The best travel cribs are part comfort, part portability, and all magic. But there’s a lot to consider when you’re on the hunt for the right portable crib. You want it to be small enough that it’s easy to pack into a car or onto an airplane, but big enough that your baby will be able to sleep comfortably and safely in it on vacation until they’re ready to transition into a big-kid bed.
There’s also the ease-of-set-up factor: No one needs to be wrestling with a portable baby bed in the middle of the night in a desperate effort to transition a sleeping little one from the car seat to travel crib.
The Best Travel Cribs to Bring on Vacation
Find the right travel crib and suddenly sleeping away from home feels at least 60 percent more manageable. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best travel cribs on the market and given you the details you need to make an informed decision. Consider it our contribution to helping everyone in your family sleep a little easier on vacation.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light
The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light has a lot of fans. It sits securely on the ground, so there’s not a lot of squeaking and rocking as babies get more mobile. It’s remarkably easy to set up and take down—you just sort of fold it open and it pops up, and when you’re ready to store it in its carrying case, you do the reverse movement. The mattress is generously padded and comfortable but not dangerously squishy. And, the mesh sides maintain good circulation, which means it’s not a big deal if your baby is one of those who loves to sleep with their face right up against the side of the crib.
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Another bonus: Since it sits on the ground, there’s no upper weight limit. Baby Bjorn simply suggests that your kid is too old for it when they can climb over the sides. All materials are OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products, which means they’re not going to irritate skin. This Baby Bjorn travel cot weighs 13 pounds (6 kg) and stores into what looks like a smaller suitcase, so it’s relatively easy to carry. The mattress cover and crib fabric can be removed and laundered, which you know is going to be necessary at some point.
Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib
Anyone considering the Baby Bjorn Travel Light Crib should also consider the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib. These two travel cribs are similar in many ways, but each offers compelling unique features. The Lotus Travel Crib packs into a lightweight and very portable shape, a narrowish boxy case that comes with both an over-the-shoulder carrying strap and comfortable backpack straps that make it easy to travel with.
Set-up is quick (not quite as quick as the Baby Bjorn, but still simple, straightforward, and fast), as is takedown. The mattress is fairly thin (it adheres to the current federal standards for safety) but has nice padding that keeps babies and toddlers comfortable all night long. It has a nice wide opening and, best of all, a zippered side door that’s hugely useful if you find it hard (or painful) to carefully lower a sleeping baby into the travel crib.
Reviewers also note that it’s handy to be able to do in-place middle-of-the-night diaper changes or feedings. And, the zippered side means that it’s hours of fun during awake time. My kids regularly used it as a playhouse during the day, which was great on trips when toys were minimal.
When my kids were babies, I had a rule: If it made my life 20 percent easier for at least a month, it was worth a bit of added expense. And while buying a separate travel bassinet knowing that you’ll need to upgrade to a standard-size travel crib counts as an added expense, for many people, a bassinet you can use at home and take on the road is priceless.
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Chicco’s LullaGo bassinet series includes the Lullago Nest (featuring a canopy with toys) and the travel-friendly Chicco LullaGo Anywhere. The travel-sized bassinet can be used for babies up to 20 pounds (or when they can push up onto hands and knees, at which point the lower sides become a safety issue).
While it’s not a single solution to the portable crib conundrum, it does serve its limited-time purpose extremely well. It’s bed height, so it can nestle up close while providing baby with a safe space to sleep, giving you the benefits of co-sleeping without the danger. Because it’s elevated, it’s generally a bit warmer and it’s also much easier to get baby in and out, a major plus during those months babies have frequent naps during the day and frequent waking at night. Packed down, it’s long but fairly flat, and has a carrying case with a strap.
Graco Travel Pack n Play Playard
In the world of portable cribs, there’s perhaps no better-known option than Graco’s Pack ‘n Play series. These “playards” work for daytime play, naptime, overnights, and travel. There are different models with an assortment of bells and whistles including built-in mobiles and changing areas, but for travel use, simpler tends to be better (and lighter).
Among the best travel Pack ‘n Play options are the Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard and the Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard. The On the Go features an included full-sized bassinet add-on that’s great for younger babies, which makes this a two-in-one travel crib option. The Portable Playard, meanwhile, is built to fold up smaller for easier transport. It has folding feet and wheels, which knock 20 percent off the usual stored size of the unit.
Reviewers note that both models are easy to set up and take down, and traveling families in particular appreciate the light weight.
Graco Travel Lite Crib
Graco is best known for its Pack ‘n Plays, but it also makes the Travel Lite Crib, a bassinet/travel crib combo that’s smaller than the Pack ‘n Play series and ready to hit the road. It’s 20 percent smaller than the Pack ‘n Play footprint, so it’s geared more to sleep and less to play, which is just fine for most travelers.
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Reviewers praise the smaller size, saying it fits better than most other travel crib models in tight hotel-room spaces. The sleep surface has three height settings: newborn (up to 15 pounds), babies (up to 20 pounds), and toddlers (up to 35 inches). Note that Graco is careful to specify that this travel crib is for babies and young toddlers, so if you’re the parent of a larger baby or older toddler, the utility of the Travel Lite Crib may be limited.
Mesh sides, integrated wheels, and a light-controlling canopy with hanging toys add to the appeal of this sleek alternative to traditional Pack ‘n Plays. Folded up, it fits into a relatively compact carrying case for travel.
As with the Chicco LullaGo, the MiClassic All Mesh 2in1 Stationary & Rock Bassinet is a travel bassinet with a shorter utility window, but its adaptability and special features makes it a very popular option that works well both at home and when you travel. The MiClassic bassinet is known for its “one-second open and fold” feature: It sets up and stores easily, and slides into a carrying bag for travel or transport. (It actually slides; you don’t need to wrestle it in!) Made of breathable mesh, it’s easy to see inside to check on baby, and the feet can be set to make the bassinet stationary or allow it to rock side to side.
Reviewers like that it feels sturdy but is light, and that the sleeping surface is larger than many bassinets, which allows for bigger babies to stay in it longer.
Nuna Sena Aire Travel Crib
The highly reviewed and much praised Nuna Sena Aire Travel Crib is a travel crib with a slightly higher price tag, but it delivers serious value and can be a single solution to the travel crib challenge.
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The sleeping surface can be placed at bassinet or crib height, which allows it to grow with your baby. The Sena Aire has a padded, ventilated, organic mattress. And, unlike most travel cribs, this one comes with sheets (most of the time, you have to buy sheets separately). Its unusual eight-legged system is hyper-stable and skid-free, but also really easy to set up.
With nearly all five-star reviews, the Nuna Sena Aire is beloved for its easy one-hand open, exceptional travel crib mattress, and stability.
Skip Hop Play to Night Expanding Travel Crib
When most travel cribs promise a two-in-one solution, they’re talking a bassinet-to-crib conversion. But Skip Hop’s Play to Night Expanding Travel Crib takes a different approach: It expands and contracts to serve as both a cozy sleep space and a roomier daytime play space for babies. For sleep time, there’s a mattress, and for playtime, a wipeable mat.
This is an ideal solution to a travel or care situation in which baby needs the safety of corralled play, but you still want a comfortable and space-efficient sleep set-up. Expand the crib via a zip down the middle. The sides are all mesh for breathability and visibility, and the whole system packs down into a travel bag for transport.
Reviews attest that the Play to Night is sturdy and easy to transition between the crib and the play space.
This article on travel cribs was originally published in February 2021. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.