Review – Arms Reach Co-Sleeper Mini

During the baby days, with my oldest, he slept in our room with us but I used my Graco Pack N Play’s bassinet feature which worked great. This time around I decided I wanted to use something that would take up a little less space. So I found the Arms Reach Mini and scooped it up! I had heard of Arms Reach Cosleepers, but never knew there was a mini version. So I decided I would write a review!

Perhaps the best feature of the Arms Reach is the fact that the side folds down and you can pull it right up next to your bed which allows you to very easily check on your baby at night and would help for night nursing if you nurse in bed, but still gives baby their own space to sleep. I didn’t nurse in bed, but as he was working through his sleep transitions, I loved that if we woke up I could just easily reach over and put my hand on him, and also that I could see him with nothing else in the way. This differed from the PNP in that the PNP was below the level of my bed so I had to reach a ways down to get to him.   But, if you choose, the side will come all the way up to be a regular bassinet.  

The bottom has wheels on one end, which allows you to move it around easily. The leg extension kit allows you to add length to the legs on both ends if you have a higher bed, like I do. 

They snap on and off very easily so it’s super easy to adjust the height. It also comes with straps that allow you to secure it to the bed so it can’t tip over. They run under the mattress to the other side of the bed.

In terms of size, the Mini is 34″ x 20″ x 32.5″ whereas the regular Arms Reach is 39″ x 25″ x 32.5″ but honestly the mini worked for my giant baby up til he started scooting and crawling around 5 months so for me I don’t see a need for anything bigger! I guess the bigger one would be good if you wanted something closer to crib size to cosleep longer. But the Mini worked perfect for what we needed.

I would highly recommend the Arms Reach Co Sleepers for their ease of use for middle of the night feedings and baby checks. When you’re already sleep deprived, anything that you can do to make night times easier is worth it! In my opinion, the Arms Reach isn’t priced so high that it’s unreasonable to get it for such a short use. To me, the price is worth paying for the peace of mind to be so close to my baby and be able to check on them and comfort them very easily.

Review: Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light vs. Graco Pack ‘N Play 

Graco Pack ‘N Plays (PNP) have become such a staple in the baby gear market that they are now like Kleenex – the model name is synonymous with the product. We don’t call them travel cribs we call them PNPs just as we call most tissue Kleenex. So as a first time mom it didn’t dawn on me that I would need anything other than a PNP, so when I saw one at my local grocery store on clearance I snagged it up. 

It worked AWESOME as a cosleeper when my son was tiny. I put it right next to my bed and I really felt the flat open surface helped him transition to a crib. It worked great as a place for him to nap in our living room after that. Then it was great to take with us as a place for him to sleep when we traveled…. Until he started to stand and jump. Then I didn’t like it because of the raised bottom it would wobble under him when he stood and jumped. 

I decided since we do travel a bit I wanted to look for something better and more sturdy for that.

I found a couple that intrigued me – the Baby Bjorn travel crib and the lotus travel crib. Both were around $200 which was more than I had to spend at the time so I decided to make do with the PNP for the time being, but put them on my want list for the future since we planned on having more kids. 

 Fast forward a year or so and I’ve had another baby and we have a trip coming up for Christmas. My older son still sleeping in a crib so I start looking at the Lotus and Bjorn again scouring for deals. I really couldn’t decide between the two so I thought I would just get whichever one I could find the better deal on. The Bjorn came down around Black Friday so I snagged it up.

Long story short we transitioned to toddler bed before the trip and I didn’t take the Bjorn with us. 

So it’s been sitting unused but now that my baby is getting older we’re getting the PNP out again and I said HEY! I have that Bjorn travel crib lets test this thing out and see if it’s worth keeping or if I should sell it. 

So this is my review of the Bjorn Travel Crib compared to the Graco Pack ‘N Play. 

Size

Side by side visual comparison the Bjorn immediately looks quite a bit smaller. But this is deceiving as I found when I broke out my tape measure! The PNP measures 39.5″ long by 28.5″  wide. The Bjorn is narrower at the top than it is the bottom. The top is 33″ x 21.5″ but at the bottom, what would be the sleep surface,  is 41″ (longer than the PNP) x 24″ (shorter than PNP). The PNP is 28.5″ tall with the bottom platform being 5.5″ off the ground. The Bjorn Travel Crib Light is 25″ tall but only 1″ off the ground (overall 1″ deeper than PNP).

In terms of size, it’s a draw for me, so it’s a matter of what’s important to you and what space you’re working with. 

Best in size: Tie! 

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning the two portable cribs, the Bjorn is going to win hands down. The entire cover comes off and is machine washable. That is a HUGE plus, in my opinion. Babies and kids are messy. My PNP is nasty just from 1 kid using for a year and it’s not as easily cleaned since the cover cannot come off and be thrown in the washer like the Bjorn. 

