Having a safe place for your little one to rest or play is vital. Many people already have a playard or playpen (most commonly known as a pack n play) as they are handy and safe solutions for children in many settings. The playard provides comfort, security, and portability, especially for parents who travel a lot. But, how many parents have a mattress for it, let alone a good one?
Most parents are used to calling them a pack n play mattress, but essentially, a pack n play, playard, and playpen mattress is the same thing. Pack n play was a model of baby playard made famous by Graco, and since then, we’ve all got used to referring to these playpens as pack n plays. So, these mattresses all work in a pack n play, playard, or playpen, depending on the dimensions.
This type of mattress can offer napping on the go for babies. However, the pack and play base is always cold, hard, and very uncomfortable. To circumvent this aspect, you can add an above-mentioned mattress for pack n play to offer additional coziness, which then converts it to a true comfort zone for your child. It will cushion the surface, making it more habitable for your baby.
However, there are variations in designs to consider when choosing the best pack n play mattress. They vary in thickness, price, quality of construction, etc. In this article, we have rounded up the top 7 pack n play/playpen mattress selections for 2022. We also guide you on buying a mattress that will offer your child comfort while you get the utmost value for money.
Pack n Play Mattress Buying Guide
As you can imagine, when choosing a mattress for your pack and play, there are multiple things to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to consider:
Your pack and play shape and style
The shape of the playpen you have dictates the type of mattress that you buy. Ideally, the mattress must fit the playpen perfectly. For example, some are square, while others are hex shaped. However, the most popular type is rectangular.
Some pack and plays come with a bassinet at the top, while others are an open structure. Again, the mattress you select should work with this arrangement. Most mattresses aren’t fit for the bassinet but can be placed underneath on the base.
The mattress measurements
Size is critical – the mattress must fit the baby playpen precisely. Otherwise, any uneven spaces might lead to accidents.
The pack n play mattress size you’ll most often come across is 37″ x 27″. However, the measurements can vary slightly with a difference of 1/2 to 1 inch. So check the mattress to ascertain the exact dimensions and make sure it’s a tight fit. The right mattress will fit snugly; the space between the sidewall and mattress should not exceed the width of a finger.
The type of cover
Most of the covers you’ll find are made of polyester or cotton, and sometimes a combination of both. Organic cotton is perfect as it’s hypoallergenic and gentle on your child.
Another trait of covers is that most are waterproof, and if it isn’t, you should seriously consider opting for one that is. Most children will, at some point or another, either spill their milk or drop their food. Others may have a diaper that came loose or leaked, causing some horrible mess. Whatever the scenario, waterproof covers are just as comfortable for babies as covers that aren’t.
Additionally, you’ll often find some of the better mattresses have covers with leak-free stitched edges. This is a better barrier against fluid entering the foam core and causing mold and mildew to grow.
Breathability is good for hygiene and mattress longevity. Some mattresses are naturally breathable, while others feature small vents. Both of them are good choices. Additionally, some of the more premium options have organic cotton covers, allowing for better airflow.
Choosing the right feel
Most pack n play mattresses are either medium or firm or firm with a plush cover. It’s advisable to avoid an ultra-soft mattress as it is associated with SIDS risk. Get something that is supportive yet comfortable.
Choices of material
Generally, there are two options – innerspring and foam. Foam is the most common and better choice, in our opinion. They are comfortable, supportive, cheap, and lightweight.
Innerspring mattresses aren’t suitable for pack and plays, as they are much heavier and less transportable. Additionally, they will not fold and are prone to tears.
One of the most appealing things about pack and plays are the portable functionality they possess. However, there’s no point having a portable pack n play if the mattress used within it is not easy to maneuver or transport.
Choose a mattress that is lightweight and preferably foldable. Foam also tends to work better as spring counterparts can weigh a fair bit.
Folding vs non-folding
Some parents may not like the fact there is a fold or two within the mattress. This is understandable and down to personal choice. However, foldable types have benefits over those that don’t.
Also touching on portability, a folding pack n play mattress adds to easier transportation. If it’s foldable, the mattress will be perfect for parents who move their pack-n-play around the home from room to room or take it on excursions.
While non-folding pack and play mattresses are still highly portable due to being lightweight and relatively small, foldable options are more versatile.
Our Favorite Pack n Play Mattress
Hiccapop Pack n Play Mattress
Finding The Best Pack n Play Mattress
To find the best pack n play mattress we evaluated 22 different mattresses and then rounded it down to just 10. We also checked 11 different sources for data which totalled 37 hours of research. Below you’ll find some of the points we evaluated when choosing our top selections:
- Checked that the dimensions were correct for pack n plays
- Evaluated the materials used i.e., foam, spring or latex
- Checked the weight and portability of the mattress
- Also checked the firmness and comfort for each one
- Whether or not it had a cover or if it was waterproof
Here’s our top 7 picks at a glance
- Hiccapop Pack n Play Mattress Pad – Editor’s Pick
- Dream On Me Playard Mattress – Lightweight Option
- Dream On Me Pack n Play Mattress – Best Non-Toxic
- NapYou Pack n Play Mattress – Ideal For Travel
- Milliard Pack and Play Mattress – Best Folding
- LA Baby Portable/Mini Crib Mattress – Best Budget Option
- Dreamcountry Foldable Pack n Play Mattress – Versatile Option
For any pack n play mattress, four things are critical – comfort, safety, ease of use, and portability. In the roundup above, we have lined up the top 7 best pack n play mattress choices that would suit most brands and types of playard. Each of them has a universal fit; they are comfortable, durable, and safe. But the one you choose is down to you. for example, some may choose the lightest option, while others will refine by price. Either way, hopefully, you know what to look out for, what to choose, and what to avoid.