Alternatives to Baby Cribs – Different Options for Babies and Toddlers

When I started searching for alternatives to baby cribs, I was amazed by the options available. From portable bedside sleepers to nap mats for preschoolers, don’t ever think a crib is your only option. My top pick is the portable play yard. The reason for my pick? It’s a bassinet and a play yard all in one! Why buy two pieces of furniture when you can buy one? I’m a big fan of minimalism, using multifunctional tools and objects.

Often your first purchase for your newborn baby is a baby crib. But did you know that there are MANY alternatives to baby cribs to choose from? Today you’ll find out what those options are and why you should seriously consider them.

Alternatives to Baby Cribs Every Parent Needs to Know About

When faced with so many baby crib alternatives, it’s totally understandable to feel slightly (or even very!) overwhelmed. This is why I’ve put together this article to make sure you pick the right one for your growing baby’s needs. As a father, I am always looking for alternatives whether it’s baby walkers, baby monitors, or baby cribs (this post).

Why Would Someone NOT Want a Baby Crib?

A baby crib can have its limitations. If you want your baby to sleep with you in your bedroom (like we do), you may have limited space to put a baby crib. A standard baby crib can be cumbersome so looking for a compact option could be your solution. For many first-time parents, budgeting is important. Alternatives to baby cribs could serve more than one purpose and help you save money at the same time. Perhaps you like to have your baby near you wherever you are in the house. A portable alternative to a baby crib will give you peace of mind knowing that your baby is close by. Plus, a growing baby may start to feel confined in a baby crib. This may then be the time to explore a sleeping alternative for your toddler. You may also be preparing to transition your baby from your own bedroom to their own bedroom.

A World of Baby Crib Alternatives for You to Explore

There is a whole new world out there when you start exploring alternatives to baby cribs! As promised, I have made your search easier so there’s no need to panic when deciding which option is best for you and your baby.

  • Bedside Sleepers: For parents who want to have their baby sleeping next to their own bed, there is a variety of options to choose from. A bedside sleeper could be the perfect solution for you.  Also known as a bedside bassinet or side bed cosleeper, the bedside sleeper is compact and easy to put next to your bed.
  • Nap Mats or Baby Nests: If you are looking for portable options, the alternatives are vast. The nap mat is perfect for your infant if he or she attends daycare or goes to preschool. The baby nest is another convenient portable sleeper and can be used for babies to sleep in, play in, or to just simply lounge about in!
  • Travel Cribs, Montessori Floor Beds or Play Yards: A travel crib is ideal for holidays or those weekends when you go to visit the grandparents. A play yard is also another portable option for both sleeping and playing purposes. For toddlers over 12 months old, you may want to consider a Montessori floor bed. For those who aren’t sure what a Montessori floor bed is, it’s a quintessential part of Montessori parenting that is low to the ground and accessible for little ones to get in and out of bed as they please. You can learn more about it by reading this article.

A word of caution: as a father, I am always big on safety for my baby. While baby hammocks sound exciting and easy to use they can lead to suffocation. To avoid any potential for accidents, on a personal note, I advise you to stay away from baby hammocks and have made the decision to exclude them all from my list of recommendations.

How to Pick the Right Baby Crib Alternative for You and Your Little One

Now that you know the main alternatives to baby cribs – and which one to avoid – you can now make a decision about which alternative is best for your baby’s needs. There are many brands available and it’s for you to decide which brand you prefer to buy when looking for baby furniture. My top picks may help you in deciding which brand is best for you. Pricing may be an important consideration so be sure to look at the cost before buying. Depending on where you are going to use your baby’s bed, you can check out the dimensions of the product before deciding if it’s the best fit for where you are going to put it. Factor size in too with portable alternatives as well as for those you want to store away when not using them. Of course, the age of your baby is an essential consideration. Buying a Montessori floor bed for your newborn baby would not be a good idea! The comfort and safety of the products will also help guide you into buying the best bed for your baby or toddler.

My Top Picks

Product Reviews

Best Overall – Portable Playard, Sturdy Play Yard with Comfortable Mattress and Changing Station


My favorite pick was the portable play yard. It can be used both as a bassinet and a play yard, a cost-saver for those parents looking to save money. A feature that I love is the changing station that could be attached to the bassinet for easy changing of the baby.

Who It’s For

This is the perfect alternative for both newborns and toddlers.

