You don’t have to do exactly as your parents did, and looking for crib alternatives is a great start. This said, my list of alternatives to cribs is meant to be informational. Take an open-minded approach and read the pros and cons carefully:)
If you want your child to sleep in your bed, then just go with it. As long as you and your partner aren’t smokers, don’t drink excessively and don’t use a sofa as a bed, you should be fine. This said many parents assume that the practice will stop on its own. The truth is that you need an escape plan. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a six-year-old still sleeping in your bed.
A snuggle nest (discussed below) is an excellent help for parents at first. It will create a small space around your infant, so you don’t have to worry about baby rolling out. This said bedside sleeper is even better as you get to keep the big bed for yourself and still enjoy the closeness.
- If you take certain precautions, then it’s safe for your baby to sleep in your bed
- There’s no real evidence that kids will grow insecure just because they sleep in their parents’ beds
- You don’t have to worry if everything’s fine with the baby when he’s sleeping next to you. If she needs support, you are right there
- Most parents enjoy the closeness
- No need to get out of the bed when it’s nursing time or your baby wakes up during the night. As a result, you and your partner may sleep better as well
- One of the most obvious cons is that you need a big bed for co-sleeping
- You may sleep poorly as most kids are restless sleepers (assuming that you’ll continue the practice after the first couple of months). The classic H configuration isn’t a joke
- Sleep-deprived parents may end up sleeping in separate rooms. So instead of co-sleeping, one parent is pushed out of the group. This again causes frictions in the family
- You don’t have much privacy which results in less sex and may cause relationship problems
- Some parents have to adjust their preferred habits. For- example, you usually can’t read in your bedroom if your kid’s already sleeping. Many children want their parents to be there as well so you may end up getting to bed earlier than before
- As said before (sorry for repeating myself), you have to plan when and how to stop it. Your kid will not want to move out of a cozy bed full of parents
2. Snuggle Nest
Snuggle nests are crib alternatives that you can use until your infant learns to turn over. The small sleeping area is comforting for your baby, and some models even play soothing melodies. You can place it on your bed or on the floor. This said, you never know when your little one learns to turn. So it’s best to keep the snuggle nest in the center of the bed. Additionally, it’s advisable to look for an item that’s easy to wash if you’re going to use it as a crib alternative:)
Mamibaby Baby Nest (also sold on Amazon) is a popular choice loved by hundreds of parents that’s effortless to wash and easy to transport around.
- The tiny sleeping area is soothing to your baby
- Buying a snuggle nest is an excellent way to start co-sleeping although you need quite a big bed
- Baby products have to meet CPSC standards. This means that it’s a safe place for your baby to sleep in as long as you follow the safety instructions
- Some models allow you to play soothing lights and sound to your baby
- Snuggle nests are great for traveling and visiting friends with an infant. You can effortlessly transport a lightweight bed for your baby, and some models are even foldable
- They are relatively cheap
- You can’t use it for a very long time
3. Mini Cribs
Mini cribs are great full-sized crib alternatives. They are smaller than regular cribs and can have unique design features. The most common mattress size is 24 inches x 38 inches (vs 28 inches x 52 inches of a standard crib mattress). I’ve discussed the topic (including pros and cons) thoroughly in a separate article. That said, the term “mini crib” can cover many infant bed subtypes. Travel cribs and pack and plays get their own paragraphs in this piece.
4. Travel Crib
If you are looking for crib alternatives, then a travel crib with soft sides is an excellent choice. They’re designed to be extremely portable. Travel cribs can weigh as little as 6lb (2.7kg). Additionally, you can fold the best models in seconds. Most travel cribs also come with a travel bag so you can carry them on your shoulder.
Lotus Travel Crib (also sold on Amazon) is one of the best options because it has a side door. This makes your life so much easier if you’re recovering from C-section or having back issues.
- These are excellent crib alternatives for parents who travel a lot as your baby gets to sleep in the same bed every day
- If you want a portable baby bed, then travel cribs are perfect. They weigh little and are easy to put together in case you need extra space for a couple of hours
- In contrast to full-size cribs, travel cribs come with a pad, so you don’t have to buy a separate mattress. That said, a proper crib mattress is thicker and more comfortable for older babies
- Many travel cribs sit very low, so it’s hard to put your baby in and get out again. This can be especially annoying if you’ve got problems with knees or having back issues
- You can’t convert this type of a mini crib to a toddler bed. As a result, your little one will quickly outgrow it
5. Play Yard
Play yards are framed enclosures that have soft sides. The purpose is to provide your little one a safe space to play or sleep in. Many travel cribs fall into this category, but many playards are a little too big for traveling around. CPSC has set strict criteria for this type of product because you want them to be safe enough for your baby to sleep in. They come with a mattress because the side height is regulated, and you often can’t find a suitable pad from other manufacturers.
