How to make a pack and play more comfortable

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    wondering how to make pack n play more convenient? Maybe you’re surprised at how thin and hard your baby’s new play mattress is, or you’re worried she’ll be cold sleeping so low to the floor. If you’re wondering how you can pack safely and play more comfortably for baby, read on for my ideas.

    Reading: How to make a pack and play more comfortable

    pack and play is one of the most practical inventions for parents of small babies. Much more portable than the average crib, they offer a secure place for your little one to sleep when you’re on the go. They also offer a great “second place to sleep” if you live in a larger home and want a safe and comfortable place for baby on every level.

    Whether you’re planning regular sleepovers at the grandparents’ house, or planning an epic vacation to Europe, a pack and play foldable crib is one of the best baby products, loved by parents (and no matter how great!) good reasons!) .

    the problem with a pack and play

    Despite being extremely convenient and quite affordable in terms of what you get, many parents complain that their pack and play looks awkward for their baby.

    In fact, pack and play is designed to be portable and safe first and foremost, and that means things like thin, foldable mattresses are a must for functionality. And while it’s true that due to its portable nature, the comfort level may be a bit lacking, it’s not necessarily an issue for all babies.

    While a pack-and-play mattress seems to leave a lot to be desired in terms of comfort compared to other crib mattresses, babies are safer on firm mattresses.

    why is a pack and play mattress so hard?

    Parents who have a pack and play know.

    While the included mattress pad is safe, it can also feel thin and hard for your little one to sleep on. While babies don’t require as much padding as adults and our old bones ache, it’s common for parents to wonder how to make the pack and playset more comfortable.

    When we think of bedtime as adults, we envision a high-quality mattress, with a plush mattress topper and goose-down duvets for total luxurious sleep.

    but for babies? sleeping requirements are very different, both in terms of safety and necessity.

    pack and play is designed with safety at the forefront, with comfort and design becoming secondary considerations.

    for infants, the aap recommends that all sleeping arrangements should: have a firm, snug-fitting mattress and a fitted sheet designed for that particular product. a firm surface is a hard surface; it should not bleed when the baby is lying on it.

    This advice is even more valid for a pack and play than for a normal crib. mattresses are firmer, and that’s intentional!

    Because it’s a portable crib with fabric sides (instead of the wooden slats of a crib), a pack and play is designed to have an even thinner, firmer mattress on purpose. this is a safety issue, because you don’t want the sides of the fabric to stretch, creating gaps between the side of the mattress and the pack and play frame.

    many parents add extra padding and layers to their pack and play mattress, which increases the overall height of the mattress. this can create tension and pressure on the sides of the fabric, stretching them and allowing a gap to develop between the side of the mattress and the pack and play frame. it can also interfere with the weight limit.

    This, I should point out, is a safety hazard as your baby could get trapped between this space. Even more alarming, these gaps create a choking hazard for your child.

    To our adult brains, seeing an empty package and playing with just a sheet on a thin, firm mattress doesn’t look comfortable at all. (and it looks especially skimpy and unwelcoming for a newborn baby).

    Actually, this is the safest situation! a firm, tight mattress to pack and play with a fitted sheet, with nothing else to make it seem softer or cozier.

    how to make a pack and play more comfortable

    If, despite my earlier advice to just use the pack and play and mattress as directed, you’re still concerned and want to make a softer sleeping surface, there are a few ways to improve your mattress surface.

    again, most manufacturers advise against the use of any additional mattresses or changing the mattress in a pack and play from the original supplied.

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    for babies under 12 months, you should not try them as they can create an unsafe sleeping situation. however, if you have an opinionated young child, consider using manufacturer-approved solutions.

    #1 – use padded sheets

    Probably the best and safest option to make pack and play more comfortable is to use thicker padded sheets.

    manufacturers like graco make a thicker pack n play quilted sheet that fits snugly over the mattress pad on all graco pack n play models. you can also buy third-party versions.

    These quilted sheets are comfortable and have a sewn-in thickness, but should still fit snug for your little one to lie down on.

    Always make sure to measure your pack n play carefully to get the best fitting sheets, as excess fabric can bunch up and endanger your baby.

    #2 – use waterproof sheets

    adding waterproof sheets to your child’s pack n play will help to clear your head when there are accidents at night, but will also add an extra soft layer for your baby to sleep in.

    As a mom, a waterproof layer (be it a sheet or bedwetting pad) is a lifesaver. It’s also a great way to make a pack n play a little more comfortable without compromising security.

    make sure the sheets are fitted and match the model and size of the pack n play you own.

    #3: Use a mattress pad (not recommended)

    There are many types of pack and play mattress toppers for a pack n play mattress available on amazon.