Why You Should Buy It

Being both a durable play yard and a comfortable bassinet, this product ticks many boxes when looking for an alternative to baby cribs. It can fit neatly next to your bed or fold up to take with you on your next visit to the mall or park. It is convenient to move with locking wheels. This is a wonderful option if you want to move your sleeping baby into your study while you are working without disturbing them. An additional feature that made this product my best overall are the plush toys for entertaining the baby.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 30.5 x 42 x 28″
  • Weight: 25.6 lbs
  • Ages: Newborn to 24 months 
  • Materials: Fabric

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Sturdy
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Is not ideal for smaller spaces if being used for co-sleeping
  • Can put pressure on your back when putting the baby into it or lifting the baby out
  • Bulky and difficult to transport

 

Best for Toddlers – Delta Children Interactive Wood Toddler Bed Disney Minnie Mouse


This Montessori floor bed is made from wood and is as sturdy as they come. The colorful Disney graphics will entice any toddler to bed without you having to nag them at bedtime! When you are ready to create the big-kid room of their dreams, this is the bed to have.

Who It’s For

This is a fantastic option for toddlers older than 15 months.

Why You Should Buy It

As a father to my own daughter, I know she will get excited when she sees the Disney characters on her bed or on other items. This bed is ideal for when you are moving your toddler out of your bedroom into their own room. You can rest assured of their safety too by the elevated sides and traditional Montessori design which means it’s low to the ground design. The before bed checklist and the movable clock on the footboard make your toddler’s bedtime routine a breeze.

Product Information

  • Dimension: 19 x 53.2 x 28.8″
  • Weight: 41.1 pounds
  • Ages: Toddlers older than 15 months
  • Materials: Wood

Pros

  • Colorful graphics
  • Interactive clock which shows the time and day
  • Low to the ground design and elevated sides

Cons

  • Not portable
  • Not suitable for babies under 15 months
  • Mattress not included

 

Best for Preschoolers – Urban Infant Tot Cot All-In-One Modern Preschool/Daycare Nap Mat with Washable Pillow and Elastic Straps – Urban Dude


This nap mat is perfect for those babies going to daycare or preschool. Help your infant transition from home to school by letting them choose their own pattern. There’s even a “secret pocket” for your infant to tuck away their favorite soft toy.

Who It’s For

This is ideal for infants napping needs at preschool or in daycare.

Why You Should Buy It

As a product that will be transported between home and school or daycare most days, it can get dirty quickly. It’s 100% machine-washable feature makes this nap mat the best product to buy. It includes a removable pillow and a sewn-in blanket. Its elastic straps ensure that the mat is secure and cozy. Being lightweight and durable, this nap mat is every working parent’s solution to their infant’s preschool/daycare napping needs. It also comes with a name tag so you won’t ever have to worry about it getting lost among other children’s nap mats.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 22 x 1.2 x 52.4″
  • Weight: 1.5lbs
  • Ages: 3 months to 24 months
  • Materials: BPA free, latex-free, lead-free and pthalate free

Pros

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Machine washable in cold water
  • Easy toting

Cons

  • Not a long term solution
  • Pillow must be removed before washing
  • Thin mat

 

Best for Eco-Friendly Families – Organic Newborn Lounger/Water-Resistant Baby Nest/Portable Bed for Infants and Toddlers


If you are looking for a product that offers 100% organic materials, then this baby nest is the one for you. Made from all-natural organic materials, this baby nest is non-toxic GOTs certified organic cotton.

Who It’s For

This baby nest is perfect for newborns and babies aged up to 12 months.

Why You Should Buy It

This baby sleep lounger comes with a firm mattress and cloud-like soft side pillows. A baby nest that will give your baby comfort and a sense of security when it snuggles into it. He or she will sleep soundly while feeling cozy. This baby nest can also be the ideal place for your baby to play in or lounge while safely cocooned among the pillows. You can use it as a sleep positioner and a tummy time pillow. If portability is key for you, then this baby nest is the product right for you. It comes with its own travel bag.

Product Information

  • Dimension: 35 x 17 x 5″
  • Weight: 3.7lbs
  • Ages: Newborn to 12 months
  • Materials: 100% organic, certified organic cotton

Pros

  • Portable
  • Can be adjusted as the baby grows
  • Can be used as a sleeper, for safe playing and lounging

Cons

  • Not ideal for active babies and toddlers
  • Will need to be placed on a safe surface
  • No removable cover

 

Best for Newborns – Delta Children Deluxe Sweet Beginnings Bedside Bassinet


This bedside bassinet has been beautifully designed to match most bedroom décor. It features a large storage basket underneath the bassinet, ideal for storing all your baby’s diapers and other newborn supplies. It also has an incredible music module to soothe your little one to sleep.

