Make life with a little one easier with the Bugaboo Stardust Playard. This pack and play comes with a bassinet insert included, a small footprint, a high quality carry bag, and an incredibly smart design. Read my review to find out what I loved (and didn’t love) about the Bugaboo travel crib, and who I think it’s best for (and who should avoid it).
What is the Bugaboo Stardust Playard (& How is it Different from Other Travel Cribs?)
The Bugaboo Stardust play yard is Bugaboo’s first and only pack and play. With a small footprint once set up, a high quality carry bag that lets you take it with you, and an incredibly smart design that lets it work as a pop up travel cot, the Bugaboo Stardust has a lot to love. Add to that, this is one of the only travel cots that comes with a newborn insert (bassinet), meaning you don’t have to purchase it separately as you do for many travel crib, and your newborn can sleep in it from day one.
In this post, I’ll go in depth into what I love and don’t love about the Bugaboo Stardust travel cot, so you can decide if it’s the best travel crib for your family (or not).
I’ve used the same criteria in reviewing the Bugaboo Stardust as I have reviewing the other travel cots I’ve used and reviewed recently: the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Guava Family Lotus. I have also personally used and reviewed the Phil & Teds Traveller travel cot, but that review is a few years old now, and thus uses different criteria.
Bugaboo Stardust Review: Key Takeaways
Overall, the Bugaboo Stardust is a high quality and portable travel cot. Based on my experience, I think the Stardust is best suited to using at home, or for short trips to a friend’s house or to visit family. It has a narrower footprint than many pack and plays, making it a good choice as a bedside bassinet instead of a crib, or for families living in apartments or other small spaces. It’s also very good looking, with sleek lines, high quality fabrics, and a bold dark color palette. The Stardust is one of the easiest play yards to set up and take down that I’ve tested, and it’s incredibly quick to get it ready to use and put it away. The folded play yard in the travel bag is quite big, just barely squeaking past standard checked luggage size for major US carriers (at its largest points, the sum of its measurements is 1″ bigger than the 62″ limit for Delta, United and American). It’s also quite tall, meaning it’s not the best choice for shorter adults. I’m 5 foot tall, and struggled to carry it in its carrying case, and to lean over it and reach the play yard bottom when fully set up.
Bugaboo Stardust At a Glance
- Comes with a bassinet insert, unlike most travel cribs where you have to buy the bassinet as an extra purchase
- Quality travel carrying case will stand up to abuse from airlines, and convenient when you want to store it away
- Mattress sits on a fabric panel base, not on the floor like many travel cribs
- Suitable from newborn to age two
- Convenient pop-up system sets up in seconds
- Incredibly sleek and compact, with a modern design that’s unobtrustive
- New to the market, and meets latest safety standards
- Bugaboo is a trusted and beloved brand
- Strong sustainability goals and policies from Bugaboo
- Mesh sides for increased airflow
- Not a great option for shorter adults. Travel bag is difficult to lift and walk with if you're short, and the cot is quite high to lean over if short.
- Doesn't fit in carry on or a suitcase - have to check it on it's own, and it's borderline for standard-sized checked luggage on major US carriers.
- Heavier than some competitors
- No zipper side panel
- No non-toxic certification or information widely available for customers to see
Detailed Bugaboo Stardust Portable Crib Review
Portability and Ease When Traveling With It
The Bugaboo Stardust is designed for use at home or on the road. You can use it beside your bed in bassinet mode for those early newborn days, as a pop up travel cot to create a familiar and safe space for your little one in hotels or resorts, or in your living room (or wherever makes sense) for daytime, supervised napping at home.
When not in use, it folds up quite easily for storage into the carry bag, which is made with high quality fabrics that feel similar to a soft-sided nylon backpack.
For one, when it’s folded up in the travel bag, it takes up a fairly large footprint. 32.75″ L x 5″ W x 25.25″ H when I measured mine along the largest/longest parts.
To check in a standard-sized bag on a major US carrier (Delta, American, United), the bag can’t exceed 62″ (Length + Width + Height). According to my measurements, the Bugaboo Stardust is 63″ at it’s largest parts (some parts are longer/wider/taller than others, as you can see from the photo of my Stardust case below with the measurements I took added to the image).
