With so many travel crib options, how do you know which option is the best for your baby? After researching over 20 popular products, we purchased 8 portable cribs to test side-by-side for ease of use, portability, comfort, quality, and more. After several months of hands-on testing, we have the details that can help you make an informed decision about the style and functionality that are most important for this type of gear. Not sure where to start? No worries, we can help! Continue reading to learn all the details you need to know before choosing your best travel baby crib.
The Best Travel Cribs Review
Analysis and Award Winners
This review was recently updated to include any new information or changes to products. Regular updates and edits ensure that our readers receive the most up to date and accurate information available so they can make their best buying decision.
Best Overall Travel Crib
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is easy to use, lightweight, and compact making it a super portable option great for travel. It uses materials free of flame retardants and it has the most comfortable mattress in our tests with a soft and firm pad that has a soft cover. We like that the BabyBjorn is easy to set up and fold with a useful travel bag that the crib fits in nicely without a struggle. We think this crib is a quality option that feels sturdy and has a higher-quality design. While the price might make this option a no-go for some families, we think it's an excellent choice if your budget allows.
Read review: BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
Cool Side Open Crib
The Lotus Everywhere by Guava is a stylish portable crib with a somewhat unique zippered side opening for snuggling with your napping baby. This eco-health option uses materials without flame retardants and has a soft mattress. It folds down into a compact and lightweight package with a unique backpack style bag with straps that leave your hands free. The Lotus is easy to setup but harder to close and fit in the bag than some of the competition. While this option isn't as nice as the BabyBjorn, it comes close and is just as comfortable for your baby with a lower price that can save you about $50. If a lower price and easy carry bag are important to you, then the Lotus is a crib to consider.
Read review: Lotus Everywhere
Best Portable Crib on a Budget
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go
The Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go is a budget-friendly portable crib/play yard that includes a bassinet for use with infants. This crib is average for ease of setup and folding, with a travel bag that is large enough to prevent frustration when packing it away. This product potentially uses flame retardants, and it is heavier and larger than most of the top-ranked competition. However, despite this, it is a good option for families with a smaller budget as it combines above average performance with a very reasonable price tag compared to the competition. If you must have a travel crib or play yard and money is a factor, then this Graco can't be beaten.
Read review: Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go
Analysis and Test Results
For this review, we tested 8 popular portable cribs using a rigorous testing process that includes in-lab testing and real-world use to determine which features are the most important and which cribs provide the best performance. Testing is designed to expose the information you need to choose the best travel product for your needs. Test results drive the metric scores, and the overall score includes an emphasis on ease of use and portability.
Award-winning travel products are those that are easy to setup and fold into their travel bags. They are lightweight, relatively compact, and easy to carry or fit in smaller spaces. The table above provides the overall score and rank for the products we tested in this review.
Ease of Use
Ease of use for this kind of crib includes how easy they are to set up, fold after use, and fit in the travel bag. Given the overall lack of features found in travel style cribs, there isn't much to compare for a side-by-side comparison. We did not test ease of use for accessories as these varied from crib to crib and are, therefore, not comparable.
The setup time for these cribs varies significantly from 3:10 minutes to over 27 minutes for initial setup. While this time went down considerably for each product after repeated attempts, the harder options stayed harder, and the easier options got easier. So while you will get better at setup over time, you won't be able to change a convoluted process into a simple one.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light earned the high score for ease of use with a 9 of 10 and an average setup time of 1:37 minutes after repeated tests. This crib requires that you unfold it, lock the legs (above left), and secure the mattress (above right). This short setup time means you'll have a sleepy baby resting soundly in almost no time flat after a long day of travel. The Phil and Teds Traveller, on the other hand, earned the lowest score with a 2, taking an average of 8:34 minutes to set up even after a significant amount of practice. This product requires complete assembly and dismantling every time you use it. By the time you get it setup, your baby could be wide awake and relatively crabby. This time seems excessive to us; it is made worse by the fact that the second longest setup time is half of that at 4:12 minutes for the KidCo TravelPod. 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 Everywhere requires 2:13 minutes.
We also test ease of folding the products and fitting them into their travel bags. This varies and sometimes corresponds to the ease of opening and setup but other times did not. 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 well-designed bag. Alternatively, the Lotus Everywhere is easy to setup but fairly difficult to fold and fit into the bag. Sometimes we even failed to fit it in the bag and had to open and refold it for it to work. The Phil and Teds Traveller is the hardest to open, close and fit into the bag as it needs to be assembled and disassembled. The crib parts need to be specifically arranged in the bag to ensure everything fits because it doesn't fold the way the competition does.
One of the main uses of this kind of gear is being able to easily provide a safe sleeping space for baby when you are traveling. If a crib is too heavy to lift and carry or too large to stow in small spaces, then it isn't going to be a stress reliever but a stress creator. For this reason, we think portability is one of the most important features of this type of product. The smaller and lighter a crib is, the better.
