When you’re traveling as a couple any hotel room will do, as long as there’s a double bed. Obviously, when you travel with kids the sleeping arrangements require a bit more planning. Once your kids are old enough to sleep in a regular bed, you only need to make sure you can get an extra bed in the room. But while they’re still young, bringing a toddler travel bed is usually a cheaper and better option. Choosing the best portable toddler bed for your child isn’t an easy task, there are many different types available. This detailed buying guide will make your choice for the best toddler travel bed a lot easier.
Most often you don’t have to pay for kids up until a certain age when they use the existing beds. So, a kids travel bed gives you the option to book a regular double room and still have a secure place for your toddler to sleep. This opens up a much wider range of accommodations to choose from.
- 1 What is a toddler travel bed?
- 2 Do you need a toddler travel bed?
- 3 Toddler travel bed comparison table
- 4 The difference between travel crib, pack n play & toddler travel bed
- 5 An alternative: portable toddler bed rails
- 6 Choosing a toddler travel bed
- 7 Toddler travel bed reviews
What is a toddler travel bed?
A toddler travel bed is a portable toddler bed, made especially for travel purposes. It is lightweight and easy to transport. We’ll discuss the many different kids travel bed options and our choice for the best travel bed for toddlers later in this article. There are several types of toddler travel beds. You can choose between a fold up toddler bed, a toddler air mattress or a pop-up toddler bed. The pros and cons of each type are discussed in the ‘Choosing a toddler travel bed’ section below.
While kids are flexible and generally easy to travel with, they like routine and predictability. It really helped our son to have his own portable child bed. A small space in an unfamiliar environment that was his and always the same. A kids portable bed is made specifically for travel. Kids travel beds are compact, lightweight and easy to carry. And a portable bed for toddler use creates a secure sleeping area for your little one.
Do you need a toddler travel bed?
There are only three situations I can think of when you might not need a portable travel bed for your kid(s):
- you’re used to co-sleeping at home and will also do so while away
- you don’t mind spending lots of money on expensive family rooms (in which case you might still want to take portable bed rails for travel)
- you’ve pre-booked all your hotel rooms and are 100% positive they all provide a suitable sleeping solution for your kids such as a portable cot bed or a kids camping bed.
In all other cases, I would definitely check out the best portable bed options for toddlers. The only con of traveling with a foldable toddler bed or a toddler blow up bed is that you have to carry an extra piece of luggage. Other than that there are a lot of pros:
- Very often a toddler travel bed, especially inflatable toddler travel beds, are a lot less heavy than portable travel cribs
- Your kids have a safe and familiar place to sleep
- You can choose from a wider range of accommodations and don’t have to restrict yourself to the ones that offer family rooms
- You save money, because you don’t have to book expensive triple rooms or family rooms (which leaves you with more budget for fun stuff!)
- You have a spare fold out toddler bed to use at home
Toddler travel bed comparison table
Check the comparison table below for a quick overview of the best toddler beds for travel. You’ll find information about the travel bed such as well as the weight, the age range, the ease of use and a price indication. Further on in this buying guide, we’ll discuss the best portable toddler bed in more detail and provide toddler travel bed reviews for each of the models mentioned in the toddler travel bed comparison chart.
The difference between travel crib, pack n play & toddler travel bed
It’s important to make the distinction between portable toddler travel bed solutions, a pack n play, and a travel crib. The latter two are suitable as a travel bed for 2 year old or younger kids. A toddler travel bed doesn’t have high sides and doesn’t really contain your child. So, it both depends on your child’s age and their activity level which option is best for your little one.
The best travel crib
A travel crib is the most suitable baby travel bed although you can also get a travel crib for toddler use. Basically there are two types, a pop up travel crib such as the KidCo Peapod and a portable travel crib such as the Phill&Teds Portable Traveller Crib. A third option is an in bed co-sleeper which is a very lightweight baby travel crib solution. When we went to Egypt with our 3-month old we could borrow a co-sleeper crib, but otherwise I would have bought the BRICA Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet. Of these three types, the PeaPod and the Brica are by far the most lightweight travel cribs. They weigh around 3 pounds. Compared to that the 7 pound Phill and Ted’s folding travel crib is quite heavy. We had a travel bed tent, comparable to the PeaPod, for our son and he thought it was the most comfortable travel crib in the world. But I heard from other families whose kids did not want to sleep in such an enclosed space. Ultimately, it’s a case of trial and error to figure out what travel crib solution suits your child best.
