Read up 7 safe crib alternatives for small spaces, including their pros and cons, along with some recommended products.
Cribs are one of the most expensive and biggest items on a newborn essentials list. Their price and size might not be practical, especially for families with a tight budget and/or are living in smaller spaces.
So if you’ve been googling “What can I use instead of a crib?” and “What can babies sleep in besides a crib?” then the answers are just a few scrolls down.
There are many safe crib alternatives for small spaces that can even last longer than expected.
Some of them are lightweight and portable, which can be helpful especially if you need to do some chores or work in another room and you have a clingy baby. Or for when you need to put down your newborn somewhere close after giving your baby a bath!
I’ve personally used a pack n play since it’s durable yet portable enough for me to move around the house but I digress.
I’ve thoroughly researched a couple of crib alternatives based on their various features such as size, safety, longevity, price and more. I’ve also listed down each of their pros and cons so you can better gauge what would work better for your family.
Let’s dive in and start first with comparing the list of best crib alternatives that might suit your family.
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Crib Alternatives For Small Spaces: Feature Comparison Table
This is best viewed on a desktop. Take a quick check at this feature comparison summary of the best crib alternatives for small spaces.
(I didn’t include the floor bed and co-sleeping as one: it won’t break the bank to choose either, and two, both are quite fuss-free to setup and has pretty straightforward advantages and disadvantages. Plus it’s a tight fit for the table below, which is really the real reason why I didn’t include it so hope you’ll still read through! 🙏🏻😁 )
|Features||Mini Cribs||Playard/ Pack n Play||Travel Crib||Bedside Sleeper||Bassinet/ Cradle|
|Size||Ranges from 37in to 54in L x 19in to 35in W x 33in to 42in H||Ranges from 28in to 41in L x 28.5in to 39in W x 29in to 41in H||Ranges from 12in to 46in L x 8in to 32in W x 26 to 32in H||Ranges from 26in to 36in L x 22in to 32in W x 14in to 37in H||Ranges from 33in to 37in L x|
17in to 23in W x
24in to 41in H
|Durability||More durable than a playard or pack n’play||Sturdier than a travel crib, but less durable than a mini crib||Slightly less sturdier than a pack n play||Lightweight but sturdy and safe enough for babies||Safe for newborns|
|Longevity||Can last for 1 to 2 years||Can last for 2 to 3 years||Can last for 3 to 4 years||Can last for 5 months or even less||Can last for 5 months or even less|
|Portability||Some comes with wheels||– Some comes with wheels|
– Can be folded and kept for storage
– Bulky and heavy
|– Weighs less than a pack n play|
– Folds easily for storage
|– Light and easy to move it around the house|
– Folds easily for storage
|Some are lightweight while some have heavy bases|
|Setup||Similar to a regular sized crib||Takes time to setup and collapse||Easy to setup and fold||– Easy to assemble|
– With strap to secure and anchor bed
– Adjustable height settings
|– Some are easy to setup while some takes time|
|Features||– Includes height settings|
– Convertible into a headboard
– Hard to find bedsheets
|– Standard mattress sizes and sheets|
– Mattress sits low on the ground
– Can include diaper changing table, diaper stacker, built-in bassinets, etc
– Comes with thinner mattress
– Some liners can’t be removed for cleaning
– Can turn into a playpen
|– Standard mattress sizes and sheets|
– Mattress sits low on the ground
– Thicker, more comfortable mattress than a pack n play
– Some doesn’t offer a lot of accessories
|– Can attach accessories like baby mobile or mini fan |
– With storage at the bottom
– Sleeper placed on the bed (not beside it) might encourage pets to go inside it
– Some might not go as low or as high as your bed
|– Can come storage at the bottom, night light, music, mesh hood, vibration/rocking mode, and even wheels|
|Price||Ranges from $120 to $300||Ranges from $70 to $300||Ranges from $60 to $300||Ranges from $70 to $250||Ranges from $50 to $250|
Below are more information on the pros and cons of each of the crib alternatives for small spaces.
7 Best Alternative Cribs For Small Spaces
Mini cribs are one of the best crib alternatives, especially if you’re looking for something that can last longer than a bassinet or a pack n play. I kind of wished I bought a mini crib since my kid hated her crib by the time she turned 1 year old but I digress.
But before deciding to get one, consider weighing its pros first from its cons.
- More durable than a playard or pack n’ play
- Can last for 1 to 2 years, depending on how big and/or mobile your child is
- Some can be less expensive than a regular crib
- Setup is the same way you’d assemble a regular crib
- Some come with wheels, making them portable
- Comes also with height settings, just like a full-sized crib
- Can be converted into toddler beds or a headboard/footboard for a twin bed
- Might be hard to find sheets and beddings because of its special size
- Not that cheap, some are at par with the prices of regular cribs
- Most kids will outgrow it pretty quickly by 1 year of age
Here are some of the top mini cribs in the market:
Pack n Play/ Play Yard
I’ve personally used this for my baby until she was 2 months old.
