Having a pack and play, playard or travel crib around for your baby or toddler is so handy. Not only will it provide a comfortable bed or secure playard at home, but it can be taken around with you for some napping on the go.
A pack n play needs to be four things – safe, comfortable, easy to use and portable.
However, the standard base supplied with a pack and play is often hard, cold and uncomfortable.
Many parents add in a specially sized mattress for increased coziness. A pack ‘n’ play mattress can offer a comfortable sleeping space for your baby, or extra cushioning for playtime in the pack and play crib.
To help you make a decision on which mattress is best for your pack n play, here are some things to consider before buying one, and a list of the best pack n play mattresses for your baby!
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First up – Do I Actually Need A Separate Pack N Play Mattress?
For busy parents, a pack n play can be such a useful baby item. It gives your baby a safe place to play during the day, while still allowing you to keep an eye on them.
A pack n play, with a comfortable and safe mattress, is also a great sleep space for your baby. It can be moved around the house as you do, or be taken out when on holiday or visiting family and friends.
Most pack n plays do come with a mat or pad, but these often very hard and plasticky and are not comfortable enough for sleeping, so, yes, an additional specially designed pack n play mattress will finish it off perfectly.
The mom in the video below made her own – which is a nice eco-friendly option if you have your own materials around.
However, pack and play mattresses are reasonably cheap so it’s probably not a great economic solution if you’ve got to go out and buy foam anyway.
Consider The Style of Your Pack and Play
If you already have a pack ‘n’ play at home, you will need to purchase a mattress that fits your model, and one which suits its style as well.
That is, some pack n plays have an attachable bassinet sitting at the top, and others are just an open structure. Make sure that the mattress you choose will fit the style of the pack n play you have at home.
Will it Fit? What Size Mattress to Get
Just like the style of the mattress, the fit is so important.
Most pack n plays are made to roughly the same size (~37″ x 27″), but there tends to be a small difference of 1/2 inch to an inch between each so double check before buying.
If you can test the mattress in the pack n play before buying then that’s a good idea. Otherwise you’ll have to check your pack and play user guide for the dimensions as measuring accurately by hand is tricky.
The mattress should sit snug in the pack n play, and you should not be able to fit more than one finger between the edges all the way around.
The right fit goes a long way to ensure your child is safe when inside the pack n play.
Make Sure The Mattress is Breathable
To keep your baby cool and dry, and to create a hygienic sleep and play place, you should choose a mattress that has good ventilation.
Some mattresses are naturally breathable, while others come with built-in vents on the sides.
If you are adding on a mattress protector make sure that is also breathable and hypoallergenic.
NOTE – we saw on one forum one mom thinking that the term breathable meant that the baby could lie flat on its face and breath through the mattress!!!
NO, NO, NO!! Breathable means a small amount of air can circulate through the mattress to create ventilation. It does not mean ‘breath-through-able’. Please under no circumstances allow you baby to lie nose and mouth down on any mattress of any kind!
As comfortable as it might sound, a soft mattress is not ideal for a baby. Soft bedding is considered to be a possible SIDS risk and should be avoided.
If you are able to, you can test the firmness of the mattress by pressing a finger down on the surface. If it indents easily, it is too soft for your baby.
Material – Foam v Innersprung
There are two types of mattresses you can choose from – foam and innerspring.
An innerspring mattress is not always best for a pack n play as they tend to tear. That said, however, a good quality innerspring mattress is better than a cheap foam mattress.
Our recommendation is to get a good quality foam mattress for you pack n play, they are comfortable and safe, and often lightweight and hypoallergenic.
Some mattresses come with a vinyl waterproof covering.
Should I choose a second hand mattress?
Pack and play mattresses aren’t crazily expensive. A decent quality one should set you back $40 to $50 and a budget one can be bought for 20 bucks.
With that in mind it is always a better option to buy a new one.
You can never be sure of what a second-hand mattress has been through, and it might be harboring bacteria or fungi growth.
Rather; spend a little bit extra to buy a brand new mattress for your baby.
As the name ‘pack and play’ suggests these cribs / playards are designed to be packed up when finished with or when you want to travel.
Most pack and play mattresses are single piece designs that are quite big and bulky – albeit quite light.
They’re not too bad to carry around in a car as they are quite flat and don’t take up much space. Rather the biggest concern is them getting dirty in transit.
[TOP TIP: when you get your mattress open it carefully and keep hold of the plastic wrapping it comes in. This makes the perfect protector for when you are on the move.]
That said, it does make life a lot easier if you choose a pack n play mattress that is easy to travel with, and which folds away easily. Some roll-up and some fold together, but whichever you choose, make sure it can be carried around easily.
As with any child’s mattress ensure that it is manufactured to the required national standards for flammability (16 CFR 1632 / 1633 in USA, BS 5852 in UK) and for the toxity of the material inside.
You’ll want to get one that is phthlate and lead free and does not outgas.
Make sure it sits snugly in the bottom of the pack and play to ensure that it doesn’t bunch up and form a suffocation hazard (this especially applies to a fold-up model – make sure it is securely fitted down).
Should I get a Waterproof Mattress?
A lot of pack and play mattresses come with a waterproof vinyl coating and these are great for practicality of preserving the mattress longer and for making it easier to clean.
They are, however, a little less comfortable to sleep on and we always end up putting on a cotton mattress protector anyway – which kind of doubles up the protection and makes it softer.
In short a waterproof mattress is a nice to have but not essential.
Do I need a Mattress Protector?
Some pack n play mattresses come with a waterproof vinyl coating and some have just a plain material surface.
