Alternatives To Cribs

Many parents choose to put their baby in a crib as it’s one of the easiest ways to keep them in close proximity throughout the night while giving them space in their own bed. Furthermore, when the time comes for their baby to move into their own room, they can keep the familiarity of the crib.  Another reason cribs are popular is that they keep babies safe; when using a crib, you don’t have to worry about it falling apart and there is no danger of rolling over onto your baby.

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Having said that, cribs are certainly not the only option for babies. Some popular options include: moses baskets, bassinets, snuggle nests, and bedside co-sleepers. Each of these options comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, but if you’re looking to avoid the bulky size and high cost of a crib, you may want to try out one of them. In this article let’s look at what alternatives there are to cribs, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

What can you use instead of a crib?

There are many alternatives to the traditional crib. On one hand, you could choose something more portable such as a bassinet or a moses basket. However, there is also the option of co-sleeping, which evidently does not involve purchasing a new product (though it does need to be practised safely in order for it to be a good option). Here are 11 alternatives to the traditional crib for your consideration.

Moses basket

Moses baskets are small, portable baskets intended to keep newborns safe during the first few months of their lives. Many new parents opt for moses baskets as they are portable, affordable, and often trendy.

Badger Basket Wicker Moses Basket

Pros

  • To begin with, one significant advantage of moses baskets is that they are easy to transport from place to place as they are lightweight. This is extremely useful during the first few months of your child’s life as it means you can take them out with you without any added stress.
  • What’s more, if you decide to have another baby, you can easily store your moses basket away thanks to its small size.
  • These baskets are designed with your baby’s comfort in mind, providing them with a small, comfortable space that is reminiscent of the environment in the womb. This promotes healthy sleeping as your baby is likely to feel safe in their moses basket.
  • Finally, if you’re concerned about the cost, moses baskets are a great option for you as they are easily affordable,whereas you should expect to spend more when purchasing a traditional crib.

Cons

  • Though moses baskets tend to be affordable, they only last a few months, so they aren’t always cost effective. If you aren’t planning on having more children, this is certainly something to consider.
  • Moreover, budget-friendly moses baskets do not usually come with the bedding that you need, so you will often have to purchase additional sheets that will bump up the overall cost.
  • Another issue with moses baskets is that they can pose problems when it comes to transitioning your child into their own room. If your child has adapted to the confined space of the moses basket, they may struggle to sleep in a large, traditional cot.

Bassinet

Bassinets are similar to moses baskets in that they are fairly small and affordable. However, they are less lightweight and portable than moses baskets but they tend to be sturdier.

Ingenuity Foldaway Rocking Bassinet

Pros

  • Firstly, bassinets are great for storage as they often feature many pockets in which you can keep essential products. This is great for new parents as it means you have everything your baby needs within close reach every night.
  • Much like moses baskets, bassinets can also be transported more easily than a crib, so they are great for parents who travel often.
  • Finally, you can get your hands on a bassinet for a low price, particularly if you find a high-quality second hand product.

Cons

  • As bassinets are designed for newborns only, you will not get any use out of them after your baby turns 3-4 months old. Not only is this a financial concern, but it also poses environmental problems as you may not want to purchase items that will only be of use temporarily.
  • What’s more, you have to carefully consider where to place your bassinet in the room so that it doesn’t take up too much space, which isn’t something you have to do with other alternatives such as bedside co-sleeping.

Snuggle Nest

Snuggle nests are small mattresses with padded sides that are sold by many brands. They are intended to mimic the intimate space that babies occupy in the womb, making for a comfortable sleeping experience for newborns. However, they pose numerous safety concerns.

HONGTEYA Baby Lounger Baby Nest 

Pros

  • The main advantage of snuggle nests is that they are comfortable for babies as they provide a warm, confined environment in which they can sleep soundly.
  • Moreover, many brands sell stylish sleep nests, so there is plenty of choice available.

Cons

Pack n’play

It may seem like an unusual choice for a sleeping environment, but babies can sleep well in pack n’plays, provided that parents follow the recommended safety guidelines.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Care Suite Playard

Pros

  • If you’ve already purchased a pack n’play to keep your child occupied for brief periods during the day, this seems like an obvious option as it will not require you to spend as much money on other baby sleeping products/furniture.
  • Pack n’plays are also travel-friendly as they can be folded up and carried very easily, meaning you don’t have to worry about buying a separate product for travelling with your baby.
  • Finally, pack n’plays are great for small houses as they are much smaller than a traditional crib, so they don’t take up unnecessary room.

Cons

  • If your baby is used to playing in their pack n’play during the day, it may be difficult for them to adapt to sleeping in this same setting, so pack n’plays can pose problems when it comes to separating your child’s play time from sleep time.
  • Another concern is safety; if you usually supervise your child while they play in their pack n’play, you may have already filled it with toys and blankets. However, it is vital that you remove these before allowing your child to sleep in the pack n’play, otherwise you are putting them at risk of suffocation.

Travel crib

Despite what you may think, it is perfectly acceptable to use a travel crib as your everyday crib. If they are approved for travel, there is no reason you cannot put your baby in a travel crib each night. 

Lotus Travel Crib

Pros

  • A major advantage of travel cribs is that, much like pack n’plays, new parents often already own them, so no new purchases are necessary.
  • On that note, if your baby is used to using a travel crib when you go away, they will most likely feel comfortable in it when you are at home.
  • Finally, many parents put their babies in travel cribs for playtime while they work through their to-do list, so if you buy a travel crib, it can double up as entertainment for your baby.

