Sleep is one of the most important functions of the human body, as short-term memory in the hippocampus is converted into long-term memory in the frontal cortex while we are all busy getting our beauty sleep.
We also know how important it is for babies and toddlers to get enough restful sleep as they grow, so now, consider the following situations of people who didn’t own one of the highest-reviewed best travel cribs for toddlers:
- Your wife serves in the military, and she’s been stationed seven states away. Get packing, because your family of four, including two toddlers, leaves in a month.
- Your husband travels a lot on business, and he’s been asked to present at a conference in a big city in two weeks. On your anniversary. But he’s been given the okay to bring you and baby along!
- Your sister-in-law just announced her pregnancy, and you happily dug out and gave her your five-year-old’s crib from the garage. After all, you’re not having any more babies. Truth be told, your family can’t afford it anyway. Now what’s with the weird anchovy cravings all of a sudden?
- Disneyland. Parade. Ten hours. Screaming children. Feet. Swollen. Hotel. Finally. Please check in. Oh my gosh. Sleep. Wait... what do you mean they're out of rental cribs?
We’ve all been there.
Or maybe we haven’t been at all, and you’re thanking your lucky stars for never having experienced any of the above scenarios!
Whatever the case, the underlying denominator here is still the necessity to consider children’s sleep, either when traveling for leisure, traveling for business, traveling for emergency, or traveling to a new place to call home. And what each set of parents in the above scenario could have used was a travel crib.
Before you buy that crib
Some questions and considerations to think about when in the market for a travel crib can include:
Will this be a ‘permanent’ bed for my child or a ‘temporary play’ bed?
Each one of the travel baby beds reviewed below have been used by other parents as permanent beds for their babies.
Do I want a travel crib that’s flush to the ground or raised slightly above?
Not something you’d automatically think about is the convenience of access your child will have to their own travel play crib.
Some cribs we cover below have feet that raise them above the floor. Things to consider here are the obvious separation from the floor itself, which could be slightly cleaner, but that there is an implied weight maximum to the crib before the bottom begins to warp and sag downward. This also means that your child will not have easy access in/out of the crib which, depending on your situation, might be exactly what you want.
Travel cribs that are flush to the ground do not have an implied weight maximum; however, the mattress and play crib are touching the ground. Some cribs that are flush to the ground also zip open on the sides to allow crawlers easier access into their own play spaces.
Should I allow my child easy access in and out of the travel crib?
This might take some consideration of your child’s temperament.
Travel cots that don’t zip open on the side will keep the child inside... until and unless he figures out how to climb, or how to push the sides over to get out through the only opening up at the top.
Is your child a pretty passive player? Then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
My child already has a crib. Do I really need another, TRAVEL crib?
Some parents report that travel cribs helped their kids’ transition from their parents’ room back to their own rooms after some weeks with nightmares, nighttime accidents, or other sleep problems.
Some parents reported the ease and convenience of a portable crib to set up around the house as they were working from home, cooking, and entertaining.
And some families described dynamics that required lots of travel, moving, or long-distance trips. Think military families, families with older grandparents who were sick, parents who worked as consultants, or families who were divorced.
For a quick overview of your best bets, check out the table below.
Quick comparison: Best travel crib for toddler
Features we love
Buy it now
Lotus Travel Crib and
- ClearView mesh lets you see child,
Graco Pack 'n Play
- Has two wheels and can
- Assembly is a cinch
Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day
- Weighs just 15 lbs.
4moms, Breeze, Play Yard
- Opens and closes with one push
Still not sure if you and your child need a travel baby bed? Read (and relax), we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for the nitty gritty.
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Play Yard
The only travel bed for toddlers that has a fully zip-down mesh panel side, this portable baby play yard is perfect for the adventurous, exploring little ones in your life.
The play yard folds into a backpack—also the only travel crib to do so—which allows for maximum productivity as you keep your hands free.
- 42” x 24” mattress
- Play yard 25” deep
- 13 lbs.
- Phthalate free, BPA free, lead free mattress and crib
- Crib, mattress, and bag (with convertible backpack straps) included
- Side door can be zipped open and closed, opening the crib as a safe play space
- Guava Family is the only company that makes cribs that pack into backpacks
- Greenguard Gold Certified for no chemicals or harmful materials
- You must buy the sheets from the Guava Family, as mattress is not standard crib size
Our favorite feature
The zip-around side allows your child to access the crib whenever he likes, opening up this travel baby bed as a play space too. You can also crawl inside with them. The design keeps them secure and safe when necessary.
Graco Pack 'n Play On The Go Play Yard
This model has a removable, reach-through bassinet that closes with the play yard. This allows the travel crib to grow with baby—as a bassinet, travel baby cot, and then exclusively as a toddler travel play yard! Talk about bang for your buck!
There are two wheels on the base, which makes it slightly moveable, and it’s raised off the ground, so you will want to be careful if you have a more active, jumping bundle of joy.
