Our SlumberPod Review: Get your Baby to Sleep When Traveling

Author: Celine Brewer

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Travel with a baby can be so rewarding, but I have found that it does come with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges I faced is getting my baby to sleep while traveling. Having my baby in a new environment was very distracting and stimulating. On top of being a new environment, it was often louder or brighter than my baby was used to. The SlumberPod Privacy Pod is an ingenious solution to this problem.

As a new parent, I was very focused on my baby’s sleep. I knew that if she slept well, we would all sleep well. This became especially important when we travelled. The SlumberPod is a game changer when it comes to getting a baby to sleep on vacation!

My SlumberPod review gives you all the information you need to determine if this baby travel product is for you.

This post contains compensated links.

What is the SlumberPod Privacy Pod?

The SlumberPod is a large, bottomless canopy that fits over your baby’s travel crib or your toddlers travel cot. This portable privacy pod completely covers the travel crib or portable bed to create a private sleeping area for your baby or toddler. The privacy nook is made of a stretchy, breathable black fabric which creates a dark sleep environment for your baby.

SlumberPod Review Video

Prefer to watch our SlumberPod review? See our full video of the SlumberPod Review here on YouTube.

Image of Slumberpod in Hotel room with text overlay of Slumberpod review by Baby Can Travel

Our Sleep Challenges Traveling with a Baby

When we first started traveling with our little ones, the SlumberPod hadn’t been invented yet, so we had to rely on some clever baby travel hacks to help get them to sleep. We’ve spent many nights sitting in a dark hotel room, too afraid to move or talk as our baby was in a travel crib just feet away from our bed. This is no way to travel…

A man prepares to eat dinner in a dark hotel room in New York City, trying to not wake his sleeping baby a few feet away.
Eating take-out food in the dark in our NYC hotel room.

You won’t believe the amount of hotel rooms where we rearranged furniture, taped garbage bags over windows, or pinned up a sheet to create a private sleeping area for our baby. We’ve even put our baby’s travel crib in a bathroom!

a baby crawls on the floor of her parents' NYC hotel room - the pack and play has a blanket on one side to prevent the baby from seeing her parents while sleeping.
Our daughter learned to stand after we blocked her view with a swaddle blanket.

And, sometimes, even with all our efforts to get her to sleep, she’d wake very early in the morning and see us sleeping next to her. Naturally, this was very exciting for her and she’d be impossible to get back to sleep.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about traveling with babies, it’s that a well rested baby is a much better traveler than a tired, cranky baby. Thinking back to our challenges of getting our babies to sleep while traveling, a SlumberPod would have been a perfect solution for us!

Alas, the SlumberPod didn’t appear on Shark Tank until January 2020, which meant we missed our opportunity to try their amazing baby travel sleep solution. As a leading source of baby travel advice, we reached out to SlumberPod, who was kind enough to ship us one to test it out. Our SlumberPod review below summarizes our findings.

Reasons to Travel with a SlumberPod

There are many important reasons why you should travel with a SlumberPod, but to reiterate, getting your baby or toddler to sleep on vacation is crucial to everyone having a better trip.

While you don’t necessarily have to keep to a strict sleep schedule on your family vacation, you may want to occasionally bring your baby back to the hotel for a good nap or an early bedtime. In these instances, you will have to contend with the hotel room being too light.

If your baby’s sleep schedule is important to you or your baby doesn’t function well without it, then the SlumberPod will help. If you use our tips below on getting your baby used to it at home, then your baby or toddler will have a comfortable and familiar sleep environment, which will help your little one sleep better on your trip.

The Realities of Sharing a Hotel Room with a Little One

There are plenty of reasons why you’d share a hotel room with your baby or toddler. Hotels are easy and convenient. They are almost always very centrally located. But the downside is that it can be quite pricey to get a suite with separate bedrooms, meaning everyone is sleeping in the same room.

If your baby is accustomed to having her own room at home, she might be excited to see you in the same room at bedtime…too excited to put her head down and go to sleep.

a toddler boy stands in a pack n play inside a SlumberPod privacy sleep nook
The SlumberPod in action – it fits over a Pack n Play in a hotel room.

It’s not uncommon for parents to hide out on the hotel bed in the dark waiting for their baby to fall asleep. Some may use the bathroom as a dark place for their baby to sleep. With the SlumberPod, your baby will have a nice dark spot to fall asleep, right in the middle of the room! No more needing those dark bathrooms or closets for your baby’s sleep.

Even if you rent a baby-friendly Airbnb apartment to give everyone more space, naps and nighttime sleep might be difficult for your baby if he’s used to a dark room. The SlumberPod is the ideal baby travel sleep item for this. You won’t need to worry if the apartment has blackout blinds. Nor will you have to worry about the sun peaking in early and waking your baby up.

