Mother and Baby

Should I buy a baby sleep pod or nest for my child?

Section: Nursery
Baby in sleep pod in playpen

Pods or nests (often called sleep pods or sleep nests) are snug places for your toddler to rest and play during the day. They're great for tummy time, snuggling up next to you on the sofa, or just a comfy place to rest and chill out.

They have padded sides, keeping your little one cosy, and these sides are great to drape over during a period of tummy time play. 

However, while we think they are great lounging products for your toddler during the day, we do not recommend their use as sleeping products

Using a pod or nest as a lounging product

Pods and nests are becoming more and more popular as a daytime lounging baby product, and are portable for when you’re moving room to room with your toddler.

Most pods are available in a large size, suitable for toddlers - normally from 9 to 36 months. Smaller versions are available for babies but do heed the following safety recommendations. 

Should you use a pod for your baby to sleep in? 

Sleep pods or sleep nests are becoming a popular choice for babies instead of the traditional Moses basket.

But The Lullaby Trust doesn’t advise their use for baby sleep; it states: “Evidence shows that sleeping a baby on anything but a firm, flat surface, or using soft, heavy bedding, can increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).” This sleeping advice refers to babies under one year old.

The Trust also reminds us: “While there is a British Standard for cot mattresses, there is no standard for pods or nests as a sleeping place for babies.”

There might not be any recorded cases of SIDS related to the use of pods or nests, but there are safety concerns highlighted by the Lullaby Trust related to the products featuring padded sides and soft bases.

If you’ve considered all the sleeping guidelines carefully, and want to invest in a pod, have these points on a checklist while you’re choosing a nest:

  • Make sure the pod has a firm base and mattress
  • Only use the pod under your supervision
  • Check regularly that your little one isn’t overheating
  • Use it for playtime and resting rather than sleep

Here are the best pods and nests we’ve found to buy today:

This baby pod is lightweight and easy to move around the house, or to take with you on holiday or visits to family. This design features cute giraffes; it’s also available in a grey marl or with zebras. Certified to be fully air permeable as per UK standard BS4578. The base is waterproof, protecting against leaks, and it has hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial properties. This is the larger size, but smaller versions are available to use from birth. A great nest for tummy time play or resting on the sofa next to Mum while you have a cuppa.

  • Size: 103 x 59 x 14 cm
  • Suitable from 6-36 months (smaller versions available from birth)

DockATot (previously known as Sleepyhead) Grand Dock calls this pod a ‘docking station’ for your baby. It’s easy to wipe clean and the cover is washable, and there’s no denying mums love this product. There are loads of beautifully designed removeable covers to change the colour and mood of your pod. It’s been shortlisted several times in the Mother&Baby Awards, and won Silver in the 2017 Best Product for a Newborn category.  

Tested by mum Natalie Howard; she said: “I have recommended this to so many parents. I wish I had known about this product with my first boy! We have taken it away on holiday. It is very portable which has made our little breaks away a lot easier especially with limited space in the car. I love how perfectly it surrounds my boy like a mother’s warm embrace. It feels soft and comfy yet firm and safe.”

Mum Clare Marshall-Hardy commented in MumTribe: "Used small and big Sleepyhead. They made the world of difference for our little one who would wake often without it. She loves it and will just lie there in the mornings snuggling up in it if she wakes early. I did my research when purchasing and made an informed decision."

Mum Gina Cooper commended in MumTribe: "Our Sleepyhead was essential in our house, we went up to the big size as our girl got older and we even took it to Menorca with us!"

Read our full review here

  • 100% cotton cover
  • Removable, washable cover
  • Replacement covers available in other designs
  • Size: L120 x W61cm

This baby pod features long straps so you can easily carry your baby in the pod from one room to the next without too much disruption. The Confetti Rose colour is beautiful but you can also buy it in grey or cream, and the cover is washable.

  • 100% organic cotton
  • Removable, washable cover
  • Size:  Inner dimensions: 63 cm x 26 cm, Outer dimensions: 84 cm x 45 cm
  • Recommended from birth to 7 months

A 4-in-1 cosy space, this thickly padded pod features movable and detachable arches with 4 multi-sensory toys, rattling Prince the Penguin, teether Star the Seal, baby-safe rainbow mirror and a music and lights pull-ring toy. The sides can be drawn up to create a nest-like and cosy environment or drawn down for a playmat. Alternatively, the padded edges are great for tummy time support to encourage your baby's development of their upper body strength.​

  • Size: 70 x 78 x 55 cm
  • Suitable from birth

Review: "Really happy with this beautiful and comfy play gym for my littlest babe. She loves looking at the different characters, the music and white noise options are pleasant and the colour ways are a joy, especially in a world of abrasive primary colours. Materials are super soft and v easy to assemble, even for someone who struggles with a simple ikea build!"

We can't lie, we wouldn't mind an adult version of this lounger! The chair's ergonomic shape has a fitted middle section for your baby's bum, ensuring they are completely safe and comfortable. Your baby can be secured using two side attachments so there's no risk of them rolling over. It also comes with a tubular-shaped travel bag for easy travel. 

  • Size: 36.4 x 31.2 x 18.4 cm
  • Suitable from birth

Review: "This baby lounger is excellent and just what I was looking for, having looked at all other available products, my choice didn't disappoint! The baby loves resting in it, especially after having a meal, so that it's easier for him to digest, rather than lying in his cot. The baby feels safe and comfortable in his lounger, he can also see mommy and explore the surroundings if he doesn't feel like sleeping yet."

So if you’re thinking about investing in a baby pod, take the safety considerations into mind and make sure you’re 100% certain this is the right product for your baby’s safety and your peace of mind.

When choosing a sleeping product for your baby, it’s important to remember these vital baby sleep safety factors:

  • The surface is firm
  • The surface is flat
  • The surface has a waterproof cover
  • There are no loose blankets or sheets

Baby pods have a variety of uses, and if you’re not going to use it as a sleep product, there are ways your baby can enjoy their nest. They can be used as a comfy place to lay and lounge next to you, for tummy time, playing, or cuddling with you. Some mums find them useful if you’ve had a C-section and are finding laying with your baby uncomfortable, or if reaching into the cot or Moses basket during the day is proving to be difficult. So, if you don’t want your baby sleeping in their pod for safety reasons, there are still plenty of ways you can get the most of out it.

For tummy time, pods are good fun – place your baby on his tummy, with the cushioned side under his armpits, with his arms out in front. Using a mirror is a great game during tummy time, or showing him brightly coloured books and toys to grab his attention.

When using a pod, always place it on a firm, stable surface, and make sure that your baby is somewhere safe should he happen to roll or climb out of the pod. Make sure there are no pillows, cushions, or loose covers over or near the pod that your baby could pull on top of him and risk suffocation. Don’t add any blankets or covers underneath your baby while he’s in the pod, and use it under your supervision.

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  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing Editor

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited motherandbaby.co.uk before moving on to write about family cars for Parkers.co.uk - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, Yours, Garden News, and WhatsTheBest.co.uk 

She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Sophie studied History at the University of Sheffield and has been in journalism for 16 years. 

Other contributors

Emily Thorpe - Digital Writer

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