Our choice for the best travel crib: Chicco Lullago Travel Crib
The best pack n play
A pack n play functions both as a toddler travel bed and a playard or playpen. It also offers your little one a safe play area while awake. Often a pack and play can be combined with a bassinet insert, so it can also be used for babies or infants. Take into consideration that even the best pack n play is still bulkier than a baby travel bed. So they’re more suitable to take on road trips than as a toddler travel bed for airplane travel.
Our choice for the best pack n play: Graco Pack ‘n Play On The Go Playard Crib
An alternative: portable toddler bed rails
If your kids are a bit older and don’t have to be contained as much, but aren’t yet old enough to sleep in a single bed by themselves, portable toddler bed rails could be an option. Basically, a travel bed guard turns any single bed into a safe place to sleep for your little one. What is more, if you’re backpacking or traveling with carry-on only, portable bed rails for travel are a great lightweight alternative for a toddler travel bed.
Our choice for the best folding child bed rails for travel: BabyHome Side Light Bed Rail
There are two types of travel bed rails for toddlers: foldable bed side rails and inflatable bed safety rails. The inflatable child bed rails are sometimes also referred to as ‘bed bumper’, ’bed rail bumper’ or ‘bed rail guard’. Picking the best toddler bed rails depends on your mode of transportation. For air travel and backpacking with kids, inflatable travel bed rails, such as the shrunks toddler bed rail, are your best choice. Foldable bed rails for kids are generally higher and offer a bit more protection against falling out of bed.
Our choice for the best inflatable bed rail for toddlers: Shrunks Inflatable Kids Bed Rails
Choosing a toddler travel bed
When choosing the best toddler travel bed for your child, there are a few factors to take into consideration, such as the type of travel bed, the ease of use, the weight of the portable toddler bed and the age of your child.
If your little one is really active or you need a more contained safe area for them, a travel crib might be more suited. When a less contained sleeping solution is an option, the first choice you need to make is which type of portable child bed is best for your son or daughter.
Types of toddler travel beds
Basically, there are two types of portable toddler beds, the inflatable kids travel bed and the fold up cots for toddlers. Subtypes of the inflatable toddler bed are the toddler ready bed and the toddler blow up mattress.
Inflatable toddler bed
As the name implies a toddler inflatable bed requires inflation (and deflation when you need to pack it). Compared to a regular air mattress for toddlers, a proper toddler inflatable bed offers a bit more containment. The best inflatable toddler beds are portable toddler beds with rails, they have raised sides that form bed bumpers to prevent your child from rolling off the mattress.
Our choice for best inflatable toddler bed: Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed
An inflatable toddler travel bed is a popular choice for families that prefer to travel by airplane or backpacking families. The mattress deflates to a compact and relatively light package. There’s a bit of a risk though, if the inflatable bed becomes punctured it’s virtually useless. So don’t forget to bring the puncture kit that comes with the mattress!
It’s important to let your child test sleep on the toddler blow up bed to see if it is comfortable enough, especially if you’ll be traveling for longer than a few days. Also, the plastic of the air mattress can be smelly, so make sure to leave it inflated a day or two to get rid of the smell before first use.
Air mattress for toddlers
A regular kids inflatable bed is an option if your child isn’t very active in the night as it has no protective side bed rails. This type of travel bed would not work for our little one. He often ends up with his feet on his pillow! An inflatable travel bed can be very comfortable. You could use an adult size inflatable mattress, but there are also kids sized options in attractive, bright colors. An option for an extremely lightweight twin size air mattress (only 17,5 oz!) is the X-Lounger Ultralight Sleeping Pad.
Our choice for best inflatable mattress for kids: Intex Child Air Mattress
Toddler ready beds
A toddler ready bed is a portable travel bed for toddlers that comes with a built in sleeping bag. It’s a kids folding mattress that has a slightly inflated pillow area, so you don’t have to bring a pillow or additional bedding for your toddler. Hence the name ‘ready’ bed. After inflation, the bed is ready for your child to sleep in straight away. The sleeping bag can be easily removed for washing and these beds come in a variety of popular cartoon designs, such as Peppa Pig, Frozen, Thomas the Train and Paw Patrol.
Our choice for best toddler ready bed: My First ReadyBed
Folding toddler bed
Apart from the inflatable toddler travel bed, there’s the folding travel bed for toddler use. There are two types, the fold out toddler bed that requires no assembly and the toddler camping cot that has a tent-like construction with loose poles.
The first kind is really easy to set up as it only requires unfolding. It’s also very practical during the day, because you can easily fold it back up to save space. Fold up cots for toddlers with loose parts can be a bit of a puzzle, but practice makes perfect. We had a toddler travel bed tent with a similar construction and became real pros at setting it up quickly (under 5 minutes!).
