Phil and Teds Traveller is the lightest product in this review, with an in-bag weight of 7.4 lbs. It is also the smallest when folded/dismantled, measuring 6.5"H x 27.2"L x 8.8"W. However, it didn't score well in other metrics, and the setup time of over 8 minutes may negate the small size and lighter weight. Of course, if you're packing this crib for a longer distance, you may find the arduous setup acceptable to have a lighter weight.
On the other hand, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light weighs 12.8 lbs, measures 19.5"H x 23.6"L x 6.6"W when folded, and scored well in every metric, earning the top overall score. Adding 5 extra pounds may seem like a lot, but when you consider that the Joovy Room2 weighs 26.8 lbs, it will seem feather-light in comparison. Probably a good compromise of higher performance and lightweight is the Baby Joy Playpen, 10.25 lbs, and measures 22"H x 24"L x 7"W when in the carry bag.
The Phil and Teds Traveller earned a 10 out of 10 for portability, with the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light, Baby Joy, and the Lotus Travel Crib all earning 8s. The Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze came in at the bottom of the pack with scores of 2. The 4moms Breeze is the largest folded option measuring 12.1"H x 30.7"L x 12.2"W in the bag. This option feels more like something you'd take on a road trip, but perhaps not on an airplane.
Given the strict safety regulations governing this type of gear, you'd think the competition would be similar in their relative comfort level. However, the materials and design of each sleeping surface vary and influence the comfort of the crib.
Most contenders have a soft mattress that ranges from dense and hard to ultra-squishy and so soft that your baby quickly hits the hard support bottom. Soft and firm are important, but squishing down to the hard base is likely a poor design.
The Phil and Teds Traveller has a unique self-inflating mattress that we struggle to inflate fully and was somewhat bowed even with the baby's weight in place. Without total inflation, the pad is uncomfortable and provides no support (think poorly inflated air mattress that results in your baby sleeping more or less on the ground). The Baby Joy has an easy-to-compress foam pad that results in the baby resting on the rigid plastic board under the foam, earning a low score for comfort.
On the other end of the spectrum, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (above left) and the Lotus Travel Crib (above right) earned higher marks thanks to soft, thicker cushions with the support that didn't squash to a thin mattress under a baby's weight. It was easy to see the difference in the quality of materials and the designs that helped one crib mattress earn higher scores over another in a side-by-side comparison.
The quality of portable cribs varies significantly. Some products are sturdy with tightly woven mesh and durable fabric with even stitching. Other options are somewhat wobbly when we press on the top rails, and the mesh easily stretches, or it has loose threads and off-kilter stitching.
The Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze earned top scores. Both cribs have sturdy frames and tight mesh with impressive attention to detail.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Lotus Travel Crib earned some of the highest scores, with higher-end materials and solid construction in simple designs that the manufacturers execute well. The less expensive Baby Joy earns an impressive above-average score for quality, making it the highest quality, budget-friendly option in the review.
In January 2014, 15 baby gear categories were found not to pose a fire safety risk and were made exempt from meeting flammability standards. This exemption means the manufacturers of these types of baby products are free to make products without harmful flame retardants. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they all make an effort.
Flame retardant chemicals are harmful to humans. We feel that exposing little ones to these kinds of chemicals should be limited whenever feasible. Only a handful of products in this review provide information about what materials and chemicals they use (or don't) to create their portable cribs. We think transparency is essential, and parents should demand more information from companies before buying. The Center For Environmental Health (CEH) surveyed leading manufacturers of baby gear on their use of flame retardant chemicals. The CEH lists the following survey questions on its website:
CEH's survey asked four simple questions:
1) Does your company currently sell baby products made with intentionally added flame retardants?
2) If some products still contain flame retardants, which ones?
3) What is your timeline for removing these flame-retardant chemicals from your products?
4) How will you let consumers know that your baby products do not contain flame retardants — through labeling or (for web-based companies) information offered online at the point of purchase or via product websites?
The manufacturer's responses to the survey were used to rank the companies based on their efforts to remove harmful chemicals from their products. While not all manufacturers are listed, it is a good starting point for parents looking for more information on what chemicals are in their baby's gear. The list also shows which companies provide transparency and express an openness to divulge information to consumers.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and Lotus Travel Crib earned top marks for eco-health. BabyBjorn states that their product is "free from harmful substances and approved according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products" they go on to say "materials do not contain any harmful or allergenic substances." The Guava Family company makes the following statement about the Lotus Travel Crib, "The Lotus Travel Crib has been thoroughly tested for chemical emissions and is certified to the GREENGUARD GOLD standard, making it the only travel crib in the world to have received this rigorous certification." They go on to say that the Lotus is "… free of PVC, Lead, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Heavy Metals (Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, etc.) and many others."
Most portable cribs in this review scored as low as you can go and failed to provide information about chemicals and flame retardants on their websites, owner's manuals, or the CEH. Luckily, except for the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go and the Baby Joy Playpen, most of our award-winning products are free from harmful chemicals and impressed during testing of other metrics earning the top two overall scores.
You can travel without a portable crib, but a great travel crib can make life easier on the go, especially with younger babies who need their own sleep space for safety. Travel cribs can provide a safe sleep and play space for little ones when you need a moment (pee break, anyone?). In our opinion, finding products that make traveling with a baby simpler is money well spent if you travel regularly. Gear that helps keep a baby's regular sleep schedule is priceless. Our winners include impressive cribs for most budgets, with features designed to meet different goals and needs. We believe our details can help you find the best crib for your baby, even if our award winners aren't the best fit for you.