Travels With Child : http://www.travelswithchild.org

Rockabye - 2 great places we sleep

24 Jul 2008

Guest guide Jessica A. writes "Why We Have an Amby" - for baby-sleeping at home and on-the-go (hint: the Amby folds up to the size of a set of golf clubs).

TWC editor Fran W. writes "Why did I not get this sooner?" about using the PeaPod Plus Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed with her toddler. 

Why We Have An Amby*


1. We didn't want to cosleep, but couldn't fit a crib into the bedroom.  The Amby hammock is nice and compact, which let us keep the baby in our room for frequent night feedings.  And when we wanted to move the baby into his own room, the Amby moved with them for an easier transition.  (The Amby is rated for infants up to one year, or 25 lbs.  Ours outgrew his at about 6 months.  More info on the Amby website here.)

2. We worried about SIDS.  A newborn in an Amby can't roll over onto their stomach, so we felt more comfortable skipping those paranoid first-time-parent middle of the night checks.  (Admit it, you did this too.)

3. We didn't want our baby to get a flat head.  Because the Amby mattress is soft and curved, a baby can sleep with their head turned whichever way they want, without risk of developing a flat head on one side.  (Seriously, our pediatrician told us to make sure DZ didn't sleep with his head turned to the same side every night because it would get flat.  But we said "Hey, no need - he sleeps in a hammock!")

4. When the baby stirs, the Amby automatically bounces and swings.  The Amby hammock hangs from a ginormous spring on what looks basically like a coat hanger.  It has no batteries and won't swing indefinitely, but it will react to your baby's movement with gentle rocking and bouncing, which in some cases may be enough for your baby to rock him or herself back to sleep.  We could also strap a toy to the top crossbar so baby had something to look at other than the ceiling.

5. Travel!  The #1 best thing about the Amby is how easy it is to travel with.  The frame breaks down into 4 easy pieces which fit snugly into its own carrying case.  It's about the size of a set of golf clubs, and can be carried easily over a shoulder.  It fits into airline overhead compartments, under the seats of trains, and into all but the most compact of cars.  It snaps together with no tools in about 5 minutes, so wherever we went,  baby was sleeping in his own bed.

The cons:

1. Some babies don't take well to hammock sleeping.  Ours did, but yours may not.  And once you buy an Amby, you can't return it, so you may want to look for a used one if you're not sure.  (The good news is that if you do wind up buying one and it doesn't work out, you won't have any problem unloading it on Craigslist for almost full price.)  If you do buy one used, I recommend ordering new sheets from the Amby website, because…

2. The Amby bedding is hand-wash only.  I have yet to meet a parent with the time to hand-wash sheets, so we threw ours in the washing machine on a cold delicates cycle and then hung it to dry - we didn't want to risk shrinkage in the dryer.  The mattress pad survived just fine, but the spin cycle proved to be too much for the elastic on the fitted sheet.  We shrugged and just tucked it in as well as we could, but we'll definitely need a new set of sheets for Future Baby #2.

~ Jessica A.

Why did I not get this sooner?*

419qpkk4zxl._ss400_.jpgOnce our daughter outgrew her pack-n-play, we took a couple of trips where she slept in a sleeping bag, with a camping pad underneath.  These invariably resulted in my having to move her off the floor and back onto the pad several times each night - and I had major concerns about her going walkabout.  None of us got very much sleep.

The next few times we traveled, our hosts offered inflatable mattresses - again, with the assistance of the sleeping bag.  These were better, but not ideal, as they were large, high off the ground, and she couldn't find a comfort zone.  She also seems to be allergic to something in those mattresses, causing her to wake coughing on two occasions.  Again, not much sleep there.

So, when we went to Cape May, I was very motivated to test out the KidCo PeaPod - both for that trip, the week at the beach, and further adventures down the road.  I will never ever go back.  She calls it her "bed house" and as soon as it is set up, no matter where we are, she climbs in.  For the length of our stay, she sleeps comfortably there, and the PeaPod's pop-up tent construction gives her roamy sleep style some soft boundary edges. There are also flaps that we can lower over the mesh tent "windows" that will darken her sleeping space, even if we still have the lights on. 

The peapod has a blow-up mattress, but it is much smaller and fits snugly inside the tent.  We let it air out at home and then tested it before using it on the road - no coughing fits.  This may be because the sleeping bag that comes with the tent fits snugly around the mattress.  It's a neat package.

The tent, mattress, and sleeping bag all condense into a pill-shaped carrying bag that makes packing and storing the 'sleeping house' easy enough.  What is complicated - and frustrating enough to be pure comedy unless we're in a hurry - is folding the tent down into shape.  We still do not posess the know-how for this, but we continue to try, and to laugh at each other. 

Debate is under way about whether or not to take the PeaPod to Ireland - I vote yes, but I haven't put together all the bags yet and weighed them.  We'll keep you posted.

~ Fran W.

* all recommendations are solely the experience of the author and may not be your experience.  travelswithchild.org makes no representation regarding the use, safety, or reliability of these products by others.
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