Depending on your physical fitness or the kind of travel you plan to do you may have more wiggle room in this metric than other families. If you are a bodybuilder with an SUV and you are driving to your destination, then a larger or heavier option might be okay. If you are petite and traveling alone with your baby on a plane, then the weight and stow-ability of a crib will likely override other considerations.
The Phil and Teds Traveller is the lightest product in this review with an in bag weight of 7.4 lbs. It also happens to be the smallest when folded measuring 6.5"H x 27.2"L x 8.8"W. However, it didn't score that well in other metrics and the excessive setup time of over 8 minutes may negate whatever bonus the small size and lighter weight may provide.
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. This addition of 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.
The Phil and Teds Traveller earned a 10 of 10 for portability with the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Lotus Everywhere both 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.
You'd think that the different products would be similar in their level of relative comfort given the strict safety regulations governing this kind of baby gear. However, the materials used and the design of each mattress is very different.
The majority of the competition has a soft mattress that varies from dense and difficult to depress to ultra-squishy and so soft that your baby is hitting the hard bottom quickly with little support.
The Phil and Teds Traveller (above left) has a unique self-inflating mattress that struggled to inflate fully and was somewhat bowed even with the weight of the baby in place. Without full inflation, the pad is very uncomfortable and leaves little ones with no support (think poorly inflated air mattress that results in your baby sleeping more or less on the ground). The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day & Night (above right) has the thinnest and hardest mattress in the group and it feels flimsy and cheap compared to the competition. The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day & Night only earned a 2 of 10 for comfort tying the KidCo TravelPod which had a mattress so soft it had permanent indentations in it from being folded and we worry that after repeated use it will continue to lose its shape and ability to support baby adequately.
On the other end of the spectrum, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (above left) and the Lotus Everywhere (above right) both earned 7s thanks to soft, thick cushions that support but didn't condense to a thin mattress under baby's weight. In a side-by-side comparison, it was easy to see the difference in the quality of materials and the design choices that helped one mattress earn higher scores than another.
The quality of the portable cribs varies as widely as the type of materials and the attention to detail we observed in their construction. Some of the products were very sturdy with tightly woven mesh and durable fabric that was stitched evenly with no random threads. Other options were somewhat wobbly when we pressed on the top rails, and the mesh stretched easily when pressed on.
The Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze both earned top scores of 9 of 10. Both have sturdy frames and tight mesh with attention to detail in the manufacturing process.
The lowest score for the group is 3 earned by the Fisher-Price Ultra-Light Day & Night that has a frumpy look and feel with a stiff mattress and a frame that shakes when you press down on the top rails. The mesh is loose, and the product we purchased had loose threads. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Lotus Everywhere earned an 8 and 7 respectively with higher-end materials and solid construction in simple designs that the manufacturers execute well.
In January 2014, 15 types of baby gear were found not to pose a fire safety risk and are exempt from meeting flammability standards. This exemption means the manufacturers of these kinds of baby products can now make products free of harmful flame retardants. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they all have made an effort to do so.
Flame retardant chemicals have been shown to be harmful to humans, and we feel that exposing little ones to these chemicals should be limited whenever possible. Only three products in this review list or make comments about what materials and chemicals they use or don't use in the production of their portable cribs. We think transparency is important and parents should demand more information from all companies before making buying decisions. The Center For Environmental Health (CEH) surveyed leading manufacturers of baby gear on their use of flame retardant chemicals. The CEH list the following survey questions on their website:CEH's survey asked four simple questions:
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 the harmful chemicals from their products. While not all manufacturers are listed, it is a good starting point for parents looking for additional information on what is in their baby's gear.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and Lotus Everywhere both earned 10 of 10 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 Everywhere, "The Lotus Everywhere 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."
The majority of travel products in this review scored a 1 of 10 and failed to provide information about chemicals and flame retardants on their websites, owner's manuals, or to the CEH. Luckily, except for the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go, the award-winning products in this review are free from harmful chemicals and impressed during testing of other metrics earning the top two overall scores in the review.
While you can travel without a portable crib or play yard, we don't think you'll want to as they can create a safe sleeping environment while traveling and a safe place to put baby when you need to a short break (ahem, going to the bathroom or taking a shower). Traveling with a baby can be stressful, and any piece of equipment that makes it less so is money well spent in our opinion. And gear that can help keep baby's sleep routine on track? Well, that is simply Priceless.
We believe there is a perfect crib for everyone even if that means a different option for each one. Our award winners include top performing cribs, in a broad range of prices, with unique features for different goals. The breakdown of test results is sure to help you find the right option at the right price for your traveling needs even if the award winners don't offer what you want.
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.