Crib vs Mini Crib (Differences explained plus pros & cons)

Putting together a new nursery before baby arrives?

There are lots of decisions to make from:

  • Color scheme
  • Theme
  • Layout
  • Furniture
  • And, of course, the crib!

If your nursery is small, you have twins, or you’re putting the crib in your older child’s room, you might consider a mini crib to save a little space.

What is the difference between a crib vs a mini crib?

The main difference between a standard crib and a mini crib is the size. A standard crib must be (by law):

  • 28 inches wide inches by 52 3/8 inches long (interior dimensions)
  • The top of the crib rail, measured from the mattress, must be 20 inches high
  • And the bottom of the crib mattress support must be 6 inches or so off the ground

With mini cribs, many if not all of these measurements are negotiable and will vary depending on the model and manufacturer.

Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at this comparison.


What is a mini crib?

A mini crib is any crib that doesn’t fit the enforced measurements of a standard crib.

Not surprisingly, they are often a little to a lot smaller!

Mini cribs are also sometimes called portable cribs.

For this reason, it’s very common to see mini cribs that have wheels on the bottom so you can easily move them around a room or into a different part of your house.

The main uses of a mini crib are:

  • For small nurseries
  • If you’re on a budget
  • Fitting two cribs for twins into one room
  • Fitting a crib into an older child’s bedroom
  • Having a place for baby to sleep at a grandparent’s house

The bottom line is that mini cribs, quite simply, are smaller versions of full-sized cribs.

They may have wheels to move around easily, but for the most part, they resemble and behave exactly the same way as standard cribs.

(Sometimes, they can even convert to toddler beds or twin sized beds as your child grows, just like regular cribs.)

The key difference is size, and also the way sizes are standardized between mini and full-sized cribs.

A great example of mini cribs at their best is the DaVinci Emily 2-in-1 mini crib (Amazon link).

It has the great looks and stability of a full-sized crib, and converts to a twin bed eventually with a separate kit, but is way more friendly in tight spaces and for tight budgets!


What is the size of a mini crib vs a standard crib?

So we know that mini cribs are smaller. That’s a no-brainer!

But what exactly is the difference in size?

  • Usually, mini cribs are between 36 and 43 inches long. Standard cribs have to be about 53 inches long.
  • Mini cribs can be about the same width as standard cribs (28 inches), or they can be a tad narrower (around 24 inches).

The key thing to remember is that mini crib sizes aren’t standardized the way full-sized cribs are.

Full-sized cribs MUST adhere to certain size regulations, usually within about half an inch.

Mini cribs can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

That’s great news if you have a very specific need in your nursery due to:

  • Its small size
  • A weird layout
  • The other furniture in the room

Mini crib mattresses can also vary in size when compared to standard cribs.

Standard cribs must use a mattress with a 6-inch depth.

Mini crib mattresses, on the other hand, can be anywhere from 1 to 6 inches thick.

All the customization and choice you have with a mini crib can be really convenient! But remember that standard crib sheets and bedding you buy separately may not fit.

You’ll have to pay close attention to your specific crib’s dimensions and buy accordingly, often directly from the manufacturer.


Are there other differences between cribs and mini cribs?

Photo by Zach Chisolm/Flickr

Size is the big one, but there are some other minor differences between small, portable cribs and full-sized cribs you might want to be aware of.

Wheels

I mentioned this above, but it’s quite common to see mini cribs with wheels on the bottom for easy transport or moving between rooms.

Some full-sized cribs have wheels, but it’s a lot less common. If this feature is important to you, you’ll have better luck finding it on non-standard cribs.

Wheels can be really convenient when you need to move the crib around, but they may have some drawbacks too.

First, they don’t look great. If the aesthetics of your nursery matter to you, wheels can be kind of ugly.

Second, wheels definitely give the crib a little less stability and a little more wobble. The wheels should lock in place for safety, but wheels don’t make for an ideal foundation.

Crib sheets and bedding

Remember that due to the varying sizes of mini cribs, it can be a little bit harder to find sheets and other bedding for them.

Standard cribs should all pretty much use the same sheets. So if someone buys you bedding as a gift, it won’t really matter which crib you have. You’ll already know that it should fit.

Not so with mini cribs!

You’ll have to buy sheets and bedding that are specifically tailored to the size of your crib and the thickness of your crib mattress.

(That’s another thing. You won’t be able to use a standard crib mattress in your mini crib.)

This isn’t a huge deal, but it does limit you in terms of finding designs and colors that you like.

Weight

Since mini cribs are significantly smaller than standard cribs, they’ll often weigh a lot less.

This can be really helpful if you’ll be setting up the crib and moving it around by yourself.

Assembly should also be a little bit easier to do solo since the parts will be smaller and less bulky.


Pros and cons of mini cribs

So there’s a lot about these mini cribs that seems appealing, right?

Heck, why wouldn’t everyone buy a mini crib instead of a full-sized?!

Well, they make sense for certain people, families, and situations, but less so for others

Here are my top pros and cons of using mini cribs, plus when I think it makes the most sense to buy one.


Pros

  • Less expensive: You’ll definitely pay a little less for a mini crib than a standard crib.
  • Smaller! This is the obvious one. They take up less room which is super convenient.
  • More portable: A lot of mini cribs have wheels, which is great for moving from room-to-room or sliding the crib out of the way to temporarily create more space.
  • Easier to carry and assemble: Because they’re smaller, assembling a mini crib is a much easier one-person job than a full-sized or standard crib would be.

Cons

  • Non-standard mattress size is a headache: You might really struggle to find sheets and bedding that you love due to the varying and sometimes odd sizes of crib mattresses
  • Less sturdy and durable: If the crib has wheels, you’ll find it probably just a little less sturdy than its full-sized counterparts. Mini cribs also tend to be less heavy duty and have slightly lower quality builds overall.
  • Babies outgrow them quickly: If you can find a mini crib that converts into a toddler and/or twin bed, more power to you! But unlike standard cribs, many mini cribs don’t have this feature. Combine this with their smaller size and you’ll find babies are ready for something bigger rather quickly.
  • Worse value: Mini cribs may be cheaper, but they’re not THAT much cheaper. It’s often only a little bit more to spring for a full-sized crib that’s better built and will last longer.

When to use a mini crib

I think it makes the most sense to go with a mini crib vs a standard crib when:

  • Your space is severely limited
  • The crib isn’t a full-time sleeping space (keep it as grandma’s, for example)
  • You need to fit two cribs in the same room for twins
  • Your budget is really strapped and saving every penny helps
  • You want the option of rolling the crib out of the way when not in use

Wrapping Up

That about covers it!

The biggest difference is that standard cribs are about 58 inches long and 28 inches wide, give or take around half an inch.

Mini cribs can really be almost any size less than that.

They’re a great option for saving space, but ultimately they’re less versatile, don’t last as long, and can be a headache to find good bedding for!

But if you’re looking for a really great-looking solid all-around mini crib, I don’t think you can do much better than the DaVinci Emily mini crib (Amazon link). It’s gorgeous and will last you a long time when it converts into a twin bed.

I hope this helps, parents, and good luck with your search!

(You might also be interested in reading about: 

Leave a Comment