    Although these mattress toppers are specifically designed to fit inside a pack n play/playard, they are often sold by baby insurance retailers and are often designed to be firm, yet still go against manufacturer guidelines.

    In terms of how to make pack and play more comfortable, it’s definitely not something I’d recommend, especially compared to the more secure options above.

    If you go ahead with this option, make sure the mattress topper you get is non-toxic and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Also, look for one that has elastic straps to make sure it stays firmly in place.

    #4 – changing the crib mattress (not recommended)

    This is not recommended by the manufacturers, and is not something I would personally feel comfortable trying.

    However, some parents choose to swap out their backpack mattress topper and completely play around and swap it out for another mattress. Generally, all crib mattresses are the same size, but Pack n Play mattresses are smaller than standard cribs. you may need to check if a crib mattress is a better fit for the playard.

    If you decide to change the mattress, make sure it fits snugly against the foundation and doesn’t leave any gaps around or at the bottom. There should be no gap between the mattress and the frame, even in the corners, as your baby could get caught on a limb or her face in the gap, creating a suffocation hazard.

    make sure the mattress pad can hold your baby securely and is firm enough for them to sleep on.

    again, I do not recommend this option.

    #5 – DIY foam pad (not recommended)

    Other parenting hacks include this way to make pack and play more comfortable, which involves using a simple 1- or 2-inch piece of foam as a foam pad.

    Parents who have tried this get the foam pad from a local soft furnishings store and cut it to match the existing pack n play mattress, using it as a template.

    Then they place the thin (1-2 inch) foam pad under the pack n play mattress pad and cover it with a fitted sheet to keep them in place.

    they then place the new quilted mattress back into the pack n play, making sure there are no gaps around the edges of the handmade mattress.

    again, this is not recommended and doesn’t follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, and I don’t love adding extra polyurethane foam either.

    other ways to prepare a pack n play for a good night’s sleep

    Because a pack n play is often not a baby’s usual resting place, your baby may struggle and not settle down as easily as he usually does when in a pack and play.

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    This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re uncomfortable, it could just be a sign that they know they’re in a different environment than usual.

    Before you pounce on the mattress, trying to make it more comfortable (which you really shouldn’t do, as it may not be safe), consider your sleeping environment.

    darken the room

    Being in a safe, dark space will help your baby fall asleep. make sure they have the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep by darkening the room.

    This can often mean impromptu measures, such as placing towels over the windows in a vacation home.

    You can also get travel blackout blinds, which may be worth it. whatever helps the little one to rest, right?

    adjust temperature

    Always make sure the temperature in the room is suitable for your baby, depending on the season and how they are dressed.

    Wrap them up in a sleeping bag and pajamas that are the right thickness and level to keep them warm enough if it gets a little chilly, or leave them out of the layers if it’s too hot for the season.

    Room thermometers help, and most of them are slim enough to pack on a trip (some bath thermometers double as room thermometers, which can be useful when packing space is limited).

    Babies usually sleep better in a cooler room, so lower the thermometer and dress them so they are warm enough.

    remove all the accessories from the package and play

    As tempting as it may be to tuck baby’s favorite stuffed animals or a blanket into the backpack and play comforter, don’t.

    nothing else should be in the pack n play except the baby. this applies to all babies under 12 months.

    having extra things in the crib with a baby increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and is a bad idea.

    play white noise

    Research shows that white noise is soothing to help baby sleep. If you’re on the go and trying to travel light, you can download a white noise app that you can play through your phone to help your baby fall asleep.

    we have a ue boom speaker that we travel with and a spotify subscription where we play a white noise playlist.

    smells like home

    A different bed, in a new environment, with different sights and sounds, is sure to be unsettling for your baby trying to sleep. And if you’re on vacation or visiting family, your little one’s bedtime routine probably isn’t standard either.

    All of these things can make your little one fussy before bedtime and make it harder for them to sleep more than usual.

    one thing you can do is make your pack n play smell like you. Take your sleeping bag, or the bottom sheet from the Pack n Play, and wear it on your body (like an uncomfortable scarf!) for a couple of hours before tucking your little one in for a night’s sleep. a caregiver’s scent on them as they fall asleep will help keep them calm and peaceful.

    final thoughts on making a pack and play more comfortable

    If you’re a fan of pack sets (or playards) for a travel crib solution, you should know that you don’t need to pad or soften the manufacturer’s included mattress to make it cozier.

    The makers of these things aren’t missing out on any marketing strategy. if there was a surefire way to make an inch thick crib mattress softer, they would have sold it to you by now! instead, the only solutions they offer are minimalist, like a quilted bottom sheet.

    please be careful with the ideas above. if you are going to try them, do it only with children older than 12 months.

    Also check the manufacturer’s suggestions and never add extra blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals to any sleeping area where children under 12 months old sleep.

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