I have two Baby Bjorn travel cribs for my baby twins and a Phil & Ted travel crib for my older child. Which one is better for air travel? Which one for car travel? There is a difference.
PHIL & TEDS
The Phil & Teds travel crib is a great portable crib for air travel as it folds up very small, is super lightweight, and fits into almost any suitcase or duffle - you could probably fit two cribs in a suitcase without any problems in terms of size or weight. However, it does take about 15 minutes to set up, and an equally long time to disassemble and fit into the small bag it comes in. So plan ahead, practice at home, have your child sleep in it a night or two so they get used to it if possible, and bring along the manual, just in case (the redesigned one has the instructions printed inside the crib). Set it up as soon as you get to your destination - you don't want to do this later on with a tired crying child.
The self-inflating mattress on the P&T is long and narrow (19.7" wide x 46.9" long and 1" thick), similar to those used for camping. We put the mattress inside and used regular Gerber Printed Crib Sheet- Blue on it with elastic all around, tucking them well underneath (note: the newest model has a vinyl sleeve to put the mattress into). My oldest child slept well in it on long trips up till age he was three; it still looks new after occasional use during the last two years, with a material that is easy to clean.
Although harder to set up and dismantle, I found the Phil & Ted to be great quality, super compact and much less expensive than the Baby Bjorn travel crib.
Please note there is a huge warning that no other mattress can be used with the P&T, which can create hazardous gaps and risk of suffocation, or could reduce the side height of the crib. The age range given is 0-3 years. The material is waterproof polyester. Other info per P&T: size when packed: 24" x 7.9" x 7.9"; unpacked size, 51" x 24.8" x 31" *** NOTE: The actual height is 26", not 31". I personally would not recommend this crib for babies under 6 months as it's not clear if the sides are breathable even if the description above says it is (it's not all mesh, the other material is waterproof polyester) ***
The BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib Light , Blue, on the other hand, can't be beat for use at home and for car travel, as it can be set up and disassembled in about 30 seconds. We use American Baby Company 100% Cotton Value Jersey Knit Porta-Crib Sheet, Celery and they fit the mattress perfectly, at a fraction of the price of the Baby Bjorn crib sheet.
My son sleeps in the travel crib almost every night and seems comfortable, as the mattress is fairly thick and has no bars underneath like a pack n play would. However, at 31", I think he'll outgrow it in a few months as there are only a couple more inches left lengthwise (the mattress is 24" x " 41"). Also, some people have found that picking up the baby from such a low position is hard - your your feet under the crib a few inches and you'll have much better leverage.
After a year of daily use at home and short trips by car, it still looks new. The material of the crib is worth noting. We have the blue crib and it's soft and cottony, not opaque, although it's all polyester. (update 4/26/12 - It has held up extremely well and still looks new after many months).
The Baby Bjorn travel crib is also lot larger folded up than the Phil & Ted's. I wouldn't use it for air travel if you want to minimize the amount of luggage - it's bigger than a carry-on and may have to be checked. I doubt the fine zippered bag it comes in will hold up to baggage handling. It's also way too expensive - it costs almost as much as my son's Bonavita crib!
In a nutshell, both are good but with some disadvantages - the Phil & Ted crib is better for air travel and indoor/outdoor use, while the BabyBjorn one is better for home and car travel. Regardless of which you go with, it may be a good idea to put your kids in their stroller or bouncy seat while you assemble either one of these (a good option: the Go-Pod Portable Activity Seat in Pistachio by Kidco). You don't want little fingers in the way.
Finally, once your kids outgrow these travel cribs, consider getting the excellent AeroBed Sleep Tight Inflatable Bed for Kids. It works well for kids age three and over, with built-in side and end "rails", sheets, detachable electric pump and storage bag with shoulder strap. It's very comfortable, easy to clean, can be used at home for sleep-overs and great for trips.
UPDATE 3/27/12: If you are considering the Kidco PeaPod Plus Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed - Red - beware. The sides are made of non-breathable material and it's easily malleable. A 5 month old child tragically suffocated in a PeaPod last December (see March 27, 2012 Peapod review from Christine Whelan, the mother) - see comments section for links.
Update 11/03/12 - mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Sandy to cramped quarters, three 2 year old toddlers and three travel cribs put to the test side by side: the Baby Bjorn travel crib, the original P&T tavel crib, and the redesigned P&T Traveller crib.
* No contest, the Baby Bjorn won hands down for ease of set up and take down (3 steps, 60 seconds) and comfort, even if it folded up bulkier - our 36" two-year old toddlers easily hopped out though. By far the favorite crib for kids and grown ups. Two BJ cribs fit in our minivan, one behind the drivers seat, the other in the side aisle, leaving the cargo area free.
* The original P&T took 15 minutes to set up and to take down, and over an 11 day period held up to an active 2 year old was unable to climb out easily; from a safety point of view though the mattress bunched up on one end and did not remain flat. My 36" son was able to rock it slightly back and forth but it did not tip over.
* A distant third, the redesigned P&T crib - it is fairly sturdy once set up but assembly takes 16 steps (!!), now printed on the inside. Assembly took way longer than 15 minutes as the thick bars are no longer interconnected (granted, time was critical due to the approaching storm); on the minus side, disassembly was very difficult and took more than half an hour as the long bars that snap together did not come apart easily at all (could mine have been defective?); it took two adults to finally do it, and we were grateful we didn't have a flight to catch! The mattress inserts into its own pocket which eliminates the bunching issue but also complicates things if the child soaks through his diaper. The crib was also far easier to get out of as it's unexplicably lower than the original P&T and the same height as the Baby Bjorn one - important as the manual states to discontinue use after the child hits 35" (not age 3, as advertised above). I would downgrade the redesigned P&T crib to three stars except that it's still one of the few options for air travel. This said, I much prefer the original P&T which is still going strong after five years of use.
Please see "View and share related images" under the product image for side by side comparisons of the Baby Bjorn crib and Phil & Ted Traveller (redesigned) crib, showing they are the same height (25-26"), not 31" as the P&T black version is described. A Kids Aerobed is also shown for size comparison.
Given the recent recall of the Peapod, the high price of the Baby Bjorn, and the clumsy redesign of the Phil & Ted crib, it is no surprise that the newest travel crib in the market, Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Play Yard is getting rave reviews from parents. It seems to combine the best of the P&T and the BB cribs, weighing just 11 lbs, assembly in 15 seconds, all mesh sides, and it's super portable as a carry-on backpack. If my kids were younger I'd look into this one ASAP.