Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Peapod: Squeeze to Focus, Hug to Calm

Have you been wondering what it is like to go inside of an Abilitations Peapod?  We will tell you everything we know.
WHAT: Peapod (MEDIUM) by Abilitations
DOES:  envelop your child with indescribably comfortable pressure.  Helps them do certain tasks independently like.... READING... (and playing video games.. oh wait, they don't need so much help with that)
INVEST:  $89.99
AGES: This (pictured) is the medium that is well suited for 2nd and 3rd graders.  If you have a third grader, I'd say to go for the XL. If you have two kids, go for the XL.  The Peapod Jr fits PreK - 1st grade.
TOOLS: Family Fix-its, I Can Take Care of Myself, My Body Needs to Move
EXPERT OPINION: Pediatric Occupational Therapist Susan L. Roberts, MDiv, OTR/L
GIVEAWAY:  Win your OWN Peapod!!! Shipped FREE to your home!

I love this thing but this review is tough for me to write.   Why? Well, as you can see, the Peapod is almost $90. The XL version is $10 more and the Junior version is $7 dollars less.  So why am I writing about something that you may feel that you can't afford?

Because I believe that someone out there needs to know because you are like me.  You are heavily interested but you are afraid to pull the trigger. What kind of household does one need to be to be able to afford this luxury?

This is the question:  Is this luxurious? or even crazy because I can see myself saying, "I just went crazy and bought them a Peapod."  But is it really either?  After personally experiencing the Peapod, I'd have to say it is neither crazy nor luxurious. In short, the Peapod is not an impulse luxury buy.  If you are buying a Peapod, it will be because you think it will be very useful in your home, like the way good furniture is.

Sometimes we call our Peapod a boat.  They probably shouldn't be in there together.  I need the XL!  One brother can not sit out once the other brother goes in.

Even though this is inflatable, this is in fact furniture. I define furniture as a semi-permanent fixture in your home that will support you as you are doing something else.  ie. watching t.v., eating, sleeping. etc.  If you look at it that way, the Peapod is very much like furniture because there is a lot you can do with it. I will tell you all I know about the Peapod and at the end of this review, I will give you tips to help you decide whether or not you should get this in your home.

They Went Crazy- So Did I!

I don't mean that in a good way.  Both my boys were really crazed about the Peapod.  They climbed in and started jumping on it.  It didn't matter that the color was the most understated shade of greenish gray (thank goodness it's not red).   To my boys, the Peapod was for play too.

I was so afraid that they would pop it! (A fixer patch comes is included but I do not want to use it!) Even though I didn't pay for this myself, I think you'll understand why I would have blown up at them if they popped it. Well, I'm happy to report that it didn't break!  Thank Goodness! But I deflated it anyway. Almost two weeks went by and despite the frenzy, they didn't try too hard to inflate it back.

Yes, it is that fun.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I decided to inflate and deflate frequently to prevent them from destroying it. So I bought an air pump and boy that was a lot faster than blowing it up myself!  But after I inflated it, I decided not to deflate it because I thought it should be in plain sight for it to be really helpful.

Luckily, the novelty wore off and it really did become "furniture."   When we weren't using it, it went to the top part of the bunk bed or we'd lean it against the wall.  I decided to do this because I want my kids to climb in there when they feel the need.  There are times when I want to lay down and type and sometimes when I want to stand up and type and sometimes I want to sit on the floor... you get what I mean.  Parents have great intuition about their kids' needs but I think even then we need to say things like,  "You know, you look a bit restless. When your body is jumpy like that, it probably means you are restless. Maybe you should find a different chair? Which one appeals to you the most right now?"

My point is that I want them to make independent choices to help themselves. I know that the Peapod is a design that I've never seen before and that it works really well but the biggest sell for me will always be that this encourages my children to understand their bodies and to help themselves when things are not quite right. 

We all need a Peapod for the office too huh? People would love coming to work, yes?

What Has This Done for Us?

Today is the last day of OT Month. As you may know from a recent review, I think OTs have something helpful to say about practically any problem that anyone might be having.  As you may have guessed the Peapod offers increased focus and calm via enveloping deep pressure and of course, that's an OT thing. OT's have the coolest tools.  In fact, I'm not sure what would be more fun, a product gallery at an AOTA conference or the Toy Fair.  Naturally, I had to ask an OT and I did ask around but I happened to have veteran occupational therapist Susan Roberts come visit me in my home.  (She gave many of my toys and games an OT look-see)  I proudly showed her my Peapod and guess what? I asked her to plop right in and she did! Susan is fun!

"This is like swaddling," she said,"for older kids."

That is very true, I thought but why would a child do something like.... read better in there? 

