cribs are space-savers in tight spaces
Babies come with a lot of space-hogging gear. When space is
already at a premium, a mini crib can help parents reclaim some square footage.
Mini cribs are ideal for parents who simply don't have room for a full-size
crib but still want traditional-looking wood furniture. Some mini cribs fold up
so they can be stashed in a corner or a closet, and many come with wheels so
they can be moved from room to room. A mini crib may even convert to a toddler
or twin bed with the addition of bed rails and, in the case of a twin bed, a
new mattress. With many models available around $100, they can be relatively
inexpensive compared to full-size cribs. As always, you'll pay more for extra
features or a more modern design.
Parents who want a
traditional, solidly made mini crib highly recommend the (Est. $115). This pine crib has gently curved sides and is
part of a larger Kalani furniture collection that includes dressers, a changing
table and a full-size crib. It's available in chestnut,
espresso, gray and ebony black.
As its name suggests, the Kalani mini crib is
convertible to a twin bed with the addition of (Est. $65), but parents will still need to purchase a twin size
mattress and box spring separately. Unlike some other mini cribs, the Kalani
does not have casters and it does not fold up for storage.
Reviewers say the Kalani mini crib is easy to put
together with clear directions. Most say it's a great way to save space for
babies with small nurseries -- or no nursery at all. The crib measures 40 inches
long, 28.5 inches wide and 38 inches tall, and a handful of parents say their
children could use the crib until around the age of 2. There are four height
settings for the mattress, which parents appreciate.
DaVinci cautions against using any mattress with
the Kalani not made specifically for DaVinci mini cribs and limits mattress
thickness to 5 inches. Parents should discontinue use once their children reach
35 inches tall or are able to climb out -- whichever comes first. All in all,
owners say the crib feels quite sturdy, but experts warn that pine can scratch
and dent easily. Assembled, the crib weighs 37 pounds and has a slat strength of 149 pounds. There is a one-year warranty.
The (Est. $120)
has attracted a fairly large fan base for mini cribs, typically a niche
product. Reviewers say this model hits the sweet spot with a simple, neutral
design, affordability, and versatility. It's available in seven finishes
– a few more than the DaVinci Kalani – ensuring it can blend with
just about any décor. Buyers get to choose from black, cherry, espresso, gray,
natural, French white and white. It also coordinates with the (Est. $230), but no other furniture
After baby is too big for the Aden crib, parents can use it a couple
more ways: By converting it to a daybed, or converting it to a twin bed (with
or without a footboard). Dream On Me does not appear
to make its own conversion rails, but plenty are available from third parties.
A thin mattress pad is included, but parents seem to like the 3-inch-thick (Est. $30) better, which can
also be purchased in a bundle with the white crib. (Note that this mattress is
actually thicker than the 2-inch maximum recommended by Dream On Me, however.)
The Aden gets good reviews for ease of assembly, and most parents say
the resulting crib is quite sturdy despite weighing only 20 pounds (the Kalani,
in contrast, is 37 pounds). It is smaller than the Kalani at 39 inches long, 23
inches wide and 36 inches high, and most parents say it should last at least
through early toddlerhood, but not much longer. There are three height settings
for the mattress, but no casters to make the crib movable from room to room.
The crib does not fold.
The Aden comes with warnings not to use a mattress more than 2 inches
thick, which is certainly on the thinner side for a crib mattress (for
instance, the Kalani allows up to 5-inch mattresses). There have also been a
few complaints that Dream On Me mini crib mattresses did not fit snugly enough
in the crib -- there should be no gap between the mattress and crib rails,
which can pose a suffocation hazard. Parents should discontinue use once
their children reach 35 inches tall or are able to climb out, whichever comes
first. Weight capacity is 40 pounds, and the warranty is only three months;
most cribs come with at least a one-year warranty.
If you're looking for something a little more sleek -- and you're willing to pay a little more for a
modern design -- check out the (Est. $225). The pine crib's clean lines will fit
well in any modern home, and it's available in four colors: teal, gray, white
Unlike the DaVinci Kalani and the Dream on Me Aden,
the Origami Mini does not convert into a larger bed. However, it does have
lockable wheels that allow parents to move it more easily from place to place,
and the hinged sides are able to collapse for easier storage. The Origami Mini
comes with a 1-inch mattress pad that reviewers find too thin, and some
purchase the (Est. $100) as a replacement.
For the most part, reviewers say the Origami Mini
is easy to assemble, but some say low-quality screws and poorly designed cam
locks make for some frustrating moments. But it does get kudos for sliding
seamlessly into small living spaces, and reviewers love that it can fold up and
roll from room to room. The crib measures 39 inches long, a bit over 25 inches
wide and 33.5 inches tall, more on par with the Aden than the Kalani, though a
bit wider and shorter. There are just two height settings for the mattress compared
with four on the Kalani and three on the Aden.
