In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Best Travel Crib

The joys of owning a portable travel product are as many as the option...
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
Wednesday March 3, 2021
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Which travel crib is the best for your baby? After researching over 25 options, we bought more than 10 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 that can help you find the right option for your little one and goals. Continue reading to learn more about travel baby cribs and which stand out from the pack.

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards   Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award 
Price $150.00 List
$139.99 at Amazon - 7% off
$300.00 List
$249.99 at Amazon - 17% off
$300.00 List
$299.99 at Amazon
$90.00 List
$59.08 at Amazon - 34% off
$250.00 List
$209.00 at Amazon - 16% off
Overall Score
47
56
83
59
71
Star Rating
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Pros High quality, more comfortableEasy to use, nice qualityEase to use, eco-healthy, portable, comfyFits well in the carry bag, inexpensiveEco-healthy, portable, comfy
Cons Harder to use, heavy, poor eco-healthHeavy, large, harder to transportPriceNot for sleeping, longer setup, not machine washableAverage for ease of use
Bottom Line Nice quality and fairly comfy but too heavy for easy portabilityHigh quality and easy to use but heavy and hard transportEco-healthy crib that is easy to use, cozy and portableA less expensive play yard but it isn't suitable for sleeping according to the manufacturerImpressive eco-health features and cozy mattress make up for harder folding
Rating Categories Joovy Room2 4moms Breeze BabyBjorn Travel... Travel Light Playard Lotus Travel Crib
Ease Of Use (35%)
5
8
9
5
6
Portability (30%)
2
2
8
8
8
Comfort (15%)
6
5
7
4
7
Quality (15%) Sort Icon
9
9
8
7
7
EcoHealth (5%)
1
1
10
1
10
Specs Joovy Room2 4moms Breeze BabyBjorn Travel... Travel Light Playard Lotus Travel Crib
Weight 26.8 lbs 23.9 lbs 12.8 lbs 10.6 lbs 13.9 lbs
Crib Dimensions - assembled 30.8"H x 42.3"L x 40.3"W 29"H x 45.8"L x 32.6"W 25.5"H x 43.8"L x 32.5"W 26"H x 24"L x 31"W 25.5"H x 47.9"L x 32.1"W
Crib Dimensions - closed 10.2"H x 37"L x 10.2"W 12.1"H x 30.7"L x 12.2"W 19.5"H x 23.6"L x 6.6"W 20"H x 24"L x 6"W 12.6"H x 24.8"L x 9.3"W
Age/Height/Weight Limit 35" 35" or
30 lbs
3 Years or
35"
35" or 30 lbs 3 Years or
35"
Special Features Fitted Sheet Bassinet Removeable Fabric None BackPack Straps on Carry Bag, Removeable Fabric, Fitted Sheet, Side Zipper Opening
Cleaning Method Mattress Fabric: Spot Clean
Travel Crib Fabric: Spot Clean
Mattress Fabric: Spot Clean
Travel Crib Fabric: Spot Clean
Mattress Fabric: Machine Wash
Travel Crib Fabric: Machine Wash
Mattress Fabric: Spot Clean
Travel Crib Fabric: Spot Clean
Mattress Fabric: Machine Wash
Travel Crib Fabric: Machine Wash
Flame Retardant Free Not Specified No Yes (Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified) Not Specified Yes (GREENGUARD GOLD Certified)
Set Up Time 2:43 min:sec 2:22 min:sec 1:37 min:sec 2:36 min:sec 2:13 min:sec
Warranty 2 Year 1 Year 2 Years None 1 Year

Best Overall Travel Crib


BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light


BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
Editors' Choice Award
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$299.99
at Amazon
See It

83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Portability 8
  • Comfort 7
  • Quality 8
  • EcoHealth 10
Weight in Bag: 12.8 lbs | Packed Size: 19.5"H x 23.6"L x 6.6"W
Easy to Use
Very portable
Eco-healthy
Higher price
Harder to put a baby in

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 with 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.

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. This crib is a quality option that feels sturdy using high-quality materials.

Read review: BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light

Cool Side Open Crib


Lotus Travel Crib


Lotus Travel Crib
Editors' Choice Award
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$209.00
(16% off)
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Portability 8
  • Comfort 7
  • Quality 7
  • EcoHealth 10
Weight in Bag: 13.9 lbs | Packed Size: 12.6"H x 24.8"L x 9.3"W
Eco-healthy
Backpack portability
Zippered side access
Harder to fit in a travel bag
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 but harder to close and fit in the bag than some of the competition.

