Updated: May 5
Imagine a baby crib or portable travel bed that folds to the size of a yoga mat, that offers your baby safety and protection from rolling off in the middle of the night, or crawling out into the big bad dangerous living room? You'd think such creature comforts came with a hefty price tag, but I discovered three affordable options that changed the way I traveled with my kid from birth until she was over two years old. These game changers drastically changed the way we traveled, and they will change the way you travel too.
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The Infant Stage: The Problem We Needed to Solve
Mom's biggest concerns at this age are the health, well-being and safety of their child when they can't have an eye on them. As much as we would like, as a mother you simply cannot sit eyes-glued to your kid all day.
You do need to sleep, and shower, and poop. Of course those luxuries rarely ever go un-interrupted by said child, but you can certainly dream.
That considered, you also need to know that when you step away your kid is generally protected. This requires a bed that offers:
low to the ground
can't climb out
easy access to reach for your child
no risk of choking or suffocation
But as a traveler, we have other concerns. You don't want to lug a 50 lb crib everywhere you go. You don't want to deal with 10 minutes of set up or a million little pieces. If you wanted to do that, you'd be going tent camping.
And dad isn't always around, so these things would need to be easily handled by fragile old mom who can barely lift the laundry these days.
I also knew that if we were going to be flying, we needed something we could carry on because I hate waiting on bags at the baggage claim. A tall order for all things.
So we needed a solution that provided us:
carry on size
easy set up
safe for baby
Enter, the creme de la creme of all portable baby cribs - the Guava Lotus Travel Crib.
The Winning Portable Travel Bed for Babies: The Guava Lotus Travel Crib
This carry-on sized crib folds in to a lightweight backpack that even the smallest framed of mothers can lug around. This bad boy comes chock full of features and uses and drastically changed the way we traveled.
Where Can I Use The Guava Crib?
Use it at the beach, the camper, grandma's house or in your hotel room. We loved this cribs' versatility and small footprint until our daughter turned about 2 years old.
This counts as a carry on bag and never needs to be checked at the airport.
If you are picky about hotel cribs, the Guava crib offers peace of mind since you are bringing your own bedding with it.
Use it as a play pen or corral when indoors, outdoors, napping at grandma's - wherever.
Major perks of the Guava Crib
Folds in seconds
No tricky buttons to maneuver
Top or side access to baby
Cushioned pad base is set at floor level
Pad can be wiped clean!
Backpack is small and comfortable
Custom fitted sheets fold in to the backpack and don't need to be removed for travel
Things that we didn't like about the Guava Crib
Custom-fitted sheets cost extra but are worth the spend, they clip in so there's no slipping or suffocating during the night
We have recommended this crib to everyone we know having a baby. Use it as your primary or just for traveling. You won't regret it!
The Toddler Stage: The Problem We Needed To Solve
By the time your kid is standing up in their crib, Mom's worries change from "will they roll over onto their stomach and get SIDS!?" to "crap, are they going to crawl out of bed at night again?".
Your growing toddler is probably on the move and it's time to consider that maybe a crib is too small now. At this point the Guava Crib was still a solid choice for many of the original concerns, but your child is likely outgrowing it length wise, and you as a parent are probably outgrowing the ache of bending over to unzip them or pull them out of it. Time for a new solution.
This time we were worried about bonking her head at night. Still adjusting to the every now and then big girl bed like on our camper, at a hotel or on a couch, she'd fall from the bed occasionally. The first time it happened I was so mad at my husband. Of course it was "all his fault!!" but when it happened again on my watch, I realized that kids fall out of bed a lot at this transition stage. We needed something to help us when we traveled.
We also had purchased a camper and an apartment in Spain, so we were moving around a lot. How could we achieve the greatness of the Guava Crib in something more age appropriate? We still needed:
Low to the ground
Tucks away small (storage space on campers and shoe box apartments require it!)
Carry on sized
Safe for little fingers
Was the solution an air mattress or blow up bed perhaps? Too much hassle, I thought.
What about some kind of foam pad like they use in daycares for cartwheels and gymnastics? Too clunky.
I dreamed up every possible mat, futon and dog bed out there just trying to sum up an idea of the best portable baby bed option for my growing little girl. And then, I found it!
The Winning Portable Toddler Bed: Regalo My Cot
When our daughter started becoming interested in a "big girl bed", we tested the waters with this amazing little cot. A little pricier than what you may see at your local daycare, this cot offers comfort and valuable additions that your standard floor pad cots don't offer.
With a low to the ground profile, rest easy knowing your growing toddler won't have far to go if they roll off in the middle of the night.
Accommodating about 75 pounds, your kid has a long way to grow with it.
All folded up, it takes up about as much space as a yoga mat.
Where Can I Use the Regalo Cot?
We have used the Regalo cot on our camper, in her bedroom while we worked on transitioning her from crib to 'big girl bed', and in our one-bedroom apartment in Spain. We fold it away during the day time and take it out at night.
So much easier than setting up our futon couch in the living room every day!
Major perks of the Regalo cot
Folds in 1 millisecond
Accepts any kind of bedding
Low to-the-ground profile
Small footprint - takes up no room in a larger duffel bag or travel bag
Top sheet is washable
Accommodates growing kids
There is a fitted 'sheet' that covers the whole bed, for added comfort and a washable clean up strategy.
Personally, I prefer to use the Urban Infant Nap Mat on top for its durability and easy laundering, but any sheet, blanket or nap mat will do.
The Urban Infant Nap Mat tops out the price scale compared to its competing Baby Shark or Frozen themed daycare mats, but I fell for the cute quilting and girly poppy pattern. It has a removable pillow, built in 'teddy bear pocket', corner straps to ensure your mat doesn't move, and really cozy blanketing for my kiddo. It rolls up neatly into a yoga mat sized roll as well.
Things that we didn't like
If we are flying it is a little bulky for standard carry-on, but we hide it in our car seat carry bag, which can be checked for free at check-in, or gate checked.
I love these products so much that I almost bought one of these for each of our three homes - Florida, Spain and the camper. Instead, we traveled with the cot until it found its forever home in Spain. (2 years later - still regretting not buying three of these!)
The nap mat is used daily at daycare and continues to impress. It washes well in the laundry and has never had a tear or stain.
The car seat bag is one of those items that stops every father at the airport, dying to know where we got it. Large and in charge, that bad boy looks heavy but is so light-weight that I prefer to carry it over our other baggage!
The Ultimate Winner
At risk of sounding cheesy, the ultimate winner? It's you, mom and dad. These portable baby beds seriously changed the way we travel. From lugging giant, heavy, overbearing gear to barely lifting a finger, these easy to set up, easy to clean, safe, lightweight and affordable travel beds are just the ticket you need to ensure your child is getting the best possible nights sleep.
You can thank me later!