Short on space? No worries. There are plenty of safe crib alternatives for smaller spaces where your baby can safely slumber.
The disadvantage of living in a metro city is smaller space and significant rent. Also, when you are adding a little one to your family, it can get crowded even more with the baby stuff you need to buy.
If you are setting up a nursery and thinking about saving space without compromising the functionality of your nursery, you might have to think about what you can leave without.
When you are having a baby, it is hard to cut down on necessities. But it is not impossible. We survived without a crib with our second one, and we did okay.
So, no crib, Where should baby sleep?
There are plenty of safe crib alternatives for smaller spaces out there where your baby can sleep. We opted for a compact nursery glider and a multifunctional play yard with a removable bassinet and diaper changing table for our smaller nursery. Once my baby outgrew play yard, we transitioned him to Montessori floor bed.
So, if you are ready to skip the crib, you are not missing anything. Actually, you are saving money and saving space by opting for safe crib alternatives.
This blog post talks about how to choose safe crib alternatives and the best crib alternatives for smaller spaces available in the market.
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Do Babies need a Crib?
Unlike adults, babies do not prefer where they would want to sleep, which is a good thing! So, as a parent, you decide where your baby can sleep safely.
The traditional crib is good to have in a nursery if you can accommodate it, but it is not necessary for their safety and comfort. There are many crib alternatives available that are safer, affordable, and portable.
From co-sleeping to a bassinet that attaches to a bed to Pack ‘N’ Play to travel crib to floor bed to the mini crib, here are plenty of options if you want to skip the crib.
With our first baby, we skipped the traditional full-size crib and opted for a mini crib. But we hardly got any use out of it because he ended up sleeping in a co-sleeping bassinet attached to our bed for the first 6 months. Once he grew out of it, we moved him to a Montessori-style floor bed in our room for another six-month. Then we transitioned him to a toddler floor bed in his room. He was a happy sleeper and enjoying the independence of sleeping on his floor bed.
With our second one, we skipped the crib. Not even a mini crib. We co-slept for about 8 months and then transitioned him on a floor bed.
Yes, we did have a travel crib when we were traveling or sleepover at Aunt’s house.
So, as long as you are aware of the safe sleep guideline set by AAP, it’s not necessary to have a crib for a baby.
Reasons Why you Should Skip the Crib
It’s a tradition to have a crib in a nursery. But if you are thinking of skipping the crib, you are not losing anything. Actually, you are saving a lot (money and space) without compromising your baby’s sleep quality. We have skipped the crib for our baby, and you should too if that is right for your circumstances and your baby.
If you still can not decide whether skipping the crib is a good idea, here are several reasons that will solidify your decision to opt for a safe crib alternative.
- Cribs are expensive, and if you are someone like me, a non-toxic living enthusiast, it will cost even more to get a non-toxic crib. The good non-toxic cribs range from $250-$1700.
- Conventional cribs are made with plywood, MDF, composite wood, or non-wood options. All the heat processing, adhesive, and other chemicals used in putting the crib together, can emit VOCs and formaldehyde in the indoor air. And you don’t want your baby to breathe in those toxic chemicals.
- Crib paints and varnish can also emit toxic chemicals at room temperature. In addition to exposing the baby to VOCs emitted from the paint, your baby may chew on crib paint as they get older.
- If you believe in the Montessori principle, you will find crib confining. It doesn’t allow freedom of movement and does not let children explore their environments. If you want to encourage independence from an early age, the crib is not for you. Another great point of skipping the crib is it will save you from the trouble of transitioning your baby from a crib to a toddler bed.
- A crib is not breastfeeding-friendly. You can’t get in the crib and feed your baby. It is too much trouble to get out of your bed to get the baby from the crib for nighttime feeding.
- Finally, it takes too much of a space in a nursery. So, if you have a smaller room, room sharing with huge crib could be difficult.
Do you need Crib Alternatives?
You need a safe place for your baby to sleep so you can sleep too.
Not everybody feels safe co-sleeping with their babies because of the increased risk of SIDS. So, if you don’t want a traditional crib or don’t have a space for it, you need crib alternatives.
