Although getting a crib is often thought of as an essential part of preparing for a baby’s arrival, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t actually need a crib for your little bundle of joy. In fact, there are plenty of alternatives to consider.
Crib alternatives range from bedside sleepers to Montessori-style floor beds, and each has its pros and cons. Depending on your preferences and living space, some will be a better choice than others.
For example, if you still like traditional cribs but just don’t have enough room at your house, then a mini portable crib will be the perfect solution. It looks just like the real deal – only more compact!
Moms and dads who are fans of the Montessori parenting style might find floor beds to be the perfect sleeping arrangement for their baby, as this style encourages the development of independence at an early age, but also means you’ll need to baby-proof your home ASAP!
Other alternatives include co-sleepers, which are suitable for the first few months of a baby’s life, as well as bassinets or cradles.
I’ll also break down some less conventional alternatives such as boxes and hammocks, so be sure to read on to find the information you need.
12 Crib Alternatives To Consider
The practice of co-sleeping, bedsharing in particular, is controversial among parents.
Some swear by it, and find that it makes the early months of parenting much easier, while others are vehemently against it out of concern for the baby’s health and future sleeping arrangements, in case the child wants to continue sleeping in the parents’ bed past the infancy stage.
Parents will have to decide when they want to start putting their baby to sleep in his own bed, as most kids will likely prefer the “family bed”, which can lead to a lack of sleep or an unhappy marriage after baby.
Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t advise bedsharing as it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), especially in the following circumstances:
• You smoke cigarettes.
• You smoked during pregnancy.
• The baby is less than 4 months old.
• Consumption of alcohol, drugs, or medication that could make waking up difficult.
• The mattress you’re sleeping on isn’t hard enough.
• The baby was a preemie.
• The baby was born with a low birth weight.
• There are blankets, pillows, and other bedding in the baby’s sleeping environment.
Nevertheless, there are many parents who bedshare without any problems. If you’re breastfeeding, sharing the bed with your little one makes it easier to nurse, even if your baby wakes up every hour. This allows you to skip the crib stage as well, saving you both money and space.
2. Co-sleeping using an infant sleeper
If you’d like to try bedsharing, but are concerned about blankets and pillows accidentally covering your baby, a co-sleeper is a good way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Note – the AAP says there hasn’t been enough research on co-sleepers yet to recommend for, or against, their use.
In case you’re interested in giving them a try, here is my recommendation:
Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Harmony Portable Infant Sleeper
The portable infant sleeper by Baby Delight resembles a baby lounger, except it has sturdy sides that make it difficult for you to roll over onto your baby in the middle of the night.
The side walls are covered with a mesh fabric, allowing the air to circulate freely.
Both the cover and the sheets can be removed for washing, which always comes in handy, especially if there are any diaper accidents in the middle of the night.
The infant sleeper is not only easy to clean but it’s lightweight as well, so you can easily move it from room to room. It can also double as a lounger.
Your baby will be able to use it until he is roughly 5 months of age, depending on his size, after which you’ll need to figure out an alternative sleeping arrangement.
What’s more, the Baby Delight sleeper is affordable and is only a fraction of the cost of the average crib!
3. Floor bed
The idea behind a floor bed is simple – purchase a baby crib mattress, cover it with a fitted sheet, and put it on the floor where your baby will sleep.
As is the case with bedsharing, putting your baby to sleep on a floor bed is not for everyone and there are some things to keep in mind before you do it.
First of all, the entire room will need to be baby-proofed as there is nothing stopping your baby from crawling all over the place if he wakes up in the middle of the night.
Second, you’ll need to be okay with the fact that your child will be able to get in and out of bed as he wishes, which can be troublesome when he doesn’t feel like going to sleep.
A lot of parents prefer this crib alternative when they’re transitioning their baby out of bedsharing, so they’ll put a mattress on the floor of their bedroom.
Keep in mind that the floor should ideally be covered with a rug or carpet in case the child happens to roll off in the middle of the night.
If you’re still on the fence about putting your baby to sleep on a mattress on the floor, it might be helpful to know that this is actually a Montessori educational method aimed at giving kids more independence, including in their sleeping area.
In a traditional crib, for example, babies need to wait for their parents to pick them up, which is said to hinder their independence.
Here are some good crib mattress recommendations:
Newton Baby Crib Mattress and Toddler Bed
The Greenguard Gold Certified Newton Baby mattresses are some of the best on the market. Although they come at a high price, they grow with your baby and can be used in a toddler bed as well.
What’s more, the mattress is specially designed to minimize the risk of suffocation and also ensures your baby doesn’t get too hot during the night.
Both the cover and the mattress are washable, which is perfect for any diaper accidents.
