Crib vs Mini Crib- How are They Different and Which is the Best Choice for you?

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Mini crib vs crib (also known as a full-size crib)- what’s the difference and which one is best for you? You’re probably busy choosing stuff for the nursery, so I’ll give you a quick overview in the first paragraph. If you wish to dig deeper, then scroll even further down (or use the table of contents) to get more in-depth answers.

What is a Mini Crib? Difference Between a Mini Crib and a Full-Sized Crib?

A mini crib (also known as a portable crib) is a smaller version of the full-size crib that may have novel design features. 

Mini Crib Measurements (Compared to Regular Cribs)

The U.S. law states that the inner dimensions of a full-size crib (or standard crib) must be: Width: 28 ± 5/8 inches (71cm ± 1.6 cm); Length: 52 3/8 ± 5/8 inches (133 cm ± 1.6 cm). You can call everything smaller a mini crib, and their size is not strictly regulated. That said, the most common inner dimensions of a mini crib are 38 inches (96,5 cm) x 24 inches (61 cm).

The side height of a crib is the height from the top of the mattress support in its lowest position, to the lowest part of the top rail. It must be at least 26 inches for a full-sized crib. The same number for most mini cribs, on the other hand, is 20 inches.

Mini Crib Measurements compared to full sized crib measurements (same numbers as in the text)

TIP: The outer measurements of assembled beds can be quite variable. This means that mini cribs may take up as much space as the full-sized or standard cribs (although usually, they don’t).

Full-sized cribs, in contrast to mini cribs, can’t have unique design features like removable legs. Additionally, you can’t fold a standard crib. Mini cribs, on the other hand, are trendy precisely because of that. 

Babyletto Hudson (check the latest price on Amazon) is one of the best choices when it comes to full-sized cribs. If you’re looking for a great mini crib, then Delta Children (sold also on Amazon) is an excellent option.”

The table below will provide you a quick summary of mini crib vs crib:

ATTRIBUTEMINI CRIBFULL-SIZED CRIB
Inner Dimensions24” x 38” (most common)28 (± 5/8)” x 52 3/8 (± 5/8)”
Side Height20” or more (most common)26” or more
Mattress Size24” x 38” (most common)28” x 52
Mattress ThicknessNot regulated, usually <66” or less
SidesHard/Mesh/NetHard sides
Foldable?Yes (some models)No
Removable legs?Yes (some models)No
Shape?Many optionsTraditional Rectangular
Convertible?Yes (some models)Yes (some models)

Mini Crib Mattress Size (Compared to a Full-Size Crib Mattress)

In the U.S., there’s a standard size for an infant bed mattress 28 x 52 inches (~71 cm x ~133 cm). Everything smaller is considered a mini crib mattress. The mini crib mattress is usually 38 x 24 inches (96,5 x 61 cm).

NOTE: All crib mattresses must not be too small for corresponding cribs to prevent entrapment. According to the CPSC, it should be minimally 27 1/4 x 51 1/4 inches for a full-sized crib. Mini cribs must be sold with a mattress because their size is so variable. That said, you usually get just a thin pad. 

TIP: If you wish to make sure that the “mattress” in a package is safe, then test that the gap between it and your child’s bed isn’t over 1 inch.

Standard crib mattress 28 x 52 inches (~71 cm x ~133 cm). Everything smaller is considered a mini crib, mini crib mattress is usually 24 x 38 inches.

full-size crib mattress should not be thicker than 6 inches because otherwise, the side-height is reduced, and your little one may fall out of the bed.

In contrast, because the design of a mini crib can be variable, there’s no definite “right thickness” for its mattress. That said, the side-height must be at least 20 inches for models with rigid sides. The point again is to make sure that your toddler can’t climb out and get hurt when you’re not watching. As a result, the mini crib mattress is often quite thin.

TIP: If you bought a new mini crib mattress, then it’s a good idea to make sure that it isn’t too thick. Adjust the mattress support (if it’s adjustable) to the lowest position and measure the distance between the top of the mattress and top of the crib side. The length should be at least 20 inches. And if it isn’t? You can use it, of course, but escaping becomes even easier for your toddler:)

Unique Features of Mini Crib vs Full-Sized Crib That may Make it a Better Choice for you

Standard or full-sized cribs can’t be foldable and have to meet other strict regulations as well. As a result, many innovative manufacturers prefer to maker mini cribs or travel cribs.