We especially think the SlumberPod is useful for children sharing rooms, like when your toddler is sharing a room with your baby. Or even an older sibling. Our toddler loved to wake up his big sister when they shared a room when we traveled.

I can also see the value in a SlumberPod to help with jet lag. The darkness at night would help your baby’s internal clock adjust more quickly, especially if you are using our baby jet lag tips and getting out in the sunshine during the day.

Is the SlumberPod Just for Babies?

For a baby travel item at this price point, we would want to get a lot of use out of it. We like that the SlumberPod isn’t just for babies – it’s approved for kids aged 4 months to 5 years. It will work equally as well with getting toddlers to sleep while traveling. In fact, I’d argue that this might be the point that a privacy sleep nook would become most useful.

Trying to convince an 18 month old to lay down and go to sleep in a new environment isn’t always easy to accomplish. Having a dark tent for the Pack n’ Play with a privacy pod that is like their own sleeping space will definitely help.

Not only that, but the SlumberPod fits over some of the most popular toddler travel beds.

Use BabyCanTravel$20 (automatically applied at checkout) to get $10 off your SlumberPod when you purchase direct.

How to Set up the SlumberPod

Setting up the SlumberPod is very simple. All you need to do is to take two poles (similar to tent poles), put them through the loops, then insert them into the pole pockets. Easy!!

The easy to read set up instructions are attached to the bag, so you’ll never lose them. They also have a YouTube video with a SlumberPod Setup Demo to help.

I can speak from experience, that the SlumberPod is pretty easy to set up. I had no issues doing it on my own, but it would be even easier with two people.

Is the SlumberPod Safe?

Yes, the SlumberPod was built with your child’s safety in mind, with many safety features including:

  • It’s made of breathable fabric.
  • It has ventilation flaps and two fan pouches (for the optional SlumberPod fans) to help with airflow.
  • A monitor pouch perfectly positions your baby travel monitor, allowing you to keep an eye on your little one.

Note that the SlumberPod is not intended to be used outside, but instead is approved for indoor use only in a climate-controlled and well-ventilated area.

In addition, the SlumberPod was designed for use with baby travel cribs, Pack n’ play cribs and toddler travel cots. It was not designed for use with full sized cribs.

Please see the SlumberPod website for all safety information and precautions.

image of slumberpod

Read more on flying with a Pack n’ Play!

Is there a Minimum Age for a Baby Sleep in a SlumberPod?

Do not use the SlumberPod with babies 4 months or younger.

What Portable Travel Cribs Work With the SlumberPod?

As portable travel cribs for babies change all the time, the SlumberPod FAQ is a great place to keep up-to-date on which models the SlumberPod is compatible with.

We were pleased to see that it will work for several of the the portable baby beds we recommend like the Guava Lotus travel crib, the Baby Bjorn and the Phil&Teds.

What Toddler Travel Beds Work With the SlumberPod?

If your toddler is done with a travel Pack n’ Play but is not quite ready for a big bed, or there aren’t enough beds available in your hotel room, that’s a great time to introduce a portable travel bed for toddlers.

We used the Shrunks Junior inflatable toddler bed extensively in our family travels, and as you can see in our SlumberPod review video, it fit perfectly over top.

a boy lies down on a Shrunks inflatable toddler bed inside a SlumberPod sleep nook.
Our son lies on his Shrunks toddler bed inside a SloberPod privacy nook.

Other travel cots for toddlers, depending on their dimensions, will fit equally as well inside the SlumberPod. The Regalo My Cot portable toddler bed is another one that works well with the SlumberPod.

How do I get my Baby or Toddler to Sleep in the SlumberPod?

For all new baby travel gear, we always recommend testing it out at home before actually traveling with it. This is especially important with travel great for your baby’s sleep. It will be worth the effort to set it up, test it out and see how your baby or toddler reacts.

When you first get your SlumberPod, set it up in a spot where your toddler or baby can explore inside. Let them check it out and play in it. Once they are comfortable with being inside the SlumberPod, try it out for a nap.

You don’t want to struggle with a night’s sleep, so a nap is a good place to start. Once your baby or toddler has napped with the SlumberPod successfully a few times, then give it a try for a night sleep. If you need to, leave the flap open the first few times you use it.

If your baby or toddler just isn’t having it, put it away for a while. Take it out again in a week or so and see if you can have better luck with it.

Eventually, your child will associate the SlumberPod as a familiar sleep environment. When you put them inside the SlumberPod while traveling, your child will see it as a safe, familiar sleep location, greatly improving the odds of them getting a good night’s sleep.