Babyletto cautions against the use of any
third-party mattresses in its mini cribs, and says no mattress more than 5
inches thick should be used. It also recommends parents discontinue use of the
crib once the child reaches 35 inches or can climb out. Owners say they find
the crib sturdy, but some say the paint chips too easily. Like all pine
furniture, the wood can also scratch and dent relatively easily. Assembled, the
crib weighs 62 pounds -- quite a bit more than the 37-pound Kalani -- and has
slat strength of 149 pounds. There is a one-year warranty.
Mini cribs are quickly outgrown, so many parents want an economical option. Reviewers say the (Est. $100) is a lightweight, space-saving
mini crib that's easy on the wallet. It's available in three traditional
finishes: cherry, natural and white. Like the Babyletto Origami, the Delta Mini
Crib does not convert into a twin-size bed, but it does fold for easy storage
and has wheels that let parents move it from room to room. It comes with a 1-inch
mattress pad that many parents dislike because it's so thin.
Owners say the Delta Mini Crib is easy to put
together and to fold for storage, though a few say the directions are a little
too vague. When folded, the crib is just 6 inches wide -- a feature reviewers love, especially if they are not full-time
caregivers. Some even say they store it under a bed when it's not in use. This
mini crib fits through most doorways when not folded. The crib measures 39
inches long, 25 inches wide and a bit over 37 inches tall, and there are two
height settings for the mattress.
Delta discourages the use of third-party mini crib
mattresses, and says any mattress used in this crib should be no more than 2
inches thick. It doesn't appear that Delta makes a thicker mini crib mattress
than the one that comes with the crib, however. Parents should stop using the
crib when their children reach 35 inches tall or can climb out. Most reviewers
are happy with the quality for the price, but some say the finish chips too
easily and the board that supports the mattress seems flimsy. Assembled, the
crib weighs 35 pounds, and it has a one-year warranty.
pack and plays
Sometimes you need something a little less permanent than a
mini crib. Portable cribs, often called play yards or
pack ‘n plays, can do a little bit of everything. For some families, they're a crib stand-in; for
others, they're a place for quick naps and diaper changes. For still more,
they're a travel crib for use at grandma's house or in a hotel room. And some
parents simply use a portable crib as a safe spot to contain a mobile baby for
Reviewers say the (Est. $85) hits the sweet spot for pack ‘n
plays: It has a couple extra features to satisfy most parents' needs, but not
so many that they inflate the price. Available in nearly a dozen colors and
patterns, it's also easy to find one that matches a nursery or blends in with a
As its name suggests, the Graco Pack ‘N Play
Playard features a napper and diaper changer that attaches to the top of the
main play yard. On one side, the diaper changer has wipe-clean fabric; flip it over and the napper on the reverse side has
softer, plusher fabric. There is also a removable full-size bassinet, a toy bar
and an included carrying bag. Parents say these features help the play yard
grow with their children: The napper, changer and bassinet are most useful for
the first few months, while the play yard's main sleeping space lasts many
children until around age 2.
Like many play yards, the Graco Pack ‘N Play
Playard gets mixed reviews for ease of use. While many parents say assembly is
easy, some caution that it's time-consuming, and others say the directions are
lacking. A push-button fold does make taking it down easier, they say. Most
fabric is easy to wipe except for the spot-clean-only fabric on the newborn
napper -- impractical given the risk of spit-up and diaper blowouts, reviewers
warn. A few also complain that the button that reverses the napper and changer
is too stiff, and that the napper and changer are tough to remove when they
aren't needed. This pack and play is about 28.5 inches wide and 40 inches long,
with sides that are just over 33 inches tall. At 27 pounds, it's just too heavy and bulky for frequent travel, many parents say.
Graco says the changing table and bassinet are for babies under 15
pounds, and says babies should be under 3 months and unable to roll over to
safely use the newborn napper. Parents should stop using the play yard's main
sleeping and activity space when children are 30 pounds, 35 inches or able to
climb out -- whichever comes first. Graco warns against using third-party
mattresses that are thicker or a different size because they can pose a
suffocation hazard. Also note that some experts say the newborn napper is too high and plush to be a safe sleep area for babies. Graco maintains that
the fabric is breathable and the napper is designed for babies to maintain a
safe sleeping position.
Parents who want a fully featured pack ‘n play to replace
other nursery gadgets and gizmos will want to consider the (Est. $200)
-- especially if grandma is buying. It comes in three neutral fabrics with black,
brown or teal accents.
