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If you’re planning a trip with a baby or toddler, you probably have sleep on the brain. How can you get your child to sleep as best as possible while you’re traveling?
We’ve traveled all over the world with our young children, so we know how hard it can be to get them to sleep in a new environment with lots of distractions. Especially if you’re all sharing a room!
We’ve paid our dues hanging out in the bathroom until the baby finally falls asleep and then sneaking around the hotel room in the dark trying not to wake him. Well, we’re here to tell you that there is a better way! A crib cover can be a total game changer when you’re traveling with a baby or toddler.
There are a lot of different options out there, with one of the most popular being the SlumberPod, a freestanding pod that blocks out light to provide a dark sleep environment for your child. This is a very helpful product with one big downside: the price tag.
However, there are some cheaper alternatives to the SlumberPod out there that will help your child sleep better without breaking the bank. We’ll break down those options for you here so that you know which one will work best for you.
We’ve used SlumperPod alternatives while traveling and have found them to work very well for our children. After a couple of disastrous sleep experiences with our first child, we never travel without a crib darkening sleep aid for our babies and toddlers. It makes a huge difference in everyone’s sleep!
Read on for a detailed analysis of the best SlumberPod alternatives!
For more helpful travel items, see our ultimate list of toddler travel essentials!
Best light-blocking option: SnoozeShade
Best budget option: Brolex Mini Crib Canopy Cover
What is the SlumberPod?
Before we get into the SlumberPod alternatives, you might be wondering what exactly is so great about the original SlumberPod.
Well, the Slumberpod is a portable privacy pod that can be set up over your child’s pack n play or small crib in order to block out light and create a separate sleep area for your child, even if you’re all sleeping in the same room.
The SlumberPod actually blocks 100% of light, making a completely dark sleep environment for your child. With this sleep canopy in place, you can leave the lights on in a room without disturbing your child.
The SlumberPod also has a spot for a baby monitor, so you can keep an eye on your baby without opening the sleep tent.
The stand-alone design allows the tent to be used with small cots and inflatable mattresses as well, which means that it can grow with your child as their sleep needs change.
The big downside of the SlumberPod is that it is quite pricey, retailing at $179.99 for the basic model. Buuuut honestly, if you’re going to be traveling a lot the price might be worth it (especially if your child is still young and can get a lot of use out of it).
However, if you’d rather not spend that kind of cash or wouldn’t use it very frequently, read on for some great alternatives.
- Product weight: 5 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 17 x 5 x 6 inches
- Assembled dimensions: 50 x 36 x 56 inches
- 100% blackout
- Can be used with a monitor
- Can be used with cots and inflatable mattresses as well
- Canopy provides standing room for toddlers
- High retail price
- Takes up more space than alternatives (both in luggage and in the room)
- Longer setup
SlumberPod alternatives comparison chart
|Weight||Folded dimensions||Retail price|
|SlumberPod||5 lbs||17″ x 5″ x 6″||$179.99|
|SnoozeShade||2 lbs||11.81″ x 7.48″ x 3.94″||$79.99|
|Brolex||1.37 lbs||10″ x 5.16″ x 4.49″||$29.99|
|Minnebaby||2.2 lbs||13.7″ x 7″ x 5.04″||$36.99|
One of the big benefits of the SlumberPod alternatives is that they are more lightweight and compact, making them easier to pack for travel. And of course they are much less expensive.
The downside is that they do not block out 100 percent of light like the SlumberPod does. They also fit tight onto the crib, meaning that a child cannot stand up when they are in place, which may or may not be a problem for your child (our toddlers have done fine).
Read on for a more detailed analysis of the some of the best SlumberPod alternatives!
One of the most popular SlumberPod alternatives is the SnoozeShade. The first blackout shade of its kind, the SnoozeShade provides a dark and enclosed sleep environment to help your child sleep anywhere.
Unlike the SlumberPod, which is a freestanding structure that covers the crib like a tent, the SnoozeShade has no structure in and of itself and is instead draped over and pulled down the sides of the crib.
This means that first, it can only be used with a pack n play or small crib (it will not fit a full-sized crib) and also, it fits flat over the top of the crib so there is no room for your child to stand up. Some kids might be bothered by this, but for many it’s not a problem as there is still plenty of room to sit and spread out.
The SnoozeShade has a zippered opening on top as well as a mesh window in the side with a cover that can be rolled up to provide more light and increased airflow. It also has velcro straps at the bottom to secure it to the legs/wheels of the crib.
While the SnoozeShade is not completely blackout, it does block out up to 94 percent of light.