I think it was a good purchase since we wanted a lightweight, portable crib whenever we visit my in-laws, hence the pack n play at their place. We used it for less than a year because, well my kid hated being in it.
This has also been the top recommendation for cribs for small rooms on different online parenting forums and groups.
It’s smaller than a crib, it’s easy to fit a standard mattress and sheets and it can also turn into a playpen! You can keep your little ones contained and busy with toys inside the pack n play, while still keeping an eye on them, thanks to its mesh sides.
But of course, it doesn’t come without cons, check some of it below:
- It can last until your kid turns 2 to 3 years old. That is if they still want to sleep in it.
- Sturdier than a travel crib
- Some are much more affordable than a regular crib
- Some come with wheels which makes it easy to move a little
- Can be folded and kept in closet, car, storeroom
- Easy to find standard mattress sizes and sheets
- Can attach accessories such as a diaper changing table, diaper stacker, etc.
- Some can even come with built-in bassinets, changing tables, mobiles, storage, and more!
- Can convert as a playpen
- Breathable mesh sides so you and your baby can see each other, plus a whole lot safer than having paddings in the crib
- Some seemed like they take up space like a regular crib so be sure to get something that’s small enough to suit your needs
- Some are the same price as a regular crib
- Takes time to set up and collapse so it’s not convenient to unfold and fold it again all the time, just to get more space in the room
- It can be bulky and heavy, which doesn’t make it portable
- The mattress sits low on the ground – not recommended for CS moms or parents with back pain
- Some liners are not removable for cleaning
- Thinner mattress which might be uncomfortable for your baby
Here’s some of the most popular and highly recommended pack n plays/ playards online:
Travel cribs are like a pack n play but lighter and more portable. There are actually travel crib models that are interchangeble with a pack n play.
They are also great baby cribs for small apartments and a practical choice for families who are always on the road.
But they do come with some cons. Since the mattress is almost on the floor, it might be hard to get or put in your baby, especially if you’ve just had a CS operation or you have some back problems.
Here are their pros and cons for you to think of before purchasing one:
- Some can last until the kid is 2 or even 4 years old (if they’re still willing to sleep in it)
- Easiest to assemble and collapse than a pack n play
- More portable and easier to carry
- It folds easily for storage
- Breathable mesh sides
- Has a thicker and more comfortable mattress than a pack n play
- Less sturdy than a pack n play
- Kids can outgrow it pretty quickly, especially if you have a big, hyperactive baby
- Some can be more expensive than pack n play
- Some doesn’t offer a lot of accessories, compared to a pack n play
- Not convenient for those with back problems or moms with CS operation
Here are some of the best travel cribs in the market:
If you’re leaning more to the travel crib vs pack n’ play, check out this article.
If you want to co-sleep but in a safer, non-traditional way, then a bedside sleeper might be more suitable for you. They are one of the best crib options for small spaces.
Some bedside sleepers can be placed directly on your bed while some are like a large bassinet with a retractable side.
The bassinet type is a more popular version as it’s separate from your bed. You can easily reach in and touch your kid without having to stand up, as it’s placed right beside your bed. Which can be quite convenient for breastfeeding mothers.
Keep in mind though its cons before deciding to buy a bedside sleeper.
- It’s lightweight but sturdy and safe enough for babies
- Super easy to assemble
- Comes with a strap to secure and anchor it to your bed
- Adjustable height settings
- Easy to attach or remove from your bed
- Since it’s small and lightweight, it’s so easy to move it around the house
- It’s also easy to fold for storage
- You can attach a baby mobile or mini fan on the side
- Comes with storage at the bottom
- Lack of bed space, if you choose the type of co-sleeper to be placed on the bed
- Might not be ideal if you have clingy pets who sleep on the bed, as they might want to go inside the sleeper
- Some might not have enough height settings and might not go as low or as high as your bed
- Your kid will quickly outgrow it
- It will only last at most 5 months or even less if your kid is bigger or is more mobile.
- They don’t come cheap
- Since they can only last for a couple of months, you’d need to buy another bed again.
- If you’re budget-conscious, this isn’t a practical choice.
Here are some popular bedside sleepers:
Bassinet or Cradle
Another popular crib alternatives for small spaces is a bassinet or a cradle. They are safe and snug for newborns up to 5 months and some can even turn into bedside sleepers!
Some are great for traveling as it’s portable and can easily be assembled and folded in a few minutes
You can’t use it for long though and you’ll need to buy another bed for your baby within just a few months.
