Even after a full year of use, the SlumberPod still stands as the ultimate infant travel accessory in our home. Every time we pull it out when going somewhere we smile at each other and say something like “Wow, how amazing is the SlumberPod?”. For this reason, I decided to write this SlumberPod review to help other parents and share my experiences.
As soon as we booked our first vacation as parents of a 6 months old, many questions started coming up. And just like most parents, we began getting worried about how our son would adapt to being away from home for 14 nights.
At the time, we had recently finished sleep training and were still basking in the glory of full-night sleeps. We had just passed a really rough 3 to 5-month sleep regression and we were determined to never go back to those long nights. So, what could we do to ensure he still got great sleep away from home? Let the research begin…
One afternoon after I got home from work, my wife leans over and says “Hey, I’d like to buy this black tent that goes over the pack n play so that baby can sleep better while on vacation. By the way, it costs $150”.
Hmm, say what? A tent? He doesn’t need that…
How wrong I was. This is probably the best $150 we’ve spent in a long time.
The magic of the SlumberPod
It turns out that the SlumberPod is magical. In short, it gives your baby a room within the parents’ room. Baby goes to bed at 7:30pm but mom and dad don’t have to. You can keep your lights on, walk around and even watch TV while your little one sleeps away in the same room!
The reality is that in most hotel rooms you are stuck in the same living area as your baby (unless you have a suite, or multiple bedrooms). In these situations, without a device like a SlumberPod, you have two choices:
- Put baby to bed, turn off the lights and go to bed or stay very quiet in the dark (boring); or
- Change your baby’s bed time to accommodate your evening plans (bad idea)
Both of these options are less than ideal. Option 1 limits your plans for the vacation while forcing parents to go to bed way too early, and option 2 will likely mess up your baby’s sleep schedule causing more wake ups and a fussier baby during the day. No bueno!
The SlumberPod allows baby to go to bed while you can still relax and enjoy some baby-free time with your partner.
If you’re still not convinced, read on for a bunch more detail on my experience with the SlumberPod and how it saved our vacation.
The simple design of the SlumberPod allows for a very quick set up and take down. It is simply a tent without a bottom. If you’ve ever pitched a tent when camping you, will already know exactly what to do to set this thing up, and even if you haven’t don’t worry. We made a video and took pictures of each step to help you get set up in under 2-minutes.
The SlumberPod is a simple two-pole tent that can be assembled in 2-minutes or less by a single person. Don’t believe it? Here is a video of me doing it at a leisurely pace :
Better design than the competition
What stands out about this simple design is that the SlumberPod truly gives your baby or infant a mini room. The closest competitor to the SlumberPod is the SnoozeShade and it can work almost as well for about half the price, but it’s just not quite as good.
Once our son was able to pull himself up in the crib at the age of 7 months he would do it multiple times per night but still put himself back to sleep.
The SnoozeShade wouldn’t allow for that.
It just gives parents and the baby less of a restricted feeling. There is room to breathe and to grow inside the SlumberPod.
Another beauty of the SlumberPod design is the multiple “windows”: one in the front and two in the back.
The windows are made of very breathable dark mesh covered by the same material as the rest of the pod. Even with the window “open” the dark mesh does not allow for much light to go in. The windows are easy to open and close and have different height adjustment settings.
They are also quiet. No Velcro or zippers to wake up the baby. Simply a rod that goes through hoops of material do adjust the opening.
We once brought our SlumberPod to a friend’s cottage for a new years get together. Some time after setting up the pod in our bedroom, we noticed our baby monitor camera indicated a temperature of 75F (24C) which we found to be a bit too hot. We then opened all the windows on the SlumberPod and within minutes the temperature had dropped to 70F (21C). Bottom line: the windows work!
The camera pocket
Finally, the one piece of design we didn’t really love (just yet) is the camera pouch. The SlumberPod has a zipper on the right side that leads to a clear plastic pocket which is meant for a video monitor.
The issue is that the few cameras we tried (Brands: Toguard, V-Tech and Motorolla) didn’t work very well in the pocket.
It appears that the IR (infra red) beam gets distorted by the plastic material of the pouch causing the image to become “blotchy”. In short, we were not able to see the baby clearly in the dark at first.
In the Images below, we put the SlumberPod carry bag inside the playard for reference.
By using some of the tips from the Slumberpod website we were able to improve the picture quality but we found that it was very hard to have the camera sit in a position where the picture was clear enough to see the baby in the pod.
If we pushed the camera against the plastic from the outside of the SlumberPod, the picture would improve significantly. However as soon as we let go, the camera shifts slightly, the plastic pouch gets loose and the image is once again distorted.
It is however possible to play with the camera from the outside of the pocket and find a sweet spot where you can see the image clearly enough.
We also tried a few other ways to attach the camera inside the SlumberPod. This method ended up delivering the best possible picture quality as well as accurate temperature reading.
There are however some major safety concerns with the camera wire being exposed. You should always be extremely careful if attempting anything like this. Always ensure there are no loose wires exposed inside the pod above or around the playard.