Our choice for the best travel cot for toddler use: Regalo My Cot
A fold up toddler bed can be quite comfortable, but it’s more suitable for slightly older kids as it has no protective sides. If your child is very active in the night, this is not the best portable toddler bed for you. Another downside of a toddler folding cot is that it’s bigger than an inflatable toddler mattress. Fitting it into your airplane carry on luggage is next to impossible. We often tied our son’s travel bed to the side of our backpack and then placed the backpack in a flight bag for transport. That setup worked really well for us.
Toddler travel bed reviews
How convenient is this! My First Ready Bed is a combination of a soft washable cover and an air mattress, all in one neat package. An inflatable toddler bed that’s ready in seconds and very lightweight too, only 3.2 pounds. The cover comes in different fun designs. What child would not want to sleep in a Paw Patrol ready bed or a Peppa Pig bed? A toddler blow up bed is an excellent choice for travel and weekend trips or sleepovers. And this ready bed is even better because you don’t have to bring any extra bedding. The toddler version of this ready bed has raised sides that form bed side rails to prevent your toddler from falling out of bed.
This Paw Patrol ready bed comes with its own inflation pump and its own carry case. It’s suitable for kids age 18 months and up and is approximately 51.2 x 24 x 9.1 inches. So it’s a good investment too as your child can sleep in it till age 3 or 4, depending on your child’s length and weight. If your child is a bit older, you can move up from this toddler ready bed to a junior ready bed that doesn’t have bed side rails. Of course a ready bed is also a great solution for a toddler sleepover bed when you’re not traveling.
The Regalo toddler cot is a great kids portable cot, and definitely a good option for traveling families as it only weighs 7 pounds and folds easily. At 48” long the Regalo My Cot portable child travel bed can accommodate kids ages 2-5. Maximum weight limit is 75 pounds so you child can use the Regalo kids cot for a good few years. The advantage of a toddler travel cot over an inflatable toddler bed is that it’s much easier to fold and the Regalo travel bed is no exception. It unfolds and folds in seconds so you have space to walk around and play during the day.
Because of the design a toddler cot bed has a bit of a dip in the middle, which makes sure kids don’t fall out easily. But if your little one moves around a lot while sleeping, a portable toddler cot might not be the best choice as it has no side guard rails. The Regalo travel bed sits quite low though. For slightly older or less active kids, the Regalo portable toddler bed is a great and very comfortable choice.
This Intex kids air mattress can easily be used as inflatable kids travel bed. At only 4.3 pounds the Intex kidz travel bed is a great lightweight children’s inflatable mattress that’s perfect for traveling toddlers and preschoolers. Because it’s smaller than a regular twin air mattress it’s easy to fit the Intex inflatable kids travel airbed in a tent or next to your own bed in a hotel room.
If your child is very active in the night, a kids inflatable mattress such as the Intex inflatable kids bed, might not be the best idea. The Intex child air mattress has no side guard rails, so younger kids may roll off. It’s recommended to use the Intex kids air bed on the ground, so that if your little on does fall out of bed the distance to the floor is minimal.
The Intex kids air bed comes in a variety of bright colors that will inspire any child to sleep and an inflatable travel pillow. The waterproof flocked top offers extra comfort and prevents sheets of sleeping bags from sliding off. The Intex Cozy Kidz Inflatable Airbed is a great budget choice. Please note that it doesn’t come with an air pump. A kids blow up bed is especially suitable if you’re traveling at a slower pace. Do consider buying an additional electrical air bed pump to make your life easier!
The award-winning The Shrunks toddler travel bed is many parents’ choice for best toddler travel bed. This inflatable toddler bed weighs only 6.6 pounds, folds into a small package and inflates in seconds with the included electric pump. Both the toddler travel bed and the powerful pump fit into the included travel bag.
The Shrunks travel bed fits all standard crib sheets (a major plus!). The inner inflatable area of the shrunks air mattress doesn’t detach from the bottom, but blankets can be tucked securely under the inner mattress. The inflated bed side rails create a toddler air bed with sides and make sure your little doesn’t roll out of bed at night. The waterproof flocked top of the inner mattress prevents the sheets from sliding and makes the Shrunks inflatable toddler bed very comfortable to sleep in.
The Shrunks indoor travel bed is a great investment that will last you a good few years. Once your child has outgrown the Shrunks toddler bed, you can move up to the junior size Shrunks Sleepover Kid’s Travel Bed.