Travel Sleep Options/Playards

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portable baby bed

When you are travelling with kids or spending the night or afternoon away from your home- you need certain equipment that you would not otherwise use. Portable baby bed or travel crib or playard fall into this group – a necessary evil that you may not be using that much. These are easy to carry around as they collapse into very low volume and have a mattress for the baby to sleep safely. These are one of those products that should be bought only if the frequency of trips justifies this expense (most hotels will provide on request though I don’t recommend).

So what should one look for

  1. Ease of setup and use
  2. Portability – ideally should come with a bag

If you are willing to shell out a couple of hundred bucks for this product there are only two you need to consider

  1. BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light($240)

The Baby Björn is lighter and folds up to smaller dimensions for an easy transport. The sides slope from narrow at the top to wide at the bottom on the Baby Björn, making it more secure to keep your baby from getting out. Additionally, the material is certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class 1 for baby products, meaning there are no potentially harmful chemicals on the material. Yes, it does come with a mattress but the sheet must be purchased separately. The price is higher but once you use it you will love  the Baby Björn.

Cons

  • Not recommended for Shorter Parents
  • Would not use beyond two years as the child can push it around.
  1. Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby PlayardLotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard

This inflatable crib is lightweight, portable and even folds up into a backpack for storage.

The zip-open hatch on the Lotus is great. It  means that you don’t have to bend over to put the baby into the bag.

Comparison between the two

  1. Carrying Case – The BB when folded can only be carried like a briefcase, whereas the Lotus crib can be folded to be carried like a briefcase or a backpack. I have to say though – I like the BB carrying case much better – looks more durable.
  2. Mattress thickness – BB mattress is much thicker than the Lotus mattress. For a smaller child the thinner mattress might be preferable.
  3. Ease of setup – BB slightly easier to setup than the Lotus.
  4. Quality of fabric is slightly better for the BB one but you are paying more definietly.
  5. The Lotus crib has a larger footprint than the BB crib.
  6. Ease to fold – BB scores over Lotus on this one.

Overall BB offers much better value for the slightly higher price.

  1. Graco Pack ‘n Play On The Go Playard, Go Green($68)

Graco Pack 'n Play On The Go Playard, Go GreenBut if you just need something that does the job on the few occasions that you travel there is the less expensive option from Graco. There may be issues with this but it sure suffices for the low intensity usage and for babies less than 15 pounds. I am sure most people would still choose the Graco option since it is much cheaper.

Now with Graco there are so many options for playards that you might be confused. Here is a 60 second overview of your options.

Here are all the standard features that are present in all pack and plays

  1. Sleeping area – All Pack ‘n Plays have a removable full size bassinet that can be used for babies upto 15 pounds which is supplemented by a quilted mattress pad. 
  2. Play Area – This is the primary purpuse of the playard – to provide a safe spot for the baby to play in. This is accomplished by a sturdy rectangular metal frame with airy mesh on all sides.
  3. Portability – All playards can be folded and packed quickly making it easy to carry around.

Extra features

  1. Newborn Napper – This is a padded napping station that clips to the top of the cot. Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Newborn Napperstation DLX, Manor
  2. Changer – A separate padded changing table that either clips on top or flips out to the side. 
  3. The Cuddle Cove rocking seat is like the basic newborn napper but equipped with additional rocker legs and carrying handles which can be carried around the house or can sit on top of the cot. 
  4. Storage packets – Some of the playards have more extensive storage solution like this one. 

What should you choose?

  1. If you want the standard accessories plus need a napper, changer for use while travel then the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer, Go Greenis the only one to consider. At $84 this will meet your basic requirements.   The first ever playard that has a reversible napper & changer all-in-oneSecure attachment allows for a safe and easy switch between playard with napper and playard with changer. The Nimble Nook  is another basic one that has just  the standard accessories without even the napper/changer.
  2. If you want separate changer and a padded napper and like a more elaborate storage area – then the  Graco Pack ‘N Play with Newborn Napper Elite is a good option with a deluxeGraco Pack 'N Play with Newborn Napper Elite, Vancestorage hamper to keep clothes, diapers etc. This should be more useful if you are going to use everyday or at least in frequent trips to family.
  3. You could also pay 15 bucks more and opt for the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat which is similar to 2 but has a newborn sleeper/rocker that comes off to be used on its own.Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat, WinsletIt also has a changing table, bassinet, storage for diapers, etc, and an electronics module with sounds and vibration.
  4. The most expensive among the Graco is the  Everest ($217), the sleekest looking of all playards. Graco Everest Pack 'n Play Playard, MasonThe Everest has sleek, modern lines and every bell and whistle you could desire, including an elevated lounger/napper, a hide-away changer with wipe-clean fabric, premium fabrics, 2-speed vibration and parent organizer. This is good if you need one multi-purpose playard for the baby as space available is very restricted.

Playpens and play yards are no doubt extremely convenient for place a baby while you attend to your work – but you should only put the baby in them if you are nearby to check frequently.

PLAYARDS

If you are looking only for playards – which are essentially enclosures for the baby to play you could opt for the following varieties

  1. For smaller babies to play in a restricted space – Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play Portable Playard. With an overall area of 14 sqft and width of 4 ft and height of 26 inches, this is a better option as a standalone playard than the ones that do double duty as a portable bed. 2. For a little more space and for use as an enclosure for play, you could try one of these – Baby Diego Cub’Zone Playpen and Activity Center, Yellow/Blue/RedBaby Diego Cub'Zone Playpen and Activity Center, Yellow/Blue/RedGiantex 8 Panel Play Center Safety Yard Pen Baby Kids Playpen is a cheaper version that costs 30 bucks less, although the quality may not be as good as Baby Diego which I loved.

Do you have any suggestions for portable baby bed that I have not mentioned here. Please feel free to add your opinion in the comments section.

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