The Gear Guy Guide To Travel Beds
Where to rest your baby when you leave the crib behind
Traveling with a baby can be exhausting—for everyone. And the last thing you want when you finally reach your destination (and a nap opportunity) is a rickety hotel crib or some makeshift setup on a guest bed. So we asked our Gear Guy, Jamie Grayson of the BabyGuy Gear Guide, for advice on the best travel beds. Here are his picks—and the scoop on why he likes 'em.
Graco Pack ‘n Play (starting around $70)
"This is the original gangsta of playards. It’s basically a padded metal and mesh box (suitable up to 30 pounds) that unfolds out of its carrying case, which is actually its mattress. I’ve seen grown men cry trying to set this one up. But it’s actually simple: just pull the sides up until they click, then press down in the middle to expand. To collapse, simply pull the loop in the middle, then collapse the sides. Pack ‘n Plays are all variations on this theme: some come with bassinets, some come with changing tables, some come with music and vibration boxes, some come with mobiles . . . you get the point. The price changes depending upon which bells and whistles you want, and so does the weight of the thing, which is generally in the 20- to 30-pound range." Available at diapers.com.
Joovy Room2 (149.95)
"Joovy's Room2 is the largest playard currently on the market. With nearly 50 percent more room than the average playard, this is a great option for older kids (up to 35 inches tall; no weight limit) or twins. Or puppies. There is no elevated bassinet feature on the Room2, so placing your baby in it means more strain on your back (but you’re a parent and should be used to that by now). The Room2 is bare bones—no music, no crazy prints, no ruffles—and it's heavy (32 pounds). But it does its job very well." Available at babyearth.com.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light 2 (299.95)
"Baby Bjorn nailed it when they launched this product (pictured, above). It weighs in at 11 pounds and, unlike other playards with elevated mattresses, has no weight limit—thanks to a mattress that sits right on the ground. It’s suitable until almost age 3, or whenever your kid gets too long for it or starts to climb right out. It’s incredibly lightweight, sets up in a snap (and stores easily in its own bag), and has fabrics free of harmful chemicals. Baby Bjorn also makes organic sheets for it. In my opinion, it's worth every penny you spend on it. (And you will spend lots of pennies on it.)" Available at babyongrand.com.
4moms Breeze ($299.99)
"The 4moms Breeze is one of the most innovative and user-friendly products I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of products. It looks like a basic playard, but when you press on that 4 logo, it pops open and locks into place—yep, one-handed. It also is a breeze (see what I did there?) to collapse, by simply pulling on the loop. The walls collapse and it basically folds itself. I’m obsessed with this thing. It’s on the more expensive side—and the mechanics required for folding make it one of the heaviest, at around 26 pounds—but it’s great. The Breeze has a bassinet feature for babies up to 15 pounds and the playard itself works for kids up to 30 pounds or 35 inches tall." Available at diapers.com.
"I’ve played with the JourneyBee at a few of my speaking engagements, and it always gets a very positive response. Imagine if one of those collapsible laundry hampers were large enough to hold a mattress and a kid. That's the JourneyBee. It folds in on itself into a relatively compact carrying case, and when you need to use it you pull it out and give it a flick, and it pops open. It’s super lightweight (less than 12 pounds), works for kids up to 35 inches (the company suggests using it for babies and toddlers up to age 2) comes in several fun prints and colors, and is a nice new option in a product category that has needed innovation." Available at galtbaby.com.