Cleaning Winner: Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light 

Assembly/Pack Up/Stored Size 

The Bjorn comes in it’s own zippered handled case. The case is thicker than that of the PNP. The manual for the Bjorn is tucked into a pocket on the inside of the case.

Pull it out of the case and the mattress is wrapped around the crib. Open up the mattress and then open up the crib.  Once you’ve opened up the crib, it’s so easy it’s ridiculous. just pull those legs up and they snap into place.  

Then flip it over put the mattress in, pull the red tabs through on the corners and snap them in and you’re set! Taking it apart is nearly as easy, just reverse those steps and to get the legs down you just pull them back out (PULL! it says) and they fall back down, fold it up and put it back in the case! Simple! 

The PNP … well … not as simple. To set up and take apart is like a 10 step process. The buttons/sides get stuck at times when trying to fold and unfold. There is a thin cover that covers it once folded with a handle.

In regards to portability, the Bjorn is much lighter. The Bjorn folded is long and wide but thin since it’s basically only folded in half. The PNP is a much smaller footprint folded because it’s essentially folded in 4. 

Assembly/Pack Up/Stored Size Winner: Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light 

Comfort

The mattress is more plush on the Bjorn than the PNP. This is because the PNP mattress has to be hard on the back because it’s also the outer cover once folded. It’s also more comfortable as it’s essentially on the floor so it’s not going to wobble a whole lot, whereas the PNP floor is very wobbly once the baby can stand and/or jump as it’s quite a few inches off the floor. 

Comfort Winner: Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light 

Accessories

The PNP has the Bjorn beat on additional accessories by far. You can get PNP’s with all kinds of features – changers, nappers, bassinets, mobiles – plus you can buy all kinds of sheets and other accessories. The fact that you can even use the PNP as a bassinet is a great advantage over the Bjorn because as a mom of a newborn you don’t want your baby that low to the ground, plus it’s very far to bend to put them in and take them out. For the Bjorn you’re pretty much just limited to sheets for the mattress. This may or may not matter to you in your purchase of a portable crib, but a point to compare as well. 

Accessories Winner: Graco Pack ‘N Play 

Final Decision

For families who travel fairly regularly such as ours, comfort is very important. You’re replacing the baby or child’s normal sleep environment – a nice cushy mattress – with something much smaller. Comfort and semblance to their normal sleep environment are important to keeping sleep habits and schedules while traveling. Also for travelers, set up/take down and folded size are hugely important. When you’ve been traveling all day or had crying kids in the car, the last thing you want to do when you finally get to your hotel is be messing with this thing getting it set up. Folded size is important because it’s one more thing you have to lug with you when you travel now that you have kids! In all of these areas, the Bjorn wins by a landslide. 

However, we do use it at home which is much more often than we travel. As a place to be safe from dogs or to take a quick snooze in the living room, both the PNP and Bjorn will serve those functions fine. However, as a primary sleeping place for a young baby, you can’t beat the bassinet feature on the PNP. In terms of my current decision though, my baby is old enough that we won’t use the bassinet feature too much longer. Fortunately for me, I got my PNP for $40. The same one retails at Amazon for double that, and it’s one of the VERY basic PNP’s. The Bjorn is around $230. I got it for $160. So in my case, I’m going to keep them both – KEEP ALL THE PORTABLE CRIBS! HA! 

But, if I were starting all over again, I would go with the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. It’s lighter, easier to use and maintain as a portable crib than the PNP. For a bassinet type solution, if needed, I would go with something like the Arms Reach – which I also got one of this time (I am a baby gear junkie), maybe that’s my next review!

However if you don’t want to have separate pieces for these functions, or if you have a limited budget, the Graco Pack ‘N Play would be a great choice as well. I really don’t think the ones with the fancy extra features are necessary. Even my basic one had the bassinet feature, which is all you really need. 

Now the one we’re missing here is the Lotus! How does it compare? Well I have some friends that might be able to help me compare the Lotus to these so I will update if I can get the Lotus comparison as well!

Diono Travel Accessories 

With the recent purchase of my new Bumbleride Indie Twin (see my review here), I needed to purchase another parent console. I’m too forgetful to move them between strollers so I just get one for each and leave them on them.

Well I took to Amazon to see if I could find anything better than the Britax and Skip Hop ones that I love for my other strollers. I tried one by Dot&Dot that got GREAT reviews and looked like  the perfect mix of the two I love, plus it came with a set of stroller hooks. Bonus! Well it fit great but the problem was it doesn’t fit larger drink cups. BIG problem for me because I usually carry 1L water bottles plus my son usually has a Contigo kids bottle since he chugs water like it’s goin out of style. So I sent it back. Boo.

