Top 6 tips on how to make a Pack ‘n Play more comfortable

Many parents think the Pack ‘n Play is not comfortable enough, so they wonder how to make it more comfortable for their baby.

The mattress sold with the particular Pack ‘n Play is the best and the safest option. Still, it is more of a mattress pad that is a bit thin and hard, leading many wonders about how to make their Pack ‘n Play more comfortable for their baby.

There are ways, but you have to choose methods that don’t compromise your Pack ‘n Play’s safety. Certain modifications are only suitable for use with toddlers. Furthermore, you have to consider the model and size of your Pack ‘n Play … while a particular method may improve one Pack ‘n Play, it may compromise the stability of another model, etc.

I will list a few options for making your Pack ‘n Play more comfortable, but I want to answer the common question first.

Are Pack ‘n Plays comfortable?

Quality Pack ‘n Plays (also called Playards) offer a safe sleeping and playing area for wherever you are. They provide high functionality, are lightweight, and fold easily for storage or travel.

To achieve all of the above while still retaining the highest safety level, manufacturers had to make some trade-offs in Pack ‘n Plays’ design. Among them, having a thin mattress pad is certainly one of the most noticeable ones.

You can not safely use a thicker mattress in a Pack ‘n Play, especially for newborns and young infants. But do not worry, you do not need it at all! Let me explain.

People often forget about a crucial fact: the comfort for adults and babies is not the same! Babies do not need soft mattresses and plushy pillows to be comfortable! In fact, they are sleeping perfectly comfortably on a firm surface! Furthermore, a firm surface is safer for them and contributes to the baby’s proper bone and muscle development!

Given the right conditions, babies will sleep almost anywhere. We, adults, are those who get our kids used to the softer sleeping surface. We want to make sure they will love sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play, and when they don’t, we blame the Playard’s comfort level.

Worrying about the Pack ‘n Play mattress’s comfort is unnecessary, especially if we are worried about its hardness! In reality, Pack ‘n Plays are comfortable enough as they are! Again, most manufacturers advise against using any additional mattress or switching it for the thicker and softer one!

I’m not going to focus on finding thicker and softer Pack ’n Play mattresses, but emphasize other ways to raise its comfort. For instance, using appropriate Pack ‘n Play sheets can make the mattress warmer, cooler, or more pleasant for the baby’s delicate skin.

Our Top Picks → Best Pack 'n Plays

How can you make your Pack n’ Play more comfortable?

Let’s look at how to make your Pack ‘n Play more comfortable without compromising your baby’s safety.

1. Pack ‘n Play Padded Sheets:

These thicker quilted sheets are probably the best and safest option to increase the Pack ‘n Play’s softness and comfort.

Best Pack ‘N Play Sheets | The Softest Choice
TILLYOU Cloudy Soft Pack ‘n Play Sheets

Padded sheets have extra-thick padding filled with friendly fiber. They are comfortable and supportive yet not too thick, so they are safe for the baby and maintain good breathability.

Just remember to find one that fits your Pack ‘n Play mattress well! Measure your Pack ‘n Play mattress carefully and purchase a tight-fitting sheet that won’t loose or bunch up and cause a hazard for your baby.

2. Other Pack ‘n Play sheets:

You can choose amongst Pack ‘n Play sheets of various fabrics and thread counts, leaving some softer and more durable than others.

Cotton is a classic option that is soft and breathable and will help keep your baby cool during the Summer and warm in Winter.

Other materials are organic cotton, jersey cotton, muslin, microfiber, and bamboo. All provide softness, but cotton, organic cotton, muslin, and bamboo are the most popular fabrics known for their softness.

Generally, sheets with a thread count of at least 200 should be sufficiently comfortable and durable for most shoppers.

3. Pack ‘n Play Blackout Tent:

Your baby may not be sleeping well in the Pack ‘n Play because it is too bright. This is a common problem, especially on vacations. Your home probably has curtains or blinds, but this may not be the case when you are away.

There is a simple yet very efficient solution. You can purchase a Pack ‘n Play darkening canopy that blocks most of the light. It creates a comfortable darkened place so the baby can switch off and sleep during the day or while you have the lights on.

The Pack ‘n Play blackout tent is very convenient for vacation, during the summer months, or when the family has to share a room.

My favorite Pack ‘n Play darkening tent is from SnoozeShade. I like its ability to adjust the brightness in the Pack ‘n Play and its breathable net, which is also excellent mosquito protection.