Either way a soft, cotton mattress protector is a good idea. The protector pad will help keep the mattress safe and clean and is more comfortable than a vinyl surface.
Our Stuff4Tots Protector Pad is 100% waterproof, with a breathable layer, to keep the mattress dry, clean, and free from odors.
While protecting the mattress, it is still incredibly soft and comfortable for your baby.
The Best Pack n Play Mattresses
Now that you know what to look for in a pack n play mattress, here are some of the better ones on the market that will be the perfect addition to your pack n play at home.
The Best Overall – The NapYou Foldable Pack ‘n’ Play Mattress
In our view the NapYou Pack n Play mattress is the best overall option, it is comfortable, portable and safe for your baby to use.
Made from an organic cotton and polyester blend, the mattress is both durable and super soft to the touch, making it one of the most comfortable choices for your little one.
The mattress measures 28 x 40 x 1.5 inches and has rounded corners to ensure it fits snug into the larger pack n plays.
The mattress is also foldable, which allows you to travel around with it easily, and to pack it away compactly when not in use.
This mattress is the perfect addition to a pack n play and will turn the pack n play into a safe sleeping place for your baby.
It is exclusively available on Amazon or Walmart so check out stock and availability here.
Most Versatile and Practical – The HiccaPop
The HiccaPop Memory Foam Pack n Play Mattress pad is a dual-sided mattress, one side featuring dense foam, and the other side featuring memory foam. It offers great versatility and is one of the most comfortable mattresses around.
The soft, washable cover is removable with zips and offers ultimate softness and the best healthy sleep for your baby. The cover can be easily removed and cleaned in the wash, for easy and convenient cleaning of any spills or messes.
The rounded corner mattress measures 36 x 26 x 2.25, which is the right size to fit gap-free into most standard-sized pack n plays. The dual firmness system is great for both toddlers and infants and will last throughout their infancy and childhood.
The cover and the mattress are odor, mold, and mildew resistant, and free from any harmful toxins. The lock stitching of the cover also keeps out all external contaminants, creating an incredibly safe sleep space.
Covering all the bases in comfort and hygiene, this pack n play mattress will be one of the safest bets for your little one.
It normally sells for around $50 but you can confirm the latest price here.
Most Comfortable Mattress – The Milliard Memory Foam Pack n Play Mattress Topper
Give your baby the ultimate comfort with the memory foam mattress from Milliard, with soft foam contours to cradle their little bodies for a restful night.
A waterproof, washable cover is your defense against spills and diaper accidents. It can be easily removed and thrown into the wash for quick cleaning. Being waterproof, the cover protects the mattress from staining and bacteria.
The mattress itself is free from harmful toxins and chemicals, making it completely safe for your baby. The mattress can roll up into a smaller carry size and comes with a carry strap that makes it so much easier to travel with or to store away until needed again.
Made with 2-inch-thick 100% memory foam, the mattress weighs only 2.5lbs and will last for many years without losing shape.
Comfortable, safe and long-lasting, your baby can use this mattress all the way through toddlerhood for restful nights and happy play!
Check out prices and availability on Amazon.
Most Practical – The Dream On Me Play Yard Mattress
Suited for a pack n play and play yards, the Dream On Me mattress will be your go-to for sleep solutions, and for playtime during the day.
The waterproof lock-stitch binding is antibacterial and ensures the mattress is free from mold, mildew and other odors that may occur. Measuring 25.5 x 37.5 x 3, it is suitable for many different pack n plays and will fit in snug for safety.
The product is certified by GreenGuard to have low chemical emissions, giving you peace of mind that it is free from harmful toxins and chemicals, only offering the safest sleeping space for your baby.
With a dreamy design, this pack n play mattress will fit in perfectly to your baby’s sleeping space and can be easily moved around when needed.
It is available on Amazon and other good retaillers.
Also worth considering – Dourxi Tri-Fold Pack n Play Mattress
The optimal design of this mattress allows it to see to your growing baby’s needs. It is thoughtfully designed to be thicker and more comfortable for the best safety support.
The mattress is the perfect balance between firmness and soft comfort, offering a cozy, yet safe, sleeping space for your little one.
Folding up in three parts, the mattress can either be used at home in the pack n play or can be taken out when traveling, for nappy changes or for visiting family. The carry bag fits the mattress easily when folded, and makes traveling that much easier.
Suited for a standard pack n plays, the mattress measures 37.5 x 26 x 3, with square corners to fit safely in the standard pack n play.
The removable and washable outside cover fits tightly over the mattress, for extra safety, and is easily maintained by being completely washable.
For the parent on the go, this is a great option. It is safe, hygienic and comfortable, all while being easy to travel with.
Check similar options like this on Amazon.
Choosing The Best Pack n Play Mattress
Choosing a good pack n play mattress will not only give your little one the best space for a comfortable rest, but it will give you peace of mind knowing that you have provided the safest and coziest sleep space for your baby to enjoy.
Keep in mind that you should consider the measurements of the mattress to fit into your pack n play to ensure there are no free spaces for your baby to fall into while asleep.
Your pack n play, with a mattress, will be so handy to have at home, for sleep time, playtime, traveling, or even nappy changes on the go!
Father of two lovely and special children. I'm an engineer (electrical) by trade and have worked at many a blue chip organization in the past. From Ford Motor Company to Airbus to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to the UK National Health Service I've had a pretty diverse working life. After completing my MBA I wanted to break away from the corporate 'cubicle' so I founded Stuff4Tots as a means of being at home for my family and creating a future for us all.
Now as CEO of Stuff4Tots I bring together my expertise as a parent, a husband and a professional to serve fellow parents providing useful and relevant information and products to new families.