If you are an active person who likes to travel, chances are that parenting has changed your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined. Even when the time comes to bring your kid along on your leisure and camping trips, the concerns are still there…
Will they have a god night’s sleep on the road?
Is it safe for my kid to sleep on an air mattress or should I choose a folding bed?
How will I pack the thing?
What about “accidents”?
It’s important to take your time and choose right because, let’s face it, if your kid doesn’t sleep, you don’t sleep.
So, let’s tackle those questions and make sure that we know how to strike the balance between the safety of your child and your convenience on the road.
Apart from that, this guide will also be useful to the parents looking for a bed that will be a transition from a crib to a classical bed.
A well-chosen portable bed is not only a vacation item; it can also be used as:
- Cozy nest to bask during the day and take naps
- Spare bed for sleepovers
- Daycare bed
To kick things off, let’s look at the most popular styles available.
Airbeds for kids (inflatables)
Probably the most common choice for a travel bed, for a few very good reasons:
- It packs very small and light, easy to pack and store
- Most models of the inflatables come with raised sides to keep your little one safe from rolling over
- In spite of what you might think, the PVC used by the better brands (such as Shrunks Tuckaire or Aerobed) is very durable and safe. For example, the Shrunks Tuckaire adheres to the strictest safety standards, it’s completely chemical-free, so you don’t have to worry about what you child is breathing in. You can get more information on 3 beds.com
- Probably the only portable travel bed for kids that can be taken on a plane, they come with their own carry bag and the pump (usually electric) and it easily fits into a suitcase, so there’s no extra piece of luggage
- It’s simply fun – if you have never owned an air mattress, follow the reactions of your child as they see it inflate. It’s a bed and a show, you’ll probably have to inflate it and deflate it over and over again, simply because it’s fun to watch
- The PVC cleans very well and does not hold smell when (if) accidents happen
Some of the disadvantages of toddler air mattress
Risk of air leaks
The risk increases manifold if you don’t go with a trusted brand (we mentioned a few – Shrunks Tuckaire, Aerobed, and Intex Kidz). Bear in mind, this is a bed that’s filled with air and even the best models might develop leaks.
That’s why they come with a patch kit (patches and adhesives). However, the patches that come with the beds are usually not the strongest and you might be better of getting a patch kit for PVC at your local store.
The better ones also come with a guarantee so you can replace it should you get one that leaks air.
Again, if chosen wisely, your airbed will hold air and probably need topping off no more than once a week. To make sure you choose right, take a moment to read reviews of the air mattresses and choose the best.
Over the years, the industry of air mattresses has changed a lot and there’s much less room for any potentially harmful substances being to be used in the manufacturing process.
Having said that, it’s your best bet to look for a bed that’s eco-friendly and chemical free and list so explicitly. A good example of such a product is the mentioned Shrunks Tuckaire travel bed that makes a special emphasis of the fact that it is completely free of any BPAs and phthalates.
Final words on inflatable beds for kids
As you can see from the “disadvantages”, a well-chosen blow up bed doesn’t really have any. What’s listed under the disadvantages can be avoided by knowing what you’re looking for and making a smart, cautious decision.
Bottom line, an inflatable is a solid option for a travel bed and probably the most practical.
So, let’s move on to analyze and review what are the PROs and CONs of the other styles:
Cots for kids
When looking for a good solution, a toddler cot should probably be considered only if you don’t plan to use it very often.
It is usually much cheaper than the other options but there’s a reason for that – it’s much less comfortable and the kid should already be used to sleeping on a bed without sides.
The materials used are steel for the collapsible frame and plastic for the joints. The main reason it’s not as comfortable as an inflatable or as foam folding bed us that the top of the bed is canvas with very little padding.
Bottom line, if you are choosing a cot over other options, you might think about getting a foam mat for added comfort.
At the price point getting a good cot (if that’s your decision) shouldn’t be a problem (an example of a reliable brand is Regalo My Cot, available in two colors – blue and pink for boys and girls).
Foam fold up bed
Now, a foam foldable bed is a whole different animal. The most expensive of the three choices, but by far the most comfortable.
Advantages of a folding toddler bed:
- The most comfortable option (entirely made out of soft foam)
- Safest option – since the bed has no hard parts (as opposed to a cot) and cannot loose air (as oppose to a blow up) there’s no risk involved
- Design – the slickest and the most luxurious option of the three
Disadvantages of this type of portable bed:
- Costly – the most expensive option
- Bulky – better used at home than for travel, especially by air
- Hard to clean if “accidents” happen – you’d have to take the whole bed apart to try and clean it. Yet, there’s very little chance you’ll be able to get the smell out of the foam.
- The sides of the bed are not as sturdy as those of an airbed and if your toddler is a restless sleeper they are more likely to roll off
With all that said, a folding toddler bed us your best bet if your little one sleeps relatively calm, is accident-free and its main use will be as a house bed.
The choice of this type of beds is not broad (the product that stands out and is worth mentioning is a LeachCo BumpZZZ travel bed).
Concluding thoughts on portable travel beds for your kid
Let’s make a stock-take of the information we presented so far in the form of questions you need to ask yourself before any decisions:
- What will be the main use of the bed, home or travel?
- How often do you plan to use it?
- Is your little one still prone to “accidents”?
- Do you need to take it on a plane when traveling?
- How calm of a sleeper is your child?
Pair the answers to these five questions with the analysis of each type of bed we went through and you should be clear on what’s the best fir for your family.
Sleep tight and travel light