a baby sleeping soundly on their side

Babies need plenty of sleep to grow healthy and strong. As a parent, it’s up to you to create a safe and comfortable space for them to rest. One option is putting your baby to sleep in a playpen. However, you may have some concerns and questions about this setup, and one is, “Can babies sleep in a playpen?”

In this article, we’ll answer questions about the kinds of playpens, its safety and benefits, and tips for promoting sound slumber. This article is a must-read for any parent looking to ensure their baby gets the best sleep possible.

What Are the Different Kinds of Playpens?

The play yard, playpen, and pack ‘n play are some playpens. At first glance, parents like you may think they are an excellent prospect for a place where your baby can sleep. If you love to do DIY, check the manufacturer’s instructions first. If the manual says the playpen is safe for your baby to sleep in, give it a go.

Pack ‘N Plays

Pack ‘n plays mimic the design of a baby crib, only that it is portable and can be assembled and disassembled. It often comes with bassinet attachments where newborns can sleep. So, can a baby safely sleep in a pack ‘n play? Yes, if it has the mentioned design but for safety precautions, not, if it does not have a bassinet.

When a baby reaches the age when they begin to roll on their tummies, you can remove the pack ‘n play’s bassinet attachment to maximize space of the portable crib. 

When the bassinet is detached, the space can turn into their play space. If you still want to use it as a sleeping space, clear it with any toys for the baby’s safety.

Play yard/Playpen

A play yard and playpen have the same design. They both have baby gates to keep babies in certain areas for playtime. Play yards are portable cribs as they are lighter. You can set it up indoors or outdoors. The mesh or fabric sides and bottom are held together by plastic or stainless poles, which can be assembled and disassembled.

Meanwhile, playpens have a less portable design, as baby fences are heavier and bulkier. Some playpens also come with play attachments like a mini playground attachment, usually a baby slide and a swing. You need to invest in a play mat if the set does not come with it.

Although mainly designed for a play area, you can build a DIY nap space here. Just free the space from any toys for safety.

Can Babies Sleep in a Playpen?

Yes, babies can sleep inside a playpen if manufacturers classify it as safe sleeping. It functions as both a sleeping and playing space for babies, especially a pack ‘n play

However, you need to be more cautious about play yards and playpens as they are mainly designed for baby playtime. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for suggestions on how to make it safe for sleeping, or look for guides that can help you transform the space where your baby can sleep without any dangers.

a baby in a brown playpen with a stuffed toy

Can a Baby Sleep in a Playpen Overnight?

The answer depends on what playpen type you are using. If you are using a pack ‘n play designed for sleeping, yes.

But if you use the playpen, sleeping on it overnight may not be advisable as they do not cater to sleeping babies. A few hours’ nap time is fine as you can keep an eye on your little one, but for overnight sleeping, better use a pack ‘n play, cribs, or baby beds with side rails

How to Avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) When Sleeping in a Playpen

SIDS is when a baby doesn’t wake from sleep. There are many theories on why it happens, but the real cause isn’t pinpointed yet. Nevertheless, here are the safety precautions to keep your little one away from it. 

Keep the Playpen Neat and Clean

Strangulation and suffocation are one of the leading causes of infant deaths. Pillows, mattresses, bed sheets, and blankets can cover your baby’s face and cause suffocation. Even stuffed animals and toys that look harmless can cause this unfortunate event, too.

A baby mobile, curtain strings, pacifier clips, and toys with strings can also wrap around your baby’s neck and body, causing strangulation. So, ensure that the playpen or wherever you choose your baby to sleep is kept neat and clean.

Double Check if Playpen Locks are Assembled Correctly

Pack ‘n plays, play yards, or playpens all have locks for the posts to keep them sturdy. Whether you let your baby play or sleep in a playpen, make sure the lock is securely fastened. Even if older babies try to climb or push the baby gate down, they won’t easily be disassembled.

Know When to Detach the Bassinet

An attached bassinet makes a pack ‘n play fit for sleeping, but only at a certain baby age. It has weight limits too. Make sure to observe your baby’s motor abilities. Detach the bassinet when a baby starts to roll on their tummies. This avoids the danger of falling from the bassinet into the crib or the bassinet straight out of the pack ‘n play.

Invest in a Sturdy Playpen

Check the materials the playpen, play yard, or pack ‘n play are made of. You couldn’t go wrong investing in sturdy supplies for your new baby. Durable things can last long, so they are worthy of your investment. 

If you take the portable playpens on your travels or move them around the house, they won’t wear out quickly. And because you can use them for a long time, you can even pass them on and let a new family baby use them.

Keep an Eye on the Mesh Sides to Avoid Entrapment

The mesh material that makes up a playpen ensures proper ventilation for your baby. When outdoors, they can enjoy the sun and breathe fresh air. You can also observe if your little one is sleeping soundly or if they are playing safely inside.

However, take extra time to check the size of the mesh sides. If the holes are big enough for a baby’s finger to fit in, the mesh isn’t safe. Babies tend to put their little fingers in tiny holes, including mesh pockets. If their small fingers  get caught and they cannot remove them, it can disable them from moving, increasing strangulation and suffocation risk.

Have a Firm Mattress

If you are using a mattress for the pack ‘n play or adding one in a playpen and play yard, make sure that the mattress is firm. It is easy to choose the soft ones with the thought that your baby will be more comfortable in them, but the truth is firm mattresses are safer. 

A firm mattress ensures that even if your little one crawls and walks on them, they won’t stumble because of the softness. If you get loose bedding and a soft mattress, there is also a chance of your baby’s hands and feet slipping and getting stuck on the mattress sides. 

a baby inside a colorful playpen playing with colorful plastic balls

Ways to Make Baby Sleep Soundly

Your thoughts on making a baby playpen a sleeping space boil down to our desire to give your baby a sound sleep all night long. Aside from the playpen, here are some of the ways you can ensure your baby sleeps soundly:

  • Clean Up Before Bedtime: A baby sleeps better after a warm bath before bedtime.
  • Bedtime Stories: The sound of your voice and their attention to the story helps them doze off quickly.
  • Dim Lights: Close the windows, and if you cannot turn off the lights, at least dim them for a better nighttime sleep. Melatonin, a body chemical that promotes sleep, is produced better with dim lights or its total absence.
  • Some White Noise or Music: Infant sleep is better with white sleep environment noise and music. It can help deepen your baby’s sleep and avoid getting startled by environmental sounds.
  • A Full Tummy: A full tummy of milk can help an infant sleep better.
  • Comfortable Clothes: After cleaning up or taking a bath, let them wear clothes that fit the season. Wear warm pajamas when it’s cold and cool and cotton ones when it is hot.

Pack ‘N Play and More: Get What You Need From Ashtonbee

As new parents, it’s crucial to ensure that babies have a safe and comfortable space to sleep. Playpens are an option that most parents consider, but it’s essential to know which types are baby safe and suitable for sleeping. 

The pack ‘n play is a great option, as it comes with a bassinet attachment for safe newborn sleep and can be converted into a crib as they grow older. Meanwhile, extra caution is required for playpens and play yards to ensure that the space is safe for sleeping. 

Check out what we have here at Ashtonbee to find the playpen that’s right for your family’s needs and ensure that your baby gets the best sleep possible!

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