Foldable Mini Cribs Help to Save Space

If you want to save some space, then a foldable crib can be an excellent solution. They are also perfect for grandparents house to function as a second infant bed. Your mini crib can stay folded when not in use and be ready in minutes when the need comes. You can, of course, disassemble a full-sized crib, but it takes a lot of time.

Exception: Dream On Me has made a folding crib that fits a full-size crib mattress. It’s also sold on Amazon. So the inner dimensions match a standard baby bed, but technically it probably adheres to non-full-size crib rules.

Turn Your Mini Crib Into a Playard by Removing the Legs

You can’t remove the legs of a full-sized crib (unless you use a saw), but mini cribs don’t face such limitations. You can convert many of them into a playpen.

If You’re Looking for an Unconventional Design, Then Mini Cribs are The Answer

The design of mini cribs (in contrast to full-sized cribs) is not strictly regulated. This means that you may find even round infant beds. Standard cribs, on the other hand, come only in rectangular shape.

Stokke Sleepi (sold on Amazon) is one such adjustable round mini crib. It’s not for everyone but illustrates nicely what can be done with more out of the box thinking.

Mini Crib: PROS and CONS

The apparent advantage of a mini crib vs standard crib is a smaller size. That said there are a couple of more good and not so good things to consider.

PROS:

1) A mini crib is perfect if you don’t have much room. For example, you may want to have two children sleeping in the same nursery, but you have limited space and are looking for a foldable bed

2) If you need an extra bed for your little one that he or she can use in a summer house or at grandparents, then a mini crib is a great choice 

3) Mini cribs are often made easily portable. They are usually more lightweight than standard cribs and may have wheels 

CONS:

1) It may be hard to find suitable bedclothes or a mattress from your favorite manufacturer because of the non-standard measurements

2) Your kid may quickly outgrow a mini crib, so you have to buy him a toddler bed too early when she’s not yet ready. Keep in mind that many cribs are convertible, so at least you may not have to buy a new item

3) If you buy a mattress, then you have to double-check that it’s not too small or too thick. As I’ve said (apologies again), measures of full-sized cribs are standardized, so you can easily order one online

Standard Full-Sized Crib: PROS and CONS

PROS

1) Full-sized cribs have to meet strict criteria, so they are safe for your little one

2) Standard cribs are bigger than mini cribs. As a result, your kid can use one for a long time. Things are even better if you go with a full-size convertible crib

3) The size of a full-size crib mattress is standardized so you can order them online. As a bonus, most manufacturers produce them so you can buy one from your favorite brand

CONS

1) Full-Sized cribs are bigger and heavier than mini cribs. This means that it’s not easy to transport them from one room to another. They aren’t suitable for traveling either

2) Many full-sized cribs cost more than mini cribs, but that’s not a rule. Many best travel cribs cost over 200 dollars. One such example is by BabyBjorn (you can go to Amazon for the latest price)

Convertible Mini Crib vs Crib (Full-Size)

Most cribs and mini cribs allow you to adjust the mattress to three to four different positions. A three-level option is most common though.

Additionally, many baby beds are convertible. This means that you can use them as a toddler bed, day bed, or even a full-sized bed. As a result, best cribs have markings like 3-in-1, 4-in-1, and 5-in-1. That said, these are often confusing. A 7 in 1 doesn’t necessarily offer more possibilities than a 5 in 1. So it’s best just to read the crib descriptions. And keep in mind that conversion kits aren’t usually included (you don’t even get a toddler rail).

As a rule, you don’t need a conversion kit to turn your crib into a day bed. But it’s usually best to buy a toddler rail if you want your two-year-old sleep in it.

Additionally, you can convert full-sized cribs into full-sized beds if you find a proper frame. Mini cribs, on the other hand, are smaller so you can turn them only into twin beds.

Dream On Me makes many convertible mini cribs (including the Casco with a changer).

