Travel Crib Buying Guide: Everything Parents Should Know
If your little one is getting ready to spend their first night away from home, you’re probably wondering whether a travel crib is a necessary purchase. In our opinion, it’s a total must-have for traveling families.
Whether you’ll be heading on an overseas adventure or staying at the grandparents’ house for the night, a travel crib is the simplest way to help your baby settle in right away.
In this buying guide, you’ll learn the key features to look for when shopping for a travel crib, plus some important health and safety tips to ensure your little one enjoys their trip to the fullest.
But first, let’s take a look at the benefits of purchasing a travel crib and why we won’t go anywhere without one again.
What Is A Travel Crib?
A travel crib — also known as a portable crib, play yard, or pack and play — is an easily transportable sleeping space for your little one.
Unlike standard cribs that are usually made from wood, travel cribs generally have foldable plastic or metal frames with mesh sides to offer both protection and optimum airflow.
Many travel cribs are multi-purpose, meaning they can be used for playtime or even as a makeshift diaper changing table in addition to being used as a bed.
What Are The Benefits Of Travel Cribs?
Aside from being multi-functional, the biggest benefit of owning a portable crib is that it provides a safe, familiar sleep environment for your little one no matter where they are.
And sure, many hotels have the option of renting a crib. But without knowing how clean, safe, or suitable the crib might be for your little one, it’s understandable that you’d want to bring your own.
Plus, if you’re staying at an Airbnb or at a relative’s house, chances are you won’t have access to a crib and will need to bring one with you regardless.
A travel crib helps to provide a sense of comfort for your baby whether they’re just visiting a different house or an entirely different country. This can make bedtime a lot smoother and helps to maintain a sense of normalcy in line with your baby’s usual sleep routine.
If hauling a travel crib into the car sounds like more hassle than it’s worth, think again! These days, portable cribs are incredibly lightweight and easy to transport.
However, not all travel cribs are created equal. Some might be lacking the features you need the most, while others might have inclusions that you just won’t use.
Keep reading to learn the key attributes to look for when buying a travel crib to ensure your little one sleeps soundly — wherever your family adventures may take you!
What To Consider When Choosing A Travel Crib
1) Make Sure It’s The Right Size For Your Baby’s Age And Weight
Like any crib, you’ll want to make sure your new travel crib is the correct size for your little one’s age and weight.
This information should be clearly outlined on the crib you’re looking to purchase, so check it out before you decide.
If the travel crib is too small, it won’t last your baby as long as you might like. And if it’s too big, it could pose a potential safety hazard. So it’s important to get this feature just right!
2) Opt For A Multi-Purpose Travel Crib
If you’re investing in a travel crib, it’s a good idea to choose an option that can also be used as a play area (and potentially for other purposes too).
The key is to make sure the crib is spacious enough for your little one to play in when they’re not sleeping.
Some travel cribs have additional attachments to create a diaper changing table, while others will enable a bassinet to be placed on top of the crib as a cozier sleeping area for newborns.
Whichever additional features you’re looking for, travel cribs can make adjusting to a new place easier for your baby.
3) Choose A Crib With A Travel Bag
Next, we recommend looking for a crib with a travel bag included. While not all portable cribs will have this additional accessory, it’s definitely worthwhile if yours does.
These travel bags are usually made from a waterproof material to protect your crib during transit, and since they’re specifically built to fit the crib inside, it makes packing up a breeze.
That means one less thing to worry about when you’re traveling with a baby!
4) Ensure The Crib Mattress Is Comfortable And Safe
While the majority of travel cribs will come with a mattress included, some may require an additional purchase to complete the set.
Others may leave a lot to be desired with a thin, hard crib mattress that your baby may not enjoy sleeping on.
In either case, it’s crucial to make sure your travel crib mattress is comfortable and safe for your little one to help them fall asleep and stay asleep during your trip. You might even consider swapping out the included mattress for one that’s built for durability and longevity.
Our Essential Crib Mattress is available in both standard and mini sizes and is safe, breathable, and comfortable whether you’re at home or on the move.
Our Wovenaire® Core allows your little one to breathe easily while they sleep and helps them regulate their body temperature to reduce nighttime sweating.
Plus, our mattresses are 100% washable to make accident clean-ups easy. For those times when you need a quick change, our Extra Crib Mattress Cover is great to have on hand, so your little one can get back to sleep sooner.
Remember, if you choose to switch out the mattress in your travel crib, it’s important that the new mattress fits snugly inside the travel crib frame. That means no more than two fingers should be able to fit between the mattress and the side of the crib.
It’s best to double-check the measurements of your crib against the size of the mattress before making a purchase to ensure it’s going to be the perfect fit.
5) Check That It Has Machine-Washable Fabrics
Lastly, confirm that your travel crib is made using machine-washable fabrics. You’ll thank yourself later when it comes time to clean your baby’s crib.
Being able to toss mattress covers and mesh sides straight into the machine is a lifesaver whether you have a blowout mid-trip or you’re freshening up the crib before storing it once you’re back at home.
Trust us — it’s a great feature to have!
Travel Crib Health And Safety Tips
1) Test Out The Crib Before You Travel
This has to be our number one tip for traveling with your baby — make sure you test out the crib before you travel!
There’s nothing worse than feeling tired and rundown from a lack of sleep on vacation, so it’s crucial that you’ve given your little one a chance to get used to their new crib before your trip.
Try having your baby play in the crib during the day to start with, and eventually let them sleep in the travel crib a few times, even if it’s just during nap time.
This will help to build a sense of familiarity, making a new environment like a hotel room feel less daunting for your child when it comes time to travel.
This is also a great opportunity for you to practice putting the travel crib together and packing it away. This should be a straightforward process, not one that makes you frustrated, so make sure you’ve picked the right crib for your needs before you hit the road.
2) Clean The Crib Thoroughly After Each Trip
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s very important to thoroughly clean your baby’s travel crib from top to bottom after each use before you pack it away.
Disinfect any soft materials like mattress covers (plus the mattress itself), and wipe any waterproof areas down to remove bacteria that could build up in storage.
Be sure to follow any provided instructions regarding bleaching fabrics such as the crib’s mesh frame to avoid damaging it.
Sleep Easily, No Matter Where You Are
It’s easy to see why a travel crib is a total must-have if you’re heading on a trip with your little one.
From providing your baby with a safe play area to helping them feel secure while they sleep, bringing a piece of home on your travels can allow your baby to settle into an unfamiliar environment much more easily.
As you’re deciding on the best travel crib for your needs, remember to find a multi-functional crib, opt for machine-washable materials, and ensure the mattress is safe and comfortable.
If you choose to upgrade your travel crib mattress, the Newton Baby Crib Mattress is there to help your little one sleep easily and safely night after night!