Crib vs Mini Crib: What’s the difference?

baby sleeping in crib

If you are new parents shopping for a crib, you may be wondering whether to opt for a crib vs a mini-crib. Or you might be wondering what the heck is a mini crib?

I’m sure you want what is best for your new baby. Don’t worry you’ve come to the right place. I will explain all the differences.

By the end of this article, you will understand how each one can be a great option. The better choice really just depends on your needs.

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Mini Crib vs Standard Crib Size

So just how big is a mini crib?

A mini crib is smaller than a standard size crib.

However, mini crib dimensions are not standardized. Any crib that is smaller than the standard full-size crib dimensions is considered a mini crib.

The most common mini crib mattress size is 24 x 38 inches. The actual mini crib size will be somewhat larger than the mattress dimensions and will vary depending on the materials and the design.

Standard Crib Size

Full-sized cribs are larger than mini cribs.

The interior dimensions of a standard-size crib are about 28 inches wide x 52 inches long. The actual dimensions of the crib will be somewhat larger than the interior dimensions and will vary depending on the materials and design.

Any crib that is smaller than those standards is considered a mini crib.

Are all mini cribs the same size?

No. Unlike full-size cribs, there are no set dimensions for a mini crib.

Any crib that is smaller than standard full-size crib dimensions is considered a mini crib.

Mini Crib Mattress vs Crib Mattress

cute baby playing in crib

Mini Crib Mattress Dimensions

According to US regulations, all mini cribs must be sold with a mattress. However, many of these “mattresses” are only a 1″ thick pad.

You can purchase a better quality mattress for your child’s mini crib. The most common mini crib mattress size is 24 x 38 inches. The average mini crib mattress is about 3″- 5″ thick.

If you decide a mini crib is the best option for you, be sure to check out my review of the best mini crib mattresses on the market. You may be pleasantly surprised to know that despite being a small crib you can still find high-quality mattresses.

Standard Crib Mattress Dimensions

Standard cribs fit mattresses that are approximately 28 x 52 inches.

Full-size cribs have mattresses that are a little thicker than mini crib mattresses. Most full-size crib mattresses have a mattress height of about 5″-5.5″. Thou there are some thinner ones out there (they are probably not the most comfortable).

Per safety regulations, the mattress should not be greater than 6″ thick.

Mini Crib Bedding

For safe sleep, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep on a tight-fitting mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. You can read their full recommendations to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome here.

You should pay special attention to the size of your mini crib to be sure your mattress and bedding fit properly.

Proper fitting sheets can be more difficult to find for mini cribs given the smaller dimensions and that their size is not standardized.

Standard Crib Bedding

A proper fitting mattress and fitted crib sheets are easier to find for full-sized cribs since the dimensions are standardized.

Mini Crib Features

cute little girl in crib with stuffed animals

You will find that there are tons of mini cribs on the market and there are many similarities to full size cribs. There are several features that even make mini cribs a more attractive option.

Smaller size

Lighter weight

Similar price point to traditional cribs

Available as portable cribs with locking wheels

Available as a folding crib for easy storage

Available as a convertible mini crib

Various colors and designs

Who is a mini crib best for?

Mini cribs are an excellent choice for small spaces. Consider them for apartments, condos, urban living, or a small nursery.

Room sharing: a good option if siblings share a room or the crib will be in the parent’s room. Remember the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants sleep in the same room (but not the same bed) as their parents for the first 6-12 months of life.

Grandparents homes.

Multiples (eg twins or triplets) since each baby will need its own crib.

Vacation homes and vacation rentals.

Daycare centers that need to fit multiple cribs in a limited space

Price Point

Most people will assume that given its small size a mini crib is cheaper. This is not exactly accurate.

There are budget cribs available for both types of cribs. In fact, you can find both full-size cribs and mini cribs for under $150. Here are some options to consider at that budget price point.

Price subject to change, but verified at the time of publication.

However, if you are comparing the same product in different sizes, the mini crib will be less expensive.

Check out this comparison to see for yourself.

Here’s another direct comparison of the price difference between the same crib in different dimensions:

How long can you use a mini crib?

Similar to a full-size crib, your child will likely be ready to transition out of their mini crib between 18 months and 3 years old.

Many mini cribs can hold up to 50 lbs and are safe to use until your child is 35″ tall or starting to climb.

For the safety of your baby, you should check the weight limit and other recommendations specific to your mini crib since they may differ.