Traveling with the SlumberPod

The SlumberPod was built with family travel in mind and will easily fit in your luggage and even in your carry-on. The folded down dimensions of a SlumberPod are 17″ x 6″ x 5″ compared to typical carry-on dimensions of 22″ x 14″ x 9″.

An illustration of how a SlumberPod fits easily inside a standard carry-on suitcase.
The SlumberPod fits easily inside a carry-on suitcase.

Whether you are planning on bringing your own portable travel crib or travel cot for toddlers, you can bring a SlumberPod along to make the perfect sleeping environment for your child while traveling.

Does the SlumberPod Fit Over a Hotel Crib?

Yes, most hotels that have cribs available (make sure to confirm with them prior to arrival) will often provide a portable Pack n’ Play, but this is not always the case. We’ve seen hotels roll up a wooden crib before.

If you are concerned, ask your hotel to confirm what type of portable crib they offer or better yet, ask for a picture.

An assembled SlumberPod in a hotel room.
The SlumberPod inside a typical hotel room.

SlumberPod Pros & Cons

What we Liked About the SlumberPod

There were many things we liked about the SlumberPod privacy nook:

  • We love getting good value for our money. With the ability to use a SlumberPod for kids aged 4 months to 5 years, you’ll get a lot of use out of it. The more use you get from your SlumberPod, the less it will cost your per trip.
a toddler peeks out of a SlumberPod privacy nook.
Our son peeks out of a SlumberPod privacy nook.
  • The SlumberPod isn’t just for family travel. It can be used while visiting friends or relatives. For example, if you want to pop over to a friend’s place for a coffee, with the SlumberPod you don’t have to worry about rushing home for nap time.

  • While the SlumberPod has been through rigorous safety testing, we like that there’s still a place for a monitor to check in on baby. It’s in a vinyl pocket so your toddler won’t be able to play with it.

  • We were really impressed by how dark it was given the breathable fabric that the SlumberPod is made of.

  • We also like that there are no zippers on the inside for toddlers to play with. Toddlers are notorious for finding zippers anywhere and playing with them. No zippers means less distractions for your child.
  • Although the SlumberPod can take up a fair amount of real estate in a hotel room, you can always flatten it and tuck it under a bed or in a closet. Use the clips to secure it flat (by clipping them to the opposite pole) and move it out of the way.

Potential SlumberPod Downsides

While we think the SlumberPod pros outweigh the cons, we came across a few items worth mentioning while we tested the product for this SlumberPod review. Specifically:

  • The SlumberPod weighs 5 lbs. While not significant on its own, it is one more thing to carry around. And it will take up a good portion of your carry-on, so be prepared for that.

  • Secondly, when assembling the SlumberPod, there’s a risk of the poles scratching up your walls. You can mitigate this risk by keeping the ends of the poles not fully put together until you are ready to put them in the pole pockets.

Are There Alternatives to the SlumberPod?

Yes, there are several products on the market which seek to provide the same baby sleep solutions as the SlumberPod. If you’d like more information on alternate products, we have a full blog post on the Best SlumberPod Alternatives.

SlumberPod vs. the SnoozeShade

One of the most popular alternatives to the SlumberPod is the SnoozeShade Pack and Play canopy. Let’s compare the two models:

  • Price: The SnoozeShade Pack and Play is roughly half the price of a SlumberPod.
  • Weight: The SnoozeShade is 2 lbs vs. 5 lbs for the SlumberPod.
  • Light blocked: SlumberPod is 100%, while SnoozeShade is 94%.

The smaller size and weight of the SnoozeShade make it a more travel-friendly product.

We like that the SlumberPod can be used for kids up to age 5, while the SnoozeShade is designed only for Pack n’ Play cribs or mini-cribs. You’ll get longer use out of the SnoozeShade. Personally, I also like the roominess of the SlumberPod, while the SnoozeShade seems a little cramped.

Where to Buy the SlumberPod

The two best places to buy a SlumberPod privacy nook are direct from the retailer or from Amazon.com. The price and free shipping policies between the two are typically aligned. If you live outside North America, Amazon is likely your best bet as it widely available on Amazon stores around the world.

If you live in the United States or Canada, SlumberPod is offering a $10 discount to Baby Can Travel readers. This means you can buy it cheaper direct from the manufacturer! Just enter “BABYCANTRAVEL$20″ at checkout.

image of baby in slumberpod with text overlay of get your baby to sleep when you travel slumberpod review

This post was written & edited by:

Celine Brewer - Baby Can Travel

Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.

Read more about Celine Brewer.

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