Friday, December 01, 2006

Rest In Peas: The Peapod Travel Bed

UPDATE: 12/11/2012: The PeaPod and PeaPod Plus have been recalled after a 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.

We like to travel and started going on the road with BabyGeek in his first months of life. Initially we took along his travel Pack N' Play because he normally slept in the bassinet in our room at home. Between the stroller and the bulky Pack N' Play there wasn't much room left in our Honda Accord wagon for family luggage or passengers. We ended up borrowing a mini-van for extended trips.Once BabyGeek adjusted to a crib in a private room at home and neared the bassinet's upper weight limit, the Pack N' Play would no longer suffice. If we used the bassinet attachment, the whole playyard would sway whenever he moved, and if we tried to use it without the bassinet, he would often wake when we leaned down to set him on the floor.

One night at his Aunt Julie's house he was upset from the Pack N' Play's movement and Jim ended up staying up much of the night with him so he wouldn't wake our hostess who had to work the next day. That LONG night convinced me that better options must be available.

I first saw KidCo's PeaPod on a recommended products list in one of those help-bankrupt-mommy magazines ubiquitous to obstetrician's offices. It looked interesting despite its close proximity to overpriced infant hair care products and floofy $40 onesies. Of course, I couldn't remember the name, so after a number of google queries I found the PeaPod at a number of major online retailers. There weren't any at bricks and mortar locations in my region, so I bought one from because they had the best price with some email coupons. no longer carries the PeaPod, but I can currently find them locally at Burlington Coat Factory. It was around $50 before discounts.

The PeaPod is an ingenious little bed reminiscent of a pop-up dome tent that folds down to a miniscule size (visit the Kidco site for photos of the easy folding process- sorry their javascripts won't let me link directly to the illustrations). The air mattress keeps the baby off the floor. The internal pad for the baby is much like a sleepy bag with silky and flannel panels sandwiching thick batting. We didn't worry about suffocation or drafts. BabyGeek was allowed to play in the bed at home with the door unzipped and he really liked being inside.

When we finally zipped him in the PeaPod he was nonplussed and settled down easily for the night. Our first trip went so well that he slept quite peacefully in a separate room at Aunt Julie's. The PeaPod has been a travel essential ever since and helps us all sleep easier at hotels and the homes of friends and family.

BabyGeek is a tall boy (97th percentile for his age group) and shows no signs of crowding the pod at 15 months. There is enough room in the travel bag with the folded tent for a foot pump, so we quickly replaced the ergonomically unfriendly hand-pump with a cheapo bellows foot pump. The mattress inflates SO quickly with little effort. The foot pump is definitely worth the added expense (about $8 unless you score one on end of summer clearance).

The PeaPod fits so easily into our little station wagon that on one trip we didn't notice that it hadn't been packed and left it at home. We realized our mistake and after futilely searching Indianapolis for a PeaPod, we resorted to find a zipping pop-up anything for the baby to sleep in. We settled on a pop up sun dome with a zipper door instead. It cost $20 less than a PeaPod and lacked the mattress and sleeping pad. We folded a blanket under the tent and congratulated ourselves for thrift and inventiveness. It was awful. The floor of the dome, designed for sand or wet grass rather than interiors had a hideous "new tarp" plastic smell. It seemed that a smaller infant with less mobility might have a suffocation risk if they ended up face down in the tent. BabyGeek got cold during the night and managed to flip over the whole tent and slept on the door. The floor of the tent, because of its rigidity had not traveled well folded and was already cracking along the creases. We returned the sun dome on day two of our trip because it was such a miserable failure.

We no longer have problems remembering to pack the PeaPod. I learned today that the PeaPod is now also available in RED and that KidCo has made a second version for toddlers and little kids called PeaPod Plus. This is definitely going on our Christmas list.

UPDATE: 6/11/07 Check out our review of the PeaPod Plus.


Anonymous said...

My only question about the Peapod- can a baby trying to escape flip the whole thing over?

adrienne said...

That was a major concern for us as well. Our 16 month son is very active, a climber, and, at times, committed to demolition. He makes a good test subject for such questions.

The wide base of the tent and its support configuration have kept him from turning it over or wobbling it much (even when wide awake and hopping mad at a hotel). The sloping sides make it hard for a toddler to get the right angle and force to flip the tent.

The PeaPod Plus is reported to have tether straps on the bottom which could be used to secure it to a bed or nearby piece of furniture in an interior situation.

We haven't tried a PeaPod Plus (yet), so I don't know if they are as stable as the sure-footed original PeaPod.

Michael Phillips said...

That is so cool. It reminds me of a portable/inflatable room that I saw on some designer stuff site (I believe this was a one-off designed and built for the use of the person who displayed it.)

Ariah said...

I'm so glad to have found some one who actually uses this thing!

My wife and I travel a lot and we are expecting our first baby. We're considering using the peapod as our primary bed for the child rather then getting a crib as well.
Do you think this would work?

Thanks for your help!

adrienne said...

Hi bfine107-

By the time we found the Peapod, we already had a Pack N Play, a Amby Nature Nest (soon to be auctioned on ebay), and two cribs (long, kind of boring story). We never considered using it regularly for the baby as it would just be one more piece of equipment to trip over during daylight hours.

We know of at least one family who was using one as their child's primary bed (replacing a Moses basket):

From what they've said their initial use was very positive.

I just had the Peapod out so our toddler could sleep through a late night dinner party at a friends' home, and I think it would function well for daily use.

These are the drawbacks we imagine someone with a newborn might face:

1. Clean-up is pretty much limited to wiping with a wet cloth or cleaner.

2. Standard bedding could not be used.

3. The bed would offer little protection in a disaster scenario. In 2005, we were hit without warning by an F3 tornado in the middle of the night. A nearby family had their roof collapse in their infant's room before they could get to the baby. Their crib protected the baby from the crushing debris. We've never looked at children's furniture the same way since. Not everyone has the looming possibility of natural disasters, so this may not be a concern for you.

We still strongly recommend the Peapod. Each month of use just adds to our appreciation for it.

We're hoping to get the Peapod Plus soon as the little Geek is beginning to look a little cramped these days.

Hope this information helps with your decision!


adrienne said...

We just got a PeaPod Plus! I hope to have a full review up in the next two weeks!

KC said...

I'm looking for a travel crib for our 6 month old. I really want something that is going to last as he is outgrowing his travel bassinet and we do a lot of traveling.

He is already an active boy.. and I'm concerned once he can stand or pull himself up that this will not contain him.

how doe it withstand a toddler.. that when in a new place may have trouble going down?

Anonymous said...

A 5-month old recently died of positional asphyxiation in a peapod, which has non-breathable siding: