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Do You Need A Mattress For A Pack N Play? (Debate Solved)

Pack and Plays are one of those items that should be on every new parent’s must-have list. They serve two major functions: keeping your little one contained in an area, and teaching them to keep themselves busy. But there’s a debated topic:

Answer to if you need a mattress for a (Graco) Pack and Play

Yes! A mattress in your Pack and Play provides a safe place for your baby to play allowing you to keep an eye on them and catch up on other things. A mattress provides comfort so your baby can have a peaceful night’s rest! Just make sure you get the one with the correct size.

Can you put a mattress into a Pack n Play at all?

This is a common question asked by parents. Since most have a thin mattress, you might not be sure if it’s alright to add a sturdier mattress. Another mattress is a good option, providing it’s a Pack n Play mattress. Don’t ever use one not specifically intended for this purpose. There are some guidelines to consider, which I’ll cover in the rest of the article.

Putting a mattress into your Pack n Play will make the space comfortable and safe. Some parents might be using the Pack n Play as a bassinet or a crib alternative. For other parents, it’s merely a playpen to keep the little ones safe in one place. 

Some brands such as Graco strongly advise not to put an extra mattress into their Pack n Play Playard as this can be a safety hazard. An answer from Graco states that using a thicker or a different sized mattress/pad might permit a child’s head to get between the mattress/pad and the side of the playard which can lead to suffocation. Here’s their manual where they talk about this on page 3.

Pack n Play mattress safety

As with everything else baby-related, safety should be your number one priority. Adding a mattress to your existing Pack n Play requires you to follow a few safety guidelines. 

Safety regarding supplemental mattress for Pack n Plays for infants

Once you’ve found out how long your baby can sleep in a Pack n Play you’ll want to find out how to make them a safe place to sleep for naps or even overnight sleeps. Generally, Pack n Plays come with a thin mattress. You might prefer to add a more comfortable option. You might also be using your Pack n Play for your second child, and would like to add a new mattress. 

  • Size: The most crucial safety consideration is the size. The mattress must be the exact size so that there are no spaces between the pack n play edges. Spaces could result in your little one getting hurt, or stuck.
  • Thickness: Ensure the mattress isn’t too thick. The added dimensions could push the edges of the pack n play outward, causing gaps. The baby can easily get trapped in these gaps, especially if they reach for a toy or bottle. Depending on how the baby gets trapped, it could lead to suffocation. Never add more than one mattress. 
  • Non-flammable: Ensure the mattress passes fire safety standards. Materials used in mattresses tend to be flammable, so be sure to check if there’s a certification that the mattress has passed tests by the Federal Flammability Standards. 
  • Materials: Since your baby is going to be spending a considerable amount of time on the mattress, you want it to be made from safe materials. Key factors to look out for here are hypoallergenic materials that are allergen-free. It’s also crucial to check if the materials are BPA-free which means there’ll be no toxic plastic particles. Some mattresses also have antibacterial features which are also a good investment. 

Do Pack n Plays come with a mattress?

Most Pack n Plays, e.g. this Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX, come with a thin, hard mattress that’s perfect for playing but not very comfortable for sleeping

Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard | Features Portable Bassinet, Diaper Changer, and More, Redmond, Amazon Exclusive

Or another popular Pack and Play is the Dream On Me Nest which comes with a mattress but it’s also a very hard one.

Dream On Me Nest Portable Play Yd

If you want to use your Pack n Play as a substitute for your baby’s bassinet or crib, you might want to add a memory foam mattress such as the Millard mattress. This will add comfort and ensure a better night’s sleep or daytime nap. 

Milliard Memory Foam Pack N ' Play Mattress Topper

What size mattress fits a pack n play?

Pack n Plays come in different sizes but the average size is 38” by 24”. Some have rounded edges while others are rectangular. The reason for this is to ensure a snug fit in almost any Pack n Play. 

When you’re looking for a replacement mattress, check the measurements on the label or make sure you measure the exact size of the unit. If you’re buying a replacement mattress for an older model, exact measurements will be essential

Is a Pack N Play mattress the same size as a crib?

For the most part, Pack n Play and mini crib mattresses are the same sizes. The average is around 37.5” x 25”. If your crib mattress fits into the Pack n Play, you can easily use it as a substitute. However, be sure there aren’t gaps bigger than a finger’s width.

Also, ensure that the mattress you’re putting in isn’t too thick. Test it out before placing your little one inside to ensure there’s no way they can get trapped or suffocate by lifting the edge of the mattress. 

Should you get a waterproof mattress?

A waterproof mattress such as the Biloban mattress can be an ideal choice for your Pack n Play because it makes for a quick and easy clean-up. That way you don’t have to worry about diaper accidents or bottle spills soaking and ruining your pack n play mattress! 

When it comes to keeping any of your baby gear clean and easily maintained, waterproof is always the best option!

Biloban Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad Cover for Pack N Play - 39' x 27' Fitted Pad for Graco Playard Mattress | Mini & Portable Playard Mattresses -Washable Ultra Soft Padding -White

Do you need a mattress protector for a Pack n Play?

Unlike sheets and other bedding, most Pack n Play mattresses aren’t washable. Investing in a well-fitting pack n play mattress protector or mattress pad such as Little Ones Pad will go a long way toward keeping the mattress clean and dry. That means less hassle with spit-ups, diaper leaks or leaking bottles! 

Other important considerations

When you’re considering a mattress, there are a few additional factors to consider to ensure you’re getting the right one.

Size 

As I’ve mentioned before, size is very important. You can get the correct size by either checking sizes on the original packaging or the manual. Alternatively, you can use a measuring tape to measure the inside of the pack n play. 

If you’re going to invest in a mattress pad, protector or waterproof sheet, ensure that you have the correct size of the mattress. Ideally, you want to purchase all these items at once, so that you can compare sizes in-store or online. 

Firmness

When it comes to firmness, you want a mattress that isn’t too soft. Contrary to popular belief, soft bedding isn’t ideal for babies as it increases the risk of SIDS. If you’re going to purchase a mattress from a store, test the firmness by pressing your finger down on the surface. A mattress that dents in easily will be too soft.

If you’re shopping online, check for indications of firmness levels. A good option is a memory foam mattress as this will contour to your baby’s body and won’t be too soft. 

Weight

Most parents choose a Pack n Play because it’s easy to move around. When doing a comparison between a travel crib vs Pack n Plays for travel purposes, you’ll see that the latter is ideal to take with you – they make great options for bassinet or crib alternatives. 

With this in mind, consider the overall weight of the mattress. Check if the combined weight of the mattress and the Pack n Play is manageable to carry around

Maintenance

With a little one spending so much time on the mattress, there’s the possibility of diaper leaks, bottle spills or even spit-up. This is why considering maintenance is important.

Some mattresses are machine washable and are therefore easy to clean. However, some other mattresses aren’t as easy to clean. To make cleaning the mattress easier, consider getting a waterproof option. Investing in a mattress protector is also a good idea to avoid all those niggly little mishaps. 

Graco Pack ‘n Play mattress replacements

Buying a replacement mattress for your baby’s Pack ‘n Play doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you have a Graco Pack ‘n Play model, the good news is that most available mattresses will fit. The size of your Graco pack n plays is about 25.5” wide and 37.5” long. Usually, the thickness varies from 1 to 3 inches. For safety reasons, don’t get a mattress thicker than 4”.

There are several options to choose from. Here are two popular options below to make your selection process so much easier. 

Hiccapop Pack n Play Mattress

hiccapop Pack and Play Mattress Pad [Dual Sided] w/Firm Side (for Babies) & Soft Memory Foam Side (for Toddlers) | Memory Foam Play Yard Mattress Pad | Playard Mattress Fits Most Pack N Play Playpens

This is one of the top Pack ‘n Play mattress options currently on the market. Since it’s dual-sided, it offers a firm side for babies and a softer memory foam side for toddlers. It also has rounded corners with exceptional superior edge support to create a snug fit into most standard pack n plays. 

With a 3.25” height, this mattress is thicker and offers much more comfort and support. The CertiPUR-USA seal guarantees that the mattress meets the most rigorous standards for durability.

Trifold Mattress Topper for Pack n Play

Trifold Mattress Topper for Pack N Play 38' x 26', Waterproof Breathable Soft Portable Foldable Playard Mattress Topper, Baby Foam Playpen Mattresses with Removable Zippered Cover

This quality mattress recently won The prestigious Mom’s Choice Award for Playard Mattress in 2021. 

Constructed with high-density foam, this mattress has effective airflow and reduces body heat. So, your little one won’t get too hot during nap times or even at night! It also has the perfect balance between soft and firm support. The tri-fold design makes it easy to pack up and carry around when you need to travel. 

An added advantage is the non-slip backing design which ensures the mattress stays in place. The non-skid gripping dots keep the mat sturdy on the floor if you want to use it as a play mat outside of the Pack n Play.

When (and how) should I lower my Pack n Play mattress?

Pack ‘n Plays are designed to accommodate babies of different ages. By adjusting the height of the mattress you can either use it as a bassinet or as a play-pen on the lower setting. 

When

As your baby gets older, you might be wondering when it’s time to lower the mattress. Well, quite simply, it’s time to move the mattress to the bottom level when your baby can push up on their hands and knees. 

If you’ve been using the Pack ‘n Play as a bassinet, the average weight recommendation is 15lbs. However, if your baby starts pushing up before the 15lbs mark, it’s a good idea to lower the Play n Play. 

How

Raising and lowering your Pack n Play is not as difficult as it sounds. Follow these few steps and you’ll be able to raise or lower your mattress. 

  • Most Pack n Plays have a raised portion in the middle with a pull tab on. 
  • Push the tab down to lock in place if you’re raising the mattress. 
  • If you’re lowering the mattress, unclip the tab and place the mattress on the bottom.

Here’s a short clip to show you just how easy it is to assemble your Graco Pack n Play, and lower the mattress when you need to!

Do’s and don’t of cleaning a Pack n Play mattress

Cleaning your mattress incorrectly can lead to bubbling, sagging and loosening of stitches. If the mattress isn’t dried out correctly, it can also lead to mold and mildew. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of pack n play mattress cleaning. 

Do

  • Follow the recommended cleaning directions on the label or manual. 
  • Clean using a damp cloth with recommended soap and warm water.
  • Air dry mattress often to ensure any spills are sufficiently dried. The sun’s UV rays are a great way to rid your mattress of any bacteria build-up.

Don’t

  • Don’t submerge a pack n play mattress in water, no matter how dirty it gets. Soaking will compromise the materials. 
  • Don’t use bleach or harsh detergents to clean the mattress. These will not only damage the mattress but will also be harmful to your little one. 
  • Don’t machine-wash unless the instructions clearly specify this.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, adding a mattress will keep your little one comfortable during play and sleep time. If you’ve done the Pack n Play vs bassinet comparison and decided to use your playard as a bassinet alternative, you’ll see that a mattress will provide the necessary comfort for a good night’s rest. 

Since most Pack n Plays accommodate the same type and size mattresses, it’ll be easy to find the right one for your baby! So, don’t hesitate, add it to your must-have list and provide your little one with the comfort they deserve!

Last update on 2021-08-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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