Product Review: PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed

This is an unpaid review of the PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed. My review policy dictates that I never keep freebies valued at over $40, and I gave this unit away to a reader in a random giveaway.

PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed Model P201
PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed Model P201

We don't usually bring a travel crib with us when we travel. Instead, in an effort to travel light, we co-sleep when we're on the road. Still, co-sleeping is not for every family, and not every hotel crib lives up to current safety standards.

My readers often ask me which travel-crib I recommend, and I thought it would be helpful to review the PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed. As a comparison I have previously reviewed the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light, and also my own Graco Pack n Play.

Overview

The PeaPod is part bed, part tent, making it a good choice for families who will be outdoors during their vacation (for instance at the beach) and need a shady or darkened space for their child to nap. The inflatable mattress is designed to make a hard surface more comfortable, and a fitted sleeping bag is included. The PeaPod folds up into its own carrying case, and weighs 6.9 pounds. If you want to travel even lighter, the tent by itself weighs 3.4 pounds and would fit in a large rolling bag, but not in most carryon size wheelie bags. While it was light enough for 4 1/2 year old E to carry, the size and shape made it too difficult for him to carry it more than a few paces.

Setup
Opening and shaping the bed required almost no effort at all. Just remove the elastic band that keeps the bed folded and everything springs into place. Even 2 1/2 year old D was able to set up this travel bed.

I was worried that blowing up the air mattress might take an eternity, so I timed how long it took to fill with the included pump. It took almost exactly two minutes of nonstop pumping to fill the bag. Not bad, but if money were no object I still might be tempted to splurge on a model that includes a self-inflating mattress, in part to reduce the total amount of bulk.

The air mattress slides into a pocket underneath the tent so that even if the fitted sleeping bag moves around, your child will not be sleeping directly on plastic.

The sleeping bag can be shortened or extended depending on the size of your child. Extended, it fit 4 1/2 year old E comfortably.

Safety

According to the manufacturer, the included sleeping bag for use by children over one year old. My children move around a lot at night, so I personally would probably wait until closer to age 2.

The CPSC recommends that infants never be placed on an air mattress because of the risk that the mattress might deflate and cause the child to suffocate. This particular mattress is thin, and therefore seems less risky than a bulkier air mattress, but it would be best to use the travel bed without an air mattress if you have an infant.

Use
Both my 4 1/2 year old and my 2 1/2 year old fit comfortably in the PeaPod, though my older child was just on the verge of growing out of it. The kids were able to open and close the zippers themselves, and to climb in and out comfortably. Both kids were incredibly enthusiastic about the cozy space and the sleeping bag, and begged me to keep the PeaPod instead of giving it away. This is the first time they've asked me to keep any of the products I have reviewed for this site.

I liked the solid flaps that covered the mesh openings. They could be rolled up for air circulation or to give your child a view of the world outside the bed, or rolled down to provide a darkened environment.

The frame seemed sturdy and resilient, but because I want to give it away in good condition, I protected it from the sort of abuse that an active toddler or preschooler might subject it to. Readers, if you own this product, tell me in comments how well the frame holds its shape over time.

Folding the PeaPod back up after use seemed like it would be tricky, but in practice I just sort of twisted it together into itself until it was the right size and shape. The instructions include pictures showing exactly how to fold up the PeaPod.

Cost
The PeaPod Travel Bed ranges in price between $65.95 and $84.95 depending on features, and is available in a variety of colors.

PeaPod Travel Bed Vs. Baby Bjorn Travel Crib and Graco Pack and Play The PeaPod Travel Bed did not seem as comfortable as the Baby Bjorn (which has a very thick mattress), but significantly less bulky than either the Baby Bjorn or the Pack and Play. Also, some parents might not like the fact that it would be easy for even a crawling baby to get in and out of this bed. Setup and packing were easier than either of the other travel cribs, and it is also significantly less bulky when closed. These advantages, together with the relatively low price make it our top pick.

Conclusion
For parents who want an inexpensive travel crib that fits inside their checked baggage, this is our top pick.

Related Links
Amazon: PeaPod Plus Portable Children's Travel Bed
Amazon: BABYBJĂ–RN Travel Crib Light
Favorite Baby Travel Gear

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Comments

  1. Denise

    http://www.johnpedroza.com/blog1
    September 9, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

    We've had one of these peapods since we took our first "big" trip after baby was born. At the time of the first trip he was 7 months old, he's now 21 months and we still use it. We think it's great, because it will fit in a suit case and so we can take "his" bed just about anywhere without major extra costs. We have never used the air mattress thingy, and now that he's older and sids is not a concern, we usually just use extra blankets from where ever we are. (And as an added bonus bunny fits in the travel bag too, so all the bedtime necessities travel together.)

  2. Kim

    September 9, 2009 at 2:15 p.m.