Next I looked at the Diono one. I’ve always been intrigued because it’s $8, whereas most others are $20. I’ve also heard great things about it from my friends in the StrollerQueen StrollerSwap group on Facebook. So I said what the heck for $8 I’ll try it.

But then Amazon, you know me so well, a sucker for baby gear. As I added it to my cart it said you might also like these… And suggested some other Diono accessories. A pop up trash bin. Well shoot I do need a place for trash. Also around $6. Add to cart. An organizer for between the car seats. Around $10. Why yes I would like something there for my sons snacks and sippys because I used to do the diaper bag but now if I leave it there he pulls everything out so yup… Add to cart. And a organizer for the back of the seat. Well I have one on my drivers seat but I could probably use one on my passenger seat and the pockets look much more handy on this one. It’s also around $8 you say? Why yes I would like to add that to my cart as well.

So around $30 all in, I’ve got 4 handy car/stroller accessories from Diono, a brand who’s car seats I love. I’m excited to try them out but also wondering what’s the catch… Why are they so cheap?

So they finally came. Yay!

Except the organizer for between the car seats that came the next day (even though they’d all said 2 day prime shipping… Whatever).

So immediately as I open them with kid on Christmas morning excitement I immediately notice one flaw that might be the reason they’re so cheap … They come with no instructions!! Not a big deal on a stroller organizer, or a pop up trash can, I can figure those out. But on a car seat back organizer that has two short elastic straps with hooks – uh what? Where do these go?

Then the next day when the organizer for between their seats come, same thing no instructions. Not a big deal for assembling it that’s pretty easy to figure out. But there’s a flap across the back that velcros, I’m assuming to attach it somehow? But how!?! No instruction. I hope it’s secure somehow or my son is gonna fling it on the floor, but I have no idea how you do so.

There’s simple explanations of what these items do on the packaging. But there’s no instructions in or on the package on how to secure both the seat back organizer and the between the seats organizer. Kind of frustrating… And a google search is no help. I found nothing on their site or any other that was of any assistance. Now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s me – am I just not smart enough to figure these out?!? (If so, please feel free to educate err help me in the comments)

So here’s my review of these items, in case you’re considering snatching them up from Amazon at these great prices.

Diono Travel Pal Car Storage (goes between car seats) – currently $10.50

The travel pal fits between the car seats on your rear bench seat. It has two external cup holders, several inside pockets, a zipped inside pocket and some mesh pockets on the sides. Looks perfect for storing some toys, snacks and Sippy cups.    

That’s what it looks like on the back. Looks like it should secure somewhere. I have no idea how. So I half love it, but really confused on how to secure it and how far my son will throw it with it not being secured.

Diono Stow ‘N Go Car Organizer (goes on back of seat) – currently $8.79

Lots of pockets, including one closed. A couple of them could hold cups or drinks. Attaches around headrest with buckled strap. But the bottom?

No clue. Those don’t look long enough to wrap around the seat so I clipped them to the seat tracks for now, but I don’t think that’ll hold it well.

Diono Pop Up Trash Bin – currently $6.00 

It pops up as soon as you take the straps off. There’s a Velcro piece on the bottom though I’m not sure where you would Velcro a trash bin on the bottom in your car (it’s a Velcro piece with tape on the back so you’d have to tape that Velcro strip somewhere to hold the trash bin). They sell bags for it, but it fits the small grocery plastic bags just fine. Very easy to push it back down and wrap the straps around it if you needed to store it.

Diono Buggy Buddy (Stroller Organizer) – currently $8.00 

Out of all the stroller organizers I tried, this one has the easiest and cleanest straps, in my opinion. The Britax and Skip Hop that I use have Velcro strap overhang which snag on things and curl sometimes. The straps on the Diono are a closed loop around the stroller bars full Velcro so whether you have it tight or loose it’s a closed loop and all the Velcro is inside.  

It’s completely open which could be a disadvantage or advantage depending on how you use it. There’s an inside zippered pocket on the back. There’s two pieces of elastic on either side that will make the outer corners drink holders. They fit small bottles and cups easily, bigger ones are a stretch but they do fit, they just don’t slide in and out easily. It usually requires two hands for me to put my 1 liter water bottle in. 

It kind of hangs on my Bumbleride Indie at a little bit of an angle, but not big enough to buy me.

Overall, I like them and the material seems to be high quality. I think at these prices I will keep them, but I would really like to know how to secure the organizers in the car so if you know please let me know! And I will add it to the post as well.

I definitely recommend the pop up trash bin and buggy buddy organizer.