Essential guide to travel cribs

Considerations when choosing a travel crib

The first question to ask yourself is: When will you use it?

Is it intended for weekly stay-overs at grandma’s? Or as a secondary cot downstairs for nap-times? For road trips with nightly stopovers or for a one-off trip overseas? Or perhaps as baby’s main cot with the option of moving out to the nursery eventually.

REALLY think about this. I can’t emphasize this enough! The more specific you are now about how and when you’ll use it, the more focused you’ll be when you dive in to the – be warned – HUGE variety of travel cribs out there and the less distracted you’ll get by all the, mostly superfluous, extra features.

Just so you know, you’re not going to find a travel crib that is just perfect as a main crib in baby’s nursery, also fits nicely in your small kitchen for baby’s nap times and is a cinch to erect and disassemble and light as a feather so ideal for that camping trip you’re planning. The criteria for each of these uses is contradictory so it’s just not possible for a travel crib to tick all those boxes. Go figure out what your boxes are, prioritize them, then head to the baby store.

Ok so assuming you’ve figured out the what, where, when and how?

Now you’re ready to look at the different categories of travel cots. Below I have listed the potential purposes for your travel crib and the corresponding essential features your travel crib needs to have.

1. Good for actual travel

Your travel crib should be:
1. Light, particularly for air travel or public transport.
2. Compact when folded. You want it to fold away as small as possible so what it will fit in your suitcase rather than having to pay for an extra piece of luggage. With car travel also this is important but not so much.
3. Easy to assemble. The pop up travel cribs (they literally ‘pop up’ when your remove them from the carry bag) are perfect for frequent travel but sometimes they are a little trickier to ‘pop down’ and if not done correctly your cot will warp and pop up misshapen next time you use it. (By the way, it’s a good idea to practice erecting the crib before your trip; there’s nothing worse than wrestling with a crib late at night with a crying impatient baby wanting his bed NOW)
4.Portable. It should pack away neatly in a sturdy carry bag. If a heavier crib, the bag should incorporate wheels.

I recommend Baby Bjorn Travel Crib
or Phil & Ted’s Traveller
Phil and Teds travel crib
or Samsonite Pop-up Cot
Koo Di Bubble travel cot

2. Baby’s main cot

Your travel crib should be:

1. Big. Approximately 120 x 60cm to last baby until they’re ready to move to a bed between 2 and 3 years old.
2. Comfortable. You will want a thick quilted mattress.
3. Sturdy and durable. The polar opposite of the popup cot, you will want a traditionally shaped rectangular crib with robust metal or plastic poles that click in to place.
4. Washable. This is important with all travel cribs as babies are generally messy, but especially if it is being used every day.
5. Extra bits. Some of the more expensive cribs have extras like nappers, changing stations, storage pockets, canopies, toy bars, music and vibration centers with remote control and night lights to name the most common. But don’t be blinded by gizmos you don’t need; if you’ve already got this stuff separately then these all-singing all-dancing cribs will be overkill and just add to the clutter.

I recommend Any of the bigger Graco Pack ‘n Plays with extra features dependant on your needs.


3. A secondary cot

Sometimes in a large, two-storey house, or a house with very narrow stairs, mums like to have a second crib downstairs for baby to nap in during the day where mum is working, moving it around the house as she does. So your crib should be:

1. Easy to move, i.e. has wheels and is small enough to fit through doorways.
2. Has the extras you need. A changing station, storage pockets or a canopy (shading baby’s naptime in a bright kitchen for example) could be useful for a secondary crib.

I recommend The Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Newborn Napper

graco pack n play with newborn napper

4. Play pen

Maybe you are planning on frequent visits to grandmas or a friend’s house that isn’t child proofed; in this case you want your travel crib to be a secure place you can put your baby to play in and nap for a few hours.

Your travel crib should be:
1. Sturdy and durable
2. Big. 120 x 60cm is a good size.
4. Washable
5. Have lots of breathable mesh openings so baby doesn’t feel boxed-in and you can watch him as he plays.

I recommend one of the bigger Graco playards


5. Sun shade for beach / outdoors

Your travel crib should be:

1. UV protected
2. Made from breathable material with lots of mesh openings and possibly mosquito netting
3. Easy to transport and store

I recommend the Phil & Ted’s


or the Samsonite bubble

samsonite bubble pop up cot

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