The AAP recommends room-sharing with babies for the first 6 months to 12 months and considers bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets CPSC standards safe as crib alternatives.
Crib alternatives are versatile choices and come with many features that lack in traditional cribs. They take less space in your room, are portable, and some models even have swing and swivel functions.
So, crib alternatives are better options if you don’t want a crib in your small space. Depending on your preference and the space you have, you can choose one over the other, and all of them come with pros and cons.
And as long as you are aware of basic sleep safety rules, your baby is safe in any crib alternatives.
6 Safe Crib Alternatives for Smaller Spaces
Now that you are ready to skip the crib for good, here are the 6 best crib alternatives for smaller spaces.
Co-sleeping is one of the most controversial topics among parents. Some parents have no problem co-sleeping or bedsharing with their newborns, while others are totally against it for the risk associated with bed-sharing.
The AAP also advises against bedsharing because of the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental infant death by strangulation or suffocation. The AAP does not recommend bedsharing in the following circumstances:
- The baby is less than 4-month-old
- Premature baby
- You smoked during pregnancy
- You are a smoker
- Consumption of alcohol, drug or medication that make waking up difficult
- The mattress of the bed is not firm
- Loose bedding where baby sleeps
When it comes to co-sleeping, it’s a personal choice. Do what is suitable for you and your baby. We co-slept for 8 months and then transitioned and sleep-trained him in his room.
Co-sleeping with your baby for the first few months offers many benefits. First, it makes breastfeeding in the first few months very easy; you can snuggle to your baby whenever you want, the mom gets more sleep, does not cost any money, and lastly saves you space.
If you decide to co-sleep, make sure you have a safe mattress for bed-sharing with a baby.
- Narrow Nursery Glider
- Padded arm cushion
- Good size side pockets
- Comes with ottoman
- Removable back and seat cushions
- Cushions are hand washed only
- Few customer finds padding thinner than expected
2. Infant Sleeper
Want to co-sleep but worried about your baby’s safety? Infant sleepers are a great way to keep your babies in a confined spot on your bed without worrying about rolling over on them.
Although FDA does not recommend an infant sleeper or any baby lounger as a safe place for your baby to sleep at night or for naps, many moms swear by it.
But I think it is a much better choice for parents who want to co-sleep but are afraid of their baby’s safety. Infant sleepers or loungers are designed to provide confined space for your baby to sleep on your bed, and it has raised side, so keep your baby in the sleeper or lounger.
The thing with the infant sleeper is that it does not lasts you long. Once the baby starts rolling, you can not use them anymore. Also, with the infant sleeper, sadly, there is no perfect option if you are looking for a non-toxic sleeper.
Here is what I found that is better than other conventional sleepers out there.
Snuggle Me Organic Lounger
The safest option in baby lounger or sleeper you will find on the market is Snuggle Me Organic Lounger.
Snuggle Me Organic Lounger is made with 100% GOTS certified organic, non-toxic, breathable cotton. It would have been much better if the lounger was not filled with polyester fiber, but sadly, it is. While it is not perfect, but better than polyurethane foam-filled pads in most convectional sleepers or loungers.
This made-in-the-USA lounging pad is designed to hug your baby’s full body. It is of great use during the first few months when your baby needs a cozy and comforting place other than mommy’s chest to sleep on. In addition, this baby lounger has raised side serving as a barrier for you to roll over your baby.
- Made in the USA
- Made with 100%, GOTS certified organic cotton
- Provide a cozy and snuggly place for your baby to sleep on
- Machine washable
- Cheaper than crib
- Polyester fiber filled
- It only lasts 3-4 month
- Takes up a space in a bed
If you are a first-time parent and still unsure if this lounger is the best choice for co-sleeping, Baby Delight Snuggle Infant Lounger is another option with breathable, raised walls to separate the baby from adult bedding.
The only downside to this conventional infant sleeper is that it is made of polyester and plastic and comes with a foam mattress pad. It’s not all ideal if you are trying to protect your baby from toxic chemicals, but it is peace of mind for parents who want to co-sleep with their baby.
3. Floor Bed
Ditch crib, play ‘n’ pack, bassinet, and every other option available out there for babies. Just get a non-toxic crib mattress, place it on the floor, and you are done. It does not get easier than this.