    We bought the model with the self-inflating mattress when we went on our family trip this summer. Our baby was about 5 months old. He slept in it a couple of nights when we didn't have a Pack n Play and we used it on the beach/outside of naps. Overall it was great. The mattress is pretty much a thermarest. He tended to slide around and his spitup would just sit there so I wrapped a flannel blanket around the mattress and put it inside instead of in the sleeve. I know, big no no but it worked. The one downside is that it doesn't have a lot of air circulation. So I often left it unzipped and checked o him constantly or slept right near him. He wasn't rolling yet so that helped. All in all a great buy and easy to pack up and take anywhere.

  3. Monica

    September 9, 2009 at 2:56 p.m.

    I was curious if you (or any readers)have had any experience with the Phil&Ted's travel cot. We've been eyeing it, but really weighing out the price, too. Quite a bit spendier than a Pack and Play or PeaPod. Thanks!

  4. becky

    September 10, 2009 at 2:44 p.m.

    we used the smaller peapod for 2 weeks in mexico when our son was 16 months old and it was great! he was pretty mobile and almost always resistant to bedtime, but he liked his little tent and if we zipped it up so that the zippers were on the outside, he wasn't able to unzip it without our help (this helped keep him safe and contained in a decidedly UNbabyproofed mexican motel room.) we have the larger version now and it can stand up to almost anything. the frame is warped a bit so it leans to the side but it still folds up easily and doesn't impact the use at all. my son doesn't sleep well outside the crib and the tent provides the right cozy atmosphere for him to feel comfortable.
    it is also incredibly easy to go travelling when we can just throw the peapod into the backseat instead of lugging the awkward and heavy pack and play around.

  5. Jeremy

    http://hotels4families.wordpress.com/
    September 10, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    The picture makes it look like it would be complicated to set up but if a 2 1/2 year old can then that sounds good to me!

  6. Debbie

    September 10, 2009 at 2:50 p.m.

    @jeremy - I have a short video I should post. You just remove the elastic band that holds everything together and it springs into place.

    @everyone else - thanks for the great feedback!

  7. My Boaz's Ruth

    September 11, 2009 at 10:20 a.m.

    How is it to take down again? I've got a similar construction laundry basket that is simple pie to setup, but a huge pain to take down, which has made me hesitate on this.

  8. Debbie

    September 11, 2009 at 12:35 p.m.

    @My Boaz's Ruth

    I took it down about 5 times just to get a sense of how hard it would be to collapse. Several times I just twisted it into itself and it somehow became the right size and shape. I couldn't exactly tell you how. One time I couldn't quite "get" the trick and I had to consult the instructions. The final time I followed the instructions by memory.

    I would say that if you use it infrequently, you should pack the instructions, but you probably won't have to consult them every time. It really wasn't too difficult.

  9. Becky C.

    September 11, 2009 at 2:17 p.m.

    I liked the PeaPod, my then 13 mo daughter took to it immediately without fuss when staying with family. The only drawback was that we'd get her drowsy, put her down, and then try to zip it up... and she would startle awake at the sound of the zipper! Just ended up leaving it unzipped and she only rolled out once during the week.
    When setting up, it does "pop" open pretty abruptly so I would be hesitant to let a kid unload this thing. Closing it up isn't bad once you get the hang of it.
    I'll let everyone know how it is with a 17 mo on a road trip a couple of weeks from now, wish us luck!

  10. smartbrains

    June 29, 2010 at 10:39 p.m.

    I was curious if you (or any readers)have had any experience with the Phil&Ted's travel cot. We've been eyeing it, but really weighing out the price, too. Quite a bit spendier than a Pack and Play or PeaPod. Thanks!
    http://yourbudgettravel.com
    Budget Travel

  11. Debbie

    June 29, 2010 at 10:57 p.m.

    I do not have a review of the Phil & Teds, but it's definitely on my todo list!

  12. Angela

    July 27, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.

    I started with the peapod and once my son was old enough to sit up in it we got rid of it. Its great if your child will lay down and go to sleep. However if your also needing this as a little "cage" while your in the shower and you want your child contained in a non-baby friendly hotel room then this doesn't work because there isn't enough room to be up right. I now have the Phil and Teds travel crib. I love that it zips open on the side as well as an option to open the top. This way I can use it as a tent form (which helps nursing baby to sleep), or in crib form (which is great for containment). Its easy to put together/take down. The mattress is like a thermarest, so ok but not wonderful. I only dislike two things about it--the color selection is red or black-which makes it warm when outside. And the top does open up to be somewhat crib like but it isn't fully opened like a crib its more of a cut out circle--so they can stand and play but the zipper gets rubbed on them, no injury so far but it could be an issue with some children. Overall the Phil and Ted is worth the money. The reason I didn't go with the BB crib was the lack of side access (I nurse baby to sleep and then walk away) and the wt is more than the phil and Teds. We live out of suitcases so every lb counts for us.

  13. Debbie

    July 27, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

    Angela,

    Great feedback! Thanks so much.

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