Baby nests, or baby pods as they’re also known, are essentially mattresses with padded sides that offer a narrow and cosy lounging area for your baby.
They are becoming an increasingly popular choice due to their cosy and multifunctional design. However, as they are a relatively new product to the baby market, there are some questions you’ll want to ask before investing in one.
Are baby nests and pods safe for sleep?
Some pods and nests are or have have been promoted as a place for your baby to sleep. You may have seen the warning from The Lullaby Trust that baby pods and nests do not meet the safer sleeping guidelines that it promotes. This warning applies to babies under the age of 1.
“The evidence shows that the safest way to sleep a baby is on a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in a cot or Moses basket, and we would not recommend any sleep surface that does not conform to these guidelines,” The Lullaby Trust told us.
We’ve investigated all of the scientific evidence that the Trust has based its warning on.
Like the Trust itself, we couldn’t find any specific research or recorded SIDS cases relating to sleeping pods. But there is evidence that padded sides (common to most sleeping pods – and some Moses baskets) may increase the risk of suffocation and overheating. This is why these pods and nests are, in general, no longer marketed as safe for sleep.
Since the Trust last updated its evidence files in 2019, some baby nest manufacturers have invested in developing breathable materials and meeting breathability safety tests. There is currently no British standard specifically for sleep pods specifically, so testing tends to be in relation to BS4578;1970, a standard for infant pillows that is aimed at reducing the likelihood of suffocation or overheating. Some manufacturers have also made significant changes to the base of the pod, so it is firm and flat like a cot mattress.
If you do decide to use a pod, it’s important to be aware of the Lullaby Trust’s warning and to make sure that you:
- Choose a pod or nest with a firm mattress. Soft mattresses have been linked to an increase risk of SIDS. A firm mattress shouldn’t sink more than a few millimetres when your baby is placed on it. Avoid memory foam mattresses.
- Never leave a baby in a pod or nest unsupervised. Unless certified as such, pods are not recommended for overnight sleeping until your baby has reached the age of 1.
- Regularly check that your baby is not overheating or has moved their face into the side padding. Overheating has been linked to an increased risk of SIDS and a baby getting their face stuck in side padding may lead to accidental suffocation
- Always sit your pod on a flat, firm, stable surface – and closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In general you should not put them on a raised surface such as a table, sofa or desk, or in a cot.
Here are the best baby nests and pods on the market for 2021
1. DockATot Deluxe+, from £130
Best for easy washing
Suitable for: Birth to 6-8 months | Award: Silver – Nursery accessory, MadeForMums Awards 2021
The award-winning DockATot Deluxe+ (previously known as the Sleepyhead) was the original pod design and is considered a big favourite among mums who’ve tried it.
MFM tester Anna says it is “a wonderful way to soothe your baby. It is a gentle little cocoon to keep them secure.”
It can be used from birth until around 8 months old (perhaps less if you have a long/big baby) and provides your baby with a safe place to lounge, rest or play: it’s a great place to practice tummy time, and can also be used for changing or baby massage.
The side walls are tested for air permeability and the pad and tube are tested for firmness. You’ll find the pod is easy to clean – the covers zip off easily and can go in the washing machine.
Being feather light, it’s easy to move it from room to room but, as it’s quite thick it doesn’t fold down. It does come with a clear plastic carry bag though, or can you can buy a separate transport bag. With hypoallergenic fabrics that come in on-trend colours and prints, overall it’s a super-stylish bit of baby kit.
Latest deals from trusted retailers
2. Mokee Mini Pod, £69
Best for larger babies
Suitable for: Birth to 6 months
The beautifully simple MoKee Mini Pod promises a cosy space for babies from birth up to 6 months old.
It has air permeable, easy-wash fabric with rounded bumpers and an internal measurement of 65cm x 31cm means the Mokee offers a slightly larger base area than the Purflo nest (below) or the more expensive DockATot (above) – so a thumbs up for bigger babies.
The minimalist grey will blend into any nursery and hypoallergenic fabrics help to keep nasty allergens at bay. The pod’s lightweight design makes it easy to move around your home from room to room, keeping baby close.