Mini Crib and Full-Size Crib Combos

Need to save some space or looking for extra storage space? If the answer is yes, then you may want to consider a crib with changing table. The selection of full-size crib combos is bigger, but there’s at least one excellent mini crib available. The convertible Dream On Me Casco mini crib with a changer is also sold on Amazon.

Are Cribs and Mini Cribs Safe?

The materials and measurements (to prevent hand and head entrapment) of cribs are strictly regulated by different laws. For example, hardware must be very durable, and drop gates are not permitted.

JPMA is a third-party organization that tests baby products and makes sure that they meet the rules. So a JPMA certification ensures that the aforementioned criteria are met.

In 2010 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) updated standard crib safety standards. The same thing happened to the non-full-size crib (a mini crib with hard sides) rules in 2011.

So if you buy a crib with hard sides that meets CPSC and is produced after 2011, you are all good. Life is made quite simple for us dads:)

Usually, manufacturers state “meets ASTM and CPSC standards” or “JPMA certified.”

Some manufacturers go the extra mile and have also obtained a GreenGuard certificate. It proves that a product meets chemical emission limits in indoors.

Best Cribs and Mini Cribs Reviewed

You can first see the reviews of the two best cribs, in my opinion. After that, I’ll introduce you to two excellent mini cribs.

Delta Children Emery 6-in-1 Convertible Full-Sized Crib (Check the Latest Price on Amazon)

The Emery crib looks beautiful, but it’s also very functional. You can adjust the mattress to three different heights. Later, you can convert it into a toddler bed or a full-sized bed. You can even choose if you want the footboard or not. The Emery crib meets the CPSC and ASTM standards, so it’s a safe product for your little one. Keep in mind that you have to buy the mattress separately.

Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Full-Sized Crib (Check the Latest Price on Amazon)

Babyletto Hudson has a modern look, and you can convert it into a toddler bed. You even get a rail with it. You can adjust the mattress to four different heights. The mattress is sold separately, though. This is a safe crib as it meets CPSC and ASTM standards, but it’s also GreenGuard Gold certified.

Delta Children Folding Mini Crib (Check the Latest Price on Amazon)

This foldable mini crib helps you to save space, and it’s also easy to transport thanks to the wheels. Talk about mini crib vs crib! It’s a safe bed for your kid as it meets the CPSC and ASTM standards. You can adjust the mattress to two different heights. A pad is included in the package, but the mattress is sold separately

Dream On Me Aden Convertible Mini Crib 4-in-1(Check the Latest Price on Amazon)

If you’re looking for a convertible mini crib, then this is the one for you. You can convert it into a toddler bed or even a twin bed (you need to buy bed rails for that, though). You can adjust the mattress to three different heights. A changing pad is included in the package, but the mattress is sold separately. The Aden crib meets the CPSC and ASTM standards, which means that it’s safe for your little one.

If you want to learn more about the Dream On Me Aden or their other top cribs, then click here.

Transition From a Crib to a Toddler Bed

The purpose of a crib is to contain children after they start standing. After 2-3 years they are usually able to climb out and should be transferred to a toddler bed. The average height of a three-year-old is about 38 inches. With a mini crib, you may be forced to switch to a toddler bed earlier than you would otherwise.

In the spirit of lean thinking, it’s worth mentioning that many cribs and mini cribs are convertible. You can convert them to toddler beds or even long beds. It may be more fun for a child to get a new suitably designed toddler bed though.

To sum up

Every child should have a bed from day one. Hopefully, this article makes it easier to make a suitable choice for your situation.

If you prefer a standard crib, then the Babyletto Hudson (check the latest price on Amazon) is one of the best choices. You can adjust the mattress to four different positions, and it’s convertible.

If you’re looking for a mini crib for your nursery, then the best choice is probably a mini crib by Delta Children (check the latest price on Amazon). It has wheels, so it’s easy to move around in your room. The best thing is that it’s foldable so you can free that precious space when you need it.

If you aren’t sure if the crib is the right choice, then click here for alternatives. Additionally, you can read about mini crib vs bassinet by clicking here.

If you're searching for your baby's first bed for small spaces or a bigger nursery, then click to read my quick guide on mini cribs vs cribs vs bassinets. I also reviewed some of the top cots out there.