The Cuddle Cove isn't short on features: There is a removable rocking
seat/napper with a canopy and vibration that can be detached from the main play
yard and toted around the room. An attached diaper changer has storage for
diapers, wipes and the like. There is also a bassinet that can be removed once
baby is too big and needs to sleep in the bottom of the play yard. There's music,
nature sounds, and a "look light" for when you want a dim light to check on
baby at night or do a quick feeding. While parents love the convenience of
having a detachable rocker and napper, many say the changing table is poorly
designed because it's supported only on one side, causing babies to roll on the
The Cuddle Cove can be folded up for travel and comes with a carrying
bag, but it totals about 32.5 pounds. Unsurprisingly, reviewers give it mixed
reviews for travel: Some say they don't mind the weight, while others say it's
simply too cumbersome and note that the rocking seat and diaper changer don't
fit in the travel bag. It gets similar mixed reviews for initial assembly, with
some owners reporting unclear instructions. The play yard is 28.5 inches wide,
40 inches long and just over 33 inches high, the same dimensions as the simpler
Newborn Napper play yard.
Graco caps use of the play yard when children reach 35 inches, 30 pounds
or are able to climb out, whichever comes first. The changing table has a
weight limit of 25 pounds, and use of the removable rocking seat has a limit of
15 pounds or when a baby starts turning over, usually around 3 months. Parents
should discontinue use of the bassinet when their babies reach 15 pounds or can
push up on their hands and knees. As with all of its
pack ‘n plays, Graco doesn't recommend using any
mattress or padding other than what's provided.
Some parents don't need another diaper changer, bassinet or
vibrating seat with their portable crib. They simply want a safe, portable
sleeping or activity space for their baby or young toddler. Those parents will
want to check out the (Est. $50), a simple, barebones play
yard with a low price tag to match. It comes in more than a dozen bright colors
and whimsical patterns.
The Funsport Play Yard doesn't have a lot to offer in the
way of extra features. Like most play yards, it has breathable mesh sides and a
thin mattress pad for sleeping. One side of the play yard has wheels to make it
easier to move around the house. There is also a carrying case for travel, but
no zip-in bassinet, attached diaper changer or napper. The slightly pricier (Est. $60) includes a toy bar.
Most reviewers appreciate the Funsport's simplicity, saying
it translates into greater ease of use. At just under 21 pounds, it's still
relatively heavy for frequent travel, but parents say setup is quick and easy,
especially without having to worry about setting up any accessories. Fabric is
easy to wipe, but a handful of parents say the mesh rips too easily. Other
quibbles: Some reviewers say a support bar under the play yard makes the mattress
pad uneven, while others say the pad is just too hard for everyday use. The
play yard is about 28 inches wide and 39 inches long.
Cosco recommends that parents discontinue use of the
Funsport once their children are able to climb out or reach 35 inches,
whichever comes first. The sides are just 28 inches tall -- 5 inches shy of the
33-inch sides on the Graco -- so children may be able to climb out sooner. Like
Graco, Cosco recommends against using any kind of third-party mattresses to
reduce suffocation risks.
For road warriors or frequent flyers, pack ‘n plays are just too heavy and bulky to make them suitable
for lots of travel. Travel cribs fill a niche for these parents by shedding
extra features (and pounds) to keep things as compact and lightweight as
possible. These cribs are also easier to set up and take down, an essential
feature for any crib that's frequently on the move.
Reviewers say the (Est. $215) is the ultimate in ease for traveling families: It's lightweight, durable and a
snap to set up, even compared to other travel cribs. The crib is available in
five colors: black, silver, brown, dark blue and pink.
Easy setup is crucial in a travel crib, and
reviewers say it doesn't get any simpler than the Travel Crib Light. Experts
with BabyGearLab.com needed just 90 seconds to set up the crib, which has legs
that automatically lock into place. Taking down the crib required just 15 more
seconds. The crib folds into a suitcase-like carrier that can be carried on
most planes, saving you a checked bag fee. Together with the carrying case, the
Travel Crib Light weighs just 13 pounds. Assembled, it's 44 inches long, 24
inches wide and 32 inches tall.
Travel cribs aren't loaded with features, but Baby
Bjorn has a few extra touches that reviewers appreciate. Both the crib cover
and mattress cover are removable and machine-washable, and all fabrics are
certified to be free of potentially harmful substances such as flame retardants. Parents say the 1.25-inch mattress is a
bit thicker and seems comfier than is typical for a portable crib. However,
some warn that because the mattress sits all the way on the ground, it can be
tough for shorter caregivers to bend down comfortably when putting babies in
the crib or taking them out. The (Est. $35) is available separately, or can be purchased in a
bundle with the black or silver cribs.