How long can you use a standard crib?

Your child will likely outgrow their full-size crib between 18 months and 3 years old.

Most full-size cribs will also hold up to 50 lbs and are safe to use until your child is 35″ tall or starting to climb. But be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended height and weight limits for your crib.

Convertible Cribs: Mini Crib vs Crib

Convertible crib options grow with your child by converting them to beds for different stages.

You will typically need to purchase a conversion kit separately to transform your convertible crib into a toddler bed (day bed) or standard-sized bed.

The main difference between convertible cribs and convertible mini cribs is the standard size bed that they can be converted into.

A convertible mini crib can convert into a twin bed.

Whereas a convertible full-sized crib can be converted into a full-size bed.

Key Differences in Mini Crib vs Cribs

Since mini cribs are smaller, they will take up less space in your home.

Due to its smaller size, a mini crib is usually lighter, so it can be moved more easily from room to room.

If you are comparing the same crib in different sizes, the mini crib version is generally less expensive than a regular-sized crib.

Mini crib sizes are not standardized. You must pay special attention when purchasing a mattress and bedding for your mini crib to ensure they fit perfectly.

Mini Crib Pros and Cons

cute baby smiling in crib

Pros

Smaller and lighter means they are more portable.

Available in many colors and designs, including convertible cribs, folding cribs, and cribs with lockable wheels.

Your child will likely use it just as long as they would a full size crib.

Cons

Mattress and sheets may be harder to find since the size is not standardized.

Pricepoint – budget cribs and mini cribs are priced similarly.

More Small Space Crib Options

Bassinets and pack and plays are other options for tight spaces.

Mini Crib vs Bassinet

baby boy in bassinet

Is a mini crib the same as a bassinet? You have likely heard of both. Both mini cribs and bassinets are good sleeping options for newborn babies.

But they are very different!

The most obvious difference is the different shapes.

While mini cribs can come in any shape, they are most commonly rectangle shaped.

Bassinets have an oblong shape. It is a classic timeless design.

The biggest limitation to bassinets is that they really only last about 4-6 months. Once the baby starts rolling, it is recommended to transition him to a crib.

Mini Crib vs Pack and Play

A Pack n’ Play is another great option for smaller spaces. It is also referred to as a playard.

Pack n’ plays are NOT the same as mini cribs.

Mini Crib vs Pack n’ Play: Construction

Mini cribs are made of slats of wood. While some are foldable, they typically function more as furniture.

Pack n’ plays are made of fabric mesh sides. They are foldable making them easy to travel with and move around from room to room. However, they are not as durable as mini cribs since they are not made of hard materials.

Mini Crib vs Pack n’ Play: Uses

Many pack n’ plays include a changing station and bassinet for your newborn baby. Once the baby gets bigger, the pack n’ play can double as a safe sleep and play area.

A mini crib is really only used for sleep. So a Pack n’ play offers more uses than a mini crib.

How Long Can Baby Sleep In a Pack n’ Play?

Similar to cribs, a pack n’ play can safely be used until a baby is 35″ tall. The weight limit for most pack n’ plays is about 30 lbs.

Similar to cribs, children will be ready to transition out of a pack n’ play by 3 years of age.

Mini Crib vs Pack n’ Play: Price Point

A pack n’ play is much less expensive than a mini crib making it a great choice for many families.

Safety Standards

The good news is that both mini cribs and full-size cribs are regulated to ensure they provide a safe place for your baby to sleep.

You will likely come across the names of several safety organizations and certifications when shopping for cribs. Making sense of them can make your head spin. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most common ones you will come across.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates the safety standards for both standard-size cribs and mini cribs that are sold in the US.

Any full-size crib or mini crib that is currently being sold in the United States must meet the safety specifications set by the CPSC.

American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM)

An international organization that sets safety standards for materials and products, including baby cribs.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA)

The JPMA Certification Seal means that a product has passed independent testing to confirm it meets the guidelines set by ASTM International.

Greenguard Gold

GREENGUARD Gold certification means the product is certified for low chemical and VOC emissions.

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have helped you make your choice for the best baby crib. It is a major purchase for your baby, and it’s the most important furniture to buy. 

What other baby furniture have you already purchased? How do you feel about it? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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You may also enjoy:

The Best Mattress For Mini Cribs Reviewed

Do Cribs Expire? Crib Safety 101

How Much Weight Can A Crib Hold?

What Is The Thing That Hangs Over Crib Called?

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