Despite the many strong competition, both continue to be bestsellers in their own rights, unthreatened by strong newcomers. To say they are the pioneers in the travel crib market is truly not an exaggeration.
Then comes the inevitable question - each claims itself to be the best travel crib, which of the two is the better one then? This is perhaps the longest and most continuous debate to date, one we do not foresee going anytime soon.
Which is why you will see many Guava Lotus vs. BabyBjörn comparison reviews floating around the internet but here's our take on this highly contentious topic.
We'll start off by looking at each of their specifications:
As you can see, both travel cribs are extremely similar in many aspects. They are both of a standard size, are super lightweight and they even come with the same accessories.
Nevertheless, the similarities more or less stop there. Let's now explore their differences.
Guava Lotus vs. BabyBjörn
Side Door vs. No Side Door
The biggest difference between the Lotus and the BabyBjörn is that the former has a side zipper door.
And boy, do we have a lot to say about this feature!
As pictured left, the Lotus opens up at one side using a high quality zipper that zips up and down quietly.
There are many benefits as to the existence of such an opening, so much so that it is a deciding factor for many when it comes to which one to buy between the two.
For firsts, you can put your sleeping baby into the crib from the side door instead of all the way down from the top.
You see, most of us will have to soothe and rock baby to sleep in our arms first before putting him/her down to the crib.
If you have had the experience of laying down a sleeping baby, you will know that they are prone to waking up during the process of putting them down, no matter how slow or gentle your actions are, no matter the distance between your arm and the crib is.
This is especially so if your baby is a light sleeper which you will then have to rock him back to sleep again- a never-ending cycle.
The Lotus' side zipper door eliminates this problem once and for all because there is no 'travelling down' movement required. Your baby will still, well, sleep like a baby when you put him back into the crib.
If you're nursing, the side door provides you access to lie side by side with baby and nurse her until she falls asleep before you slide out quietly.
It also makes a lot of difference to those who are petite or suffer from a bad back. Instead of bending all the way down each time you need to put baby down or lift him/her up, you can do so from the side. Your back will definitely thank you for that, as well as the elderly.
Which is why the Lotus is regarded to be the best portable crib for grandma's house because it is just so elderly-friendly and safe for their back.
BabyBjörn, on the other hand, has all 4 sides wrapped with mesh and there is no opening except on the top.
But wait, there is a benefit precisely because of this design which we will get more into below.
Of course, if you're of the habit of letting baby fall asleep on his own, you wouldn't need the Lotus' side door - the BabyBjörn works just fine. Or if you don't have a bad back.
Another benefit of having a side door is that it makes the Lotus a much better playard/play space for your little one. Instead of feeling confined, the Lotus is actually more fun and accessible as your little one can run in and out of it.
For those into the Montessori method, a floor bed like the Lotus is beyond ideal.
Throw a blanket over it and it transform into their very own fort to play pretend. Need to keep baby contained while you do your own stuffs? Just zip it up and supervise from afar. It is, dare we say, the best play yard all in one.
Verdict: Lotus > BabyBjörn
Thin vs. Thick Mattress
Another distinctive feature that sets the two apart is the thickness of their respective mattress.
This, is perhaps the most compared feature of the two in any Lotus vs BabyBjörn comparison review, besides the above-mentioned side door.
In short, BabyBjörn has a thicker mattress compared to the Lotus. So much so that some parents feel that it is double the thickness of the latter.
While we think that may be a slight exaggeration, we do admit the BabyBjörn mattress is thicker and cushier than the Lotus. Because of this, you can say that it is more comfortable.
This, in turn, becomes BabyBjörn's selling power over the Lotus. Understandably so, given both have their mattresses so near they are almost on the floor, you would want it to be as thick and as comfortable for baby as possible.
Lotus does have a plush quilted sheet that you can order separately to make it softer and more comfortable though.
However, this is not advisable until baby is at least a year old, reasons as to why it is so were explained in detail here.
In terms of firmness, both are very similar, although we do find that the Lotus to be slightly firmer.
They both conform within the regulated standard of firmness because if you know about crib mattresses, you'll know that they have to be of a certain degree of firmness for it to be safe and non-hazardous for babies (prevention of SIDS).
And if any of you are feeling the pinch that is from the price of the sheets specifically made for each crib, these American Baby Company 100% Organic Cotton Sheet is an excellent and cheaper alternative that fit both very well.