While this option isn't as high quality as the BabyBjorn, it comes close and is just as comfortable for your baby with a lower price that is easier on the wallet. If a budget-friendlier price and straightforward hands-free bag are high on your list, then the Lotus is one to consider.

Read review: Lotus Travel Crib

Best Portable Crib on a Budget


Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen


Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen
Best Value Award
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$89.99
(17% off)
at Amazon
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Portability 8
  • Comfort 5
  • Quality 6
  • EcoHealth 1
Weight in Bag: 10.25 lbs | Packed Size: 22"H x 24"L x 7"W
Wallet-friendly
Lightweight
Lower quality
Poor eco-health

The Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen is an easy-to-use, less expensive travel crib that still gives you the features and functionality you need 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 on the product or the internet about the contents. 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.

Read review: Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen

Good Longterm Value


Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go


Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go
Best Value Award
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$80.00
See It

52
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Portability 4
  • Comfort 6
  • Quality 6
  • EcoHealth 1
Weight in Bag: 20.3 lbs | Packed Size: 10.6"H x 27.7"L x 10.3"W
Inexpensive
Good quality for the price
Better comfort
Possible use of flame retardants
Harder to transport

The Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go is a budget-friendly portable crib/play yard that includes a bassinet for infants. 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, and it is heavier and larger than most of the top-competition 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, then this Graco is tough to beat for value over the lifespan of the product.

Read review: Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go

Not Recommended: Not an Actual Travel Crib


Dream On Me Travel Light Playard


Dream On Me Travel Light Playard
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$59.08
(34% off)
at Amazon
See It

59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 5
  • Portability 8
  • Comfort 4
  • Quality 7
  • EcoHealth 1
Weight in Bag: 10.6 lbs | Packed Size: 20"H x 24"L x 6"W
Inexpensive
Good quality for the price
Not suitable for sleeping
Less comfortable

The Dream On Me Travel Light Playard is not a travel crib. Despite showing up in searches online for travel cribs, this product is not designed for sleeping babies. The company recommends children do not sleep in it and suggest 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.

Read review: Dream On Me Travel Light Playard


A useful portable crib can make traveling with your little one much...
A useful portable crib can make traveling with your little one much easier.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why You Should Trust Us


We've been testing baby gear for over 9 years with multiple updates to our travel crib review, including purchasing and testing over 15 different products. 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 or 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 final product ranks.

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 out-perform the competition with the most useful features and designs. Unlike a review of a single product with no comparisons, we can provide the details on why some options stand out from the pack and which have the features that can make your travel life easier.

Jump to: How We Tested Travel Cribs

The mattress pad on the Lotus bassinet is thicker than the other...
The Lotus bassinet is an attachment accessory for the Lotus Travel...
Even though the Traveller mattress is attached to the bottom of the...

Analysis and Test Results


For this crib review, we tested 10 popular portable cribs using a rigorous testing process, including in-house lab testing and real-world use to determine which features are the most important and which cribs offer the best performance. Testing is designed to expose 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.

Create a Safe Sleep Environment
For more information on safe sleeping and decreasing the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related death, please follow the American Academy of Pediatrics "back to sleep" guidelines. Creating a safer sleep environment is a must, easier than you think, and will give you peace of mind for a restful night's sleep.

Related: How to Protect your Infant from SIDS and other Causes of Sleep-related Deaths


Value


Because a travel crib isn't truly an essential piece of baby gear, the budget may be more of a consideration when making your selection. Luckily, there are options that perform well and have reasonable price tags, or there are options that are high-quality and can be used for more than one child, thereby dispersing the price over a longer lifetime. 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. 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 set up in around a minute. 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 increasing its overall use and extending its lifetime.

How easy it is to set up a crib can be the difference between fun...
How easy it is to set up a crib can be the difference between fun with baby and a headache.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


Testing ease of use for portable cribs includes set up, fold, and fitting it 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. Set-up 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.

Setting up the BabyBjorn includes locking the legs in place and it...
The mattress of the BabyBjorn connects to the legs via color-coded...

The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light earns the 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 by the time you assemble it, your baby could be wide awake and crabby. This time seems excessive to us; it feels even worse when you consider that the second-longest setup time is half that of the Traveller 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 Travel Crib requires 2:13 minutes.