When I was looking for a blackout Pack ‘n Play tent, I didn’t want one without the possibility to adjust the brightness. So the SnoozeShade was perfect for my baby and me. It has a zippable top flap and side panels that you can raise or lower to adjust the level of darkness in the Playard.

You can also easily take it wherever you go. The SnoozeShade darkening canopy weighs just 2 lbs and even comes with a carry bag.

4. The right temperature:

Too hot or a too cold environment can interfere with a baby’s sleep. Thus keeping your baby’s room cool but comfortable is one way to make sleeping in your Pack ‘n Play more comfortable.

Make sure the room has an adequate temperature. It’s recommended that babies sleep at a temperature between 68° and 72°F (20° to 22.2°C).

Also, choose a season-appropriate baby pajama or sack and a suitable Pack ‘n Play sheet. For example, do not choose a flannel sheet that makes the Pack ‘n Play warmer for the summer.

5. Make your room and Pack ‘n Play breathable:

Mesh sides allow good airflow through the Pack ‘n Play unit. However, if the room is not well ventilated and/or stuffed with numerous things, mesh sides cannot serve that purpose.

Keeping the room well ventilated and enabling a constant airflow can contribute to much better sleep!

6. Keep your Pack ‘n Play plain and simple:

Keep the Pack ‘n Play sleeping area clear of any toys or pillows. That will make it more comfortable and is also safer for the baby. Also, keep the area free of distractions, such as mobiles or toys.

How to make a Pack ‘n Play more comfortable for your toddler

The following methods are more appropriate for toddlers and not recommended for young babies!

It is best not to try these methods for infants under 12 months old, as they may pose a safety risk. However, you can consider using manufacturer-approved solutions if you have a toddler.

1. Pack ‘n Play Mattress Topper:

You’ve probably heard about Pack ‘n Play mattress toppers that you can place over the Playard’s mattress.

These mattress pads are often a product from baby-safe retailers, have sufficient firmness, and may fit perfectly into your Pack ‘n Play. Still, they are not considered safe for the baby, so Pack ‘n Play manufacturers do not approve them.

The reason why they are not safe is their thickness! Pack ‘n Plays have soft mesh sides that do not offer enough resistance if a young baby rolls to the mattress’s edge. Baby can fall from a thicker pad and become entrapped between the mattress’s edge and soft Pack ‘n Play side, which may lead to injuries or even suffocation.

If you decide on this option, make sure it is non-toxic and free of unsafe chemicals. And most importantly, if at all, only toddlers should use it for sleeping. But for the baby, I would use it only for playtime.

My favorite mattress pad is the Hiccapop Pack ‘n Play pad, which has a firm side for tummy-time play and a softer side for toddlers.

2. Switching the Pack ‘n Play mattress with a mini crib mattress:

Using a mini crib mattress is not safe for a baby for the same reasons I listed in addition to Pack ‘n Play mattress pads. Furthermore, mini crib mattresses are usually thicker than Pack ‘n Play mattress pads, so the risk is higher.

Some parents opt for a mini crib mattress anyway. If you are one of them, use it only for a toddler, not a baby!

Also, make sure it fits into your Pack ‘n Play and offers enough support for your toddler.

3. DIY Pack ‘n Play Pad:

When I was researching for this post, I found a parenting hack on making a Pack ‘n Play more comfortable. It involves using a 1 or 2-inch thick foam from a local soft furnishings store.

It says you have to cut the foam to match the Pack ‘n Play mattress and place it below the existing Pack ‘n Play mattress pad. Then you have to cover both together with a tight-fitting sheet to hold them together.

Again, this is against the manufacturers’ recommendations, and I do not recommend using it either!

How to make a Pack ‘n Play more comfortable?

Final Thoughts

Pack ‘n Plays (or Playards) are safe and comfortable enough as they are! Babies do not need a thicker or softer Pack ‘n Play mattress. They are already comfortable enough on the included mattress. 

Think about it; if it were safe to use a thicker and softer mattress, the manufacturers would definitely include it in constructing their Pack ‘n Plays. After all, they want to sell as many products as possible!

If you decide on a thicker mini crib mattress or Pack ‘n Play mattress pad anyway, do it only for toddlers, not babies under 12 months!

However, it is better to use other ways to make the baby’s sleeping environment more comfortable and calm, such as using appropriate Pack ‘n Play sheets or providing fresh air in the room.

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