For most of my 21 month old toddler’s life she’s slept in bed with mom and dad, and when traveling these days sometimes it still is easier for her to join us in bed. However, starting at 16 months she started sleeping for naps and during the night in her own regular full size bed in her own room with a bed rail. Let’s be upfront, though- the easiest, most economical, and most travel-friendly sleep option is co-sleeping with a toddler while traveling. If you do so at home, just continue while traveling.
I’m a big fan of co-sleeping– it’s made my life as a breastfeeding mom really easy since her birth, and I can visibly see that it’s brought some major comfort, calm, and night-time security to my daughter. She loves bed, and she loves sleep. I wasn’t going to force her to sleep in her own bed, but I thought I’d try it out, and she responded so positively that we continued the bed time routine of bath, stories in “Veda’s bed,” and then to sleep.
I’ll be honest- my husband and I miss having her close to us. But we decided it might be a good idea to transition her to her own bed since she, like many babes, is a night-time acrobat and we were getting a lot of disturbed sleep with her feet in our faces, plus with a new baby expected in January that I fully intend on co-sleeping with as I did my daughter since it was such a wonderful experience, I don’t like the idea of the acrobat and karate kicker in bed with a tiny newborn (even on the other side of me) and have a hunch that none of us will sleep very peacefully with both in bed. I also didn’t want her to associate the arrival of a new baby with us introducing her to her own bed as if she were being displaced, so we wanted to gently encourage this process as soon as possible before baby comes.
At home we use Magic Bumpers in her full size bed to keep her from rolling out. I like them because they are placed underneath the fitted sheet which results in them being immovable and secure, even with a lot of pressure, and also results in having zero hazardous gaps or spaces to get stuck into. They are about the length of her body so in a full size bed there is still space at the end of the bed, which I actually like because it allows her a space where she can easily climb out of the bed (after which she promptly opens her door, I hear pitter patter of feet, and she appears in the doorway with a big mess of hair and a big grin on her face).
The Magic Bumpers are made of foam so they are pretty lightweight. I originally bought them thinking I could use them traveling, even before my daughter had her own bed since we put her down for naps in a regular bed and I wanted a rail to prevent any rolling. Although I do love the Magic Bumpers for home to keep my toddler safe from rolling out of her bed, I never actually did take them traveling with me. Despite their light weight, they are pretty bulky and would take up way too much room in the suitcase.
Enter The Shrunks. The Shrunks Sleep Secure Inflatable Bedrail is the same idea- it’s a bumper that fits underneath a fitted space to create a barrier for a toddler sleeping in a regular bed. However, the difference is that it is inflatable. I love inflatable stuff for travel. The other bonus is that it comes with a super lightweight plastic manual pump. That means I can inflate it under a minute with my hands/ foot without having to worry about hooking up to electricity. It comes with a little travel satchel, takes up a tiny bit of space, and two of the deflated bed rails plus the pump are less than a pound. Beautiful.
We’ve traveled to several places with The Shrunks inflatable bed rails, including India and South Africa, when we all slept together in one bed. I think they are great for co-sleeping (especially at nap time), turning any bed at home or when traveling into a safe individual sleeping space for a toddler or young child, and would also work great at home.
I then decided to purchase The Shrunks inflatable toddler bed (pictured t the top of this post). Since we spend so much time away from home, I wanted to be consistent when traveling that my daughter would sleep in her own space. Plus, sometimes we travel places with smaller beds where it’s preferable to have her in her own space. I love this inflatable toddler bed, which is basically like a miniature air mattress. The only differences are: 1) a toddler sized fitted sheet can fit over it, 2) it has elevated side rails to prevent rolling (even though it would be placed on the ground), and 3) it’s a lot smaller so it can be easily packed in a suitcase.
It is considerably more heavy than the bed rails, closer to about 7 pounds, and obviously takes up more space. It also requires an electric pump so it will need a power source wherever you may be traveling. But to me it’s still worth it. Today we set off to Nicaragua for my work for three weeks and have The Shrunks toddler air mattress packed in a suitcase. My daughter loves it- she seems to be attracted to the miniature, and it will mean we remain consistent in her own sleeping space and that we’ll all be comfortable at night. My husband, my toddler, and I each still have packed only one suitcase each for easy traveling. Between the inflatable mattress and numerous packs of Flip disposable cloth inserts that we are going to use on this trip much of my toddler’s suitcase is full, but there is enough extra space in my husband’s and my suitcase to fit some of her other stuff (E.g. toys).
And, speaking of Nicaragua, I want to apologize for being off the radar for the past couple of weeks! Life has been hectic with traveling between India, South Africa, Michigan, and only five days at home in Chicago to prep for the work I have to do their, so my Gypsy Momma-ing has taken a backseat. I’ll also be quite busy with work over the next few weeks, but I have enlisted my husband, Gypsy Daddy, to write a few guest posts to supplement what I write. So, stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear about how living out of the Intercontinental Hotel in Managua is going with a toddler (without a kitchen), using hybrid Flip diapers in a hotel with disposable liners vs. using/ washing reusable cloth inserts, and exploring the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes with a toddler while mommy is busy at the office.