Our home tester Donna says: “I love the Mokee brand for it’s simple, stylish scandi-designed baby products and I found the pod invaluable in the first few months after my daughter was born. It was a cosy place for her during the day between feeds and it was great to take with us on our first weekend away as a family.”
Available from: mokee
3. Purflo Sleep Tight Baby Bed, £120
Best for a firm base
Suitable for: Birth to 6-8 months | Award: Gold – Portable sleeper – basket, pod, carrycot, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Following concerns about the safety of baby nests for unsupervised overnight sleeping, Purflo has invested in addressing the two key risks: suffocation and overheating. Rather than having the usual breathable cushion sides, the Sleep Tight Baby Bed features a new type of breathable sidewall that Purflo says is designed to better retain its structure and shape, even when a baby rolls towards it.
The base is also solid, with a mesh covering, giving an ultra-firm base that’s still comfy for your baby. This solid plastic base means that Purflo are able to claim that it’s safe to use in your baby’s cot as well as on firm, non-elevated surfaces.
With these differences, Purflo is calling the Sleep Tight a Baby Bed rather than a nest, and claim it is “the first of its kind and is certified safe for unsupervised, overnight sleeping.”
“I was delighted at how quickly my 10-week-old baby took to lying and settling in the Sleep Tight Baby Bed,” says our MFM reviewer Fay. “The flat base might not look as comfy as other nests around, but my son didn’t seem to mind the lack of padding, and of course it’s the firm base that makes it more safe.”
Read our full MadeForMums Purflo Sleep Tight Baby Bed review
Latest deals from trusted retailers
4. Voksi baby nest Premium, £99
Best for travel
Suitable for: Birth to 6-9 months | Award: Bronze – Nursery accessory, MadeForMums Awards 2021
The Scandi-designed Voksi baby nest is a cosy, egg-shaped pod that comes in an ultra-stylish selection of colours.
It has firm but breathable sides, a soft and supportive mattress, and its fabrics are certified as being free from nasty chemicals. As with most pods, the Voksi should always be placed on a firm surface: that means the floor, not a sofa, bed or mattress.
Unlike nests that can only be used up to around 6 to 8 months, the Voksi nest’s standout feature is an opening foot-end. This gives the pod a slightly longer lifespan, so it’s ideal for fast-growing babies that like to kick out. It also comes with a travel bag for easy transportation.
Our home tester Lara says: “I love how snug and secure my little boy seems in the Voksi nest. I also think it will last us for a while because I can open the end up, too.”
Available from: Uber Kids
5. PurFlo Newborn Breathable Nest, £65
Best for newborns
Suitable for: Birth to 4-6 months
The Purflo Breathable Nest is a light and portable pod and is a popular choice due to its reasonable price tag – it comes in at half the price of the much-loved DockATot.
The Purflo nest has a comfortable lounging area of 64 x 28 cm and the pod’s base and sides are fully air permeable. It’s hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial too so can reduce exposure to dust mites that may aggravate allergies.
Our reviewer says: “The PurFlo Breathable Nest is a great value-for-money product that can last for a decent amount of your young baby’s life. As I breastfeed on demand, it was a lifesaver when I had her next to me in the living room during the day.”
Similar to the Sleepyhead, the cover is easy to take off and wash and the range of fabric designs feature neutrals or cute creature prints.
6. DockATot Grand, £205
Best for older babies
Suitable for: 9 to 36 months
The Dockatot Grand is the big sibling of the Dockatot Deluxe+ (above); this follow-on design can be used from 9 to 36 months. After 12 months, it can be used as a sleep space (following safe sleep guidelines) and it’s the only pod in our list that caters for this age stage. Once your child is ready, it can be useful as a transitional sleep space to help ease them into a toddler bed.
Our reviewer says: “For sleep-deprived parents experiencing issues with getting a child to go to sleep or for those who want peace of mind that their toddler won’t roll out of a junior bed, the Sleepyhead Grand is unquestionably worth considering if you can afford it.”
As with the Deluxe+, the Grand is breathable, hygienic and there’s a great selection of cool washable fabrics to choose from.