Best Playard Mattresses

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

10 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best playard mattresses

Last Updated March 2019

An old adage tells new parents to sleep when your baby sleeps. While this doesn’t always work out, you want to make sure your baby sleeps as comfortably as possible. After all, a cranky baby often means cranky parents.

In today’s busy world, at least some of that sleep will take place away from home. Whether at daycare, at grandma’s house, or in a hotel, a playard, or playpen, can serve as a portable crib and a safe space to play. Many parents choose to add a mattress to the playard’s floor pad to make it a more comfortable place to sleep. A quality mattress can keep your baby supported while playing, comfortable while sleeping, and safe during both.

If you’re looking for a playard mattress, let BestReviews help you find the best one to meet your baby’s – and your – needs.

If your baby falls asleep after playing in the playard, gently remove the toys. Toys could potentially block a younger baby’s airways, posing a safety risk. And, practically speaking, rolling on a toy may wake up an older child.

Key considerations

Child’s age

When shopping for a mattress, the age of your baby is a key factor. Experts recommend different kinds of mattresses for different ages.

  • Newborns: While newborn clothes and blankets tend to be softer than toddler duds, the reverse is true for mattresses. Pediatricians recommend newborns use a firm mattress to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Newborns and younger babies lack the strength to push their faces away from objects that could block their supply of oxygen. A softer, cushioned mattress can put babies younger than one at risk, so look for firmer mattresses labeled for newborns and younger infants.

  • Toddlers: By age one, most children are crawling, cruising, and walking and have developed the strength and neck support to change positions if an object is blocking their breathing. As a result, mattresses designed for toddlers are softer than those for newborns.

  • Both: Some mattresses are designed to be reversible: one side is manufactured to be firm enough for newborns, while the other side has more cushioning for toddlers. Both sides should be clearly marked for safety. You may find a handful of playard mattresses that are reversible, but this feature is more common in full-size mattresses that can fit both a crib and a toddler bed.  If you choose a reversible mattress, be sure to confirm with your pediatrician when it’s time to flip sides.
     

Location

The type of mattress you buy depends on where you plan to use your playard.

  • On the road: Many parents use a playard primarily as a travel crib on family vacations, when visiting out-of-town relatives, or any time a baby needs to sleep away from home. In these cases, portability is a primary concern. Playard mattresses designed for portability are usually trifold and include a travel bag. These are usually thinner than standard mattresses, so they may not be as comfortable, but they aren’t typically used on a daily basis.

  • In one place: Some parents keep a playard set up at home as an alternative to a crib or as a convenient downstairs napping station in a two-story home. Others keep one set up permanently at the home of a relative or other caregiver. In these cases, portability isn’t a primary concern. If this is your plan, you can consider mattresses that fold as well as mattresses that don’t. Most flat mattresses that don’t fold are thicker and more comfortable than folding mattresses. However, if you do need to use the playard on the road occasionally, transporting a standard mattress may be awkward.
EXPERT TIP

If an older baby is attempting to climb out of the playard, it’s time to retire the playpen. Much lighter than cribs, playards can be tipped more easily, putting babies at risk for injury.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Consider using a mattress cover with your playard mattress regardless of waterproofing. If your baby’s diaper leaks, it’s much easier to remove a soiled mattress cover than clean the mattress itself.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If a crinkly vinyl playard mattress top is waking your baby, cover the mattress with a cotton sheet to cut down on noise.


Staff  | BestReviews

Playard mattress features

Once you decide on a style, there are some other practicalities to consider:

  • Materials: Babies sleep a good portion of the day, so it’s important to make sure your mattress is made of quality materials. Ideally, the mattress should be free of phthalates, BPA, and any substances that could irritate your baby’s breathing. Some parents feel more comfortable if their child’s mattress is made of organic substances. If latex allergies run in your family, avoid mattresses that use latex.

  • Waterproof: if at all possible, choose a waterproof playard mattress. Babies spit up, diapers leak, and other accidents happen. Mattresses that aren’t waterproof can more easily harbor bacteria, grow mold and mildew, or develop unpleasant odors. Starting out with one that’s waterproof can save you from buying a replacement if these problems occur or from frantic middle-of-the-night cleanings to help prevent them.