According to Montessori philosophy, a floor bed is excellent to encourage independence in your baby at an early age.
Because the floor bed is just a mattress on the floor, there won’t be any barrier for babies to stop getting out of the bed. For that reason, you will want baby-proof cabinets, electrical outlets, and everything else in the baby’s room.
With the floor bed, you also want to make sure that the area is carpeted. So, if the baby rolls out of the mattress, they land on the carpet and don’t hurt themselves.
One thing that I love about floor bed is that it saves you from the trouble of transitioning your babies from crib to their bed. When it is time to move them to their room, you just move the floor bed to their room.
However, if you plan to use a floor bed for the long term, you may want to invest in a bed frame for your floor bed. Then, rather than the mattress going on the floor directly, it will lay on the bed frame. This is particularly important for the aeration of the mattress from the bottom to avoid the growth of mold and mildew due to humidity. For more ideas, check out Montessori floor beds here.
If you are opting for a floor bed concept, I highly recommend getting a Naturepedic crib mattress. This non-toxic crib mattress is double-sided, with the firm on one side for newborns to sleep and soft on the other for toddlers to sleep on.
The Naturepedic mattresses are GOTS, and Greenguard Gold certified and free from formaldehyde, polyurethane foam, flam-retardants, phthalates, antibacterial treatment, glue, and GMOs.
It’s our all-time favorite mattress, and we had used it for our kids when they were babies. My 4 and 11 years old still sleeps on it. Our adult mattress is Naturepedic as well.
And if you like to save money on non-toxic Naturepedic mattresses, use code empiricalmama15 to get a 15% discount at checkout.
- Affordable option
- One mattress will last you forever
- Great for encouraging independence in babies at an early age
- Newborn may not feel cozy in their floor bed as it is too open
- Hard to keep them in a bed once they are mobile
- They could roll off the bed
4. Travel Crib
Those who love to travel should skip the crib. For them, travel cribs are a great option. They are easy to set up, lightweight, and comes with accessories to make traveling easy with the baby.
There are two best non-toxic travel crib options for you to consider,
Guava Lotus Travel Crib
Guava Lotus travel crib is the only play yard in the market with Greenguard Gold certification. That means the travel crib is free from toxic chemicals like phthalate, BPA, Lead, heavy metal, PVC, and flame retardant.
The Guava Lotus Travel Crib is ultra-lightweight yet sturdy to withstand all the jumping from the baby when they get a little older. In addition, this travel crib is easy to set up and comes with carrying back to make traveling easy.
It comes with a mattress made of insulated foam that lies on the floor. In addition, the entire travel crib is made of mesh fabric to ensure air circulation. It even makes an excellent cozy place for your newborn to sleep in.
Another important point of the Lotus travel crib is that it has a side zipper door to soothe your baby at night. The opening is wide enough if you want to lay down and breastfeed your baby without taking them off the crib. In addition, the side zipper option is excellent for moms who are recovering from a c-section birth.
- Weighs:13 pounds packed.
- Dimensions – 42 x 32 x 25 inches (L x W x H).
- GREENGUARD Gold-certified
- Side zipper for easy access
- Full mesh sides for ventilation
- You can carry it as a bag or wear it as a backpack when traveling
- Mattress pad too thin
BABYBJORN Travel Crib
Another excellent choice as crib alternatives is the BabyBjorn travel crib. This travel crib is almost identical to the Guava Lotus travel crib in terms of weight and design.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib is JPMA certified, and Oeko-Tex certified. It has been tested by an independent facility and meets the safety standard, and the fabric of the travel crib is free from toxic chemicals.
Like Lotus travel crib, BabyBjorn weighs 13 pounds, has side mesh fabric for ventilation, and a mattress sits on the floor.
You can also detach the crib from the legs and wash it from time to time in case your baby spits up. The only downside to BabyBjorn travel crib is that it sits low, so you have to bend down to access your baby, which may not be favorable for shorter parents or those with back issues or moms recovering from c-section.
