The primary mission of Trips With Tykes is to make the logistics of traveling with kids easier. To that end, I love highlighting products that simplify the family travel process. And I always make sure to share my thoughts on whether certain travel gear is worthy of your hard-earned money. Up for review today is KidCo’s PeaPod travel bed.
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The KidCo PeaPod is an innovative solution to one of the challenges of traveling with toddlers: trying to figure out where they will sleep. Toddlers usually aren’t quite ready to sleep in an adult-sized bed in a hotel or at grandma’s house. They can fall out or climb out too easily, which is particularly dangerous in a new location that might not be appropriately child-proofed.
There are a number of toddler sleep solutions but each has its limitations. Believe me – we’ve tried them all! Pack N Plays are too bulky to take along if you are traveling by air and too expensive if you are flying an airline that charges bag fees. (Pack N Plays are sometimes even too big for road trips if you have a full car.) Some hotels offer cribs, but often they are limited in quantity. Baby gear rental services can sometimes fill the gap at hotels and condos without cribs, but they can be very pricey.
What is the PeaPod?
The PeaPod travel bed addresses some of these problems. The PeaPod basically a popup tent with a full zip enclosure with a thin mattress underneath. It is recommended for ages 1-3. It folds up into a thin disk that is just a few inches thick and about the diameter of a large dinner plate.
I will be the first to admit that I was a PeaPod skeptic when I had my first child. My daughter was active and I just couldn’t see how she would be contained by a little nylon tent. So I didn’t give it a try until my second (mellower) child came along. It has been a purchase I’ve never regretted. I now regularly recommend the PeaPod to other traveling families, particularly frequent flyers who are always facing portability challenges.
(One quick note: the PeaPod has gotten some negative press a few years ago in relation to a recall in 2012. Earlier PeaPod models were found to pose a strangulation risk for younger babies. The product has since been redesigned and given a higher recommended age for use.)
Why I Like the PeaPod
- The size: This is by far the most compact toddler sleep solution on the market. I’ve personally carried it packed into a checked suitcase and it leaves plenty of other room for everything else I need to bring along for my family’s travels. It would even be portable enough to fit into a backpack and carry on.
- The price: At $69.99 on Amazon, there are very few toddler sleep solutions that are much cheaper (the most basic of Pack N Plays start at $49.99). Other portable travel cribs that fold up more compactly than a Pack N Play can be several hundred dollars (compare the Baby Bjorn Travel Lite crib at $239 and the Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard at $204). KidCo also offers a PeaPod Plus model at $99 if you want to invest a little extra money for a larger product that may last a bit longer.
- Non-sleep uses: One of the major reasons I finally took the plunge to purchase a PeaPod is because it has uses beyond just sleep. I’ve taken my PeaPod to the beach and have used it to protect my little guy from the sun as well as to corral him while I was busy setting up beach gear or playing with my other child. The sand was easily brushed off. I also took it to an outdoor family music festival to keep him contained as well. My 6 year old even likes to use it as a fort and play tent back home.
What I Don’t Like
- Folding it back up: The only real negative with the PeaPod is that is is tricky to fold back up properly. I had to watch a YouTube video demonstrating it to figure it out the first few times I used it. And even since that time, it confuses me regularly. Practice before you leave home with it.
- The thin mattress: Because it is so compact, the mattress underneath the tent is pretty thin. The reality is that toddlers don’t seem to mind, but if this concerns you, you can always place the PeaPod on a carpeted surface or put a comforter underneath it on the ground.
The Bottom Line: Is the PeaPod Worth It?
I give the KidCo PeaPod a “highly recommend” for traveling parents of toddlers, particularly for those of you whose travel in a way that truly makes space at a premium.
Do you have the PeaPod? What do you think?