Pack ‘n plays are safe for children under 30 pounds or are less than 35 inches tall. After this, they are no longer safe for sleep. When using a pack ‘n play with the attached bassinet, children must weigh under 15 pounds and cannot roll over on their own.
How Long Can Your Baby Sleep In a Pack ‘n Play?
The pack ‘n play is one of those inventions many parents couldn’t imagine raising their little one without.
Pack ‘n plays are portable, and they are safe for your baby to sleep and play in for hours at a time. They are pretty much a parenting lifesaver.
Pack ‘n plays are also a very convenient and cost-efficient co-sleeping solution. Co-sleeping is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for babies six months and younger.
Since pack ‘n plays are so versatile, you’re probably wondering how long your baby can sleep in a pack ‘n play.
Your little one can begin sleeping in a pack ‘n play as soon as a few days after birth. As with other helpful devices like baby carriers and baby jumpers, pack ‘n plays should only be used for a short time because your baby will eventually outgrow them.
You should no longer put your child in the pack ‘n play as soon as they either weigh 30 pounds or are 35 inches tall.
Once they weigh either 30 lbs or measure 35 inches tall, the pack ‘n play becomes a safety hazard for your little one.
So when they reach either milestone, you will need to retire the pack ‘n play and put them in a crib for sleeping.
Babies usually reach one or both of these milestones around two years of age.
Pack ‘n Plays With a Bassinet Attachment
Some pack ‘n play models come with a detachable bassinet. The bassinet usually attaches to the top of the pack ‘n play and sits across it horizontally.
If you are using a pack ‘n play with the bassinet feature, your little one should weigh under 15 lbs.
Bassinets are not made to hold as much weight as the regular play area feature and could break or collapse if your child is too heavy.
Once your little one reaches 13-14 lbs, I would suggest transitioning them to the pack ‘n play and no longer use the bassinet attachment.
Once your child is 13-14 lbs, you will probably also notice that they are getting too big for the bassinet and might be bumping into the sides or have very little space above their head or below their feet.
They should also transition to the pack ‘n play once they can roll over from their back onto their stomach.
Bassinets are not very deep, so they are not safe for your little one to sit up in. Babies usually weigh almost 15 lbs by three months of age.
So your little one can likely enjoy the pack ‘n play bassinet attachment for around three months before they outgrow it.
The nice thing is that the bassinet is easy to detach and put into storage and then your little one can still use the pack ‘n play for at least another year and a half, maybe two years.
Safety Tips for Pack ‘n Plays
Pack ‘n plays are just as safe for your baby to sleep in as a regular crib. But like traditional cribs and other helpful devices, there are still precautions you should follow to keep your little one safe while they are in the pack ‘n play.
Mesh Wall Creates Air Flow
The pack ‘n play should have mesh walls to allow optimum airflow into the play area. The mesh holes should be no larger than ¼ inch to ensure that nothing can get snagged or stuck.
The mesh walls also allow you to easily watch your little one while they are in the pack ‘n play without having to walk over and look inside.
This visibility feature is also helpful if you are using a baby monitor to keep an eye on your baby while you are in another room.
The pack ‘n play should have a sturdy metal or wooden frame that is fully covered with a vinyl or polyester material.
Follow the Directions
Follow the assembly directions to make sure you assemble the pack ‘n play properly. Each time you use the pack ‘n play, make sure everything is locked into place before putting your baby inside. You would not want it to collapse once you put them inside it.
Use the Manufacturer’s Mattress
A pack ‘n play is different from a playpen because it has a mattress. While playpens are made for play purposes, pack ‘n plays are designed for playing and sleeping.
Make sure you use the mattress provided by the manufacturer. The mattress should fit perfectly with no gaps between the mattress and the frame.
The mattress should also be firm and thin per the American Academy of Pediatrics’ mattress safety guidelines.
Keep Items Out of the Pack ‘n Play During Sleep
Avoid placing any blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows into the pack ‘n play with your child. Any soft items pose a suffocation hazard.
If you give your child any toys to play with while they are in the pack ‘n play, remove them when they fall asleep.
Back is Best
Still follow the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines and lay your little one on their back to sleep, even when they are in the pack ‘n play.
Pack ‘n Play Benefits
There are several reasons you might choose to have your baby sleep in a pack ‘n play for the first year or two.
To Save a Little Money
Pack ‘n Plays cost about $150, while many cribs are much more expensive. So a pack ‘n play is a lower-cost short-term option.
Since pack ‘n plays can only be used until your child is two years old, buying a crib will likely be a better long-term investment.
Many modern cribs grow with your child and turn into a toddler bed, daybed, and even a full-size bed.
To Save Space
Pack ‘n plays are usually 28″ wide and 40″ long, while cribs must have a 28″ wide and 52″ long sleeping surface (not including the crib’s frame).
The smaller surface area of pack ‘n plays can be helpful since it will need to fit in your room for the first six months.
To Have a Portable Option
Pack ‘n plays fold up and go inside a bag of some sort to be transported. They can also be easily moved between different rooms of the house.
This can be very helpful for monitoring your little one throughout the day.
To Delay Deciding What Crib to Purchase
You are making a lot of decisions within the months leading up to your little one’s birth.
If deciding on a crib seems like a little too much, opting to use a pack ‘n play for the first few months is a good solution.
This decision will buy you some time to do your research and decide which crib you want to purchase.
To Have a 3-in-1 Solution
Pack ‘n plays are a safe spot for babies to sleep, play, and even get a diaper change. Many pack ‘n plays have a convenient diaper changing spot, so parents do not need a separate changing table.
The diaper changing area may be attached or removable depending on the pack ‘n play’s design. Some also have detachable mobiles or toys to keep your little one entertained.
Pack ‘n Play Drawbacks
- It can only be used for a couple of years. A regular crib can be used for five years and longer, depending on its convertibility options.
- Usually aren’t as aesthetically pleasing. Many modern pack ‘n plays sport a much more neutral design but won’t replace the high-end design and look of a regular crib.
- It can be a little hard to transport. Even though the name implies simplicity, it can be challenging to pack up and fit in the carrying bag. They are similar to a tent. No one knows how anyone got it to fit in that tiny bag in the first place.
The infamous Pack ‘n Play has been around since 1987. Since its invention, it has become an essential baby product for parents.
Pack ‘n plays can only be used for a few years before your child will need to transition to sleeping in a crib.
To keep your child safe in a pack ‘n play, make sure you always follow all the safety guidelines.
Pack n plays have many benefits, but they also have a few drawbacks worth considering.
Now that you know how long a baby can sleep in a pack ‘n play, you can make an informed purchasing decision that is right for you and your little one.