Joovy New Room 2 (also sold on Amazon) is a popular choice. It’s one of the biggest playards out there (10 square feet) and comes with a mattress.
- You get a safe bed that may even accommodate two toddlers. So it can function as a perfect travel crib for twins. This said it’s not safe for infants to share a bed with another kid
- Play yards are excellent crib alternatives because they weigh less and are easier to disassemble
- A baby mattress shouldn’t be too small nor too thick. Most play yards come with one, so you don’t need to worry about finding a suitable pad. This is a great thing because their size can be so variable
- Many play yards come with additional features like a bassinet or a changing table. Some models even play soothing lights and sounds
- You can save a lot of money if you buy a crib alternative with all the bells and whistles. These all-in-ones tend to cost less than full-sized cribs. Additionally, you don’t need to buy a separate mattress, changing table, nor a bassinet. Graco Amari (also sold on Amazon) is one of the most versatile playards out there. Many parents buy this crib alternative to grandmas house
- The cons are identical to the disadvantages of travel cribs. Many play yards sit quite low, so they may be uncomfortable to use for months to come. Additionally, you can’t use them for a very long time as they aren’t convertible
- Many playards are quite big. As a result, you may not save any space compared to full-sized cribs
- There are many play yards out there. If you want a crib alternative, then the model should be intended for sleeping and come with a mattress. This means that choosing a suitable baby bed can
6. Bassinet or Cradle
Bassinets are excellent crib alternatives for a couple of first months until your little one can turn over. The one obvious con is that your kid will outgrow them quickly. This means that bedside sleepers may be better alternatives for cribs as they’re more versatile.
Delta Children Sweet Beginnings (also sold on Amazon) is a beautiful traditional bassinet loved by hundreds of parents.
- Bassinets and cradles are cuter than cribs
- The small sleeping area is comforting for your baby
- Bassinets weigh less than cribs so you can easily transport them around your house or travel with them
- You don’t have to assemble a bassinet
- You can use bassinets only about four months
- The stand-alone bassinet isn’t cheap
7. Bedside Sleeper
Bedside sleepers are excellent crib alternatives for the first six months. They are bigger than bassinets, and you can attach them to your bed. Additionally, one side is usually lower, so you don’t have to get out of the bed for nighttime feeding.
Mika Micky Bedside Sleeper (also sold on Amazon) is a very popular choice.
- This is an excellent baby bed if you want to practice co-sleeping. Your baby sleeps right next to you, but the big bed stays territory of parents (and maybe of the toddler in the family who didn’t get the memo about sleeping in his own room)
- You can adjust the height of best bedside sleepers, so they are perfect if you’re recovering from C-section or having back issues
- This crib alternative is excellent for breastfeeding mothers as you don’t have to get out of the bed during the night
- The small sleeping area is comforting for your baby
- Best bedside sleepers aren’t cheap. Additionally, you have to get a new bed for your little one after about six months which again costs money
8. Moses Basket
Moses baskets are essentially bassinets without legs, which makes them effortless to transport around. They are safe to use until your baby learns to turn over. Moses baskets are cheaper than bassinets, but you have to deal with the fact that they sit very low. That said, if you’ve got a humongous bed, you can use one for co-sleeping just like a snuggle nest. Traditional Moses baskets aren’t for carrying a child (you may easily confuse one with a carrycot).
Tadpoles Moses basket (also sold on Amazon) is a charming option for every home.
- If you’ve got very little room, then it’s a perfect crib alternative for the first months. Baby beds don’t get much lighter and smaller than this
- Moses baskets don’t cost as much as bassinets
- Babies feel more comfortable in a small sleeping area
- Your baby will quickly outgrow it. This said many Moses baskets have removable beddings so you can use them for other purposes (storing toys, for example)
- If you keep this crib alternative on the floor, then putting your baby in and taking him out again is uncomfortable. Additionally, it may not be the best choice if your floors are cold
9. Cardboard Box
In Finland, all parents of newborns receive motherhood packages. They get a selection of essential items in a cardboard box, which can be used as a baby bed for the first couple of months. The box is 39” (70 cm) x 16.9“ (42,8 cm) x 10,6“ (27 cm). While this may sound odd, Benjamin Spock also recommended boxes in his book Baby and Child Care (1946). He pointed out that a baby needs a safe space to sleep in. This means that cardboard boxes and even drawers are just fine. When talking about simple options, snuggle nests, and Moses baskets provide a little more comfort and look nicer.
