Being a dad myself, I often face questions from parents-to-be regarding all the necessary shopping to be done before the baby’s arrival. One of the most recurring questions I get is related to the baby’s nursery – Is buying a crib essential?
I would say no. It is a matter of choice and some other considerations such as available space and expenditure. I feel that all you need to focus on is the safety and comfort of the baby, which is by no way dependent on only a crib!
Long story short, you can easily choose to ditch the crib and go for a baby crib alternative instead.
For parents looking for crib alternatives, I have listed a few attractive options that are cheaper yet functional as a baby bed. Although not all of them have been personally tried and tested by me (or rather, my kids), many parents have given positive reviews. Check them out below!
10 Crib Alternatives
1. Floor Beds
One of the most straightforward and most affordable crib alternatives, a floor bed, is an excellent idea if you don’t want to confine your little one within a small space. Making a bed for your baby cannot be simpler than this – take a mattress, put it on the floor, and your baby has a sleeping space of their own!
Usually, every household does have an extra mattress, so you won’t even need to spend anything on it. If you want to buy a new one for your baby, we suggest you get soft but firm and not too thick. A thinner mattress is preferred because the closer the bed is to the floor level, the lesser chances are of your baby getting hurt if they roll over while sleeping.
But there are some considerations that you need to follow in this case.
Firstly, you need to ensure that the room is safe for your baby, as nothing will stop them from exploring the stuff in the room. So we suggest that you take extreme precautions in ensuring that the room is free from any dangerous things.
Also, covering the floor with a soft carpet or rug is recommended, as your little one may roll off the bed while asleep and may get hurt. A carpet or rug will also keep your baby warmer in winters, as they won’t be in contact with the cold floor.
- It is one of the cheapest options as all you need is a mattress.
- You can easily shift the floor bed from one room to another at your convenience.
- Unlike other crib alternatives, your baby won’t grow out of it.
- You need to ensure that the room is absolutely baby-proofed.
- There are chances of the baby rolling off the bed.
- The floor needs to be clean at all times.
Bassinets are the perfect crib substitute for your baby, especially for the initial few months. These tend to be much smaller than cribs, making them suitable for smaller spaces.
A bassinet is a cute and compact baby bed designed for newborns. It provides them with a safe and cozy space. They have sturdy bases protected with mesh sides to prevent your baby from falling out. The mesh sides also add visibility so that you can keep a watch over your little one easily.
Bassinets are available in various designs to cater to all your requirements. Some have a rocking feature that can soothe and lull your baby to sleep effortlessly. Some even have shelves at the bottom for keeping a few things handy.
The only disadvantage of a bassinet is that your baby outgrows it relatively soon. You know it’s the time to switch when your baby learns to roll over or push up, as then there’s a danger of them trying to climb over the sleeping area. Since a bassinet is high above the ground, it can result in a nasty fall! Generally, you can only use a bassinet for a maximum period of around 4 to 6 months.
- Much cheaper than a crib.
- Safe and portable.
- It does not need to be assembled.
- It is not a long-lasting alternative, as your child will soon outgrow it.
3. Bedside Co-Sleepers
Want to keep your child close while they sleep but apprehensive about sharing your bed with them? Worry not. Bedside co-sleepers are there to your rescue! These are a great option if you are looking for crib and bassinet alternatives for your little one.
A bedside co-sleeper is a modified version of a bassinet that you can attach to your bed. One side of the co-sleeper is lower than the others, and this can be collapsed so that you have full access to your baby without leaving the comfort of your bed.
You can manually adjust the height of these baby beds to match the height of your bed. With that, you can experience closeness with your baby with peace of mind. Bedside co-sleepers are a boon for new mothers who have difficulty bending down to pick up their babies.
One downside of a co-sleeper is that it becomes unusable as your baby grows, lasting for only six months on average. Nevertheless, parents prefer it for safety and ease of reaching out to their baby, even in the middle of the night.
- It is a great option for breastfeeding mothers as they won’t have to get out of their bed to feed their baby during the night.
- It is adjustable with the level of your bed so you can keep an eye on your child.
- This isn’t a long lasting-alternative as your kid would outgrow it in a few months.
- Bedside co-sleepers are often quite expensive.
4. Travel Cribs
If you are looking for a crib alternative that would last you at least a few years, a travel crib is an option worth checking out. These are lighter and less expensive than cribs. They provide a safe sleeping environment for your child.
The design is quite simple. It consists of a soft pad at the bottom (instead of a mattress) and tall sides to prevent your baby from slipping out while you are not looking!