Who It’s For

This is ideal for newborns 0 – 5 months.

Why You Should Buy It

If you are looking for an affordable bassinet designed with beautiful materials, this bassinet is the right product for you. It can fit next to your bedside, giving you peace of mind that you will hear your newborn when it wakes. It is fitted with a nightlight and has a music module that plays soothing lullabies. The bedside bassinet comes with a machine washable fitted sheet and has a water-resistant mattress. The canopy may be removed for extra convenience. It has locking wheels allowing for easy room-to-room mobility.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 47 x 17 x 33″
  • Weight: 10.6 pounds
  • Ages: 0 – 5 months
  • Materials: Metal and cotton

Pros

  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent safety standards

Cons

  • Batteries not included
  • Not to be used by babies older than 5 months
  • Suitable for short-term use only

 

Best for Travelling – Lotus Travel Crib


A travel crib is a portable crib that is the right alternative for parents who frequently travel with their baby. This travel crib can also serve as a play yard. It comes with a compact backpack carrying case. Why travel cribs are a great crib alternative is simple: they’re a fraction of the price and can be folded away when not in use!

Who It’s For

Travel cribs are perfect for newborns and up to 3 years of age.

Why You Should Buy It

I have many friends and relatives who are parents and are always traveling with their babies. This travel crib offers a compact and easy to use alternative to baby cribs. It is ideal to set up in airports while you are waiting to catch your plane. Its comfortable mattress is ideal for both sleep and play. Once again, its safety features caught my attention. It is the only play yard with Greenguard Gold non-toxic certification. Every parent knows how frustrating it can be when a noise wakes up your baby when you have just got them to sleep! The quiet side zipper door makes sure you can put your sleeping baby in quietly while keeping them safe as you zip them in.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 46 x 31 x 25.5″
  • Weight: 12lbs
  • Ages: 0 – 3 years
  • Materials: phthalate-free, BPA free, lead-free plastic

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Certified safe and non-toxic
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Does not have a bassinet option
  • Mattress may be difficult to secure

 

Best for Easy Bedside Use – Mika Micky Bedside Sleeper Easy Folding Portable Crib


A no-fuss bedside sleeper for parents looking for co-sleeping convenience while giving your baby its own space for sleeping. This sleeper can be easily attached and removed from the side of your bed. This is the ideal option for parents who want their little one’s within arms reach at all times.

Who It’s For

This is perfect for newborns up to 5 months.

Why You Should Buy It

Many parents are choosing to have their baby sleep in the same room as they do. Not only is it convenient but it takes away the anxiety of not knowing when your baby is awake – without the use of baby monitors. This product is easily adjustable with 7 height positions to suit your bed. It has an easy to open side panel for bedside mode. This is a wonderful feature for breastfeeding mothers making it easier to put your baby back into the bassinet with minimal hassle.  It has a stable bottom and a comfortable mattress included. It has breathable mesh and lockable wheels for ease of mobility. A feature that could make this product the right one for you is the standalone bassinet. This allows you to put the baby wherever you want to if not next to your bed.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 37.5 x 24.5 x 6.3″
  • Weight: 24.1lbs
  • Ages: Newborn to 5 months
  • Materials: Breathable mesh

Pros

  • Easy to attach and remove from bedside
  • Wheels for mobility from room to room
  • Side pockets for storing baby essentials

Cons

  • Not be used by babies older than 5 months or weighing more than 33 pounds
  • It is recommended to only use the Mika Micky fitted sheets
  • Will not work for beds with no space underneath for the sleeper’s legs to roll into

 

FAQ

What are the advantages of using a Montessori floor bed?

This type of bed is ideal for transitioning your baby from your bedroom to its own bedroom. They are safe to use, being only a few inches off the ground and come with elevated sides to protect your growing baby from falling out of the bed.

Is it a good idea to let my newborn co-sleep with us?

Research has shown there’s little risk associated with sudden infant death syndrome when using a bedside sleeper for your newborn baby.

Conclusion

With so many alternatives to baby cribs available, it was a tough choice to make. However, I could not resist choosing the Portable Playard, Sturdy Play Yard with Comfortable Mattress and Changing Station. As a father, I could see this product being easy to use, durable, compact and portable while perfect for both sleep and play. Every parent and their baby will have different requirements for their baby’s sleeping needs. Don’t limit yourself to baby cribs. Explore the world of different sleeper options for your baby and find the right match for your needs.

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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