If you wonder how to make your Pack ‘n Play dark enough for sleep, this post will help. We’ve found the best Pack ‘n Play blackout tents of this year.
Whether you are room-sharing with your baby or only want to remove the distractions when away from home, the Pack ‘n Play blackout tent can help a lot.
What is a Pack ‘n Play blackout tent?
A blackout tent (also called darkening tent, sleep shade, blackout canopy, or darkening cover) is a cover that you place over a Pack ‘n Play, travel crib, mini crib, or portable crib to provide a distraction-free sleeping environment.
A blackout or darkening tent provides your baby with a safe and dark place to sleep anywhere, in any room, day or night.
Types of Pack ‘n Play darkening tents
You can choose between two types of Pack ‘n Play sleeping shades: a blackout tent and a darkening cover. They both darken the Pack ‘n Play well, but they do it slightly differently.
1. Pack ‘n Play darkening/blackout tent
A blackout Pack ‘n Play tent looks like any standard camping tent. It has a simple frame with two set-up poles forming a dome, covered by the fabric. A blackout Pack ‘n Play tent usually holds one or more zippered windows, door, ventilation holes, and other accessories, such as a camera or fan pouch, but that depends on the brand you choose.
The only thing that differs from a standard camping tent is the underside. The blackout tent is designed without a bottom to slide over the Pack ‘n Play easily.
The main blackout tent’s advantage over a Pack ‘n Play cover is its size. A blackout tent extends beyond the length, width, and height of a standard Playard, giving your baby room to sit up or stand up inside.
2. Pack ‘n Play darkening cover
A darkening cover is a piece of breathable fabric, which you place over the Pack ‘n Play. It has the size of your standard rectangular Pack n’ Play, meaning it fits snugly around the Pack ‘n Play surface, not leaving any additional space above or around the Pack ‘n Play.
Some covers are more stretchy than others allowing them to fit more Pack ‘n Play sizes.
Pack ‘n Play darkening covers are easy to bring around anywhere you go. They are usually lighter and fold smaller than blackout tents. However, Pack ‘n Play blackout tents aren’t so much heavier and bigger either, so there is no significant difference in their weight and package size.
Best Pack ‘N Play Blackout Covers In 2023
Best Pack ‘n Play blackout tent:
SlumberPod Portable Blackout Canopy
The first portable, privacy sleep nook that allows babies to sleep in their Pack ‘n Play or travel crib with room to sit or stand up inside.
Size is the SlumberPod’s biggest advantage over the SnoozeShade cover described below.
This blackout tent is 50 inches long and 36 inches wide, meaning it extends beyond the length and width of a standard Playard. As such, it can fit over virtually any Pack ‘n Play on the market. It also fits over other sleeping gear, such as travel cribs, mini-cribs, small inflatable mattresses, etc., giving the SlumberPod blackout tent a higher versatility than other tents and Pack ‘n Play darkening covers.
Another plus is the SlumberPod blackout tent’s height. When set up, it is 56 inches tall, allowing babies to sit or stand up inside the unit. That is quite convenient for older babies and toddlers who might feel trapped in a Pack ‘n Play surrounded by a tight-fitting darkening cover where they can not stand or sit properly.
However, what is an advantage for one may be a disadvantage for another. Taking more space can be a problem for those having space issues. Some also do not like the tent’s “bulkier” look. If you are one of them, look at the SnoozeShade Pack ‘n Play cover described below. You might like it more.
For those of you who can’t decide whether “tent in the room” is a problem or not, the following information may be a turning point in your decision. You can close the SlumberPod tent flat without disassembly.
So, even though it’s larger and takes up more space in the room, it takes up virtually no space when folded flat.
This is important for those who want to have a Pack ‘n Play blackout tent, but they don’t want the tent standing in the room for the whole day. It allows everyday use without assembling and disassembling it daily.
The SlumberPod is easy to assemble and takedown, but the assembly does take a little more time than setting a Pack ‘n Play darkening cover described below. The process doesn’t take more than two minutes in both cases. As this is not a lot, I think it shouldn’t be a significant factor when deciding between them.
The instructions tell you to assemble the tent over your Pack ‘n Play, but you can do it flat on the floor too. The SlumberPod blackout canopy is designed bottomless, so you can easily place it over the Pack ‘n Play when it’s already assembled.
The SlumberPod blackout tent folds into a convenient fabric carry bag with a shoulder strap for easy transport. The tent weighs only 5 pounds and folds relatively small – 17 x 5 x 6 inches. It fits into standard carry-on luggage and can be easily taken on a plane.
The package is larger and heavier than a SnoozeShade darkening cover package, but not by much.
SAFETY & BREATHABILITY:
The SlumberPod blackout tent is designed with safety in mind. It passes all applicable juvenile product safety tests and additional voluntary advanced tests.
The SlumberPod darkening tent is a full blackout tent. To achieve such darkness, it must be of a thicker material.
It is made of polyester and spandex that is still breathable but not as much as mesh. While this reduces the airflow through the walls, the tent still achieves good breathability through its sheer size. In addition, the SlumberPod darkening tent features a zippered window, four ventilation flaps, and a fan pocket, so its overall breathability is well-covered!
The SlumberPod is a full-blackout tent. It doesn’t leave any light in the unit, so your baby can easily nap in bright or distracting conditions.
You won’t see your baby through its walls, and your baby can not see you from the covered Pack ‘n Play.
On the contrary, the SnoozeShade’s mesh sides only dim the light and allow seeing through.
The SlumberPod blackout tent is designed only for indoor, climate-controlled conditions.