Baby Bjorn recommends the Travel Crib Light for
children up to 3 years old or until they can climb out, whichever comes first.
There are no weight and height recommendations, but the sides are slanted
inward, which may help contain escape-artist toddlers. Baby Bjorn warns against
using any third-party mattresses in the crib to reduce suffocation risks. Baby
Gear Lab's testers call stability "top notch," noting that the crib was stable
"even with a rowdy 2-year-old pushing the limits." But some parents warn that
it's easy for them to trip on the crib's protruding legs, especially in the dark.
Reviewers say the (Est. $198)
gives its close competitor, the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light,
a run for its money with a similar design and a slightly lower price point. The
crib is gray with black mesh, and there are no other color choices.
Easy travel is a strong suit here: The
Lotus weighs 13 pounds like the Baby Bjorn, and its rectangular carry-on-size
carrying case has backpack straps -- a feature parents love, especially when
they need extra hands at the airport. Baby Gear Lab's experts say it also sets
up nearly as easily as the Bjorn with legs that automatically snap into
position. However, securing the mattress with Velcro tabs is a little fussy and
time-consuming, they say. Setup time was clocked at 2 minutes and 45 seconds,
and takedown was 3 minutes, compared with 90 seconds and 1 minute and 45
seconds for the Bjorn. The Lotus is 45 inches long, 25 inches wide and 32
inches tall – very similar to the Bjorn.
One feature that differentiates the
Lotus is the zip-down side panel, useful for parents who don't want to bend all
the way down to put their baby in the crib. The mattress is bit thinner than
the Bjorn's, reviewers say, and not as soft. Materials are nontoxic
and free of flame-retardants, and the crib cover is machine washable. There are
several accessories, including sheets, a Bassinet Conversion Kit (Est.
$110) and a Fun Shade (Est. $40).
The Lotus is recommended for children
up to age 3. There is no weight limit unless parents opt for the bassinet, use
of which is capped at 18 pounds. The use of third-party mattresses or pads is
strongly discouraged. Baby Gear Lab's testers say the crib is sturdy and
tip-resistant, and they like the breathability offered by the entirely mesh
sides. While reviewers say both cribs feel stable, many give the overall nod
for durability to Baby Bjorn's higher quality materials.
Parents who do a lot of travel but
can't afford to spend $200 or more on a travel crib may appreciate the (Est. $85). Though
reviewers say it's still lightweight and easy to set up, the Ultra Lite is
roughly half the price of the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light and
the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib. It's available in gray with four different
gender-neutral fabric patterns, including chevron and stripes.
Like its more expensive competitors, the Ultra Lite has a
carrying case for easier travel. It has a shoulder strap that parents like, but
the case is slightly bulkier and isn't carry-on friendly for air travel. At 15
pounds, it's also a couple pounds heavier than the Bjorn and Lotus, but still
half the weight of many pack ‘n plays. Hollie Schultz
of BabyGizmo.com says "there's no tricky business"
about setup -- the crib pops open easily and legs automatically snap into
position. Assembled, it's about 40 inches long and 27.5 inches tall.
The Ultra Lite comes with an incline sleeper that clips onto
the top of the crib frame and has its own machine-washable padding. Reviewers
love this feature, saying it's ideal for smaller babies who tend to sleep more
soundly at a slight angle. It also includes a portable changing pad that can be
stored in a side pocket. The mattress is thin like those found in a traditional
pack ‘n play, and some parents worry that it's too
firm to be comfortable.
Fisher-Price recommends using the Ultra Lite with children
who are less than 35 inches and cannot climb out of the crib. Parents should
stop using the incline sleeper feature once their babies start to roll over or
can pull up on the sides -- typically around 5 months, according to
Fisher-Price. Though many reviewers report buying a different mattress pad for
the Ultra Lite, Fisher-Price warns against using anything other than the
provided mattress pad in the crib to minimize suffocation risks. Baby Gizmo's
Schultz says the crib feels quite stable, and reviewers agree that there's
minimal risk that it will tip over.
Expert & User Review Sources
While there aren't many expert opinions on mini cribs, expert reviews of
portable and travel cribs abound. Some of the most useful sources include
in-depth tests from Baby Gear Lab, The Nightlight and Baby Gizmo, as well as roundups based on lots of parent feedback from sources
such as Baby Bargains, Baby Center, and Lucie's List. Most
valuable, however, are parents' reviews from sources including Amazon.com, BabiesRUs.com and Target.com.