  • Cover: It’s also a good idea buy a mattress that has a washable cover. Again, babies are not known for being tidy. If it’s easy to wipe up a waterproof mattress, it’s even easier to remove the mattress cover and wipe up the little bit that soaked through. If the mattress you choose doesn’t come with a cover, we recommend measuring the mattress and buying one – or more – separately.

Natural support

Made of natural latex, this folding mattress from Sproutwise Kids fits a majority of playards, including standard pack-n-plays. It’s a bit heavier than most, but that’s because it’s more supportive than most. It still manages to be extremely portable, with a trifold design, washable cover, and travel bag.

Playard mattress prices

Inexpensive

The least expensive playard mattresses cost between $20 and $30. Mattresses in this price range are made of foam and may or may not be waterproof. Check carefully to see whether mattresses in this price range are safe for newborns.

Mid-range

These playard mattresses cost $30 to $50. In this price range, the mattress should be waterproof and come with a cover. These may be foam or innerspring like standard mattresses.

Expensive

High-end playard mattresses cost $50 or more. You should be able to find quality foam and innerspring mattresses in this price range. Both styles should be made of high-quality materials, be waterproof, and feature additional binding to lock out moisture. Portable mattresses should include a cover and travel bag.

Just like the real thing

Real innerspring coils replace foam cushioning in this mattress, so it’s more comfortable than standard playard mattresses. The antibacterial, waterproof cover and binding resist mold, mildew, stains, and odors, too. While this mattress is exceptionally comfortable, keep in mind that it’s too soft to be safe for newborns.

Tips

  • Check for the proper fit. Make sure the mattress fits snugly against your playard’s edges so there are no gaps where your baby’s face could get trapped.

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep. This is to reduce the risk of SIDS.

  • Air out the mattress before using. Some manufacturers recommend waiting several days before using the playard mattress to allow it to off-gas. Follow these directions carefully.

  • Keep your baby safe. If you’re using a hand-me-down playard, make sure that the sides and floor lock into place. The sides on some older playards do not lock into place, creating a safety risk for babies.

Other products we considered

Though these mattresses didn’t make our shortlist, we thought they at least deserved an honorable mention. The Dream On Me Reversible Play Yard Mattress transitions from baby to toddler without you having  to buy a separate mattress. The firmer side is finished with a breathable material, while the toddler side is waterproof with a waterproof cover and lock-stitch seams. It’s also hypoallergenic and phthalate-free. It’s nothing fancy, but parents love the simplicity and the price of the LA Baby Waterproof Mattress. The cover includes a dust mite barrier, and it’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial to boot. The cover isn’t removable, but it’s easy to wipe clean.

Aside from sleeping, limit your child’s time in a playard. Spending too much time confined can delay crawling, an important skill for babies.

FAQ

Q. Do I need a crib if I have a playard?

A. Technically speaking, no, although there are advantages to both. Playards are less expensive and more portable than cribs. Some babies sleep better in cribs, and a crib is often more comfortable for the infant. But it’s hard to know up front whether it’s worth the investment, especially if money is tight. Playards, especially those with bassinet attachments, are perfectly safe for the first several months of a baby’s life. It’s only when babies get older that playards may pose a challenge because of the child’s height, weight, and activity. Since it’s hard to predict how big your baby will be when they eventually transition to a bed, you might decide to cross that bridge when you get there.

Q. How long can my baby use a playard?

A. Most playards are designed for children who are less than 35 inches tall and weigh less than 30 pounds, although some have higher height and weight limits. Many babies exceed these limits before they’re ready for a toddler bed, which is why playards aren’t always a permanent replacement for a crib. Additionally, once your child starts climbing the playard, it’s time to put it away. Playards are relatively lightweight, and a child could tip it while trying to climb out.

Q. Why does the mattress for my newborn feel so hard?

A. As new parents, we tend to touch and taste everything before our children do to make sure they’re healthy and safe. So if you’ve felt your newborn’s playard mattress, you might be second-guessing your choice. It’s not a mistake. Most pediatricians recommend that babies sleep on a firm mattress until about one year of age. Newborns lack head control. If they sink into a cushy mattress the wrong way, their nostrils or mouth could be blocked, and they can’t lift their head to open their airways. Babies will build neck muscles through “tummy time,” rolling and, later, crawling, and by around age one, a softer mattress is acceptable.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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