These are collapsible – you can easily fold them and pack them in your suitcase while traveling. Some even come with a traveling bag that makes taking them with you as easy as ever! Also, it doesn’t take up much space when folded, so you can shove it under the bed until it’s time for your little one to take a nap.
It scores high on safety as its sides are high up to prevent your baby from climbing over if they wake up suddenly. Therefore you rest assured as you do your work while your baby sleeps.
A travel crib is also suitable for older babies, as it provides them the space to stand up and even move around a bit within the crib. That will be an excellent choice if your baby has trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places, as you can pack up their bed and carry it with you. Literally!
- These are ideal for parents who love traveling as you can carry your baby’s bed with you wherever you go.
- They are lightweight and portable, so you can move them wherever you want.
- Most of them sit very low, so you might find it annoying to put them in and out, especially if you suffer from back issues.
- Although they are less expensive than cribs, you have to spend a sizable amount to get your hands on a good travel crib.
5. Moses Baskets
Moses baskets are among the best crib alternatives for newborns. The baskets look like bassinets without the legs and provide a comfortable and cozy area for your baby. They are woven baskets layered with soft bedding to act like a baby bed. Most come with carrying handles on both sides, making it easier to move around to ensure that your baby stays within your sight.
You can also keep it on your bed while you sleep so that you don’t have to get out of bed to comfort or feed your baby at night. They can help you keep close contact with your child without any safety hazards.
On the downside, babies outgrow it rather quickly. Once they learn to stand (with support or otherwise), it is no longer safe as they can easily get out of the basket. Make sure that you don’t leave them unattended for long to avoid any mishaps.
- It is small and lightweight and doesn’t take up too much space in the room.
- You can easily carry it around the house to keep your baby under your watchful eyes.
- Is not very expensive.
- It can also be used for storage purposes when your baby grows up.
- These are meant for newborns, so your baby will quickly outgrow them.
- The Moses baskets sit quite low, so it can be taxing to put your baby in and take them out multiple times.
6. Baby Hammocks
Most parents would agree that there is nothing better than a gentle rocking movement for putting your child to sleep. Baby hammocks promise you just that. These crib substitutes are ideal for babies who still haven’t learned to roll over.
Sleeping in a hammock ensures a deeper sleep for several hours. However, we don’t recommend it for long durations. Also, you need to ensure that your baby is sleeping in the correct position to avoid any health complications.
While any considerable research does not back the suitability of using hammocks as baby beds, lots of parents worldwide continue to use them for ensuring a good night’s sleep for their young ones. We recommend keeping an eye on your baby while they are sleeping in a hammock to prevent accidents.
- Babies find the rocking motion soothing.
- Usually lasts longer than other alternatives.
- Experts are hesitant about the safety level of using baby hammocks.
- It can be expensive.
- There may be a chance of your baby falling off if left unsupervised.
7. Mini Cribs
Mini cribs are, as can be ascertained by their name, a smaller version of a regular crib. These are a great option if you want to save up some space while getting a nice baby bed for your newborn.
Several mini cribs are foldable, so you don’t require much effort to put them away while not in use. They can be reassembled in minutes when needed, making them much more convenient than a regular crib.
Its design is similar to a crib, with a sleeping area flanked by tall sides to prevent your little one from getting out. But it is not as suitable for toddlers, as these little bundles of energy can easily climb over the barrier of the mini-crib.
The crib alternative is portable, with many models having wheels at the bottom for ease of movement. The wheels are ideal if you live in a small apartment or are low on space but want a safe sleeping space for your baby.
- Ideal for small spaces.
- These are lightweight and easily portable.
- Your baby will grow out of it sooner than you expect.
- Getting a right-sized mattress for a mini crib may be a bit difficult due to their varying sizes.
8. Pack & Plays
Pack & plays, also known as Playards, closely resemble travel cribs but have a few features that set them apart from the latter. Like travel cribs, they are easily portable and lightweight but are more oriented towards providing a safe place for sleeping or playing for your baby.
It is a small enclosure framed by soft mesh on all sides. The mesh makes it breathable while also allowing an unobstructed view. Your child can observe you from their pack and play, and you can check on them quickly too!
Most pack & plays come with an attached mattress, but you do have the option of adding one of your choices if you so desire.
Pack and plays are more functional than travel cribs. You will find several models with built-in bassinets, extra storage spaces, changing tables, etc. They are large, which is enough to accommodate two toddlers for playing together. We do not recommend sharing beds due to safety concerns.
- They are more affordable than regular cribs.
- Easy to disassemble and store.
- Often come with features like changing tables or bassinets that add to the convenience.
- It’s not as light as travel cribs, so new mothers may find it difficult to move it from one room to another.
