Mini-Crib vs. Cradle: What Are the Differences, Pros, and Cons?

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Mini crib vs cradle explained

Congratulations! You have a new baby on the way!

This is an exciting time, and it’s also a time for a lot of planning and decisions, like:

  • What should be the theme of the nursery?
  • Should we use cloth or disposable diapers?
  • What car seat should I use?
  • Where will the baby sleep?
  • And, what will he sleep in?!

Today, there seem to be so many options of where your new baby can sleep.

If you plan to have your baby sleep in your room at first, have a small nursery, or your new baby will be sharing his room with a sibling, then you may have already considered some options for small spaces, like the cradle and the mini-crib.

In this article, I want to break down the differences between a mini-crib vs. cradle and help you decide which one is right for you; and it might be both! So…what is the difference between a mini-crib vs. cradle?

The main difference between a mini-crib and cradle is that a mini-crib is a smaller version of a full-size crib and does not rock, where a cradle is similar to a bassinet (ideal for a newborn to sleep next to your bed) but can rock from side to side. 

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

(And here’s a list with pictures of all the other stuff you’ll need for a newborn!)


Mini-cribs Explained

The DaVinci Emily mini crib (click to see on Amazon)

A mini-crib is simply any crib that does not meet the size requirements of a regular crib.

Of course, that means that they are usually much smaller than a regular crib, and therefore also weigh less.

Mini-cribs are also sometimes called portable cribs, and can often be on wheels so that they can be easily moved from room to room — though you likely won’t want to truck them up and down the stairs!

The main uses of a mini crib are:

  • For small nurseries or other small spaces
  • If you’re working with a small budget
  • Fitting two cribs into one room (for example, for twins)
  • A good choice for fitting a crib into another child’s room
  • A dedicated place for your baby to sleep when at the grandparent’s house

Basically, mini-cribs are usually about 36 to 43” long, making them smaller versions of a regular crib.

Aside from the fact they are smaller, and some of them have wheels for easy mobility, they are used in exactly the same way as a standard crib.

(In fact, some mini-cribs are even convertible, meaning they can be turned into a toddler or twin-size bed, although models with this feature can be hard to find)


Pros and cons of mini cribs

Pros

  • Less expensive: Mini-cribs usually cost much less than a standard crib.
  • Good for small spaces: If you are lacking in space, this is a great option for you!
  • Portable: Quite a few mini-cribs have wheels, so they are easier to maneuver or move out of the way if need be.
  • Easier assembly: Due to their small size, mini-cribs are usually easier to assemble; great news if you have to put it together solo. Parents of the world rejoice!

Cons

  • Limited bedding options: Mattresses for mini-cribs have unique and varying sizes, ranging from 1 to 6” thick. This can make it difficult (and downright frustrating) to find sheets and bedding that you like.
  • Less sturdy: Although wheels add to portability, they can cause a decrease in sturdiness, tending to give mini-cribs a bit of a wobble.
  • Less value: Unless you can find a mini-crib that converts to a toddler or twin bed, keep in mind that its smaller size means your child will outgrow it more quickly than a regular crib. Plus, due to its cheaper price tag, you may also find that mini-cribs are not built with the highest quality of materials, reducing durability. For this reason, you may want to pony up a little more cash and invest in a standard crib if you have space.

A great option for a mini-crib is the DaVinci Emily 2-in-1 mini crib (Amazon link).

It gives you the stability of a full-sized crib, looks great, AND can eventually be converted to a twin bed with the use of a separate kit, meaning your baby can use it for years to come!


Cradles Explained

What is a cradle
Only_point_five/Flickr

Cradles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and they are very similar to bassinets.

There’s just one big difference — cradles rock from side to side, making them a great choice to soothe your baby and help her drift off to sleep. 

Cradles typically do not use a motor to operate their rocking action. Rather, they rest on rocking legs or a swivel and they are operated manually, either by a parent or other adult pushing it gently or from your baby’s movements.

Cradles are similar in size to mini-cribs, although slightly smaller.

The sleeping area of a cradle is roughly 3 feet long by approximately 1.5 feet wide.

When you hear the word cradle it may conjure up visions of old-time wooden baby beds with painted designs or intricate carvings, but those same cradles are most likely not up to the current safety standards.

Instead, today’s cradles have a more modern look and are made of plastic or metal with breathable mesh siding instead of slats.

The main uses of a cradle are:

  • To allow baby to sleep near your bed (or anywhere else in the house)
  • To rock and calm your baby
  • To give your baby a soothing, safe place to rest

Pros and cons of cradles

Pros

  • Nice aesthetic: If you opt for a classic, antique cradle, nothing quite beats that look, and even modern cradles can have a sleek, gorgeous design. They can give your nursery a very unique look.
  • Soothing for baby: A gentle, rocking motion is a no-brainer when it comes to soothing a baby, whether she’s upset or you’re just trying to rock her to sleep. A cradle provides a safe and quiet place for a baby to sway from side to side, simulating the motion that she experienced while in the womb.

Cons

  • Not completely portable: It’s true that cradles are smaller and lighter than cribs, but they are usually heavier than bassinets and they are not on wheels. Plus they often have a bit of an awkward shape, making them not the easiest things to move around.
  • Outgrown quickly: Similar to the mini-crib, your baby will probably quickly outgrow her cradle. Most cradles reach their limit at about 25 pounds.
  • Extra bedding: Many cradles do not come with any type of bedding, and due to their unique size, you may have difficulty finding bedding that you like — similar to what you would experience with the mini-crib.

Parents absolutely love the Baby Bjorn cradle (Amazon link). It has a beautiful, modern design that looks great and it soothes babies to sleep with ease.


Wrapping Up

That about sums it up when it comes to a mini-crib vs. cradle!

The biggest difference between the two is the soothing, rocking motion you can implement with a cradle. 

They’re both a lot smaller than standard cribs, so either can work in a small nursery. A cradle is the more popular choice for having baby sleep near you when you’re first home from the hospital, though.

Just remember that your baby will grow out of either of them pretty quickly; unless you manage to find a mini-crib that can convert to a toddler or twin bed.

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

(You might also be interested in reading about:

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