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I have this weird brown birthmark on the bottom of my right foot near my pinkie toe and my mother always said, “That means you’ll never stay still. You’ll travel everywhere.” (She’s full of interesting superstitions like that.) I’m not sure if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy or what but I’ve always had a love for travel. Before we had a child, my husband and I traveled all over Europe, did two road trips across different parts of the United States and even flew all the way around the world to visit my family in the Philippines.
I had this weird idea that I had to get all my traveling in before I became a mom. Because once you become a mom, you just become content sitting at home with the kids, right?
The travel bug didn’t go away when my son was born.
In fact, it only intensified. I found myself wanting to show him this huge, amazing world. I wanted to see it through his eyes. Show him the Grand Canyon in all its vastness and glory. See what happens when he feels the Pacific Ocean kiss at his feet or explore giant Redwoods older than our entire family put together. And beyond those big, giant trips, I love day trips. I love visiting family and close friends who scattered all over the country after college. My husband and I were known for the sleepover—at least once a month we’d road trip all over the Northeast to go visit friends in Massachusetts or New Jersey or Rhode Island and we’d spend a glorious long weekend hanging out and enjoying a new locale.
Now that we were traveling with a baby, we needed a travel crib that could keep up with us. But being new parents, we also needed something easy, light and super portable.
Gone were the days of just stuffing a few pairs of clothes in a bag and hopping in the car. Now we had to bring a baby and all the accessories that come with him including but not limited to: somewhere for him to sleep, everything he needed to eat, a playmat and a bouncer, some beloved toys, books, diapers, lightweight stroller etc. etc. It actually feels shocking the first time you pack your car with everything your child needs.
But anyway, back to the travel crib. I had very specific criteria: It had to be compact, easy to assemble and disassemble and it had to be light. It also had to be a safe sleeping environment that could hold him from the newborn stage on.
When I delved into doing my research, the whole parenting internet loudly came back with one recommendation: The BabyBjörn Travel Crib.
I wasn’t sure at first because it’s spendy (about $279 as of this writing) and a normal pack and play can be anywhere from $60-$120, but upon doing further research I was convinced. Here’s why.
The BabyBjörn travel crib is light. Super light. It weighs about 13lbs (standard pack and plays can weigh up to 25lbs) and comes with both the mattress and carrying case. The crib folds down into a compact rectangle, and the carrying case feels just as easy as carrying around a piece of small luggage. But even though it’s light, it’s completely sturdy. The base is solid and it held up super well over the many, many trips we took. (In fact, it still looked close to new by the time we ended up handing it down to a family member.)
Setting it up is super simple—it unfolds all in one shot in under 5 minutes, and then you finish off by placing the mattress inside. The mattress is comfortable and the crib itself has an airy mesh fabric that is both safe for baby and easy to clean if you get any spills or stains on it. The mesh is also great for when you’re using the crib for a play space instead of a sleeping space. It lets the baby look out at you while they’re playing but also keeps them (and any toys) safely contained inside.
I used mine all the way up until my son started to climb out of it at 3 years old, and I was super sad the day I realized we could no longer use it for him. We took it everywhere with us—trips to grandmas, every single holiday we spent that required an overnight trip, and even down to the Dominican Republic for my sister’s wedding. Don’t sleep on this—or actually, do. Because it’s so worth it.
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This article was originally published in October 2020. It has been updated.