- These take up a good amount of space – many are almost as large as a regular crib.
- Similar to travel cribs, they sit quite low, which may cause difficulties for parents.
9. Baby Boxes
A baby box is nothing but a simple cardboard box modified to serve as a bed for your baby. It is an ideal option if you are running low on your budget but still want to create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for your baby.
No; we are not joking here! A cardboard box can serve as a pretty practical and cheap alternative to cribs for your baby. The idea behind this dates back to the 1930s in Finland. They provided boxes with baby essentials to low-income pregnant women, which doubled up as cribs for newborns.
The tradition has come a long way and seeing that Finland has the lowest infant mortality rate among all countries of the world, it’s worth giving a try!
Commercial baby boxes are made of cardboard and come with a mattress and sheet fitted on them. It is widely known to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in newborns. It is non-toxic and eco-friendly. Thus, posing no immediate threat to your baby’s health.
- This is the cheapest crib substitute you can get, as you only need a cardboard box and a right-sized mattress.
- It provides a safe sleeping environment and prevents SIDS.
- You can utilize the box for storage when your baby grows out of it.
- It may not be the most comfortable sleeping alternative for your baby.
10. Bed Sharing
Last but not least, you can also opt to share your bed with your newborn. It is one of the best crib alternatives due to the several advantages that you get.
Firstly, you don’t need to get up multiple times to check on your baby. You can do this instantly anytime you want. Secondly, you don’t need to move across the room to feed or calm down your crying baby in the middle of the night. Lastly, you have the peace of mind that your baby is near you.
But you need to follow some precautions to ensure that it is safe for your baby. Ensure that no pillows or blankets are lying near your baby. There might be at risk of suffocation by such items. Also, if you tend to roll over or move too much during sleep, it’s best to avoid sharing your bed with a newborn.
- You are free from constantly worrying about your child, as you can check them sleeping beside you.
- You stay close to your child, which helps develop parent-child bonding
- You don’t need to leave your bed to feed them at night.
- You need to have a big enough bed.
- You need to take precautions to ensure their safety.
As a new parent, you have to make choices for your baby. Thus, when it comes to crib alternatives, you should check on safety and comfort. There are many great options available to new parents. They all take into consideration each stage of the baby’s growth.
The choice is unique to each parent. Hence, choose what suits your baby needs. You should also check your family circumstances. It is your baby! You don’t have to justify anything to anyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do Babies Really Need A Crib?
Contrary to what most parents think, a crib is not an absolute necessity for your baby. Instead, it is more of a disadvantage due to its complicated assembling and disassembling processes. It also occupies a large amount of space. They are pretty expensive too.
Since all you need to do is ensure that your little one has a safe and comfortable sleeping space suitable for their age, you can opt for crib alternatives. You can choose one that matches your requirement and budget from many substitutes for cribs such as bedside co-sleepers, bassinets, or baby boxes.
2. Can I Use A Bassinet Instead Of A Crib?
While both cribs and bassinets are safe enough for newborns, the latter has some features that make it more suitable as a baby bed. That is especially so if you are looking for a good quality item at a low cost.
Firstly, a bassinet occupies much less space than a crib, which tends to be larger and bulkier. This also makes cribs more challenging to move from one place to another. Bassinets, on the other hand, are easily portable.
Moreover, bassinets are more affordable and have lower sides in comparison to cribs. Thus it is easier for parents to reach out to their newborns.
Unlike cribs that can last for years in some cases, bassinets do not last for more than a few months. That is because as your child grows, they become too big to fit comfortably in the bassinet.
Therefore, you can use a bassinet instead of a crib for the initial months of your newborn. You will need to move them to a bigger baby bed as they grow out of it.
3. What Is The Safest Thing For A Baby To Sleep In?
Newborn babies are at certain health risks while they are asleep. Ensuring that they sleep in a safe and well-protected environment can decrease the chances of SIDS and other risks.
A bassinet, bedside co-sleeper, as well as a crib, are among the safest things as a baby bed. This ensures that you can keep an eye on them and their movements easily. At the same time, you should ensure that they lie on a flat and firm surface. There should be no pillows, blankets, toys, or other stuff near them. Such objects can cause suffocation to babies.
4. Should I Buy A Crib Or Pack & Play?
Both cribs and pack & play are among the safe sleeping options for babies. While choosing between the two, you need to consider your requirements, as well as budget.
Pack and plays are versatile and more affordable than cribs and are more portable than the latter. On the other hand, a crib is heavy and expensive but usually lasts much longer than a pack and play. Make sure you consider these factors before making your choice.