- A cardboard box doesn’t cost much (you may have to cough up something for a clean one:)
- It’s a safe space for your baby to sleep in. Finnish people have used them for over 80 years, and their infant mortality rates are extremely low 1.4 per 1000 (the same number for the U.S is 8 per 1000)
- Your baby gets a comforting tiny sleeping area
- Cardboard boxes are incredibly portable
- It’s a great conversation starter as most people haven’t even heard of such an option
- A cardboard box is an eco-friendly solution when it comes to crib alternatives
- Finnish parents turn them into memory boxes that contain all the special things related to their kid or family
- Many other crib alternatives are probably more comfortable for your baby
- You can’t be sure that a regular cardboard box doesn’t contain any harmful substances
10. Floor bed
Things can’t get any simple than this. Buy a crib mattress, place it on the floor, and make a floor bed for your baby. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician who propagated floor beds because they were supposed to increase the confidence and individuality of your baby. That said, there isn’t any real evidence of this. There are parents who dislike the confining bars of cribs and parents who want their kids to sleep in the safest place possible. The fact is that a designated sleeping area is the safest for your baby.
Milliard Crib Mattress (also sold on Amazon) is a popular choice as it uses flip technology.
- It’s a relatively cheap option. You only need a mattress
- Transporting a floor bed is quite easy
- This isn’t a very safe crib alternative. The idea is that your baby has the freedom to explore on her own, and that’s supposed to offer wondrous results. But I think there’s a reason why we don’t leave our babies alone. Cribs and most crib alternatives provide your kid with a comfortable sleeping area
- You have to keep the floor clean all the time if you let your kid sleep (almost) on it
- If your floors are cold, it’s better to avoid this option as you don’t want your infant to lie on a cold surface
In many parts of the world, babies sleep in hammocks. The idea is that the rocking motion soothes infants, and they get better rest. Amby is an Australia based firm that has manufactured hammocks since 1989. While there aren’t good scientific papers about these, thousand of parents have used Amby hammocks.
- Compared to many crib alternatives, you can use some hammocks for quite a long time (up to twelve months)
- You baby sleeps in a comforting tiny area, and the rocking motion may soothe her
- Baby hammocks are relatively expensive
- You can’t be sure that they’re safe crib alternatives. We know that babies should sleep on the flat surface (up to 10-degree angle is allowed). If your hammock is too soft, then this criterion isn’t met, and it may cause breathing problems
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Crib Alternatives
This has been a long article, and you may not have the time to read the whole thing. Here you can find short summaries for most common questions.
What are the Best Crib Alternatives for Small Spaces?
All the aforementioned items take up less space than full-sized cribs. Traditional mini cribs, travel cribs and play yards are the best options because you can use them for a long time. Travel cribs and pack’n’plays sit quite low, but you can adjust the mattress height of most other mini cribs. This feature is especially important if you’re recovering from C-section, having back issues or knee problems.
Delta Children Folding Mini Crib (also sold in Amazon) is a popular choice, and it takes up very little room when folded
What are the Best Crib Alternatives for six Months old?
If you’re looking for a baby bed, then you can use after six months, then traditional mini cribs, travel cribs, and play yards are again the best choices. A play yard may be an excellent choice because you can get an all-in-one. This means that you can use it as a nursing station and a baby bed. They are also easy to transport around.
What are the Best Crib Alternatives for 1 Year old?
Most one-year-olds are very active, so you need a sturdy bed. Mini cribs are the best full-size crib alternatives because they are smaller, but you can use them for a long time (if you pick a convertible model). Travel cribs and play yards are viable options, but your baby will probably outgrow them in a year. Another good choice for one-year-olds may be a floor bed (if you’re willing to babyproof the entire room). You only need a crib mattress, and you’re good to go.
To Sump up
I’ve provided you a list of alternatives to cribs. Many of them are perfect only for the first three to six months. That said, there are notable exceptions like mini cribs, play yards, travel cribs, and a floor bed. And in the end, you may even decide in favor of co-sleeping:)