Naturepedic Organic Baby Crib Natural Mattress
The Naturepedic organic mattress is also suitable for both infants and toddlers. The firmer side provides a safe surface for your baby to sleep on, while your toddler will love the slightly softer side.
Weighing in at just 12 pounds, you can easily move it from room to room without too much hassle. The organic cotton cover is waterproof, protecting the inside of the mattress from getting dirty.
If you’re concerned about the potentially harmful chemicals found in many mattresses, you’ll be happy to know that Naturepedic manufactures their mattresses without heavy metals, toxic VOCs, and numerous other toxins.
Bassinets are one of the best crib alternatives for small spaces and for parents who don’t want to bedshare, but still want to keep their baby close by in their bedroom.
It’s a great sleeping solution for newborn babies, but won’t work in the long-term as your baby will quickly grow out of it and you’ll need to provide an alternative solution.
Still, baby bassinets have their own appeal – they’re portable, look nice, and allow you to keep the baby close by in your room.
Some brands even offer bassinets that are self-rocking! Here are my recommendations:
Delta Children Deluxe Sweet Beginnings Portable Crib
The portable crib by Delta Children features a beautiful traditional design, complete with a white canopy and lace details on the trim.
It has wheels, making transportation between ooms super easy.
You can keep diapers, baby wipes, and other baby essentials in the storage basket, which is super convenient.
What’s more, the portable crib can play calming music and comes with a night light to soothe your baby to sleep.
The age limit is 5 months. However, if your baby starts lifting himself up on his hands and knees before that, you should stop using the portable crib even if he’s younger than 5 months.
What I really love about this portable crib is the affordable price! It’s suitable for all budgets, and although you’ll only be using it for a few months, that won’t be an issue at this price point.
Graco Dream Suite Bassinet
The Graco model doubles as a mini changing table, making this a very versatile option as far as baby bassinets go.
On top of that, you can also use it to change diapers until your baby weighs 30 pounds, which will save you extra space as you won’t need another changing table. However, your baby shouldn’t sleep in it once he weighs more than 15 pounds.
The wheels will help you transport it from room to room, and they also lock in place once you’ve found the perfect spot.
I love that the canopy comes with toys for a bit of extra fun for your baby, and you can keep other toys in the storage basket below.
To soothe your baby, the Dream Suite has a vibrating feature while the breathable mesh walls keep the air flowing, ensuring your baby doesn’t get too hot.
5. Bedside co-sleeper
Similarly to a bassinet (in fact some double as bassinets), a bedside co-sleeper allows you to keep your baby close to your bed during the night for feedings, or even just to check if he’s sleeping well. Here is one of my favorites:
Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper
One of the biggest drawbacks of traditional cribs is that they take a long time to assemble. Thankfully, there’s none of that with this Baby Delight model as you can put it together without tools in just a few minutes!
It has two modes: as a traditional bassinet and as a bedside sleeper. In the bedside sleeper mode you can keep your baby close by during the night, which is especially convenient if you’re nursing and want to keep nighttime disruptions to a minimum. There are straps to fix the sleeper to your bed so that it doesn’t move while the baby sleeps.
With 6 height levels, you can easily adjust the Baby Delight sleeper to perfectly fit the height of your bed. The mesh walls provide breathability and let the air circulate freely, while also allowing you to always see your baby.
In case of a diaper accident, the waterproof sheet will keep any liquids away from the mattress.
Your baby can use it until he’s either 5 months old or weighs 20 pounds, making the Baby Delight sleeper the perfect choice for your baby’s first few months.
6. Mini crib
If you’re not totally against the idea of a crib, and are just concerned that it will take up too much space, the perfect solution might be a mini crib.
But what’s the difference between a regular crib and a mini crib?
Mini cribs allow parents to save space, whether they decide to place it in the baby’s own room, or keep it in their bedroom until the baby is ready to make the transition to a nursery.
What’s more, they’re not as expensive as traditional cribs so you’ll save a couple of bucks too! Considering the huge amount of baby things to buy before birth, finding ways of saving money is essential. Here are some of my favorites!
Dream On Me Violet Mini Crib
New parents will love the elegant style of this mini crib, which is available in a variety of colors. As a Greenguard Gold Certified model, you can rest assured that this is a safe piece of furniture for your baby!
Granted, you aren’t likely to put it together in a flash but the upside is that this is a convertible crib that will grow with your child – there will be no need to go through the hassle of finding a new place for your baby to sleep every couple of months. It can easily transition from a crib to a daybed to a twin-size bed!
Furthermore, you can adjust the height of the mattress between 3 different levels.
Delta Children Folding Portable Mini Baby Crib With Mattress
The Delta Children crib is one of the best models for small spaces for two reasons: first, it has wheels and second, it’s foldable.