The Phil and Teds Traveller requires complete assembly each time you...
The Phil and Teds Traveller requires complete assembly each time you set up (parts on the left) while the BabyBjorn has only two parts and sets up quickly.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

We also test the ease of folding and fitting the cribs into their included travel bags. This experience varies between easy and painfully 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 well-designed bag that includes some wiggle room. 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 fit the Lotus in the bag and had to open and refold it to fit it in the bag (this 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 be taking everything out of the bag to try again.

The Lotus Travel Crib is the only product we tested that offered a...
The Lotus Travel Crib is the only product we tested that offered a hands-free carrying option like the backpack straps.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Portability


The primary use for travel cribs is providing 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, then it isn't going to be helpful as much as it will be a stress creator. For this reason, we think portability is one of the most important features for cribs you use for travel. The smaller and lighter a crib, generally speaking, the better.


Depending on your fitness level or the kind of travel you plan to do, you may have some wiggle room in this metric. If you are a bodybuilder with an SUV and drive to your destination, then a more substantial option might work. If you are petite and traveling alone with your baby on a plane, then the weight and stow-ability will likely override most other considerations.

The Phil and Teds Traveller is very small and super easy to carry...
The Phil and Teds Traveller is very small and super easy to carry over long distances.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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/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, maybe you will find the arduous setup acceptable to have the 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. The 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. Probably a good compromise of higher performance and lightweight is the Baby Joy Playpen, which is 10.25 lbs and measures 22"H x 24"L x 7"W when in the carry bag.

This side-by-side comparison of the largest folded crib (4moms) and...
This side-by-side comparison of the largest folded crib (4moms) and the smallest folded option (Phil and Teds) shows the dramatic size difference between the portable crib options we tested.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The Phil and Teds Traveller earned a 10 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.

Finding a comfortable crib is important to help ensure that your...
Finding a comfortable crib is important to help ensure that your baby will sleep soundly while away from home. The Babybjorn Travel Crib Light has the most comfortable mattress in the group.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


You'd think that the competition would be similar in their relative comfort level given the strict safety regulations governing this type of gear. However, the materials and design of each sleeping surface vary and influences 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 is hitting the hard support bottom quickly.

The Phil and Teds Traveller has a unique self-inflating mattress...
The Phil and Teds Traveller has a unique self-inflating mattress similar to a camping mattress.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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 full 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 KidCo TravelPod only earned a 2 of 10 for comfort with a mattress so soft it has permanent indentations in it from being folded. We worry that after repeated use, it will continue to lose its shape and ability to support a baby. The Baby Joy has a similar problem of an easy to compress foam pad that results in the baby resting almost directly on the hard plastic board under the foam. This design earned it a 3 for comfort.

The BabyBjorn mattress is noticeably thicker and denser than the...
The Lotus mattress is thick, soft and supportive.

On the other end of the spectrum, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (above left) and the Lotus Travel Crib (above right) earned 7s thanks to soft, thicker cushions with support but didn't squash 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 designs that helped one crib mattress earn higher scores over another.

The 4moms Breeze impresses with quality materials and construction.
The 4moms Breeze impresses with quality materials and construction.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Quality


The quality of the portable cribs varies significantly. Some of the 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 of 9 of 10. Both cribs have sturdy frames and tight mesh with impressive attention to detail.

The Joovy Room2 is a high-quality option that looks sturdy and...
The Joovy Room2 is a high-quality option that looks sturdy and durable.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The lowest score for the group is 4 for the KidCo. This option has soft, flimsy fabric with lots of loose threads and mesh that easily indents. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Lotus Travel Crib earned an 8 and 7, respectively, with higher-end materials and solid construction in simple designs that the manufacturers execute well. The less expensive Baby Joy earns an impressive 6 overall for quality, making it the highest quality, budget-friendly option in the review.

Because your baby&#039;s face is so close to crib materials and deep...
Because your baby's face is so close to crib materials and deep breathing occurs during sleep it is important to consider the use of flame retardants prior to exposure.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Eco-health


In January 2014, 15 categories of baby gear 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 all of them make attempts to do so.


Flame retardant chemicals are harmful to humans. In our opinion, we feel that exposing little ones to these kinds of chemicals should be limited whenever feasible. Only three products in this review provide or make comments about what materials and chemicals they use (or don't use) to create their portable cribs. We think transparency is important, and parents should demand more information from 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:
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 the 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 in what they use and express an openness to divulge information to consumers.

