Pack N Plays are among the most versatile baby equipment you can get your hands on. They are great for home, but they are also great for families that are always on the move. If your baby spends a lot of time in their Pack N Play, you might want to ensure that their Pack N Plays are as comfortable as can be.
There are a variety of ways to make Pack N Plays more comfortable. For one, you can add waterproof and padded sheets. You should also keep Pack N Plays from being cluttered. You can then control their environments, such as airflow, temperature, light, and sound.
Once you get your baby a Pack N Play, you might notice how thin and firm the provided Pack N Play mattress pad is. While this would feel quite uncomfortable for you, you need to understand that discomfort for you is possibly not discomfort for the baby.
While adults might prefer softness akin to lying on a cloud, babies are quite happy with a firm surface. In fact, a flat and firm surface is actually recommended for their safety.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies sleep on flat and firm surfaces covered with a taut sheet, away from blankets, pillows, and toys. Following the AAP guidelines can drastically lessen the chances of accidents and such.
Therefore, while it is understandable that you would want your baby to be comfortable in their Pack N Play, you will have to keep in mind that their safety comes first.
How to Make Pack N Play More Comfortable
Here are some quick and easy ways to make your Pack N Play more comfortable for your baby.
1. Padded Pack N Play Sheets
Padded Pack N Play sheets are perhaps your best bet when it comes to making Pack N Plays more comfortable for your baby. These sheets are typically filled with a harmless fiber to add a bit more material. However, they are still firm enough to keep your baby safe.
Some parents take it upon themselves and place a baby mattress inside a Pack N Play. Unfortunately, that is not a recommended practice. Placing a baby mattress inside a Pack N Play can pose safety hazards.
For one, a baby mattress will not perfectly fit a Pack N Play. Crib mattresses are typically standardized to 28 x 52 inches. On the other hand, Pack N Plays are not standardized. However, they do typically come in at around 28 x 40 inches. This means that crib mattresses are often too big.
Even if you manage to find a crib mattress that can fit, it has to fit perfectly. Too small and it will leave gaps at the sides. Too large and it will stretch out the sides.
Additionally, a mattress will add height to the baby’s play surface. Adding height can also be a safety hazard as increasing the center of gravity can make it easier for the Pack N Play to topple over.
Getting padded sheets is indeed among the best options. Additionally, there are a wide variety of other sheet options to choose from, such as the material and even the thread count. Organic materials are always recommended, and a thread count of at least 200 should already be comfortable.
While it is a wonderful idea to have your baby surrounded by toys and all their favorite things, comfort can actually be enhanced by decluttering the Pack N Play. Toys are definitely allowed, especially during playtime. However, you will need to make sure the Pack N Play is clear if your baby is asleep.
As suggested by the AAP, the sleeping surface of the baby has to be clear of items – even things you would think would belong on a sleeping surface, such as pillows and blankets.
One of the biggest risks of having clutter around the sleeping area is the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). As the name suggests, SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby.
While there are a variety of causes and situations that can increase the chances of SIDS, research has shown which factors can help decrease the risk of SIDS. Given that it is still being understood, environmental stress is currently the primary cause of SIDS.
Decluttering a baby’s sleeping area helps lessen the risk of SIDS as additional items around the baby can inadvertently become breathing obstacles. This is also the reason why a firm mattress is recommended for a baby as a surface that is too soft can potentially “drown” the baby.
3. Waterproof Sheets
Another aspect of comfort to consider is actually keeping your baby comfortable. One of the most common culprits of a bad nap is a wet bed. Therefore, it is highly recommended to choose waterproof sheets for your Pack N Play.
Without a waterproof sheet, your baby can easily make a mess that will make the Pack N Play a damp nightmare. Not only will this take time and effort on your part to clean up, but it also means the time your baby cannot enjoy the Pack N Play.
You can also take a look at the options you have for waterproof materials. While plastic is excellent in repelling water, it is not the most comfortable material. Aside from not being the softest material, it also makes noise when the baby moves on top of it.
You should be able to find waterproof fabrics that will be significantly more comfortable than plastic while being just as effective in keeping the Pack N Play mess-free.
Aside from ensuring a good sleep for your baby, a waterproof sheet also makes it especially easy to clean up spills and other accidents, such as spit-up and vomit. It should be as easy as taking the dirty sheet off and replacing it with a clean one.
