UPDATE: 12/11/2012: The PeaPod and PeaPod Plus have been recalled after an infant's tragic entrapment and suffocation death. Recall kits with replacement mattresses are being offered by manufacturer KidCo. We haven't used the PeaPod with non-mobile infants, and we don't recommend it for that developmental stage. We also feel the PeaPod should only be used as instructed (make sure to zip the mattress in its own pocket) with any age group.
4/8/12 Update: A heartbreaking report of infant asphyxiation in a PeaPod has come to our attention. We DO NOT recommend the PeaPod as a crib substitute for an immobile or marginally mobile infant. We still like and use ours as a travel bed for toddlers and preschoolers, but only in the manufacturer recommended configuration. Our own partially-mobile baby (who until very recently only army-crawled) sleeps in a Pack N Play when we travel.
This is not the first post I've written about KidCo's PeaPod travel bed (left, blue-green). We bought our first PeaPod for traveling when Ranger outgrew the Pack N Play's bassinet. We found ourselves accidentally waking him when we tried to lower him to the Pack N Play's floor, so we had to find a better option. The PeaPod has served us well in the year+ that we have used it. We consider it essential travel gear.
When we reviewed the PeaPod last December, I noticed the new, bigger PeaPod Plus (right, red) had been released. It became apparent last month that over 3 foot tall Ranger might soon emerge permanently distorted by his beloved bed. I found a PeaPod Plus for around $70 online. The retailer removed it from its original box and sent it in a smaller box with the large folded original box enclosed. This economy of packaging really didn't impress me, so I won't recommend the retailer.
The PeaPod Plus' folded size in its travel bed isn't much larger in thickness than the original PeaPod. Its diameter is quite a bit larger than the original. Each PeaPod is easily packed in other luggage and could easily be carry-on. During air travel I wouldn't check either PeaPod in only the light nylon travel bag. They would seem too susceptible to damage.
The elastic strap (which keeps the PeaPod folded) is sewn to the PeaPod Plus. The original PeaPod's strap is separate, so it is much easier to lose.
In terms of raw space, the PeaPod Plus is a great upgrade compared to the original PeaPod. I could fit (albeit uncomfortably) in the PeaPod Plus. It stands a lot taller than the original and has a much larger floor. I photographed the inflatable mattress inserts (they zip into the PeaPod floors) to offer some perspective on the size increase.
The PeaPod Plus' windows and door have shades! This is a great improvement on the original PeaPod. When we had to share a room with toddler Ranger, we couldn't turn on the computer or television without seeing little eyes peering out the mesh windows. We finally decided that covering his PeaPod birdcage-style was our best option. The window and door shades make it a lot easier to get him to sleep.
The original PeaPod's roof opens back farther than the Plus' roof. The original's larger roof opening makes it easier to place a sleeping infant. Both PeaPod versions have large mesh windows so it is easy to observe a sleeping infant without opening the door.
The Plus has a sleeping bag style, double layer, double zipper closure blanket. The original PeaPod contains a single layer floor liner/blanket. It's far less versatile, but it was more than adequate for those first months of life. Even with the Plus, we find ourselves using only one layer of the sleeping bag liner at night.
We still recommend replacing the included hand pump with a foot bellows pump (available for under $5 anyway inflatable pool floats are sold). The hand pump's motion is ripe for adolescent boy humor and it can cause a repetitive strain that is ripe for even more adolescent boy humor.
The carry bag is big enough that we can easily fit in a favorite stuffed toy, a bedtime book, pajamas, and a couple blankets.
If you're considering buying a PeaPod and can't decide between the original or the Plus, we'd recommend getting Plus and only using one half of the sleeping bag. The only drawback to the PeaPod Plus is that it lacks the extra-large opening of the original PeaPod. The Plus' window features and extra space will serve well with a growing child.
This review is the independent opinion of babytoolkit.blogspot.com. Baby Toolkit has no relationship with and has not received any compensation from KidCo or its affiliates.