Here are its pros and cons:
- Safe for newborns up to 4 months of age
- Has varied, more affordable options
- Some are easy to set up while some take some time, depending on the model
- Portability depends on the model as well
- Some are so lightweight, you can bring them while traveling.
- While others have heavy bases which makes it difficult to move around
- Some come with storage at the bottom, night light, music, mesh hood, vibration/rocking mode, and even wheels
- Not safe for babies who are older and mobile
- Clingy pets might jump inside the bassinet so must have a mesh hood
- Kids will quickly outgrow it
- Can only use for a few months or until your kid is bigger or more mobile
Check out these top-rated bassinets/ cradles:
If you want a minimalistic, Montessori type of bed for your kid, then a floor bed would do just fine. It can possibly one of the crib options for small spaces!
It’s so simple to set up, just get a crib mattress, a sheet and place it on the floor.
They can use it until they are older and it can encourage them to become more independent. Just don’t put any blankets or pillows on the bed and make sure that there’s no space between the bed and wall, where your baby can get stuck in.
Add in also some paddings on the floor, in case your baby rolls off. Make sure to baby-proof their entire bedroom once they start crawling around.
Personally speaking, a floor bed might drive you crazy once they get older and are more mobile. I should know, I co-sleep on a floor bed with my kid when she turned one (she hated her crib the minute she literally turned one) and yes, I am still co-sleeping with my toddler. Now we co-sleep on a queen size bed but is still on the floor.
Anyway, here are the possible pros and cons of having a floor bed as a alternative to crib:
- Won’t overwhelmingly take up a lot of space in the room
- Can be used until 3 to 5 years
- Can last until their toddler years, depending on your child’s size
- No need to teach your kid to transition to sleep on a bed independently
- Super affordable
- Fuss-free setup, just grab a crib mattress, place a sheet on it, and put it on the floor!
- Can move anywhere in the room
- Mobile babies might roll off the bed
- Toddlers might keep getting up and might prefer to sleep in your bed instead
- Have to properly and thoroughly baby proof your kid’s bedroom as when they get older, they can get off the floor bed easily and just start touching stuff
- Not recommended for CS moms or those with back or knee pains
Here are some baby mattress you can check out:
Co-Sleeping or Bed Sharing
This is a fairly controversial crib alternatives for small spaces but a lot of families all around the world have done it with no issues or whatsoever. It’s not recommended though by the American Academy of Pediatrics as it’s been linked to SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Here are the pros and cons of co-sleeping.
- Nothing to buy, which saves you money to buy other important items
- Easy to quickly attend to your baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding
- Can bond with your baby better
- Potential safety risks
- Lack of sleep and intimacy for you and your partner
- Might be hard to transition your kid to their bed when they get older
Cribs For Small Spaces: FAQ
- What is the best crib for small spaces?
All the mentioned options above are great crib alternatives for small spaces but in my opinion, mini cribs or a pack n play are the best crib alternatives as they are sturdier and you can use them longer.
- How long can a baby last in a mini crib?
Depending on your baby’s size and mobility and the mini crib’s design, it can be used until 1 to 2 years. Convertible mini cribs though can last longer, as it has certain aspects which can help you turn them into toddler beds or a headboard/footboard for a twin bed.
- Can a baby sleep in a playpen instead of a crib?
No, especially if the playpen has soft bedding or has an extra mattress and there are a lot of paddings on it.
But if it has a firm mattress and there’s nothing inside it – no toys, pillows, blanket, or anything that could suffocate the baby, then that would be a safer option for your baby.
- What are the best crib alternatives for six months old?
Mini cribs, pack n play, and travel cribs are your best crib options as they are more durable and can last pretty much until your kid is 1 year old or older
- What are the best crib alternatives for 1 year old?
If your baby is on the smaller side, mini cribs are your best option. But if you can’t keep them contained in it anymore, a floor bed in a thoroughly baby-proofed room would be a safer and more suitable crib alternative for your baby.
- Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a cardboard box?
In Finland, the government provides all registered moms a box of free baby items. That box has its mattress and can be safe for babies to sleep in.
However, that box is meant for temporary use and though it’s suggested that it might have reduced the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), it can still pose some danger to the baby, such as the box tipping over or being covered, pets getting inside the box, etc.
It can be safe, if the box won’t fall over, or nothing can cover or go in it. But again, it’s not for long term use.
Crib Alternatives For Small Spaces: Takeaway
I didn’t include baby loungers such as Snuggle Me Organic or Dock A Tot, podsters like the Leachco Podster, hammocks or Moses baskets because I personally don’t think they’re the best, safest crib alternatives for newborns to sleep on. I know a lot of people use them, mainly the baby loungers, especially when their babies are having a hard time sleeping but please be aware of the risks. These items are not recommended for sleeping and are for wake time use only.
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