It is suitable for babies older than four months and appropriate for children up to 5 years old.
The manufacturer decided to set a 4-month limit due to the newborn’s vulnerability. Parents should monitor infants’ sleep as closely as possible.
So, because you can not see through SlumberPod’s sides, I agree that this is reasonable and the safest choice!
Best Pack ‘n Play darkening cover:
SnoozeShade Pack ‘n Play blackout cover
A stretchy, air-permeable mesh cover for Pack ‘n Plays and triangular-style travel cribs.
The SnoozeShade portable blackout canopy fits easily over most standard Pack ‘n Plays and travel cribs. It is a rectangular piece of breathable fabric that lays over the Pack ‘n Play by embracing all its sides and the top.
The SnoozeShade darkening cover is smaller than the SlumberPod blackout tent. Still, it is stretchy and fits all rectangular Pack ‘n Plays that take a 37.5″ x 26″ mattress, wherein the Pack ‘n Play itself is usually up to 42″ long and 28″ wide.
However, there is a chance your unit is longer or wider, so I recommend checking the Pack ‘n Play external dimensions before purchasing the SnoozeShade darkening cover.
The SnoozeShade darkening cover also fits triangular-style travel cribs, e.g., BabyBjorn Light or Guava Lotus travel crib! These lightweight travel cribs tend to be longer at the base (up to 44″) but narrower at the top so that the SnoozeShade still fits.
For setting the SnoozeShade darkening cover, you don’t need virtually any assembly. Just throw it over the Pack ‘n Play, pull it down over the frame, and secure the Velcro straps around the feet or wheels.
The SnoozeShade darkening cover is small, light, and easy to bring around anywhere you go.
It is even lighter than the SlumberPod blackout tent described above. It weighs only 2 pounds and packs down into a stylish and eco-friendly storage bag that fits easily in your carry-on.
SAFETY & BREATHABILITY:
SnoozeShade’s fabric is chemical-free and scientifically tested to be completely air permeable, which means it has excellent air circulation. Good airflow and the ability to breathe through the mesh comfortably are a big plus for this Pack ‘n Play cover.
The SnoozeShade Pack ‘n Play blackout canopy meets and exceeds all required US, UK, and European safety standards.
The product is free of PVCs or flame retardants. Every SnoozeShade’s component is safe enough for newborns, including the cover’s zippers, straps, and snaps.
The SnoozeShade creates a safe, sleep-friendly space for your baby. However, its mesh sides can not darken the Pack ‘n Play as much as the SlumberPod blackout tent.
Some are surprised by the amount of light it actually lets in the Pack ‘n Play. I think they’re confused due to the manufacturer’s numbers. The company claims its mesh fabric blocks 94% of light. But, even though it really blocks so much light, the covered Pack ‘n Play is far from being in complete darkness.
This does not mean that the SnoozeShade is not dark enough! Its blurring capacity is just right for a good baby’s sleep. While you can still see a little of what is going on inside the Pack ‘n Play, your baby won’t be disturbed by its surroundings or light. The unit is also dark enough to boost the child’s sleeping hormone melatonin, which adds to the child’s sound sleep.
I like that you can adjust the darkness to suit your child. You can do it by using blackout flaps on two windows or with a zip-on top panel, which also serves for lifting your child in and out of the Pack ‘n Play.
You can use the SnoozeShade darkening cover right from birth. Its mesh sides let you see inside the unit, so it is safe for newborns.
The SnoozeShade darkening cover is usable as long as the sleeping gear it covers is in use.
However, the SnoozeShade Pack ‘n Play cover may not be the best option once your child can easily stand up. The cover doesn’t leave any additional space above or around the Pack ‘n Play, so your child can not stand in the Pack ‘n Play when the cover is on. Consequently, some children feel trapped and do not like it anymore.
The manufacturer stated that many customers use it outdoors without any problems, but I have some reservations. When using it outdoors, you must be extremely careful that it is not too hot and that the sun does not shine on the unit! Always place it in the shade and regularly check the temperature.
SlumberPod vs. SnoozeShade Pack ‘n Play blackout cover
If you still can not decide which one is better for your needs, the following table might help. We’ve made a side-by-side comparison of a SlumberPod blackout tent and SnoozeShade darkening cover, where we compared their features, specifications, price, etc.
|Pack ‘n Play Blackout Tent
|Pack ‘n Play Darkening Cover
|Pack ‘n Plays up to 44 inches long and 30 inches wide
portable cribs and triangular-style travel cribs
select toddler cots
small inflatable mattresses
|Pack ‘n Plays up to 41 inches long and 30 inches wide
triangular-style travel cribs
select toddler cots
|50″ x 36″ x 56 ” (L x W x H)
|∼ 42″ x 31″ x 34 ” (L x W x H)
|17″ x 5″ x 6″ carrying bag
|∼ 12″ x 6″ x 5″ carrying bag
|from 4 months – up to 5 years old (because it can be used with bigger sleep products, such as toddler cots and inflatable mattresses)
|from birth – to about 3 years old (until your child outgrows their Pack ‘n Play)
|✅ but very carefully!
|PRICE (at time of writing)
How to darken a Pack ‘n Play?
You can safely darken your Pack ‘n Play with a quality blackout tent or Pack ‘n Play cover. Both options described above are safe and quality, so you should choose according to your lifestyle, available space, and the amount of darkness you want.
If you plan to use either of them on holidays, we highly recommend using it several times at home before taking it on your trip. Your baby will get used to it at home rather than simultaneously dealing with a new environment and a new sleeping schedule.