profile picture of Alex Crabb
Alex Crabb
Contributing Writer

DockATot Deluxe Review

A lightweight, portable place for baby to sleep, play and lounge—all the while staying cool, cozy and safe.

Pros
• Well made and beautifully designed
• Ultra-portable and great for travel
• Eases transition from bassinet to crib
• Creates a comfortable sleeping and napping space for infants
• Sturdy and versatile as a bed, play area, lounger and carrier

Cons
• Not easy to replace the cover after washing
• Doesn’t collapse

Bottom Line
DockATot is a comfy little nest that keeps baby feeling snug in the crib all night long while giving mom and dad peace of mind.

Rating: 4 stars

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Photo: Alex Crabb

I contemplated buying the DockATot for months before we got it. The reviews, celebrity endorsements and Instagram photos made it look like an overnight miracle. As a first-time mom, I was ready to try anything that claimed to get baby to sleep longer. Despite the price tag, which was high in our opinion, I knew I had to see if it would be a comfortable space for our then 5-week-old son. We were using a bassinet in our bedroom, but since our son is a noisy sleeper, we had started thinking about moving him to his crib. The DockATot looked like the perfect solution to create a cozy sleeping space inside the crib.

We’re open to trying new gear, but we heavily research stuff first. We looked at all the forums and found that people had a lot of good things to say about the DockATot. The night it arrived, we made the switch to the nursery and into the crib it went. (DockATot is designed as a co-sleeper and lounger and isn’t meant for inside the crib—but we wanted a safe place for our baby outside of our bed where we thought he and we could both get a better night’s sleep.) It creates a sweet little spot in the crib where he can curl up and fall fast asleep. I won’t say it was an overnight miracle, but he did sleep soundly for two solid four-hour stretches, which is something we were getting only sporadically in the bassinet. From there, it just got better and better.

Features

At around 12 weeks, we stopped swaddling our son. He was telling us he wanted out. Every night I’d creep in to check on him and find that he’d wrestled his hands and sometimes elbows out. I was afraid his startle reflex would wake him up more if he wasn’t swaddled, but DockATot has a fix for that: It surrounds him on all sides and cushions him during sleep. The DockATot claims to “reinvent the womb,” and it really does provide a warm and comfortable spot for baby. ( Ed Note: The DockATot Deluxe is designed for babies 0 to 8 months. The larger Grand size is good for 9- to 36-month-olds.) Now that he’s not being swaddled, he can move his arms freely—but he usually has them snuggled by his side in the DockATot.

It’s also said to reduce the risk of flat head syndrome, which is a terrifying word you hear thrown around a lot as a new mom. The DockATot mattress is made from supersoft thermobonded fiber that relieves pressure on the head. And since the DockATot sides act as a support prop, you can rest baby on his or her side. Ours likes to curl up on one side, which I think helps—he hasn't had signs of flat head syndrome at all.

Photo: Alex Crabb

In addition to sleeping, this product is great for baby to play and lounge in without parents having to worry about harnesses and straps. And it helps with tummy time: You can let baby rest over the rounded bumper, which can make the whole exercise a lot more tolerable for an unwilling baby. We don’t often use it for recreation, though—we prefer to have it be a sleep center and have our son associate it with that.

One of the biggest advantages is that it’s extremely portable and lightweight (about three pounds). I know a lot of people who have flown with it. I took it on a trip to visit family and it was a lifesaver. We could put it next to us in bed or even on the floor and it re-created the same exact crib environment he was used to, which meant no disruption to his sleep routine. For a 9-week-old, that was huge. Plus, we docked baby near the pool so he could look on while the family swam. The DockATot also comes with a nice carrying case with handles for when you’re on the go.

Performance

We’ve been using the DockATot for nine weeks now and can honestly say that our baby is a great sleeper. It’s hard to say whether that’s specifically because of the DockATot, but even if it had any small part in his sleep habits, I am deeply grateful. Our son now sleeps for 10-hour stretches without waking, and then usually goes back to sleep for another two hours. It’s meant the world to have a consistent sleep space he can get used to, while also having the flexibility to put our baby down to sleep anywhere—in his crib, on the living room couch, at a hotel or at a family member’s house. We bring it with us when we travel and he feels right at home. It eliminates much of that anxiety about not knowing where he is and helps him doze right off, just like he would in his own nursery.

Design

When it first arrived, my husband and I both marveled at how well built the DockATot is. In the land of baby gear, it’s getting harder and harder to find well-made items, but the DockATot is a high-quality—and stylish—place for baby. It comes in these really cool patterns. We got the Mod Pod, which features black-and-white geometric shapes, but there are enough colors and patterns to suit everyone.

Aside from being durable, the DockATot has the design features we need—handles in logical places, and an opening at the end to keep baby’s legs and feet unrestricted during playtime. It makes him feel like he’s being held without the need for a tight swaddle. Most importantly, it’s extremely breathable, which gives me peace of mind that he isn’t going to suffocate on something in the crib. DockATot is hypoallergenic and made with fabrics that are said to have excellent air permeability ( Ed Note: The DockATot cover is 100 percent cotton, and the filling is made from breathable, nontoxic fibers.) On top of that, it helps keep our son at the perfect temperature, keeping baby cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. DockATot put a lot of research into creating a safe, comfortable “microclimate” for babies living anywhere, in any climate.

Photo: Alex Crabb

DockATot is machine washable, which is a necessity for anything baby is sleeping in. But I will say—this is the one big con—putting the cover back on after washing and drying could require four hands. I should also note that it’s fairly bulky and doesn’t collapse. The DockATot has a hard bottom to it, which is nice, but it means you have to lay it flat to travel (it takes up as much space as a king-size pillow). We have another travel bed that folds into a backpack, but it’s not nearly as well-built. At home, we keep it in the crib.

Summary

While the DockATot wasn’t the overnight miracle we imagined, it has helped our baby stay asleep longer, leading to glorious 10-hour-long stretches. It makes me feel better knowing he’s cozy and safe. The price tag might make you look twice, but if it’s the only sleep gimmick item you’ll need for the first eight months, then it’s worth it. It’s portable, washable and I’m recommending it to all my pregnant friends and friends with newborns.

PHOTO: Courtesy DockaTot