- 40” x 28.5” x 29”
- Maximum height recommended is 35”
- 22.5 lbs
- Phthalate free, latex free, lead free, BPA free
- Has an integrated toy bar for infant’s mobile when used as a bassinet
- Folding legs, wheels, and a Graco-signature push-button fold make this easy to carry as a portable bag
- Mesh sides all around the crib provide visibility, but do not open up for a play space
- Included mattress pad may be uncomfortable and not firm enough and too thin for a baby to sleep, so you might consider buying another mattress separately
Our favorite feature
The wheels make this play yard even more portable by allowing an easy, rollaway feature. Take this toddler baby bed down the hall without even having to fold it up (which, if you must, is certainly simple enough)!
BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
Parents love the minimalist design of this sleek and modern travel crib.
Coming in at half the weight of other travel cribs that have double the accessories, this has soft, organic cloths and crib covers that provide your baby with a simple, safe space to sleep and play.
- 19” x 5.5” x 23.5”
- 13 lbs.
- Mattress (included) has a built-in base plate that keeps the travel baby bed firmly standing on the floor
- Waterproof, breathable mattress cover is machine washable
- Folds up into a bag that’s easy to store
- Only recommended for infants and children up to 3, not much bigger for a toddler play space
- Folds up into a bag that must be carried by hand, i.e. doesn’t allow for hands-free carrying
- Zero bells and whistles—no toy bar, no bassinet, no changing table, no wipes holder
Our favorite feature
The lightweight, sturdy frame folds up and out easily, so it's quick to assemble and put away. This is perfect for the minimalist parent who needs a quick, pop-up space to keep baby while he’s zipping around the house or jetting around the world.
Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard
Play yard, diaper changer, and inclined sleeper included in this travel baby bed that’s the ultimate multi-tasker for... wait for it... half the weight! Are we dreaming??
We also love how easily this folds up into a travel bag, which you can conveniently carry over your shoulder. And at just 15 pounds, it certainly won't be weighing you down.
This is a great option as it's not only a crib, it also serves as a play yard.
- 8.5” x 25.5” x 23”
- 11.5 LPs.
- Included play yard mattress is standard-size
- Machine-washable inserts, sleeper pad, and head support
- Portable side changing clutch that holds wipes, diapers, and other supplies
- The mattress is on the thin side
Our favorite feature
Play yard, diaper changer, and inclined sleeper, all in one! We love multi-tasking, and this is the perfect multi-tasker’s cot. An all-inclusive travel baby bed that’s ready to grow with baby!
4moms, Breeze, Play Yard
Sleek, modern, sturdy, clean, safe, and easy are all words that have been used to describe this puppy!
Four stable legs that form two square frames, at the top and bottom, keep this toddler travel bed safe and secure for hours of sleep or play.
The best part is the one-step setup. No really, just one hand, one step, boom!
We also love how the play yard and bassinet mattresses are a cinch to clean. All you need is a damp cloth, and voila!
- 34.3” x 15.3” x 13.4”
- 25 lbs.
- Includes a bassinet for infants, so it's ready to grow with baby
- Folds into convenient travel bag that can be carried over the shoulder
- Sleek, modern, sturdy frame with the easiest set-up you can imagine
- Play yard and bassinet sheets sold separately
- Raised feet keep it off the ground, and sides don’t zip down
- Twice the weight of some other options
Our favorite feature
The easy, one-step setup requires ONE push to open, ONE pull to close. Did we mention the easy set-up?
A travel baby bed has a few advantages, depending on your situation.
Say you’re just not willing to bite the bullet and buy a super swanky bassinet. For every travel baby bed reviewed above, parents have said that they were more than happy and willing (and their babies were more than content) using them as their permanent bassinets, permanent beds, and for some, permanent play spaces and forts.
For parents who want something to take with them when they travel, then these TRAVEL baby beds are, to state the obvious, perfect for you.
Most children crave some form of comfort when faced with unfamiliar surroundings and situations. This is where "crutches" come into play, such as baby blankets, pacifiers, and stuffed animals. We all know what happens if, heaven forbid, those crutches get lost on a trip!
But those crutches all serve to anchor the child to a familiar experience, a familiar stimulus, that can provide a cognitive base for exploring unfamiliar territory. A pacifier is called a “pacifier” because it pacifies, by stimulating the sucking reflex of a baby and mimicking the stimulating texture and feel of a mother’s nipple.
These anchors help ground a child to the familiar so that she may then resist the impulse to reject new surroundings that might come with a business trip, a family vacation, or a trip to a grandparent’s house. And that sense of security helps to form a secure and well-adjusted child who isn’t afraid of new stimuli and surroundings, who understands that excitement and novelty come to enrich her familiar world, not to tear it out from underneath her.
That sounds like a lot of pressure to place on a simple little travel bed for babies.
But then again, think of your own bed, your own rest, your own comfort. Give them a chance to sleep securely and, perchance, they’ll dream.