Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Product Hits & Misses: Big Girl Bed Edition

Monday night marked an important milestone in our family.

It was the first time EVER that all of us slept on adult-size beds!

Ever since Joy first climbed out of her crib, long time since, we've been using one form of tent or another to keep her safe during night-times and rest-times. She doesn't protest the enclosure at all -- I think it makes her feel safe too -- but if it's not there, she's up and about in a flash. Won't stay still long enough to have any chance at sleep, and her bedroom is not currently safe to be up-and-about in the middle of the night. (We're having some modifications done. But still.)

I wrote about tented products in my very first Product Hits and Misses post two years ago. Crib tent from Tots-in-Mind was a huge hit, making the crib usable all the way up to age 6 and a half! Pack-n-play tent was helpful but fiddly, making overnight travel possible but it always took such a long time to set up, plus it's definitely got a size limit to it. The PeaPod Plus travel bed, which took the place of the Pack-n-Play tent, was an astonishingly fine find. Good up to age 6 depending on kid-size, this portable tent sets up in one springy motion (though you do have to pump up the little air mattress to insert in the base separately). It folds away with nearly equal ease. We've used this for both travel and out-of-home napping for two years, at daycare and now at kindergarten. Amazing product.

Less amazing was the Pacific Play Tents Secret Castle Twin Bed Tent. This product fit over a twin mattress, and we'd hoped that it might serve a containment purpose for Joy with a few modifications (for example, the front door zipper only went top-to-bottom, but the base of the door was open, so I tried to modify that with snaps.) Not only could Joy get out easily, but the tent was poorly ventilated and also wasn't well-set-up for bedding. Big miss, alas.

Well, since we did that product search two years ago, a new invention has come on the scene. May I present: the Nickel Bed Tent from Ready, Set, Bloom LLC.

Nickel Bed Tent from Ready, Set, Bloom
This parent-invented product came about due to the needs of a youngster with autism (named Nick, hence the Nickel Bed.) It's sized for a twin mattress like the play tent I just mentioned, but unlike the play tent, with the Nickel Bed you insert the mattress INTO the tent, so you can put a full set of bedding on it. The tent has great ventilation, and zippers open on three sides: two long sides plus one end. It also comes with little carabiners for hooking the zippers together, assuming you don't want them to be unzipped from the inside.

Joy loves her new tent. She popped right in with no trouble at all, snuggled the familiar blankets, went right to sleep. Two nights now, no troubles. We've started with an air mattress, but a "real" mattress is on order and with any luck will be able to pick it up today. Rose is a little bit envious, but she got to move to her own room with a queen-size platform bed some time ago, so I think she'll deal.

The tent is proving popular enough to keep selling out. It was on back-order when we discovered it, and is now on back-order again. The inventors/proprietors of Ready, Set, Bloom have been making tweaks to improve the product with each new batch from the factory, so the tent is apparently still a work in progress. The price is good: the current iteration sells for $139.99 (I think we paid $125). Compare that to a hospital-bed type enclosure!! One thing I really appreciated was being able to follow the company on Facebook, thus getting the inside scoop on product updates and shipping updates and such.

While this product is a huge hit with us, we've also found a few things that could use improvement.

The tent is, unfortunately, a bit of a challenge to set up. The tent poles have square-cut ends that don't slide particularly easily into the tent-fabric channels. The four main poles, instead of starting out straight and bending in the process (like most tent-poles these days do), are actually curved aluminum, probably more sturdy but also a little more finicky to put together and thread through. The set-up instructions seemed to refer to a previous iteration of the product, referencing straight poles of three different lengths when actually there are two matching short straight poles and then four matching curved poles -- confusing at first!

I do believe I'm spoiled by the "spring-right-out-of-the-bag" set-up of the PeaPod Plus. I could wish for a similar set-up in a large size product! though the PeaPod has an oval footprint and requires its own custom inflatable mattress, while the Nickel Bed Tent accommodates a standard twin mattress & bedding, and therefore can fit a twin-bed frame -- it has straps at the base of the tent to fasten onto a frame if you're using one. We'll likely travel with the PeaPod for a little while yet, as long as we can, due to the differential in set-up ease. When she outgrows that, we'll have the Nickel Bed Tent and air mattress, such that overnight travel will still be possible. For that awesome benefit, we can overlook a little bit of set-up time.

The fact that the zippers are made to attach together also technically makes the Nickel Bed a form of restraint. So we couldn't spend Medicare Waiver funds on it -- though if we'd needed a hospital-ish bed, we could have accessed that funding to the tune of a couple thousand. Fascinating how things work, or don't, sometimes.

All told, Joy's new Nickel Bed is a huge step forward, and I salute the inventors for seeing the need in their own lives and making their solution available to the world as well!


autismand said...

So pleased you found such great product. I shall do a similar post as soon as I find a company in the UK that supplies a bed that can be bounced on by a 200-pound teenager without breaking!!

Big Daddy Autism said...

That's awesome. My son never needed the tenting products. But now, he is getting so tall I think we need to get him into a bigger bed.

Pie Maker said...

I love thse posts you do! So informative and helpful. Thanks JM!

JoyMama said...

bbsmum -- hmm. I'd be thinking mattress on the floor, with bouncings like that. But then again, we're basically DOING mattress on the floor!

Big Daddy -- How is it that they just keep growing?! Surely they'll stop at some point, no?

Pie Maker -- thanks so much for the positive feedback!