Can A Baby Sleep In A Playpen Instead Of A Crib?
Can a baby sleep in a playpen instead of a crib?
It’s a question many parents ask themselves, that’s why we’ve put together this guide to can a baby sleep in a playpen!
Cribs are a large purchase, one that may not be in your budget yet, or you may not have the space for one. In addition, if you decide to follow the AAP’s recommendation of room sharing for six months to one year with your baby, you might wonder if your baby can sleep in a playpen instead of a crib.
Bassinets feel like a waste of money for many parents. You only use them until your baby outgrows them or once they roll over, typically around eight to ten weeks old. Considering bassinets cost between $100 and $300, that’s a lot of money to spend for a short period.
Instead, a portable playpen may be an alternative parents can use. Not only can some playpens be used as a portable bed, but parents often use them for sleeping at home until their babies transition to their room.
However, there are some things you need to be aware of such as the different type of playpens and safe sleeping methods.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about can baby sleep in playpen.
And if you love this guide on can babies sleep in playpens, then you’ll love our guides on can a baby sleep in a pack and play, what should a baby wear under a swaddle, and 10 tips to help your newborn baby sleep.
This post contains affiliate links. See our full disclosure here
What Are The Different Types Of Playpens?
You may be wondering what the difference is between a playpen, playard, or pack ‘n play. And well, in essence, they are all terms to describe a small, anti-fall, fenced enclosure where babies and young children can play safely.
They can be made from wood and plastic, and some will even come with a metal frame and mess wall.
Whilst most are designed to keep your baby enclosed and safe whilst they play, there are some there are some playpens such as the Pack n Play from Grecco that also double as a portable cot.
So, Can a Baby Sleep in a Playpen Instead of a Crib?
Yes, babies can sleep in a playpen instead of a crib if the playpen comes with a mattress and is intended for sleeping. The first thing you have to do is ensure the manufacturer tells you that you may use the playpen for sleep before using it as a crib alternative.
Pack n Plays are federally regulated and safe for infant sleep. If they aren’t, there must be labeling to let parents know, so be sure to read closely!
A pack n play style playpen is one of those items everyone adds to their baby registry. Not only does it give your baby somewhere to sleep, but it keeps them in a contained place when they’re older and crawling around. If you’re headed on vacation, a playpen gives you a safe, comfortable space for your baby to sleep.
Many parents prefer a pack n play style playpen over a full-size crib because they take less space. So, those who live in apartments or have multiple kids sharing one bedroom might find the size an appealing feature.
How to Check if Your Playpen is Safe for Sleeping
Before using your playpen for sleep, check to ensure it meets all the safe sleeping requirements. It’s always better to check than be sorry later you didn’t.
First, check the design of your play pen. Has it be purposely designed for sleep, like a pack n play, or is it designed more as a secure play area.
Check the Manufacturer Date
Next you’ll need to make sure the playpen was manufactured after February 2013. This was when new safety standards began.
This only applies nowadays if you buy a used playpen, which is fine assuming that it’s in good shape and was made after this date.
A Firm Mattress
Having the right mattress inside of your pack and play is a big deal. But, first, it must firmly cover all sides without gaps; gaps are a huge safety risk because babies roll into them and get stuck.
Press on the sides of your playpen to see if it expands and creates a gap when pushed. If it does, then it’s a big no. This replicates your baby’s weight pressing against the side, creating a hole.
Also, the mattress should be firm. You might think that a firm mattress is uncomfortable, but it’s the safest choice for your baby. Soft bedding is a cause for SIDs, which is why mattresses provided in safe-sleeping playpens are firm, not soft.
Sturdy and Durable
The last thing you want to do is put your baby in a playpen that isn’t sturdy. It may be okay at first, but once your baby is a toddler and starts standing up, the playpen cannot tip over.
It may lead to serious injuries!
Some playpens on the market today are flimsy, so always read reviews and see what parents have to say about its sturdiness. However, many mainstream brands are trustworthy, so go for a nicer one if you plan to use the playard as the primary sleeping space.
Locks in Place
Another feature of the playpen that you want to ensure works properly is the locking legs and sides. Each time, the sides and legs must lock in place to be safe for sleeping!
Playpens design for baby sleep have mesh sides, but you want to make sure the holes aren’t too big. Otherwise, your baby’s fingers may get stuck inside the holes. This may seem like no big deal, but getting their fingers stuck will prevent your baby from rolling over and may lead to suffocation.
According to the CPSC, mesh sides may cause strangulation if your child’s clothes get stuck. Likewise, buttons and zippers pose a danger in a pack and play.
Some brands have better mesh quality than others, so remember to check regularly for rips and tears. You can sew small holes when they appear or patch them with fabric.
Final Thoughts on Can a Baby Sleep in a Playpen
If you want your baby to sleep in a playpen instead of a crib, then ensure that you are choosing a playpen that has been designed specifically for your baby to sleep in such as a pack n play. Pack n play style playpens are safe for sleeping as long as you follow the guidelines and never change the mattress.
And if you’re looking for more great sleeping guides, then check out these sleeping guides on how to clean a pack n play mattress, best pack and play mattresses, best crib alternatives, and bassinet vs pack n play.
Allison Banfield an experience mom of two, wife, writer, editor, and passionate parenting advocate! Backed with a Masters Degree in Public Health, a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion, a long career in health and safety, and 10 years of hands on experience using, researching, and testing baby products, Allison loves to use her parenting experience to support and encourage other parents.