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This product is a game changer for traveling with babies

Vacation bedtimes just got a whole lot easier with the SlumberPod

A child peeks out of the Slumberpod. Credit: SlumberPod

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We’ve all been there: You plan a nice vacation for the family and head to the hotel room you booked. Upon entering the room, you remember that you have to sleep in that small place with your partner and your kids. So much for watching a movie while the kids sleep! You’re stuck with a few options: Let your toddler stay up late, or turn off the lights in the room earlier than you’d like so they can sleep, then avoid making any noise. But now, there’s a third option: The SlumberPod.

What is a SlumberPod?

When a friend bought this invention last year for her 6-month-old, I thought it was ridiculously overpriced. For $169.99, you get a blackout tent that fits over a pack 'n play, made of breathable polyester and spandex. It’s constructed just like a camping tent, with two poles that pop together, then snap onto the sides of the tent. The door opens with a zipper.

My friend raved about this invention, which was created by mother-daughter team Katy Mallory and Lou Childs. As they tell it, they got the idea during a crowded family gathering in 2014. Katy and her husband had to sleep in the same room as their daughter, who woke up multiple times each night and, seeing her parents in the room, refused to go back to sleep. After having twins, Mallory decided to create a solution to this travel problem, and took her idea to the TV show, Shark Tank. The rest is history.

So, does the SlumberPod work?

A black tent-like SlumberPod sits in the middle of a living room.
Credit: SlumberPod

A blackout tent may help your kid doze off.

When we moved into a house with a very bright bedroom, I realized that a blackout tent might help my son sleep better during naps and summer evenings. And we had a two-week RV trip planned that included a few hotel stays; rather than going to bed at 7:30 with my son, or keeping him awake until 10 o'clock with the adults, I wanted him to have his “own room” on the trip. Was it possible?

With the SlumberPod, the answer seemed like a resounding yes. I went for it, grimacing at the price. And honestly, despite the large size, wonky set-up process, and high price, I think the SlumberPod might be the best children’s item I’ve ever purchased. I know that sounds extreme, but I promise this thing is worth every penny. We started by just using it during naps, partially unzipped. Almost instantly, my son started sleeping for a full three hours at his mid-day nap, and he didn’t seem nervous at all when we zipped it up completely.

Then we went on our trip and tried it out in the hotel. While I was awake at 3:30 am, listening to my son happily practice all the words he knew inside that little tent, he had no idea that I was nearby. In the RV, we used the tent (with the poles collapsed, due to space) to give our son his own space, too. Most nights, he slept for 12 hours. We still kept our voices down in the evenings, but lights and sounds weren’t a problem even in close quarters because he couldn’t see us. Now that we’re back home, you better believe my son is sleeping in the SlumberPod for naps and at night, until he grows out of it.

Does the SlumberPod have an age limit?

A SlumberPod blue box against a white background.
Credit: SlumberPod

You can purchase a SlumberPod for $169.99.

It’s tall enough for most 3-year-olds to stand up inside, which means you definitely have some time before your kid grows out of the pod. Some parents also report using the SlumberPod to keep their toddlers from climbing out of their beds, once they learn how to escape.

You can use the SlumberPod everywhere

The SlumberPod can be used in all weather; even on hot days in the southern Utah desert, we were able to unzip the four small ventilation panels (still covered in blackout materials) to keep our son cool. You can buy an aftermarket fan that easily attaches to the fan pocket. And in the winter, you can zip those panels closed to keep your kiddo warm and cozy. It comes with a bag for all the materials that weighs less than 6 pounds, and its small size means it fits into carry-on luggage.

There’s a clear vinyl pocket for baby monitors (though some reviewers complain that the glare hinders your ability to get a clear picture through the plastic), and it’s passed a number of safety tests to check for breathability and flame-resistance.

What I didn’t like about the SlumberPod

I have to admit that the price is a little high for what is essentially a tent, and it would be nice to have an attached pocket for a sound machine. You do need a fair bit of space to expand the tent to its full size (56 inches tall, 50 inches long, and 36 inches wide), and you’ll want some space to set it up, too; the aluminum poles are long.

The SlumberPod is also only compatible with child bed set-ups that are up to 44 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 36 inches tall, which means some popular bassinets and pack 'n plays might not fit inside.

Should you get the SlumberPod?

Yes! I have zero regrets about this purchase. If you need me, I’ll be sitting right next to my sleeping son, sipping a glass of wine and watching TV—and he’ll never notice.

Get the SlumberPod for $169.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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