As such, it’s a favorite with not only parents, but also grandparents who might occasionally need to use a crib, but don’t want to have it fully set up all the time.
The design is simple and will fit in perfectly with the rest of your interior decor. There are 2 height adjustments for the mattress, so you can lower it when your baby gets older.
The assembly isn’t too difficult, so you won’t be spending hours putting it together!
Babyletto Origami Mini Portable Crib
Perfect for families living in smaller apartments, the Babyletto crib is a stylish space-saving solution. It has wheels for easy transportation and is foldable, just like the Delta Children crib above.
As it has a Greenguard Gold Certification, you can rest assured that the crib won’t contain any harmful chemicals.
DaVinci Dylan Folding Portable 3-in-1 Mini Crib and Twin Bed
DaVinci is another brand offering non-toxic cribs for your baby. This crib in particular is perfect for compact homes and apartments, as it has wheels and a small footprint. However, it’s still very functional and will grow with your child.
The mattress can be adjusted in 4 ways as your baby develops and gets more mobile. In addition, you’ll be able to transform it into a day bed and a twin bed.
The crib is foldable, which is an added bonus.
Parents love that it’s sturdy and relatively easy to put together, so it will hold up well even if your baby is super active!
7. Travel crib
If you travel a lot, one of the best baby crib alternatives for you will be a travel crib. Generally speaking, they’re lightweight, easy to set up, and sometimes even include useful accessories that make traveling easier!
You’ll often find travel cribs that are also marketed as playards, but the biggest difference between the two is that playards are usually heavier and less portable (more on that below).
Lotus Travel Crib
The Lotus crib is perfect for parents on the go. It comes with a compact backpack to make traveling with it easier, and with a weight of only 13 pounds it won’t be cumbersome to carry.
Set up is quick and easy, so whether you’re spending the night in a hotel or at your in-law’s, your baby will have a comfortable bed to sleep in.
The side door has a zipper that allows you to create an open play space or easily soothe your baby in the middle of the night. This way, you won’t have to bend over every time you want to pick up your little one!
The mesh walls create a safe sleeping environment and the crib is non-toxic, posing no health hazards to your child.
At this price point the Lotus crib might be a considerable investment, but keep in mind that your child can sleep and play in it until he’s 3, so you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
BabyBjörn Travel Crib
Weighing just 13 pounds, the BabyBjorn crib is another excellent portable option. There’s breathable mesh on every side of the crib, allowing you to keep a close eye on your baby. Plus, you can wash the cover of both the crib and the mattress, which is especially great if you’ve just come back from a long trip.
The material is non-toxic, so you can rest assured your baby won’t be breathing in any harmful chemicals.
Plus, the mattress is very comfortable.
The only downside is that the crib is positioned low on the ground, so placing your baby in it, or reaching in to pick him up, might be hard on your back.
Graco My View
This crib by Graco is another excellent compact option to consider, whether you’re planning on taking frequent family trips, or are just looking for a light and compact crib to use at home.
It converts from a crib to a playard, and parents really love its versatility in this regard. Although it’s a little heavier than the two cribs mentioned above (it weighs 23 pounds), it’s still considerably lighter than a wooden crib.
The wheels allow you to easily roll it from room to room.
There’s breathable mesh on every side of the crib, which keeps the temperature at an optimal level.
There’s a canopy to shield your baby from light when it’s used as a bassinet. It also comes with soft toys your little one can play with.
Appearance-wise, many playards look similar to travel cribs, so much so that sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two!
The one key difference between travel cribs and playards is that the latter tend to be heavier and come with numerous other accessories.
Here are some of my favorites:
Graco Pack ‘n Play Change ‘N Carry Playard
You’ll often hear people refer to playards as pack n plays, and vice versa. They’re basically the same thing, except that the Pack N Play is actually a brand made by a company called Graco.
As you can see, it comes with several useful accessories that make caring for your little one easier. For example, the diaper changer allows you to quickly change your baby, and with the diaper organizer you’ll always have a fresh diaper close by.
The soft toys hanging above will keep your baby entertained after he wakes up from his nap, and the see-through sides allow you to easily check on him.
You’ll also get a free carry bag with your purchase, so you can take the entire thing with you when you’re traveling.
Keep in mind that it’s a little heavier than the average travel-friendly crib. The wheels (located only on one side) make it easy to transport from one room to another, however.
4moms Breeze Plus Portable Playard
The 4moms Breeze Plus model comes at a high price point, but offers plenty of functionality in return. Firstly, you can set it up and fold it down using just one hand, which is a major bonus when you’re holding a fussy baby! Secondly, it includes a diaper changer, allowing you to quickly get rid of smelly diapers.
It also comes with a carry bag, allowing you to pack it up and take it with you wherever you’re traveling.