Build quality and Materials
The SlumberPod structure is made using standard tent poles, but the material of the canopy is what makes it stand out.
The material used for the entire pod is really nice. It’s thick, dark, breathable and it doesn’t wrinkle.
The fabric is made from 85% polyester and 15% spandex which makes it breathable and stretchy. Once you stretch the poles into place you can feel the SlumberPod is very taut and feels sturdy.
The fact that it’s light and bottomless makes it easy to move around without feeling like it’s going to come apart.
The whole pod also easily stuffed back into the carry case with the poles and all. Once in the carry case it can fit in any standard carryon luggage.
How it Works
Like most great inventions, the SlumberPod is simple yet effective. As long as you have a playard or pack n play available to put your baby down, you just set up the pod like a bottomless tent and pop it over the playard.
The magic of the SlumberPod is that it give your baby privacy without making him feel stuffed or trapped. The reason for this is that the pod extends much higher and beyond the pack n play so even if your baby now stands and moves around in the crib, he won’t feel like he is locked in a box.
Because the material is thick and black, there is almost no light that makes it into the pod which allows for no distractions and provides your baby with the ideal sleeping environment.
Tips to get the most out of your SlumberPod
We’ve used the SlumberPod on multiple trips and getaways. Some short trips, and some long ones, at a cottage in the winter, at the beach in Mexico and even in our own house when another baby needs to nap and the crib is taken.
Because we’ve used it in almost every situation, we figured out some trick to make it even better. Here are some tips to share with you that will most definitely enhance your SlumberPod experience:
- Bring a small portable fan
- We realized that even though the SlumberPod canopy is breathable, the air does get a bit stale inside. Since we love moving air and always have a fan going in our room, we figured our sone must love it too. So we always bring a small portable fan and place it on the floor between the playard and the pod pointing up. This allows for some air moving inside the pod and we believe helps our little guy sleep better and longer.
- Bring a sound machine (or anything to play some white noise)
- When you share a room with your baby or infant you may want to go about your night after he goes to bed. We found that a sound machine playing white noise helps create a sound barrier between the pod and the outside world so you can walk around, watch TV or play on your phone with the volume up while your baby sleeps away in the same room.
- Setup video monitoring
- We like to see our baby when he’s sleeping and we know many parents feel the same way. The video monitor we own is not on the list of recommended monitors from SlumberPod so we had to play around with it to get it working to our satisfaction. We suggest either getting one of the approved monitors or just know that the video quality may not be the best when the camera is inside the plastic pocket.
- Fold it flat
- The slumberpod can take some space when setup, especially if you are sharing a small hotel room with your infant baby. If you push the two poles towards each other from the side, the SlumberPod actually folds flat to less than an inch thick while still set up! So, it can be placed right behind the pack n play or against any wall in the room and it takes so much less space.
- Air it out after a trip to tropical (hot) places
- A few days after we returned from a two-week vacation in Mexico (where by the way our 8 month old slept through every single night in his SlumberPod) I decided to open up the SlumberPod and found an odd, musty smell coming from it. I then confirmed that my brother-in-law also had the same issue. I can only assume that the humidity from the Mexican heat got in the material and stayed there even though our rooms were air conditioned. Bottom line is that all is needed was some airing out, so if you go somewhere hot, air out the Slumber Pod when you get home.
- Bring it everywhere
- We now bring our SlumberPod with us everywhere we go. It might as well stay in the trunk of our car. Let’s say you go to grandma’s or a friend’s to hang out for a while? Pop the pod open and put baby to nap when it’s time. It literally takes 2 minutes to setup and take down and will certainly help them sleep better.
SlumberPod Assembly Instructions – An Illustrated Guide
The SlumberPod is extremely easy to assemble and even comes with an brief visual assembly manual attached to the carry bag. In my instructions below, I will show with step-by-step pictures a slightly different way that I have been using for months very successfully.
The “User Manual” tag in the carry bag suggests that you lay the SlumberPod material over the playard, whereas in my version I choose to do it flat on the ground. Both ways work just fine and allow for one-person assembly in 2 minutes or less.
Here is a video of how I choose to assembly the SlumberPod:
Step 1: Remove the 3 items from the bag (1x pod material, 2x tent rods)
Step 2: Lay out the material with the center in the middle and connect the tent rods
Step 3: Pass the rods through the blue slots in the material
Step 4: Insert the ends of one of the rods into the nylon pockets at the bottom corner while keeping the pod flat on the ground. Don’t try to lift the pod yet.
Step 5: Insert one end of the second rod into the nylon pocket and go to the opposite side of the pod
Step 6: While inserting the other end of the second rod, guide the pod upwards and pull the material down as needed
Step 7: Connect the 3 plastic hooks from each side to the tent rods. There are 12 hooks total.
At this point you can either set it over the pack n’ play as shown in the video below:
Or you may fold it flat and place it out of the way until bedtime.