This color-coded chart shows information for some brands and their...
This color-coded chart shows information for some brands and their use of flame retardants. Companies shown in green are free of flame retardants while companies shown in red either didn't respond or potentially use chemicals in their materials.
Credit: The Center for Environmental Health

The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and Lotus Travel Crib 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 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."

The majority of portable cribs 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 potentially for the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go and the Baby Joy Playpen, 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.

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Most families buy a full-size crib for the baby to use when sleeping at home. But what do you do with your little one when you travel or need a moment to yourself? This kind of situation is where a travel crib/play yard comes into play. These portable cribs provide a safe sleep environment similar to your baby's regular crib, so you can keep your baby on their routine with fewer hiccups related to traveling. A well-designed portable product is easy to transport and use. They provide a safe sleeping environment that is free of suffocation and strangulation hazards. Even if you do not plan to travel, this kind of product is great to have for grandparents or caregivers to use. They also provide a safe play area anywhere the environment presents hazards that are hard to control. You can survive without a portable crib, but if your budget permits, we think they're well worth the extra expense considering the potential safety benefits and regular sleep.

We purchased and tested each product in the review for a comparison...
We purchased and tested each product in the review for a comparison and performance testing process to give you all the details you need to make a buying decision.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Types of Travel Cribs


There are two basic types of portable cribs or play yards.

Full Feature


The full feature cribs usually include additional options like a removable bassinet or changing table for infants and storage possibilities for diapers and other supplies. These products tend to be somewhat heavier or larger, and often their open square footage is greater, so they can do double duty as a play yard. The Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go and the 4moms Breeze are good examples of this type of product. While some products have accessories for purchase, these traditionally come with accessories standard.

The Graco Pack &#039;n Play on the Go comes with a bassinet, play mobile...
The Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go comes with a bassinet, play mobile, diaper storage bag and a changing station making it one of the full-featured options in the review.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

While bassinets are useful, and it is nice they come with the crib, most are only useful until the baby is 15 lbs or starts to roll over. So we caution against making your purchase decision based on this feature alone. The larger size and added weight found in this gear style make them harder to transport than their minimalist counterparts, which are things you should consider depending on how you intend to use the crib.

Basic/Minimalist


Minimalistic portable cribs are lightweight and fold into a smaller package that makes transporting and storing them easier. Rather than offering short-term use accessories, this type of gear has a quick setup and easy carrying design.

The minimalistic BabyBjorn provides just what you need without added...
The minimalistic BabyBjorn provides just what you need without added features that add weight and size to the carry bag.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

A minimalist unit's most significant advantage is lighter weight and compact size that fits nicely into a tote-able bag. Setup times are generally fast, and they are usually smaller when set up, so they are ideal for use in smaller spaces like a hotel or tent. If portability or limited space are factors for you, then the minimalist approach is a great option. While this style lacks a bassinet/changing table, it is safe to rest infants on the main mattress for sleep, and a bassinet is not necessary for safe sleeping.

Chemical Flame Retardants
We recommend you choose a product with materials that are free of chemicals and flame-retardants, and preferably those that are independently OEKO-TEX verified such as the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light or the Lotus Travel Crib. You may pay a premium for the high-end materials, but we think limiting your child's exposure to dangerous chemicals is worth the added cost. The Environmental Working Group has a helpful article concerning the danger of fire retardants in the home.

Safety Considerations: Flammability Standards


At BabyGearLab, product safety is always one of our primary concerns. To help you make the best decision when selecting a travel crib, we feel it would be negligent not to mention the use of flame retardants and other harmful substances used to produce some travel cribs.

The vast majority of items sold for infants and children, such as mattresses and diaper changing pads, are treated with chemical flame-retardants, which link to a range of health problems in both children and adults, with tests showing higher concentrations of these substances in the bloodstreams of younger children than in adults. To understand why products include flame retardants, a bit of background will be helpful.

In 1975, the state of California enacted Technical Bulletin 117 (TB-117) as a standard. TB-117 requires all household furniture, including furniture for babies, to meet flammability standards. TB-117 was created because of concern for fire safety in the home and was designed to give occupants more time to escape in the event of a fire. The standard requires that the foam in furniture withstand 12 seconds of open flame exposure, such as from a candle. Flame retardants are applied to the foam so it can meet the requirements. Unfortunately, many of the flame-retardants used in furniture have been proven to be the cause of or increase the risk of a host of health problems including cancer, infertility, genetic mutations, congenital disabilities, developmental delays, and obesity.