- Weight: 13 pounds
- Dimension: Assembled 82 x 112 x 64 cm
- JPMA certified and Oeko-Tex certified
- Breathable full mesh sides
- Easy setup
- Removable and machine washable crib fabric
- Difficult to lay a sleeping baby into the crib because of the height.
4. Play yard
If you are looking for a crib alternative with multifunctionality, a play yard is a way to go for smaller spaces. Play yards are almost similar to travel cribs in design except for their weight. They are heavier and sturdy.
Unlike travel crib, play-yard comes with other accessories like a bassinet, diaper changing station, storage pockets depending upon the brand. A Multi-purpose play yard is what you need when you have limited space in your nursery or bedroom.
4moms Breeze Plus Portable Travel Play yard
4moms is the brand you can trust for non-toxic baby gear. They offer a wide range of play yards from classis to multipurpose, depending on your need.
4moms Breeze Plus Portable Play yard is multi-purpose crib alternatives. It comes with a diaper changing station, removable bassinet, and storage pockets for store baby essentials.
This play yard can be a great fit for your small space as it can replace the need for a separate diaper changing station. And removable bassinet can be of great use once you bring your baby home from the hospital.
The other great feature of the Breeze Playard is that you can set it up with one hand!
Also, 4moms Breeze travel play yard weighs 23 pounds and comes with a carry bag for traveling.
Regardless of which model of 4moms you go for, these play yards are safe for babies as they are free from flame retardant, BPA, PVC, lead, and other heavy metals.
- Weight- 23 pounds
- Dimensions- 43 x 30 x 29 inches
- Single hand set up and put away
- Free from toxic chemicals
- It comes with a travel bag
- Comes with diaper changing station, removable bassinet
- Heavy to carry around while traveling
Bassinets are one of the most used baby gears for a newborn. They are available in a range of styles and functionality. Basically, they are almost the height of the bed and have a mesh side for you to peek at. In addition, most of the models have wheels on the leg for ease of moving, and some bedside bassinets can be attached to the bed so you can easily access your baby at night.
Bassinets are great for newborns to sleep, but they don’t last you longer. Also, once your baby starts rolling, you need to make another sleeping arrangement for your baby because of the potential risk of falling from the bassinet.
Halo Swivel Sleeper Bassinet
Halo Swivel Sleeper Bedside bassinet is an excellent upgrade to a traditional bassinet with all added functionalities and features.
Halo Swivel Sleeper bassinet is a favorite among parents and great alternatives to bed-sharing. The sleeper is just right beside your bed and gives babies their own sleeping space.
This BPA-free bassinet has breathable side mesh for air circulation, and four height adjustment features to fit the bed height between 24-34 inches. In addition, the base of the sleeper can glide under the bed bring the baby closer to you on your bed (just like bed-sharing), which is a great feature when you are short of space.
It also has drop down sidewalls to easily access your baby for feeding without getting out of the bed. Another great feature of this bedside sleeper is that it swivels, vibrates, and has built-in night lights.
The only downside to Halo is that it contains polyurethane foam and polyester. But you can get Halo organic bassinet mattress that is free from VOCs and flame retardants.
- Dimension: 33.5 x 18.5 x 7.5 inches (The Bassinet is 30 x 17 inches)
- Weight- 24.3 lbs
- Maximum weight capacity: 20 lbs (0-6 months)
- Bedside bassinet
- 4 height adjustment
- Machine washable sheet and side fabrics
- Easy, tool-free assembly
- Four-sided mesh
- Large pockets for storage
- Contains polyester and polyurethane foam
- Can only be used until the baby starts rolling over
I have a complete guide and review of the conventional best bedside co-sleeper that attaches to the bed here.
6. Mini Crib
Don’t want to skip the crib? Not to worry. Mini cribs come with all the features of a traditional crib plus compactness. As a result, they are great for babies and do not take much space in your room.
Here are few mini cribs that are non-toxic, affordable, and won’t take much space in your small room.
DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib
DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib is Greenguard Gold certified, made of New Zealand pine wood. It is perfect for smaller rooms or smaller spaces without being too expensive as a traditional crib.
Any standard-size mini crib mattress can easily fit into this crib. With the four adjustable mattress positions, it makes it easy to lower the mattress as your baby grows.
