So you just brought your precious bundle of joy home from the hospital. Sleep is on your mind between the diaper changes, feedings, and figuring out a routine. Where exactly is this little one going to sleep? A bassinet, crib, bedside sleeper, or even a pack and play? And you might wonder, can a newborn sleep in a pack and play?
As a new parent, you want to ensure your baby has a safe space for sleeping. The experts have weighed in on pack and plays, and here’s what they say.
Are Pack and Plays Safe for Newborns?
Pack and play are popular for newborn sleep, but are they safe? The short answer is yes, with some important caveats.
As with any infant sleep product, proper use and a suitable model are critical. Look for a pack and play that meets current safety standards, with mesh siding for breathability, a firm mattress, and no loose parts.
Make sure any bassinet attachment sits at the proper incline and has a secure base. Always place the pack and play on a level surface away from hazards.
For newborns, the bassinet option is best.
Their little bodies aren’t ready for a big open space yet. The bassinet sits higher, making it easier to reach in and pick up your baby for feeding or cuddling.
It’s also more cozy and contained, which many newborns prefer.
Once your baby can push up, roll over, and sit unassisted, they are ready for the main pack and play area. But continue using the bassinet feature for naps to prevent your infant from rolling into the mesh sides.
The mattress in the main area should still be firm and fitted properly without loose bedding, bumpers, or toys.
Proper sleep positioning is also critical. Newborns should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.
No blankets, toys, or crib bumpers should be in the pack and play to prevent suffocation or entanglement hazards. This is what you need to know about SIDS.
A pack and play can be an excellent option for newborn sleep if used correctly and safely.
But when in doubt, remember that nothing tops a bare crib or bassinet for your baby’s first months of sweet dreams.
Recommendations for Using a Pack and Play With a Newborn
A pack and play can be a safe sleep option for newborns, but there are a few guidelines to follow.
First, ensure the mattress is firm and properly fitted to the frame.
Soft bedding, loose sheets, blankets, toys, and other objects should be kept out of the sleeping area to reduce the risk of suffocation or entrapment.
For the safest sleep, place your newborn on their back.
This helps keep their airway open and reduces the chance of SIDS. Once a baby can roll over independently, continue to place them on their back but let them find their sleep position.
The sides of a pack and play provide ventilation and visibility, but the mesh sides alone do not provide enough airflow for safe sleep.
An airy, breathable mattress and sheet explicitly designed for the pack and play and proper ventilation around the entire sleep area are must-haves.
Consider the location of the pack and play in your home. It should be in an area that maintains a comfortable temperature for a newborn.
It should also be isolated from dangling cords, strings, or other hazards.
For the first few months, have your newborn sleep in the highest setting in the pack and play. This allows for easier checking, feeding, and changing during the night.
Ensure they cannot sit up or roll over and potentially fall from the raised position before lowering the mattress level.
By following safe sleep guidelines and properly preparing the pack and play, you can feel confident your little one will sleep soundly and securely.
Alternatives to Pack and Plays for Newborn Sleep
As an alternative to placing your newborn in a Pack and Play, you have several other safe options for sleep.
A bassinet is a good option if you want your baby to sleep in your room for the first few months. Look for a bassinet that meets current safety standards, with a firm, flat mattress that fits snugly and securely into its frame.
The sides should be mesh or perforated for airflow. Bassinets also make it easy to keep your baby close to your bedside for feeding or comforting during the night.
For long-term sleep, a crib is the best choice.
Choose a crib that meets or exceeds current safety standards, with slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart and a firm, flat mattress that fits snugly in the frame.
Make sure the crib sheet is tight-fitting. The crib should be bare – no bumpers, loose bedding, toys, or other objects.
Place the crib away from windows, cords, and heating/cooling vents.
A co-sleeper attaches securely to the side of your bed, allowing your baby to sleep right next to you. Look for a co-sleeper that meets safety standards for infant beds.
It should have mesh or perforated sides for airflow and no loose padding, bedding, or toys. A co-sleeper makes nighttime feeding and comforting very convenient while giving your baby their own separate space to sleep.
According to the manufacturer’s guidelines, using a properly safety-approved bassinet, crib, or co-sleeper is the best way to ensure your newborn has a safe space for daytime naps and overnight sleep.
Always place your baby on their back, and keep the sleep environment clear of loose bedding, bumpers, or toys.
While pack and play meets safety standards and can be a convenient option, having your baby sleep in a bare crib, bassinet, or play yard mattress for the first few months of life is best.
Once your little one is older and has more head control, a pack and play can be used for naps and nighttime sleep. The most important thing is providing a safe sleep environment for your baby.
Now that you’re armed with the facts from the pros, you can rest easy knowing your newborn is sleeping soundly and securely. Sweet dreams!