Verdict: BabyBjörn > Lotus
Backpack vs. Carry Bag
Ah yes, the carry bags. You would think that people do not really care about them as long as they serve their purpose but for these two, they actually carry more weight than you think (pun unintended).
This is because the Guava Lotus carry bag can be converted into a backpack, besides being carried like a briefcase.
GUAVA LOTUS BACKPACK
BABYBjöRN CARRY BAG
To date, Guava Family is the only company in the world that makes cribs that pack into backpacks so you won't see this convenience anywhere else.
So while both cribs weigh the same, they fold up quite differently which in turn, affects their portability and convenience rather significantly.
The Lotus folds up much smaller into a rectangle size (24" L x 11" H x 7" W) and you can either carry that briefcase-like or wear it over your shoulders like a backpack.
This is why it is the best portable crib for travel because you get to free up both hands to either carry baby or manage other stuffs for a worry-free airport travel.
Even if it's just for the occasional trip to grandma's, you cannot deny the convenience it brings that is coming from the backpack carry style.
In fact, the Lotus is designed with ease of flying in mind because you can actually hand-carry it onto the plane without having to check it in.
This may easily be the only travel crib that allows you to do so. That way, even if your luggage were delayed or went missing, your baby will still have his sleeping crib to sleep in at your new destination.
In comparison, the BabyBjörn 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) via the two handles on top of the carry bag.
You will still be able to carry baby with your other hand given the crib is not heavy, however, it will not be as convenient as being hands-free like the Lotus.
And because the size of the bag is that of half of the crib, most of the time, you won't be able to take it along as a carry on with you onboard.
Even if you're lucky enough with certain airlines to get away from checking it in, from our experience, you will still have to pay an extra fee to do so.
We do find that the quality of the BabyBjörn carry bag to be slightly better though. The fabric is noticeably thicker so it may be more durable in the long run if you're rough with your baby gear.
In the end, it very much depends on how you're using your travel crib. 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, it would be a really good reason to pick the Lotus.
But as a whole especially in terms of portability convenience:
Verdict: Lotus > BabyBjörn
Ease of Use
Both are fairly easy to use we would say - setting up is pretty instinctive but we do recommend reading the owner's manual first.
Nevertheless, the two does have quite different installation ways. We have divided them into two sections: crib installation and mattress setup.
To set up the Guava Lotus Crib, unfold and straighten the legs of the crib and pull the base open.
You can also pull it open from the top (it doesn't matter) until you hear the legs click into place and ta-da, you have successfully set up your travel crib.
When it comes to taking down the Lotus crib, it becomes slightly more complicated. This is because it has to fold up smaller to fit into the rectangular backpack for a more compact travel.
Symbols are printed on the fabric to help you with this though. There are two moon and two star symbols diagonally on each side - just match them up (moon to moon and star to star) as you push/ squeeze the top sides together and the mechanism will help fold it up correctly.
On the other hand, BabyBjörn is much easier to set up. Just swing open the frame and it will lock into place automatically. To take it down, just tug the legs down and fold it in half and voila, you're done. The whole process wouldn't take you more than 15 seconds, maximum.
This vast difference between the two, aside of course from its design, is related also to the way they fold up differently.
Nevertheless, it is the difference between just swinging open the frame and having it automatically lock into place vs. having to do a bit more thinking to snap open and then individually manipulate each leg that sets the two quite distinctively apart.
The difference doesn't stop there. Again, because of the slight difference in the way they are designed, the way you install or put the mattress in place is also quite different.
Let's start with the Lotus. The mattress pad is secured via velcro tabs that are located underneath the pad. Just pull the tabs through the slots at the bottom of the crib and attach them to the velcro tabs there.
There might be some fumbling required since you can't really see the bottom but most should be able to do all four velcro tabs just by touch.
It doesn't detract from the ease of set up but when compared to the BabyBjörn, we do see where people are coming from when they say the latter is a much easier option.
Secured via red tabs pulled through the corner slots of the crib, the BabyBjörn mattress pad is anchored with a hook-loop mechanism instead of velcro.
It was admittedly easier and faster to anchor it because you can see what you're doing.
One thing to note though is that both mattresses pull up at all four corners initially but they settle down and lay flat after a while. The more you use it, the lesser they seem to arise. The good thing is, neither had any discernible odour upon set up.
So taking into account both crib installation and mattress setup, we have to say in terms of ease of use of the overall crib:
Verdict: BabyBjörn > Lotus
Size & Design
The overall size and footprint of both travel cribs are very similar, but they are not identical.