This crib is sturdy, easy to set up, and grows with your baby. You can convert it to a mini toddler bed, day bed, or twin bed by purchasing a conversion kit.
Davinci Kalani 4-in-1 mini crib is affordable, perfect for small spaces, and can last you a couple of years with the conversion kit.
You can purchase this crib on its own or with a mattress. However, I would highly recommend purchasing a non-toxic Naturepedic mini crib mattress to ensure that your baby breathes in clean air.
- Dimensions- 40 ″ x 28.6″ x 38.13″
- Weight – 37 pounds
- Greenguard Gold certified
- Made of New Zealand pine wood
- Four adjustable mattress positions
- Need additional conversion kit to convert it to twin bed
Babyletto Origami Mini Portable Crib
Babyletto Origami Mini Portable crib is another Greenguard Gold certified mini crib perfect for small spaces.
Like Davinci, Babyletto mini crib is also made from New Zealand pine wood. It is available in four different colors to go with your nursery décor.
The mini crib has two mattress height adjustments to accommodate your growing baby. And any standard-size mini crib mattress can fit into this crib. So it can be used for infants up to 18 months and beyond.
This mini crib is easy to move from one room to another with its in-built wheels. A mini crib on the wheel is a great feature of Babyletto and can come in handy when you have small space.
- Measures-39.2”×25.7”×36” inches
- Weight-49.6 pounds
- Greenguard Gold certified
- Made from New Zealand pine wood
- Available in four different colors
- Mini crib on wheels
- Does not grow with your baby
DaVinci Dylan Folding Portable Mini Crib
This non-toxic, Greenguard Gold-certified crib is another mini crib to consider for your smaller space without breaking your bank.
Just like DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib, Dylan mini crib has four adjustable mattress positions to accommodate your growing baby.
The additional feature of this mini crib is that it comes with wheels to move it easily from one room to another.
In addition, it can be transformed into a mini toddler bed, day bad, with the additional purchase of conversion kits.
Another feature that you will appreciate in this DaVinci model is that you can fold the crib! It is a very convenient option when you have a small room.
- Dimensions – 40.35 ” x 25.08 ” x 40.9 ”
- Weight-25.1 pounds
- Greenguard Gold certified
- Made of New Zealand pinewood
- Comes with wheel
- It is foldable
- Additional conversion kit needed to convert it to toddler bed
Sleep Safely for Babies
Sleep-related infant deaths from suffocation or strangulation are still high in the U.S. In an effort to reduce accidental infant deaths, the AAP has developed a set of standards and recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment for babies.
Infant Sleep Safety Recommendations by AAP
In addition to the recommendation of room-sharing with your 0-12-month-old baby, AAP suggests the following to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Babies should sleep on their backs for naps and at night – In this position, they are less likely to roll before they can adjust their head to breathe. Even babies with reflux are recommended to sleep on their back.
Swaddled babies should also be put to bed on their backs. And swaddle should not be too tight for the baby to breathe or move their hips. You should transition your baby from swaddle to sleep sack once your baby tries to roll over.
- Regardless of which crib alternatives you are going for, a firm sleeping surface is recommended. Along with a firm mattress, a tightly fitted sheet designed for that particular product should be used.
- Nothing should be kept in their crib or crib alternatives such as loose beddings, blankets, or soft toys that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation. If you are worried about your baby being too hot or too cold, adjust the room temperature and dress them appropriately with an organic swaddle or organic sleep sack.
- Do not put your baby to sleep in your arms, couch, or nursing chair.
How to Choose Safe Crib alternatives for Small Spaces?
Selecting one of the safe crib alternatives for small spaces will maximize the area you have without compromising the safety and functionality of your nursery or small room.
Here are the things to consider before you select the best safe crib alternatives for a tiny nursery.
Non-Toxic Crib Alternatives
I am not sure about you, but I am very concerned about what my babies are exposed to, especially when they are young. Babies are more prone to side effects of toxic chemicals (because of their developing organ system) that are loaded in conventional baby products.
Unfortunately, like many other baby products, some play yard/travel crib/Play ‘N’ Pack brands contain toxic chemicals like BPA, phthalate, PVC, lead, and heavy metals. Even after increased regulation on using flame retardant chemicals in baby products, some brands continue to use it in making baby products.