One of the common complaints with this crib cover is that it can get a little hot and stuffy inside. You can combat this by dressing your child in cooler clothes and opening the side flap to provide more ventilation (this will also let in a little more light, for better or worse).
While this is less than half the price of the SlumberPod, it is still somewhat expensive when compared to some of our other SlumberPod alternatives. However, it does block more light.
- Provides 94% blackout
- Comes with a storage bag
- Small and lightweight
- Crib can get stuffy
- Product weight: 2 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 11.81 x 7.48 x 3.94
Brolex Mini Crib Canopy Cover
The Brolex Crib Canopy is made from a breathable mesh that pulls down the sides of the pack n play. Because the fabric is stretchy, the cover can fit most small cribs and pack n’ plays. We have yet to find a hotel or Airbnb pack n play or mini crib that it didn’t fit (note that it will not cover a full-sized crib).
The crib cover blocks out about fifty percent of light, which keeps the environment dim and private, while still allowing good airflow.
The cover has panels that can open on both the top and the side to provide easy access or more airflow into the crib. On each of the bottom four corners is a loop that can be used to secure the cover under the wheels or legs of the crib.
We’ve used this cover many, many times while traveling. Although it only doesn’t provide 100% blackout like the SlumberPod, we’ve found that it is definitely dark enough to provide a good sleep environment for our child as long as you keep the lights down in the room. And the mesh fabric provides enough airflow to prevent the crib from getting too warm during the night.
This sleep cover takes less than a minute to set up, as all you have to do is stretch it over the pack n play or crib. It also is lightweight and takes up almost no room in your suitcase. And it’s one of the cheapest options out there.
If you need 100 percent blackout, this probably won’t cut it. But if you can get by with a darkened and enclosed environment this is a great option.
- Product weight: 1.37 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 10 x 5.16 x 4.49 inches
- Very lightweight
- Stretchy fabric fits a variety of pack n plays and mini cribs
- Packs down small (comes with stuff bag)
- Extremely breathable
- Has both a top and side opening
- Only provides 50% darkness
Minnebaby Darkening Cover
Like the other options, the Minnebaby Darkening Cover fits over the pack n play to provide a dark sleep space for your baby or toddler. This cover does not provide complete darkness, but it does block out about 80 percent of light.
Not only is the Minnebaby cover made with breathable material, the cover is designed with two side panels which can be adjusted to let in more or less light and to increase airflow. There’s also a convenient pocket at the top where you can put a white noise device or a few diapers and wipes.
At the bottom are ties to secure the cover under the legs of the pack n play. However, these do tend to be a little flimsy and sometimes rip off of the cover.
The price on this cover is less than the SnoozeShade and more than the Brolex, but you can often catch it on a good sale.
- Product weight: 2.2 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 13.7 x 7 x 5.04 inches
- Has a pocket for white noise machine
- Blocks 80% of light
- Compact and lightweight
- Fabric stretches to fit a variety of mini cribs
- Bottom straps tend to tear off easily
Tips for using a crib cover
Practice at home
You might want to familiarize your child with the crib cover in advance by pulling it out and introducing it before your leave. That way your child knows what to expect when you set it up on your trip and it gives you a sense of how your child will handle sleeping with the cover on.
Make is a cozy sleep environment
Help your child to feel safe in their new sleep environment by providing some of the sleep comforts they are used to from home. This might include a lovey, a small blanket (for toddlers), white noise, etc. The idea is to make the sleep space feel safe and familiar.
Why use a crib cover?
The benefit of a sleep cover is that you can create a dark sleep environment for your child anywhere you go. If your child is used to sleeping in darkness or semidarkness, this allows you to better replicate their home sleep environment while traveling. It also reduces distractions by providing their own private space and blocking their view of the room.
This means that if you’re staying in one room you have a little more flexibility after your baby is asleep, as they have their own darkened sleep space.
Can you use a crib cover for kids who are standing?
Yes, you can use a crib cover if your child is already standing. Although they won’t be able to stand fully upright, they still have plenty of room in the crib to sit and lay down.
However, you’ll have to determine if having something block them from standing is something that will frustrate your child.
Our kids haven’t had a problem with this, although it is very cute to see their little heads pressing against the top of the cover when they wake up.
If your child is trying to stand up, you can try laying down on the floor next to them for a few minutes to coax them into a sleep position.
Crib covers are extremely helpful sleep aids when traveling with a baby or toddler. Although the SlumberPod is one of the most popular options out there, the SlumberPod alternatives described in this article can also provide a great sleep environment for your child at a lesser cost.
And making sure your child gets good sleep while traveling is hugely beneficial to everyone’s sanity and ultimately the success of your trip!
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