Is Pack ‘n Play safe for your baby?

Wondering if a Pack ‘n Play is safe for your baby? Then you are in the right place!
This article is all about Pack ‘n Play’s safety! It talks about Pack ‘n Play safety standards, the safety of its accessories (bassinet, napper, Pack ‘n Play tent), explains how to use the unit safely, and discusses general guidelines for safe baby sleep.

Sleeping Baby

Pack ‘N Play Safety Standards and Safe Sleep Recommendations

Pack ‘n Plays (also called Playards or play yards) are generally a safe sleeping place for kids of many ages, weights, and sizes. New models must undergo rigorous testing to meet federal law requirements and additional requirements from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Only then they’re certified as safe for babies and can be legally sold.

Purchasing a new, certified Pack ‘n Play is undoubtedly a big step in ensuring your baby’s safe sleeping place.

Nevertheless, the Pack ‘n Play is safe only if you follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions, know how to use it correctly, and follow the safe sleep recommendations.

Steps to ensure your baby’s safety in the Pack ‘n Play:

  1. Purchase a Pack ‘n Play made after February 28, 2013, when new federal safety standards came into the force.
  2. Check the recall list before using a second-hand Pack ‘n Play, especially for Playards made before the date above.
  3. Make sure your Pack ‘n Play has no damaged or loose parts.
  4. Double-check its stability.
  5. Read the Playard’s manufacturer’s instructions before assembly and use.
  6. Choose a safe place for your Pack ‘n Play.
  7. Do not use third-party Pack ‘n Play mattress pads.
  8. A fitted sheet should be the only bedding in the Pack ‘n Play.
  9. Follow the Pack ‘n Play’s weight and height restrictions!

Pack ‘n Play Safety Standards

New Pack ‘n Play safety standard has been effective since February 28, 2013, and applies to all Playards manufactured or imported on or after that date. It has stringent requirements for various Pack ‘n Play parts, such as reliable locking/latching mechanisms, the top rail corner brackets, and strong floor support.

The standard aims to prevent the risk of death and injury due to falls, entrapment, or escape due to Pack ‘n Play failure, parts dislodgment, or incorrect assembly.

Pack ‘n Plays must undergo various tests to meet the safety standard’s principal requirements. Only then are they certified as safe for the baby!

Pack ‘n Play Safety Standard requires the following tests:

Safety Standards for Older Pack ‘n Plays:

Do you have an older Pack ‘n Play? Or, maybe you are considering a second-hand unit? Then you probably wonder if such a Pack ‘n Play is still safe for use. Do Pack ‘n Plays expire?

Find everything about the safety of older Pack ‘n Plays here: How to make sure an old Pack ‘n Play is still safe for the baby?

How to use a Pack ‘n Play safely?

You will do the most for the safety of the Pack ‘n Play by following the owner’s manual for installation and safe use and general recommendations for safe baby sleep.

1. Preparing and setting up the Pack ‘n Play:

At first, you may find the Pack ‘n Play assembly a bit confusing, but most units are simple to set up and put away. Once you get used to it, you’ll be done in a minute.

Always follow the owner’s manual instructions to set up the Pack ‘n Play, and make sure the Pack ‘n Play is fully set up before use!

Pack ‘n Play is fully set when the middle of the floor is pushed all the way to the bottom, and the top guides are completely locked. The mattress pad lies flat on the bottom and is securely attached to the bottom of the unit.

Where in the room is the safest place for the Pack ‘n Play?

Place your Pack ‘n Play away from strings and cords that can cause strangulation if they are within a child’s reach. Do not place your Pack ‘n Play near the window where cords from blinds or drapes can strangle a child. If you are using a baby monitor, its cables must be out of the child’s reach. Also, never hang strings on or over the Pack ‘n Play.

Don’t put a Playard under shelves or anything heavy that could fall off the wall. If possible, do not put it near outside walls, especially if they are cold. Also, consider how the light enters the room at different times of the day.

2. Use only the included Pack ‘n Play mattress pad!

Playard’s sides are flexible, not rigid like on cribs. As a result, you must use only a mattress pad designed specifically for the Pack ‘n Play.

A proper mattress pad has a solid base, a perfect length and width to fit in a Pack ‘n Play, and is not more than one inch thick.

A thicker or a different sized mattress pad may allow a baby’s head to get between the mattress pad and the Pack ‘n Play side, causing injuries or even suffocation.

RELATED: Can I put a crib mattress in a Pack ‘n Play?

3. A proper Pack ‘n Play sheet should be the only bedding in your Pack ‘n Play!

The Pack ‘n Play sheet is the only bedding you should use in the unit! But not all Pack ‘n Play sheets fit into all Pack ‘n Plays!

Pack ‘n Plays come in various sizes, and so do their sheets. You have to find the one that is not too tight or too loose! I also highly recommend buying a sheet with elastic corners made from breathable material that is gentle to the baby’s skin.

You can find more about safe Pack ‘n Play sheets in the following articles:

4. Other Baby Sleep Safety Recommendations:

  • Place your Pack ‘n Play next to your bed. For the first year, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends room-sharing, not bed-sharing.
  • Always place your baby to sleep on the back. 
  • Do not put blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads in a Pack ‘n Play because they increase the risk for suffocation.
  • A Pack ‘n Play mattress must be firm and flat.
  • Your Pack ‘n Play shouldn’t have any loosened mesh sides.
  • Be aware that anything the baby can grab poses a risk. Get rid of any toys and other Pack ‘n Play accessories from the top edge when your baby can sit upright or crawl.

5. Follow weight and size recommendations

Please stop using the Pack ‘n Play when your child reaches its weight or size restrictions!

Most Pack ‘n Plays are safe up to a child’s height of 35 inches, the weight of 30 pounds, or until he can climb out, whichever comes first.

That typically occurs between the child’s second and third year, depending on his growth and motor skills development

Safety of Pack ‘n Play accessories

When it comes to Pack ‘n Plays, you can choose between numerous models. The choice is highly diverse, from traditional Pack ‘n Plays to nursery care stations with various accessories.

Some of the most common Pack ‘n Play accessories are:

  • Full-size bassinet insert: Elevates the infant’s sleeping space by clipping on the Pack ‘n Play sides and hanging inside the unit.
  • Raised bassinet: A smaller infant bassinet, which clips on the Pack ‘n Play and stands above the unit. Some can also be used as free-standing units.
  • Changing table: A removable or flip-away diaper changer that clips on the Pack ‘n Play and stands above the unit. 
  • Infant seat, portable rocker, napper: Different removable newborn units that clip on the Pack ‘n Play’s top. Some might be used as stand-alone units.
  • Storage units: Different storage units, such as built-in storage shelves or a diaper organizer.

Example of a great Pack ‘n Play with accessories: Graco Pack ‘n Play Day2Dream Travel Bassinet Playard

Pack ‘N Play Bassinet Safety | 2 bassinets on the Graco Pack 'n Play Day2Dream

All Pack ‘n Play accessories are tested to be safe for the baby, but only if you use them according to the manufacturer’s instructions!

Only Pack ‘n Play bassinets with a flat and firm surface and airy mesh are approved as safe for infant sleep.

On the contrary, you shouldn’t use nappers, rockers, inclined infant seats, etc., for unsupervised everyday sleep. They are designed to give you a free hand while your baby sits in a safe place, but not for sleeping.

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