These flame-retardant chemicals emit volatile organic compounds in the indoor air that your baby breathes in. And these toxic chemicals are known to be a carcinogen, developmental toxicants, and hormone disruptors.
So, avoid crib alternatives that contain BPA, polyurethane foam, lead, heavy metals, PVC, and phthalates.
At a bare minimum, choose a product that is at least Greenguard Gold certified. The Greenguard Gold certificate ensures that the product doesn’t emit harmful levels of toxic VOCs as your baby will spend significant time in their crib alternatives.
Functionality and Additional Features
Choose a crib alternative that works best for the space you have available. Some parents like co-sleeper, while others prefer bedside bassinet rather than keeping baby right on their bed. There is also a multifunctional play yard with a removable bassinet and changing station if you do not have room for everything in your nursery.
Travel cribs are a great alternative for your baby to sleep for those who like to travel with a baby. So, depending on your need, there is plenty of option available for your baby to sleep.
Where should a Baby Sleep First Few Months?
According to AAP, babies should be kept in their parents’ room for the first 6-12 months of life to reduce the risk of SIDS. They also recommend keeping swaddled baby nearby your bed in a bassinet or a crib. Bedside bassinets are great choice for first few months as it allows you reach baby without getting out of the bed and reduces the risk of SIDS as baby has her own place to sleep.
What’s Better, Crib or bassinet?
Crib and bassinet both are safe places for babies to sleep. However, the main difference between both is the size. Traditional non-toxic cribs are expensive and require a lot more space than a bassinet. So, if you have a smaller space or smaller room, bassinets work well.
The modern bedside bassinet can attach to your bed, so your baby is just right at the corner of your bed. The only downside to bassinet is that you have to transition your baby as soon as they start rolling or pushing themselves up as they are a potential hazard of falling because of height.
On the other hand, a crib can last forever. With the conversion kit, it can convert to a toddler bed and day bed.
What are the Crib Alternatives for six months old?
A six-month-old baby is a mobile baby, so something not too high off the ground can work best for them. A pack ‘n’ play, travel crib, or mini crib can be used for a six-month-old baby as a safe crib alternative. Pack ‘n’ play is an excellent choice for everyday use as it is sturdy compared to a travel crib.
What are the Crib Alternatives for 1 Year old?
A 1-year-old baby is a very active baby, and you need something strong that can withstand all the jumping and cruising. If you have a mini crib, it can still be used for your baby to sleep for few more months.
If you didn’t have a mini crib, you might need to transition your baby to a toddler or floor bed. A floor bed is a great choice and can be set up in no time if you have a crib mattress until you are ready to invest in a floor bed frame.
The advantage of transitioning a 1-year-old baby to a Montessori floor bed is that you give them a sense of independence at an early age. Then, later, you don’t have to go through the trouble of transitioning them to a proper bed in their room.
Yes, it is a challenge to keep a 1-year-old in a floor bed initially, but once you established the bedtime routine, they are more than happy to sleep in their bed for a complete guide on how to get baby to sleep on the Montessori floor bed here.
Can 2-year-Old Sleep in pack n play?
A pack n play or travel crib can be used for a 2-year-old to sleep when you are traveling or vising a grandma’s house for a weekend. Depending upon the weight limit set by the manufacturer, a pack ‘n’ play can be used for toddlers up to 30 pounds.
What kind of bed should a 2-year-old have?
A 2-year-old can sleep on a toddler bed, twin bed, or floor bed, depending on your choice. Some cribs can convert into a toddler bed with a conversion kit. If you have a crib mattress, you can also use it and make it into a floor bed.
Safe Crib Alternatives for smaller spaces – Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you decide on the best safe crib alternatives when you have a small room or smaller space.
The best choice for a smaller space is a multifunctional play yard. They come with a removable bassinet for your newborn to sleep and a diaper changing station. The compact design will make your smaller room very functional. Once your baby outgrows the play yard, you can go with either a floor bed or a toddler bed.
Regardless of what you decide to choose as crib alternatives, make sure you follow the safe sleep guideline set by AAP.
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