Recently my son has started sleeping in his full sized crib. Yay! He loves it. But we often find that he is scooting from one end to the other while he sleeps. This is not really a problem except we are planing a trip and are faced with the decision to rent a crib at around $20 a night or co-sleep with him. I am not a co-sleeper…him moving about would keep me up all night. But I cannot bear to spend $20 extra each night to rent a crib not to mention it kind of grosses me out. It just seems that this service should be free.
So I began my search for travel beds. Really travel cribs. It seems that there are two groups separate groups of travel sized sleeping gear.
One is better suited for newborns who don’t really move much, are under 15ish pounds and 30 inches in length. They are between $30 – $100. And certainly fold down to fit into a suit case.
And the other is for larger more mobile infants up to 3 years old, a smaller version of a pack and play. Prices are a bit more between $160 and $250. YIKES. On top of the price they are bulky to pack and MIGHT fit in our suit case (there would not be much if any room left for clothes though).
My husband and I were discussing and agreed that we need to have the larger of the travel cribs. We have a few trips that we are thinking about taking, and the baby is not getting less mobile or any smaller. I just could not bear to spend $200+ on a travel crib when we did not pay that much for his everyday crib. Naturally I searched craigslist, our local second hand stores and could not find any of the larger travel cribs. Total bummer.
Last night I was feeding / changing the baby at 2am (I guess that is morning :)) and it hit me. We own something that will work already, AND it is right in front of my face. Yes we still have not formally decorated his nursery or moved the stuff we have stored in there.
Before you read on let me say don’t judge and hear me out.
I had purchased a travel pop-up dog kennel years ago and the dogs HATE it, they refuse to even go inside.
It just happened to be sitting on top of a box to be stored. I thought I was crazy too until I checked the internet (cause thats a sanity meter, if someone else has done it and posted it, it is okay right :)). There were a few posts that had caught my attention HERE and HERE and I started to feel a little less crazy (but it is still 3am at this point in my search).
Naturally being validated that others are doing this, I needed to go to bed I can do more research in the morning. I still laid in bed for another hour thinking of how to make it work. I found this item for sale on a UK website and they do NOT ship outside of the UK. Bummer cause it is totally cute.
So I began by undoing the finished seam on the side, removing the mesh window. The sides did distort a bit when I did this, but will kind of go back into shape when the zippered window is closed. I figured that the finished side window would be easiest to work out the kinks with.
I hand basted a 72″ upholstery zipper around the opening. Don’t buy your zipper in the zipper section (at JoAnns). To get a zipper long enough it would have been $20 for a sleeping bag zipper. Go to the upholstery section they have zipper by the yard (more economical) but the best deal is the prepackaged upholstery zippers. I payed $3.50 for 72″ zipper.
If at all possible I avoid hand sewing. I tried pins first but they would not stay put and with this length of zipper, the pins ended up puckering and sucked up some length. To stop this I hand basted the zipper with a long running stitch. This allowed me to accurately add the bit of red nylon in between the ends of the zipper. After, I wrapped the raw edges in 7/8″ grosgrain ribbon. I pinned this in place because as I sew around the seam I could adjust for the extra length that pinning had created.
To sew this on the sewing machine I had to move the sewing machine to the cutting table. I needed to be able to access all sides of my machine and at a few points get inside the kennel to sew and remove pins and sew from the back of my machine. The stitches are not perfect but it was totally worth the hassle to use the sewing machine.
Next up… sew the mesh onto the other side of the zipper. This took some trial and error (zipping and un zipping) with pinning to ensure that the mesh was evenly distributed around the zipper.
then it was back to the sewing machine (still on the cutting table due to the size of the kennel).
When I was all done I did a little happy dance!
Now to have the baby test it out. If you look at the travel cribs above the door opens so the mesh is on the floor. That seems a little impractical to me so I put mine so the door is hanging from the top so it is out of his way. I did purchase another zipper to add another opening to the top however I have run out of time before our trip to add this. If need be I can turn the bed on it’s side and use the side door as the top.
For the mattress I bought a cheep foam mattress topper, cut it to size, and sewed a cover (like a pillow slip cover).
The kennel came with a case for storing and still fits in it even with the added zipper. To compress the mattress I am using a space bag. The space bag company makes space bags that you do not need a vacuum to compress. You will want to look for travel or dual use bags.
The bed and mattress will fit in my suit case with plenty of room for our clothes. The total cost for this was around $20 (because I already had the kennel).
Update: I have created another post on how this travel crib worked for us.