The external size of Lotus is 45" L x 32" W x 25" H while BabyBjörn's is 44" L x 32" W x 24" H.
Incidentally, the dimensions of their mattresses differ slightly as well, with Lotus' at 42" L x 24" W and BabyBjörn's at 41" L x 23.5" W.
You may not be able to see it from the pictures, but the legs of BabyBjörn do not actually stick out as far as Lotus'.
This gives it a smaller footprint so it will not take up as much floor space comparatively. For those with limited space, BabyBjörn will be more appealing.
However, BabyBjörn's legs do slant a bit more of an angle so it has a smaller opening at the top compared to the Lotus, the latter of which is shaped more like a box.
This results in a more open interior in the Lotus, hence the reason why we said above that it is less confined and thereby makes for a better play space for baby. For sleeping though, both are fine.
Remember also we said above that BabyBjörn's design gives it an edge even though it doesn't have a side door? Here's why.
So both cribs use mesh for all four sides (therefore they are very breathable as airflow is superb in these ones) but BabyBjörn actually has a built-in solid base plate at the bottom as opposed to Lotus' mesh bottom.
What this entails is a sturdier base, and this, in turn, makes a thicker mattress formulation possible. Adding to the fact that it does not open up at the side, its mattress is even more budge-proof and thus eliminate any risk of entrapment.
Yes, if you've ever wondered why Lotus didn't just make their mattress thicker to rival that of BabyBjörn, it is because their mesh base doesn't allow it.
You see, anything beyond 1 inch thick will allow a gap to open up between the mesh sides and the mattress and this, will cause a potential entrapment hazard.
So taking into account everything,
Verdict: BabyBjörn > Lotus
Constructed of similar materials - polyester top fabric & mesh and polyurethane foam mattress, both are of exceptional quality with no noticeable difference but if you're to inspect very closely or be extra nit-picky, you can say that the BabyBjörn has a slight winning edge.
For instance, the fabric it uses feels a tad smoother on the touch compared to the Lotus which feel like it could potentially snag more. However, the mesh material of both feel exactly the same.
Also, if you jiggle the two frames after the cribs have been set up, the BabyBjörn feels a little more stable. But that could be because its legs are a bit more angled.
Speaking of legs, Lotus's have some sort of adhesive attach to them to prevent abrasions (when folding up) but they tend to peel off after a while so that could be irritating to some.
The Guava is made in China, which isn't that big a surprise really, but it's good to know that it is a California based company with excellent customer service.
But don't think that the BabyBjörn is completely made in Sweden - its textile is made in China as well but the crib is finished in Sweden.
So yes, even though there is no significant disparity when it comes to the question of quality, if we are to nitpick:
Verdict: BabyBjörn > Lotus
Apart from that, they are also free of PVC, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals (e.g. Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury) so both are great choices of a non toxic travel crib.
Nevertheless, they receive different safety certification:
The Guava Lotus is GREENGUARD Gold certified whereas BabyBjörn receives the Oeko-Tex certification.
The former tests the actual product in a sealed chamber for 7 days to make sure there is no un-healthy offgassing occurring while Oeko-Tex means that the materials used have been screened for a broader array of harmful substances.
These harmful substances cover 'legally banned and controlled substances as well as chemicals known to be harmful to the health (but not yet legally controlled)' so being certified means the product meets certain parameters for health protection.
Although there may be some who'd prefer the Oeko-Tex certification (as third-party testing is involved), it is not easy to obtain a GREENGUARD Gold certification as well (with only a handful of them around) so in that regard, we'd say:
Both the Lotus and BabyBjörn are pricier than many other competitors in the market, however, the latter is a little more expensive.
But it also includes a fitted sheet for the mattress (an organic, very soft one at that), which the Lotus doesn't.
Regardless, we personally consider the price difference justifiable based on the BabyBjörn's superior build quality.
Therefore on the scale of balance:
Pros & Cons
We hope the above comparison review is helpful to you. We have gone as extensive as we can but if you just want to know everything in a glance, here are the pros and cons of each crib:
Back to the decade-long question of whether the Lotus Travel Crib or BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light is the best travel crib, our answer is that it depends on how you're going to be using your travel crib:
The bottom line is: they're both great cribs, exceptional especially for families who are into the Montessori method of floor beds. Know your needs and you really can't go wrong with either.