In other words? It’s borderline whether you’ll be able to check it easily in the US on a major carrier. If you plan to do a lot of flying with a travel crib, I recommend the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light or the Guava Lotus travel crib. You can read my review of the Babybjorn here, and the Guava here. I also like the Phil & Teds for airline travel, although it gets worse reviews from past customers than the other two mentioned. You can read my review of our time testing the Phil & Teds while traveling, here.
(Note: the carrying case dimensions are different from Bugaboo’s official “folded” dimensions, which is for the folded pack and play when it’s not in the storage bag: 25.6″ L x 5.5″ wide x 33.5″ high).
The Stardust is certainly not carry-on size, so throw out all ideas of carrying it onto an airplane. It’s also too large to fit in most (if not all?) suitcases. If you do take it on an airplane, you’ll have to check it in its travel bag only, which does seem fairly durable, or buy an extra bag (such as a stroller travel bag) to give it a bit of extra protection during transport.
My main beef with the carry bag, however, is the way you’re meant to carry it.
I’m a short woman (5 foot) and if I tried to carry the carrying case using the handle, it would drag along the ground. The handle isn’t adjustable, and there’s no shoulder carry strap for shorter adults to carry it easily and comfortably, without it dragging along the ground.
I also find it takes a little bit of wrestling to get the Bugaboo Stardust back into the carrying bag. It’s not a huge deal, and the Guava Lotus required some similar wrestling (although not the BabyBjorn), but it’s worth pointing out it’s not the most seamless option out there (the BabyBjorn is the winner in this category, among the ones I’ve personally tried and tested).
Setting It Up And Using It
One of the defining features of the Bugaboo Stardust playard is how easy it is to unfold and fold again, mattress and all.
One thing I love about this play yard is that the mattress is stored inside the cot when it’s folded up in the storage bag, making set up incredibly easy.
It’s supposedly one of the easiest travel cribs to set up, and based on my experience, I have to agree with this. It’s super easy to fold and unfold, and simply pops into place for an instant bed.
To test it out, I used the stopwatch on my Google Home to test how long it took me to get the Bugaboo Stardust out of the travel bag and set up to use, on my very first time trying it.
This included everything needed to get it ready for your tired baby, except for the sheet (I didn’t include the sheet in my timing, because I also didn’t test “sheet time” for my other pack and play reviews, including the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light, the Guava Family Lotus travel cot, and the 4moms Breeze Go and Breeze Plus pack and plays).
On my very first try, it took me 32 seconds to set it up. That includes pulling it out of the travel bag, unsnapping the sides (which are snapped together for storage), and opening/unfolding it.
Because it’s stored with the mattress in the cot, there’s no need to place the mattress when you setup. It’s already done for you.
32 seconds is almost ridiculously fast. In a direct comparison, the Stardust setup time blows the BabyBjorn travel crib (1 minute and 16 seconds) and the Guava Lotus (1 minute and 40 seconds) out of the water.
I also wanted to see how long it would take to setup the bassinet insert that comes with the Bugaboo Stardust travel cot: it took me 36 second to get it zipped in and place the mattress inside (on my first try).
The verdict? Overall, the Bugaboo Stardust (both the travel cot and the bassinet) can be set up incredibly fast and by one person working on their own. You can unfold it and fold it up again in seconds, making it a great choice for families who will be moving it around a lot within their own home.
Since you don’t need to remove the mattress from the Bugaboo playard for takedown, it shaves a bit of time off how long the process takes.
To collapse it, you push upwards on the two buttons on the underside of the top railings (the ones that run lengthwise along the long edge of the play yard).
Once the buttons are compressed, the sides begin to fold inward. You then give a little push from under the bottom of the play yard floor (I use my foot for this).
It all collapses in four seconds (I timed how long it took me).
It took me a total of 1 minute and 12 seconds to put it away completely. It took 17 seconds to collapse the play yard and snap the sides together for storage. And then another 55 seconds to get it all into the travel bag.
Bugaboo Stardust Playard Mattress Review
The Bugaboo playard mattress measures approximately 1″ thick and is made from 100% polyurethane foam (the insert) with a 100% nylon cover.
The nylon cover is thin, smooth and not removable, so you’ll likely want to use a cover of some sort to protect it.
As far as play yard and travel crib mattresses go, I’d say this one is above average. It’s about the same comfort level as a BabyBjorn or Guava Lotus. However, unlike the BabyBjorn and the Guava, this is not a floor sitting mattress, which might give it an edge in terms of comfort for your child, especially as the reach toddler age.
