Today we’re reviewing and comparing two parent favorites in the travel crib category: the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light and the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib (follow the links to read parent reviews for both on TotScoop).
First, let us preface this comparison by saying that you really can’t go wrong with either one. They’re both great, very highly-rated products that parents absolutely adore. Either would be a fabulous choice to take on a trip, to bring for Grandma’s house, or even to use as a small playard or secondary sleeping space at home. Either would be much more portable and lightweight than, say, a Pack ‘n’ Play or any other playard.
That said, there are definitely some notable differences between the Baby Bjorn and Guava Lotus. In this post we’ll highlight the differences between the two, and hopefully help you to figure out which might work better for your family!
Setup and takedown
The BabyBjorn is super easy to set up and take down (15sec.). The Lotus isn’t too bad, but it’s not even close. (You’ve really got to watch the video on this one, but OK, for those who can’t do that right now, I’ll attempt to explain.) For setup, not only is it easier to open up the frame and snap out the legs on the Bjorn, but it’s also much easier to secure the mattress to the crib fabric. Just one example: the Bjorn mattress has four hook-based attachment points that you need to feed through the crib fabric so the mattress stays taut; in comparison, the Lotus has six attachment points, which are made of velcro (so they sometimes reattach on their own after you’ve detached them…UGH!), and also need to be fed through the fitted sheet (which not only adds another step, but also means you can’t change the sheet without detaching the mattress pad, as you can on the Bjorn…thumbs down!). Closing up the Lotus is also more complicated: on the Bjorn you just pull up on the legs and fold them in, then fold up the frame like a book; on the Lotus, you have to fold up the frame sort of accordion style (which requires matching up the two moon symbols and the two star symbols…if you don’t, it won’t fold up properly), and the legs just don’t fold in as neatly. ADVANTAGE: BabyBjorn
Set-up size (footprint & interior space)
The overall footprint, mattress sizes, and interior space dimensions of the two cribs are actually very similar. Lotus: external size 45″ L x 32″ W x 25″ H; mattress 42″ L x 24″ W. BabyBjorn: external size 44″ L x 32″ W x 24″ H; mattress 41″ L x 23.5″ W. The crib walls on the BabyBjorn slant in a bit more, perhaps improvign stability but also making the top opening smaller and making the interior area feel a bit more cramped. Because of this, while I think they’re functionally pretty similar as sleeping spaces, the Lotus feels a touch more suitable for playtime. ADVANTAGE: Lotus
Stowed size & weight
They both weigh 13 pounds, but the Lotus folds up much smaller, into a rectangle (23″ L x 12″ H x 8″ W) that can be worn as a backpack. In comparison, the BabyBjorn only folds in half, and so must be carried more like a small suitcase or large briefcase (19″ H x 23.5″ W x 5.5 in” D). If you’re going to be toting your crib around and/or flying with it a lot (as opposed to primarily using it at home and traveling with it just occasionally), that would be a really good reason to pick the Lotus. ADVANTAGE: Lotus
Both mattresses are made from flame-retardant free polyurethane foam. The BabyBjorn’s is noticeably thicker & cushier (~1.5-2″) as compared to the Lotus’ (~1″). For a newborn one might actually find this a drawback (from a safety perspective), however for an older baby it seems to me like the BabyBjorn would probably be more comfortable. (That said, of course, my 10-month-old currently seems to sleep fine in both! But perhaps a two-year-old would complain.) Also, for me the BabyBjorn’s mattress lies more consistently flat on the floor, which I definitely like better from a safety perspective. ADVANTAGE: BabyBjorn
Access to baby
The Lotus has a zip-up door that either the child or an adult can crawl through; the BabyBjorn doesn’t. I found the door to be a killer feature for my first child, who often needed to be soothed/nursed to sleep. With my second child this was a non-issue, but if you have a kid like my first, then that could very well is reason enough to choose to Lotus. ADVANTAGE: Lotus
To my eye, the Bjorn looks to be constructed of higher quality materials, and also feels more durable. The legs on the Lotus sometimes bend a little funny and get in the way of folding up the crib. Also, there is some padding on the Lotus legs (perhaps to prevent abrasions when folded?) that is attached to the legs; to my dismay, it started to peel off of my crib soon after I bought it. I haven’t washed the Bjorn fabric yet, but when I washed the Lotus fabric for the first time, the little plastic pieces that connect to the legs and are sewn to the Lotus fabric ended up snagging the mesh fabric in a few places in the washer, which continues to grate at me every time I look at it. Pretty sure the Bjorn won’t have that problem since it doesn’t seem like the hooks would have as much potential to snag. ADVANTAGE: BabyBjorn
If you jiggle the two frames after the cribs have been set up, the BabyBjorn feels just a little more stable. We never had a problem with either of our kids knocking over the Lotus, but both of them are on the chiller side. Could possibly be a factor if you have a hellion. ADVANTAGE: BabyBjorn
The two cribs are constructed of similar materials: polyester top fabric & mesh sides, and flame retardant-free polyurethane foam mattresses. The Lotus is free of flame retardants, PVC, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals (e.g. Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury). The Bjorn is Oeko-Tex certified. Bottom line, they both sound pretty chemical-free (especially as compared to other manufacturers who use flame retardants in the foam), but I personally prefer the Oeko-Tex certification since there is third-party testing involved and they screen for a broader array of harmful substances. ADVANTAGE: BabyBjorn
The BabyBjorn is a little more expensive (currently $240 on Amazon, vs. $209 for the Lotus). But it also includes a fitted sheet (and an organic, very soft one at that), which the Lotus doesn’t. And in my opinion the superior build quality justifies a slight price difference anyway. So, I’ll say they are pretty much neck-and-neck in terms of value: you get what you pay for. ADVANTAGE: (Tie)
The Lotus is convertible to a bassinet (with purchase of a separate bassinet conversion kit), while the BabyBjorn is not. For the Lotus, you use the same frame, but replace the crib fabric and mattress with separate bassinet versions. We used the bassinet with kid #2 for the first six months, and we loved it. It was beautiful, lightweight, and very portable. If you don’t have a bassinet yet for the newborn stage, and want one, this could be another deciding factor that might cause you to decide in favor of the Lotus. ADVANTAGE: Lotus
THE BOTTOM LINE
Honestly, they’re both great cribs. This is probably a cop-out answer, but seriously, I think which one is better depends on your needs! I personally marginally prefer the BabyBjorn (at least for the way that we use it — primarily within our home), due to its higher build quality, easier setup/takedown, thicker mattress, and Oeko-Tex certification. HOWEVER, the trade-off is a larger folded up size, a bit more cramped interior space, no zip-up door, a slightly higher price, and no bassinet option. If you are going to be traveling (and especially flying) with your crib frequently, you foresee yourself regularly being able to make use of the zip-up door (e.g. to soothe/nurse your baby to sleep), and/or you don’t already have a separate bassinet for the newborn period, then the Lotus might be a better choice for you. We’re taking our first trip with kid #2 in a few weeks, and honestly I’m not sure which one I’m going to take. More likely than not, it’ll end up being the Lotus, due to its more travel-friendly dimensions. Good luck with making the best choice for your family!