Cons

  • One disadvantage of using a travel crib as a permanent bed is that it may be subject to more wear and tear than other types of beds, meaning it will deteriorate in quality faster. For example, if you are using a travel crib for play, sleep, and travel, it is likely to get damaged and therefore be unsafe for your baby to sleep in.

Mini crib

As the name would suggest, a mini crib is simply a smaller version of the traditional crib many parents purchase for their babies. While most regular cribs are around 28 inches wide and 52 inches long, mini cribs measure at around 24 inches wide and 38 inches long.

Delta Children Emery Convertible Mini Crib

Pros

  • Just like regular cribs, mini cribs are widely available, so you can easily find a reputable brand that sells one.
  • What’s more, there will always be an affordable option if you aren’t in the position to splash out on your baby’s bed.
  • Mini cribs are also great for saving space, particularly if you have multiple babies.

Cons

  • An obvious disadvantage of mini cribs is that they are only handy when your baby is a newborn, so as they get older, it will be necessary to purchase a larger crib or another type of bed. Overall, this means mini cribs can end up being cost ineffective.

Is a mini crib big enough for a toddler?

Mini cribs are suitable for the average baby who is 2 years old or younger, but beyond this age, toddlers will need a larger bed.

My 18 month old son currently uses a mini crib. He loves it and generally sleeps well through the night. Just need him to wake up a little later in the morning!

Bedside co-sleeper

Bedside co-sleepers are small beds that attach onto your regular bed, allowing your baby to co-sleep with you while keeping their own space.

Dream on Me Skylar Bassinet and Bedside Sleeper

Pros

  • Bedside co-sleepers are a great option for parents who love the idea of providing comfort to their child throughout the night in a safe way.
  • As they attach to your bed, you have easy access to your child at night, potentially benefiting your sleeping pattern.
  • What’s more, you may find that you bond well with your baby using this method as you are physically close to them all night.

Cons

  • One disadvantage of bedside co-sleepers is that they can get your baby used to sleeping beside you, which can pose problems when they have to sleep in their own room. Co-sleepers are also a problem when your baby becomes more mobile, as this is bound to significantly impact your quality of sleep.

Floor bed

The floor bed is a concept that stems from Montessori parenting, and it involves placing a bare mattress on the floor, sometimes with a wooden structure. The idea is that babies will have everything they need with them on the floor, which encourages them to learn to not always rely on their parents.

Montessori Toddler Flood Bed

Pros

  • Floor beds are an excellent way to promote independence for babies, as you are not always there to pass them the things they need and therefore they will learn to do it for themselves.
  • They are also incredibly low-maintenance as they do not involve purchasing an expensive bed or sleeping beside your child every night.

Cons

  • Some babies will not feel comfortable on a bare mattress on the floor, particularly as they will not be able to be comforted by you in the same way that they would if they co-slept.
  • What’s more, there is a chance that your baby will fall off the mattress, which could lead to injuries.

Cardboard box

Using a cardboard box as a crib is a popular practise in Finland, but it is generally not advised as it is deemed unsafe for babies.

Pros

  • The cardboard box method is one of the cheapest ways to get your baby to sleep through the night, so it’s extremely low-maintenance for parents.
  • Cardboard boxes are also easily portable, so they are a versatile option for your baby.

Cons

  • When a baby is sleeping in a cardboard box, they are less visible to their parent than they would be in a crib, and this can affect the safety of the child while they are sleeping. For example, if the baby isn’t breathing as they should be due to the cardboard material, the parent will perhaps not notice as quickly as they should.

Hammock

Hammocks are sometimes used as crib alternatives given that they provide a comfortable environment for babies to soothe themselves in.

Pros

  • Babies love being rocked back and forth due to the regular movement they experience in the womb, so many babies sleep well in hammocks.
  • Parents may also purchase a hammock for their baby if they want a low-cost option.

Cons

  • There are concerns surrounding the safety of babies in hammocks; newborn babies may roll over on the hammock and sleep on their face, which puts them at risk of suffocating.

Co-sleeping

Co-sleeping involves sleeping beside your baby in your regular bed.

Pros

  • One huge benefit of co-sleeping is that parents can easily reach for their babies throughout the night, which comes in handy when they want to check on them or breastfeed them. This may improve the parent’s quality of the sleep as well as the child’s.
  • Furthermore, co-sleeping helps the parents and baby to bond throughout the night.

Cons

  • Sometimes, co-sleeping can be dangerous for your baby as there is the chance that they will fall out of the bed, or that you will roll over onto them. This is why it is not recommended for parents to co-sleep with newborn babies. Older babies, who have increased mobility, can co-sleep much more safely.
alternatives to cribs

Crib alternatives for a 6 month old

From the list above, the best crib alternatives for 6 month old babies are: moses baskets, bassinets, cradles, bedside co-sleepers, pack n’plays, travel cribs, and mini cribs. Each of these options is safe for young babies and provides a comfortable, warm environment in which they can sleep soundly.

Crib alternatives for toddlers

Toddlers can sleep in mini cribs and floor beds as long as they are large enough for them to comfortably sleep. Furthermore, toddlers can safely co-sleep with their parents.

Crib alternatives for small spaces

If you don’t have much space available, some great crib alternatives are: mini cribs, bassinets, moses baskets, travel cribs, and bedside co-sleepers. These alternatives are small and lightweight as opposed to traditional cribs which tend to be fairly large and bulky.

Want some other options? Check out this article on the pros and cons of round cribs.

FAQs

Did babies really sleep in drawers?

Yes, in the past, babies did sometimes sleep in drawers. This was more common among young families who could neither afford, nor fit, a crib in their home.

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