As the playard has a weight limit of 30 pounds, your baby will be able to use it for more than just a few months. However, the removable bassinet is only intended for babies weighing up to 18 pounds.
Deluxe Nursery Center
The number one thing parents love about this nursery center is the diaper organizer, which not only fits diapers, but also bottles, wipes, and anything else you might need to have within arm’s reach. In addition, it comes with a changing table.
The wheels make this nursery center easily portable, and all the different parts allow you to adjust it to your baby’s growth.
Cosco Funsport Play Yard
Perfect for playtime and naptime, the Cosco Funsport is super affordable, without sacrificing quality. Admittedly, you won’t get any extra accessories, but they are by no means necessary.
It weighs a little under 20 pounds, so you won’t find it hard to wheel it around. When you no longer need it, simply fold it down and pack it into the carry bag.
9. Moses basket
A Moses basket is another alternative for newborn babies, that also looks very cute. The downside is that your baby will quickly outgrow it, so you’ll need to have a backup option in place.
Here is an option to consider:
Tadpoles Line Stitched Moses Basket and Bedding Set
Available in both grey and orange, this basket comes with a foam pad and 2 fitted sheets. It can be used until your baby weighs 15 pounds. Afterward, you can use it to store diapers and baby wipes as it makes for a stylish addition to your interior decor!
10. Baby lounger
Some parents decide to make co-sleeping safer by using a lounger for the first few months, as the lounger acts as a barrier between the baby and the parents.
Keep in mind that these devices are usually made for supervised use (meaning that you’ll need to be awake) so make sure you do your research regarding safe sleeping practices before choosing this option.
Little Growers Co-Pod Baby Lounger
This baby lounger comes with a waterproof mattress that’s perfect in case of a diaper or spit-up accident, and you’ll get 2 covers so you always have a clean one on hand while the other is in the wash.
You can also use it to practice tummy time with your baby and develop those important gross motor skills!
11. Cardboard box
Yes, you read that right – one of the most curious crib alternatives is a cardboard box.
This unusual sleeping arrangement for newborn babies originates from Finland, where the government distributes maternity boxes to pregnant women that include many items you’d put on a baby registry list, such as toys, diapers, and clothes.
The gift package also includes a small mattress that turns the box into a bed for the baby.
This tradition began in the 1930s when the infant mortality rate in the country was very high. Obviously, the situation has greatly improved since then, but new moms still receive a box filled with baby essentials to this day.
But are there any safety risks when it comes to having your baby sleep in a box? For one, the cardboard sides of the box make it difficult to see your baby and also interfere with airflow. What’s more, it’s essential to place the box in a safe area.
Experts also note that what might work for parents in one country might not be suitable for parents in another, due to the different systems of social support.
If you’re interested in this option, I recommend talking to a doctor about whether this is a good choice for you and what safety guidelines you should follow.
Hammocks are one of the most controversial crib alternatives. As the safest way for an infant to sleep is on his back on a firm mattress, without any bedding, it’s clear that the shape and firmness of a hammock don’t adhere to those safety standards.
Nevertheless, there are companies selling sleeping accessories such as these specifically for babies, claiming that their shape creates an environment that reminds the baby of being in the womb.
As a result, the baby sleeps better. There’s no denying the fact that parents all over the world use hammocks as an alternative to the crib.
In any case, it’s safer for the baby to nap in a hammock under parental supervision, than for nighttime sleep when neither mom or dad are awake to notice if something goes wrong.
Experts agree that these devices haven’t been researched well enough to determine whether they’re safe or not, so you should be aware of the risks in case you decide to purchase one.
The Bottom Line
Although I personally love baby cot beds, I know they’re not for every family. A lack of space, having older kids who wouldn’t do well with an infant in their room, and many other factors, can play a role in your decision to look for crib alternatives for babies.
Before making a purchase, think about how long you’ll want your baby to use it and how portable you need it to be, as some cribs and playards come with wheels that allow you to easily transport them.
In addition, read up on safe sleeping guidelines to make sure your baby’s sleeping environment isn’t dangerous in any way.
Remember that cardboard boxes and hammocks are not always the safest option for a newborn baby, so trust the advice of experts and avoid following trends just because they worked out for another family – you never know when accidents might happen!
Whether you’re planning on co-sleeping, letting your child sleep on a floor bed, or just want a compact crib that won’t take up too much space, I hope you were able to find the perfect solution for you!
• Moon, Rachel Y., MD, FAAP. (2020, December 23) “How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained”. Retrieved from Healthy Children website.
• Lee, Helena. (2013, June 4) “Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes”. Retrieved from BBC News.
• American Academy of Pediatrics, (November 2016), “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment”.
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