Susan explained to me that the deep pressure is calming.  Thus for a child who is hyperactive and jumpy, the Peapod is going to calm them down to the point where they may be able to focus.  Susan also said something interesting. "If they are hyperactive because they're exhausted, then they're going to go to sleep in this," she said and added, "that's good too."

I have blown this thing up with my mouth and with an electric pump.  Wow, that electric pump is fast!   But it is possible to blow it up with your mouth.  You better not be a smoker though.  There is a mechanism that takes in blown air but doesn't let it out so easily but you can deflate quickly by turning the plug more to release the valve.

Use the Peapod for Sleep? What? 

Susan went as far as to suggest that kids can do their bedtime routine in the peapod. But then really Susan, can we let them sleep in there?

"Yeah, why not?" she told me. I wonder if my mouth was hanging open then. Before I could ask another question, Susan continued that as long as the circulation was not being compromised, kids could be left in there.  (Note: Abilitations literature does say that supervision is required at all times).  But still, I found Susan's idea intriguing.  At what point do we cease needing to be swaddled or hugged while we are asleep.  I guess that's a very individualized answer and perhaps that answer may change as we age.

"There is a lot of people that have trouble sleeping.  This might be just the thing," said Susan.  I wonder if I had the Peapod XL, would I be able to sleep better?  Actually, I have basically given up on fighting off sleep.  I know what Susan is saying about hyperactivity because my body can't stay still when I'm sleepy but I am too tense to stop and rest.  Maybe if I had my OWN Peapod, maybe I will make the time to relax too... hmmmm.....

This handle is clear and there are four of them.  It is fastened on very well.  You can't tell but I'm pulling on this very hard.

But Do I Really Need This?

This is something only you can answer but first, let me give you my list of questions that will hopefully help you make the right choice for your family?

  1. What do you want to do with the Peapod?  ie. reading? calming down?
  2. What are you doing to help with reading and calming down right now without a Peapod?
  3. How well is that working for you?  
  4. If you answered "Very Well" then don't buy the Peapod.  However, if your answer is "Not so great" then read on.
  5. Name the interventions you use when it is not going well
  6. Does it work well? How much does this cost you in time and dollars?
  7. Will this continue to work for all of you in the long run? Can more than one person receive benefit if you buy a larger size?
  8. Does his help your child become more independent and a better manager of himself?

I did not know that you can blow up the bottom!  That is the COOLEST THING.  I consider any attention paid to children's bottoms as an act of kindness.

Only you can answer those questions above and then you can take what you think might happen with the Peapod and compare.  See if the projected improvement would be worth $90 to you.  That's it.  For me, I will tell you that, I have spent way more than that amount of money to help my kids and many of those "ideas" did not work out but some of them do and I would have never known they would work out if it wasn't for my "ideas." 

See the Peapod in action here.

*Read this tip only if you are really serious about buying: Compare the inflatables in your house. Do you have an air mattress at home?  How much was it and how often do you use it?  Would you use your Peapod more? Of course you would.  Told you not to read this unless you were really serious.

And now here's your chance to win your very own Peapod!  How cool is this???  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to buy it now? Click here to enter the Abilitations store. However, if you'd like to get it on Amazon right now... Use my link to support Toys are Tools.

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The item was provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being donated by the manufacturer.


  1. I think you should review "Action Based Learning Thinking On Your feet Book - 250 Lesson Plans". I think kids learn so much better when they are active and I'm intrigued to see how this is presented here

  2. I would love to try the "Abilitations Pencil Fidgets - Set of 4 Pencils with Fidgets". I think "I" could benefit from using one!

  3. Thinking on Your Feet? OOOOHH, I'm so bad at that. Must look into it. I have a lot of great luck with your recommendations. The Caterpinch was a very popular review thanks to your recommendation.

  4. I think this might be helpful to my son b-Calm GP Auditory Listening System. He was recently diagnosed with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder and these itemSpeechmark Publications ColorCards - Outdoor Sounds Listening Skills Kit, Speechmark Publications ColorCards - Indoor Sounds Listening Skills Kit

    seam like they may help him. We are swimming with the implications of this new information and looking for solutions that we can afford.

  5. Super interested in the B-Calm System for Autism and ADHD. Would love to read a review about that.

  6. As far as eye-hand helpers are concerned, I'm curious about the traceables for handwriting help. Thanks for your awesome site!

  7. I think the Sensory Game looks kinda cool, I'd love to check that out!

  8. The Abilations Integrations Tactile Pillow is a great idea. I've been looking for non-disruptive sensory input ideas for Luke for school and that might be great.

  9. Elizabeth BranscumbMay 21, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I think my son Gabriel who has Down Syndrome would enjoy this cause he
    is very flexible and alway likes sitting in a squeezed position plus he would be happy to share it with his six year old sister :)