In an interesting twist, it turns out that these flame retardant chemicals do not work to slow the spread of fire in real-world conditions. Instead, they are of limited use and have even been shown to increase the levels of deadly toxins in smoke. As smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in fires, flame retardants are serving to exacerbate an already grim reality. While they help materials meet the standard, that is about all they do.

How is it Legal to Use Toxic Chemicals in Home Furnishings?


In 1976, the federal government enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act. The law was supposed to regulate chemicals. However, upon its enactment, some 60,000 chemicals (already in existence) were grandfathered in as "safe." Also, the law is fundamentally flawed in that the burden of proving a chemical is safe does not lie with the manufacturer. Rather, the EPA must show that the chemical is dangerous for it to be banned. This unfortunate "regulation" has allowed tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals to go untested and inundate the marketplace and our homes.

For other safe sleeping considerations and protecting your baby from potential SIDS risks, please read our article on How to Protect your Infant from SIDS and other Causes of Sleep-related Deaths.

Back to TB-117


Though TB-117 is a California law, its impact affects the entire United States. Manufacturers do not want to carry dual inventory and thus sell furniture that is TB-117 compliant throughout the United States and Canada.

As of January 2014, the law was amended and is now known as TB-117-2013. The new law changes the open flame test to a smolder test (like a smoldering cigarette) that is passable without treating furniture with toxic chemicals. What TB 117-2013 does NOT do is to prevent the use of flame retardants. Industry, however, does have the option to produce furniture without them. As with BPA-free products, flame-retardant-free home furnishings are sure to increase in supply due to consumer demand. However, buyers need to be savvy during this transition time as manufacturers can sell products that comply with the old TB-117 standard. Though TB-117-2013 is a step in the right direction, we are still a long way from eliminating toxic chemicals.

What all of this means for you


  • If products are labeled TB-117 compliant, you can assume they contain chemical flame-retardants.
  • If products are labeled TB 117-2013, they may still include chemical flame-retardants.
  • Manufacturers are under no legal obligation to disclose whether or not they use chemical flame-retardants or what type.
  • Look for products that are independently tested and verified by organizations such as OEKO-TEX.

More information on this topic can be found at GreenSciencePolicy.org and The Center for Environmental Health (CEH).

Choosing the right portable crib or play yard doesn't have to be confusing. Using the questions below, you can quickly narrow the field to the right option for your needs.

First: Can I carry it?


Portability is essential, and you should consider if the size and weight of each contender will meet your goals and is manageable by your family. If you plan to travel by plane frequently and need a lightweight or smaller option, then you'll want to steer clear of the Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze, which are both over 20 lbs and larger when folded than the competition. The BabyBjorn Travel Light Crib or the Lotus Travel Crib may be more viable options with weights under 13 lbs and smaller folded sizes. Alternatively, if you plan to use your crib as a safe place for the baby to rest while you cook dinner or take a shower, then a more substantial play yard with wheels may be the better choice for your goals.

Second: How hard is it to setup?


The time and effort it takes to set up a portable crib can make owning it a pleasure or a curse. No matter how you intend to use it, we think most parents will agree ease of use is important and a factor to consider. If you plan to travel, a quick bed set up when you reach your destination might be a lifesaver to keep the baby asleep or on a regular sleep schedule. If the product is primarily used at Grandma's house or with the sitter, then you may have more wiggle room in how long it takes to assemble the product. Either way, we suspect few parents will want to assemble the crib every time they need it (like the Phil and Teds Traveller), and most parents will prefer the unfold and lock in place design found in most of the competition. The BabyBjron Travel Crib light can be set up and ready for sleep in about 1:37 minutes/seconds, compared to the Phil and Teds Traveller that takes over 8 minutes. The Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go takes only 1:47 minutes, and the Lotus Travel Crib has a time of 2:13 minutes on average. The Baby Joy setup is one of the quickest, with an average time of 1 minute.

While cost is important to most families, the inexpensive price of...
While cost is important to most families, the inexpensive price of the Graco Pack 'n Play puts a nice travel crib within reach of most.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Finally: What is it going to cost me?


The products in this review range in list price from $70 to $300. The top-scoring products are $300 and $250 respectively for the Lotus Travel Crib and the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light. We understand this might be more than some parents want to spend for an occasional use item, which is why the Baby Joy and the Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go are potentially good choices with budget-friendly prices and above-average scores.