Is it ultra comfortable from an adult or even big kid perspective of plush mattresses? Probably not!
But is it rated safe for a baby in terms of not being too thick or too firm? Yes! (Note: you should only ever use the mattress provided by a pack and play/cot manufacturer: never try to substitute it with another mattress or pad it to try to make it more comfortable).
There’s a few things I don’t love about this mattress.
First, Bugaboo doesn’t make a waterproof sheet or mattress protector specifically for this travel cot. Since parents know accidents will happen – and to prevent the need for big cleaning jobs – it leaves parents to scramble to find a mattress protector that will work with the measurements of this particular pack and play mat. Many pack and play mattress protectors are too large (for example, this one), making it tough to figure out how to protect the Stardust mattress against stains.
Washing the Bugaboo Stardust
According to Bugaboo, all the fabrics on the Stardust are machine washable on warm (30°C/86°F). That said, they do caution you to check the washing label on your actual model for specific instructions for care.
Removing the fabric from the frame in advance of washing it is quite easy, as it’s secured with a number of velcro tabs.
On the narrow ends of the play yard, unzip the mesh panels fully (4 zippers in total to unzip). Still working on the narrow ends of the frame, find the red velcro straps under the overhanging fabric along the top railing, and unstrap them. Along the long edges, there are two black velcro straps in the middle of the top railing – unstrap those on both sides. Tip the frame up on one end to reveal the bottom, and you’ll find some more velcro to unstrap.
In terms of washing it, I used the same method as when I washed the Guava Lotus fabric and the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light fabric: in a mesh laundry bag, using gentle, eco-friendly detergent (we used the Tru Earth detergent strips).
Overall, the fabric is bulkier to wash than with the Guava or Babybjorn travel cribs, likely because it also includes a “floor” to wash. This meant my washer’s spin didn’t get it quite as dry as I would have liked in pulling it out of the machine. Due to the design, there are also a number of crevices that take much longer to dry than the main part of the fabric.
That said, I found most of the Bugaboo Stardust fabric was quite quick to dry overall. Within one hour, most of the fabric was dry to the touch, and in a pinch I think I could have reassembled it at that point for a nap, then unassembled again to complete the full dry time.
The corners and seems, however, needed a lot more time than 1 hour. At hour 9, I checked the seems and crevices and everything was almost dry, but it took a full 10 hours until it dried fully and properly.
Bugaboo Stardust Materials Review
Bugaboo makes mention of using “chemical free materials” on their website, but it’s tough to get information on what that actually means.
I know one retailer (Sprout San Francisco) has pulled some Bugaboo products from their shop because Bugaboo uses PFAS chemicals in some of their strollers. It’s unclear whether the Stardust has any PFAS chemicals – the info simply isn’t posted anywhere.
It’s also hard to find any definitive info about whether Bugaboo uses any fire retardant chemicals in the Stardust. I’ve seen some sites mention that the Stardust is free from fire retardants, but they don’t indicate their source, or how they know that, which makes me suspect.
On the Bugaboo website, the company indicates all “products follow [EU] REACH guidelines for chemical substances, and of course, all applicable local regulations on chemical substances (e.g., EN 71-3 for Europe). This means our products are tested and proven safe and do not contain any hazardous chemicals.”
I reached out to Bugaboo to ask specifically about PFAS chemicals and fire retardants, and will update this article if and when I hear back.
So what do we know about the Stardust and what it’s made of?
- The outer fabric is made of 100% polyester on one Side 1, which includes a water repellant coating. The outer fabric on Side 2 is made of 85% polyamide and 15% elastane. I dislike the use of “polyamide” as a description, as there are so many types (i.e. silk, wool, and nylon are all types of polyamides).
- The mesh panels are 100% polyester.
- The mattress is polyurethane foam with a nylon cover.
Bugaboo Stardust Frame
The Stardust frame is made of aluminum with plastic feet and joints. Unlike some travel pack and plays, it is not angled, but rather goes straight up and down. The feet are angled outwards to add stability.
When I push on the Stardust frame, it feels quite stable. Based on my personal experience testing all of them, I would categorize it as more stable than the BabyBjorn Travel Crib or the Guava Lotus. The legs are quite rigid, and shift only slightly from the joints.
