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Travel Crib Alternatives for Infants (and Toddlers)

Summer Infant

Logistically speaking, infants really are great traveling companions. They’re portable. They’re light. They don't eat much (solid food). And they sleep a lot.

But when you’re crashing in hotels, the whole sleep issue can be complicated. What do you do if your property of choice doesn’t offer cribs? What do you do if the cribs the place does offer aren’t exactly comfortable (for you or the baby)?

A reader posed this question to me recently: What are some good crib alternatives on the road?

Earlier this year, my response would have been easy: the PeaPod travel crib, by KidCo. The product is like a pup-tent for your pip-squeak. It folds up neatly. It comes with its own Thermarest-style mattress. And it’s perfectly portable. Unfortunately, however, last month the PeaPod was blamed for the suffocation of a five-month-old infant. Some question whether the material on certain portions of the tent is breathable. If you’re considering this option, be sure to do your homework.

(As an aside, we still use the PeaPod for baby R when we’re lounging around a campfire or listening to outdoor concerts as a family; we just don’t let her sleep in there.)

Another (relatively inexpensive) option: the Summer Infant Deluxe Infant Travel Bed, which is a similar in concept but a) has breathable mesh where the baby’s head would be, and b) does not have an enclosed top.

If you’re traveling by car, a small Pack ‘N’ Play or something like this are good alternatives.

Perhaps the cheapest strategy: Co-sleeping, which, as you hopefully know, has pros (cheap and convenient), cons (terrible night’s sleep, makes baby co-dependent) and inherent dangers.

As your kids get older, your options get more plentiful.

If you’ve only got one child and you end up in a room with two beds, you could jury-rig a safe sleeping space with the help of inflatable bed rails—like these. Of course you also could use pillows, which we’ve done with mixed results (as in, one time, L, a light sleeper, tumbled out of the bed).

This summer, when we spend a month in Hawaii, we’ve reserved cribs for R and are contemplating the Tuckaire Toddler Inflatable Travel Bed for L. Are we foolish enough to think this will keep our big girl in her own bed all night long? Not a chance. But at least it might buy us a REM cycle or two before she climbs in the bed and flails between us until morning.

What crib alternatives do you use when away from home? Please share your suggestions and tips in the comment fields below.

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