While we know money is a factor in baby gear, we highly recommend purchasing a chemical-free crib to help limit your child's exposure to potentially harmful materials. If this means registering for the crib or saving up for a few months, we think the extra effort is worth the health benefits. However, providing a structurally safe sleep environment that helps prevent SIDS trumps all. We think a less expensive product that potentially uses flame retardants is better than no crib at all.

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Credit: Abriah Wofford

We start our process by researching possible contenders for the review, and we make our selections based on online reviews, popularity, or interesting, unique products we feel deserve possible recognition. Product testing begins with assembly and moves to side-by-side testing and comparisons before being used in the real world.

Testing Ease of Use


When evaluating products for ease of use, we looked primarily at the length of time it takes to set up and take down each product and how difficult it is to fit it in the bag, and follow the users' manual.

Being able to quickly and efficiently set up your crib/play yard...
Being able to quickly and efficiently set up your crib/play yard could be the difference between a restful night sleep away from home and a frustrated parent with a crabby baby.
Credit: Curtis Smith

We also consider the cleaning method and whether or not keeping the crib clean will be a challenge given the materials, design, or cleaning method.

Testing Portability


How easy it is to transport a portable crib for travel is a key metric to this gear category. This includes the overall carry weight of the products as well as their shape and overall measurements. Weight and Size are critical when it comes to selecting a portable crib. We weigh and measure each product in the same way with the same device using the same tester for accuracy and an apple to apple comparison. We also considered the type of carrying handles, including the design, placement, comfort, and whether or not you will be able to carry the unit for longer distances or fit it in smaller spaces. If it isn't good for travel, then it isn't a great travel-style crib.

A key test for a travel crib is how well it fits in your car, on the...
A key test for a travel crib is how well it fits in your car, on the plane, or in Grandma's closet. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light shape makes it convenient when you move it from one location to another.
Credit: Curtis Smith

Testing Comfort


We evaluated mattress design and materials, cover fabric, and how much potential support the mattress might provide under the baby's weight. If it depresses easily, leaving the baby resting on a hard bottom, it earned fewer points. If it is soft but firm and thick enough to prevent sore spots, it earned more points. We also tested for parent comfort and how difficult it is to bend into the crib to lay baby to sleep or comfort them in the middle of the night. Cribs with the lowest overall height and wider openings are the most comfortable for parents, especially those who are more petite or extraordinarily tall.

High-quality stitching and attention to detail design, like that...
High-quality stitching and attention to detail design, like that found on the 4moms Breeze, impact overall durability and the longevity of the product over time.
Credit: Lindsay Smith

Testing Quality


We observed and compared each crib's design and materials, the construction and possible defects or opportunities for easy damage, and the manufacturer's attention to detail and quality control. These cribs can take a beating, getting packed and unpacked hundreds of times, thrown in and out of the car, not to mention the abuse they may take in a baggage terminal at the airport. While any product alone may be difficult to judge for quality, all eight products side-by-side are easy to assess for quality and construction differences that will influence longevity and durability.

With a commitment to providing safe materials and obtaining...
With a commitment to providing safe materials and obtaining certifications concerning being free from potentially harmful chemicals, the Guava Family (makers of the Lotus Travel Crib) are making substantial strides in the industry.
Credit: Curtis Smith

Rating Eco-health


Providing a safe area for your child to sleep and play while on the go is one of the primary reasons to purchase a travel crib. A baby should be as safe when sleeping away from home as they are in their full-size crib at home. For eco-health, we considered whether or not the manufacturers used flame retardant chemicals or other harmful substances in their products' design or production. We considered how transparent the company website is and whether or not the products have been reviewed, tested, or certified for chemicals or lack of chemicals. Higher scores were given to products with certifications, and lower scores were earned by those that failed to address the elephant in the room at all.

You can travel without a portable crib, but it is far easier to take a crib on travel with you. Travel cribs can be a safe sleep space and a safe play space for your baby when you need a moment (the bathroom or cooking dinner). Choosing gear that makes traveling with a baby easier is money well spent, in our opinion. A product that helps maintain a baby's healthy sleep routine? Well, trust us, that is absolutely priceless.

Your lifestyle and goals can help you narrow the field of which product is best for you. Our winners include impressive selections for most budgets, with features designed for a variety of goals. We hope our details and test results help you find the best crib for your traveling tot, even if our award winners aren't the best choice for you and you select a high ranking selection that better meets your needs.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team