Color Choices and Design
Bugaboo is known for quality products that look great. And the Stardust doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
I have the black Stardust, and it’s sleek. It looks great in my living room, and doesn’t make the house look like it’s been taken over by a baby.
The Stardust also comes in Steel Blue and Grey Mélange.
Bugaboo is quite transparent about their efforts to become more eco friendly, including:
- Becoming carbon neutral by 2035. They have already implemented a number of important initiatives to reduce their carbon output, and rely on actual reductions rather than offsets.
- Producing all strollers using bio-based materials instead of fossil-fuel based fabric and plastic. That means the polyester and plastic on the strollers will no longer by petroleum based, at some point in 2023.
- Using biofuels for shipping from Bugaboo’s factory in Xiamen, China.
- Generating 60% of their own energy at their Xiamen factory through the installation of solar panels (unclear if this has been done or is in progress).
Is the Bugaboo Stardust Good for Short Parents?
This is a unique problem for me, as I’m only 5 feet tall. But I find the Bugaboo Stardust too tall to use myself, and would advise short caregivers like me to look for a different brand of travel crib (I was able to use the Guava Lotus, BabyBjorn and Phil and Teds comfortably).
Once set up, the Stardust stands about 33.5″ tall. Compare that to the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (25″) or the 4moms Breeze (29″), and it’s significantly taller.
When I lean over the top rail of my Stardust, I can’t reach the base of the crib, and my hands are still about 1 foot away from the bottom. While the bassinet mode would be great for a newborn, once a baby outgrows the bassinet – once a baby reaches 19.8 lbs or can push up on their hands and knees – it would be difficult for me to get a baby in and out of the crib.
Add to that, the travel case is really best suited to taller parents and caregivers, too. I can’t carry mine unless I have my elbow bend at a 90 degree angle – otherwise it would drag on the ground.
Overall, I think the Bugaboo Stardust is an excellent, compact pack and play, but it falls short as a true travel crib. The travel case is large, and may pose some challenges with airlines upon check-in, given it’s slightly larger than standard-sized luggage (many airlines are graceful with new parents traveling with baby gear, but it’s a risk). It’s also heavier and harder to transport than competitive travel cribs (BabyBjorn and Guava Lotus).
However, as a compact playard to use at home or the occasional trip to a family or friend across town, I think the Stardust excels. It’s especially well-suited to families living in small spaces or apartments, given the narrower design, and it could work as a bedside sleeper for an infant who can still sleep safely in the bassinet attachment, based on Bugaboo’s safety guidelines. The extremely quick pop-open and collapse system of setting up the Stardust is notable, especially in a product category that is full of pack and plays that are notoriously difficult to set up and collapse.
No, the Bugaboo Stardust is too large to fit in a suitcase. When folded, the Bugaboo Stardust measures 25.6″ L x 5.5″ wide x 33.5″ high. If you put it in the carrying case, it’s even bigger, measuring 33.5″ L x 4″ W x 24.75″ H (when measured along the longest/widest/tallest parts).
Yes, you can bring the Bugaboo Stardust playard on a plane. For major US carriers, it will borderline fit as a standard piece of checked luggage. For most US domestic airlines, a standard checked bag can measure 62″ (length + width + height). My Stardust measures 63″ when added together, measuring at the longest/widest/tallest spots. However, there are also narrowed points on the case, which is why I think it’s borderline for standard checked luggage.
The Bugabook Stardust fabric is easy to remove using a zipper and velcro system. On the narrow ends of the play yard, unzip the mesh panels fully (4 zippers in total to unzip). Still working on the narrow ends of the frame, find the red velcro straps under the overhanging fabric along the top railing, and unstrap them. Along the long edges, there are two black velcro straps in the middle of the top railing on each side – unstrap those on both sides. Tip the frame up on one end to reveal the bottom, and you’ll find some more velcro to unstrap the fabric from the base of the play yard. Once the fabric is removed, you can machine wash it using a gentle detergent on a warm water cycle, and hang to dry fully before reassembling. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the frame as needed, and dry it with a clean, dry rag. Check your user manual before washing, as directions may change from model to model.
The Bugaboo Stardust bassinet attachment has a weight limit of 19.8 lbs, or whenever your baby can push up on their hands and knees (whichever comes first). The play yard has a weight limit of 33 lbs or two years old. While it’s generally okay to use a pack and play once your baby starts standing in it, you should discontinue use of a pack and play before they start trying to climb out to prevent injury.