4. Pack N Play Maintenance
One of the biggest differences between a crib and a Pack N Play is that cribs are more or less permanently situated while Pack N Plays are usually portable. Their portability is primarily attributed to being made of lighter materials.
Unfortunately, the lighter materials used for Pack N Play construction can also cause it to be less structurally sound than a crib. While Pack N Plays, and all other baby equipment, are typically manufactured to be safe, you still need to ensure that your Pack N Play is well maintained.
Aside from the safety of your baby, the structural integrity of a Pack N Play can also affect your baby’s comfort.
One common problem that many parents have noticed is when the Pack N Play squeaks every time the baby moves about. The squeaking can be due to several reasons, such as a fallen bottom or even rusted bolts.
Regardless of the cause, a squeaking Pack N Play is understandably not suitable, especially for a sleeping baby.
When assembling and disassembling the Pack N Play, make sure that you are following the manufacturer’s instructions at all times. A parent is always busy, but it will be good to be patient when transporting your Pack N Play from one place to another. These little practices will help prolong your Pack N Play’s lifespan.
5. Monitor the Temperature
Making the Pack N Play comfortable also means looking beyond the Pack N Play itself. Sometimes, the best way to make a Pack N Play more comfortable for your baby is to assess the room where the Pack N Play is.
The first thing you can look into is the temperature. Unlike you, your baby is still developing. They are still developing the various systems that make up a mature person. One of these developing systems is their ability to regulate their temperature.
As warm-blooded mammals, humans are able to regulate their own body temperature. However, this ability is surely more developed in adults than in babies. Hence, babies have to be monitored to ensure that they are taken care of since their bodies are more vulnerable to the temperature of their surroundings.
For example, a baby needs sufficient layers and bundling up when it gets cold. On the other hand, the baby will need to cool off when it starts to get warm. As their primary caretaker, you are responsible for making sure your baby’s temperature is maintained and regulated.
A Pack N Play does not come with anything for temperature at all. It is merely an open play station with four mesh walls and an open top. Therefore, you will need to make sure that the temperature of the room where the Pack N Play is situated is monitored at all times.
Even though this may seem like a trivial matter, keeping the temperature nice and comfortable goes a long way.
6. Control the Brightness
Aside from monitoring the temperature of the room, another factor you can control is how bright the room is.
During playtime, the light should not be a problem at all. As your baby is developing their eyesight, sufficient light is not only appropriate but also beneficial for their visual development.
However, when your baby is going to rest, it is important to remember to dim the lights.
If the room where the Pack N Play is situated has windows, it is best to draw the curtains or close the blinds. The room where your baby often sleeps should have windows that can be totally blocked out. Babies sleep for most of the day, and it is best to avoid things that can potentially wake them up.
Aside from turning off the lights or closing the windows, other parents can also opt to get a darkening tent for the Pack N Play. These tents can be placed on top of the Pack N Play to completely keep the light away, making sure your baby can have a good, peaceful rest.
A blackout tent is especially convenient when you want the baby to have a dark area to sleep in, but you also need to have light in the same room. The blackout tent would allow you to do your own tasks in the same room with light without disturbing your baby’s sleep.
Another factor to keep in mind is airflow. It can be easy to forget, especially because it is something that you may not mind at all times, but babies need sufficient air flow for maximum comfort.
Fortunately, Pack N Plays are already built for sufficient airflow. Not only do they have an open top, but Pack N Plays are also typically made with mesh walls that allow air to flow right through them.
All you would have to do is to make sure that you are situating the Pack N Play in areas with sufficient airflow.
8. Relaxing Music/Sounds
After you have done everything to ensure your baby’s Pack N Play is as comfortable as it can be, perhaps the cherry on top would be to have relaxing background music or sounds playing in the room for your baby to listen to.
Traditionally, mothers all over the world have put their babies to sleep with soothing lullabies. You can always do that yourself. However, modern technology also provides you with an alternative to simply playing soothing music for your baby to sleep with.
You will have to experiment for a bit to determine what type of audio helps your baby sleep. While some babies love listening to soft lullabies to sleep, some can also prefer to listen to soothing white noise, such as babbling brooks, waves, or even the jungle at night.