Here’s how to make the most out of the pack and play so you can use this one thing in many different ways.
I am a minimalist mom when it comes to baby gear.
I was moving when I had my first baby… so money was what we needed for our baby shower. This was great in a few ways!
First, I could buy what I needed when I needed it. Secondly, I wasn’t given tons of stuff I thought I “should” use.
The one shown in the photo below is awesome because….it can go through doorways without having to be broken down.
Note: It must be said, however, that you should never put your baby in the play yard, stroller, high chair, or infant seat all the time to the detriment of their development. Using this type of gear can be both helpful and convenient, but should not be used as babysitters.
Here are 8 different ways you can use your pack and play
After much practice and research, I have discovered eight main ways to utilize that pack and play (there may be more than you think)!
Trust me, you’ll want to get the most use of this incredible mommy tool… check out these eight ways to use your pack and play.
To get you started, I have added a list of the top 5 most popular pack and plays available:
- Portable Playard– With over 3,000 positive reviews the Sturdy Play Yard with Comfortable Mattress and Changing Station is a must for any mommy. It comes in a beautiful blue & green design and is very affordably priced!
- Nursery Center– The name doesn’t do this pack and play justice. It’s a top seller on Amazon and the Baby Trend Pack and Play has features such as a removable organizer of baby essential and a one hand locking mechanism.
- Playard– This Sturdy Play Yard with Mattress and Toys has almost 3,000 positive ratings and is super easy to pack up, carry with, and store.
- Pack and Play- The Graco Pack and Play includes a full sized bassinet and push button compact fold, which is way for storing.
- Travel Playard– This Portable Travel Playard has great traveling reviews and has a 5 star review! One thing that I really love about it is that it can be set up/taken down with a push and a pull of one hand!
Get my cheat sheets (newborn up to elementary aged kids) and find your family’s groove.
Use them for:
- nap times
- meal times
- chore times
- play times
- AND more!
1. The Pack and Play is Good for Napping
Sometimes, it’s simply inconvenient for kids to nap in the same room together. This is especially true for a toddler with an older sibling (here’s a big fat reason why this doesn’t work).
The pack and play is a great alternative to this situation. It allows you to give your kid a nap in whichever room you would like.
An added benefit to this is that you can get your child used to napping in a new location. Napping in another room or area will more likely allow your child to nap well at family’s homes, a sitter’s house, or in a hotel away from home.
2. Independent Play Time
We’re big fans of independent play time! The pack and play is one way I’ve been able to accomplish this with small children. Set some toys in there, and watch your child play safety.
As you can imagine, the pack and play a good way for babies and early toddlers to play without falling and hitting head. The pack and play allows them to move, bounce, and play with their toys safety.
Also, pack and plays have mesh sides! This is important because you can see in at all times.
It can even be a great place for baby to have tummy time.
3. Corralling with a Pack and Play
Sometimes… someone comes to the door, you get a phone call, or need to cook dinner. Obviously, if you have a toddler who is a climber, using a play yard will come in handy.
4. Beach Trips
But if you are camping out for the whole day, and have a nice shelter or umbrella, bringing a pack and play is a lifesaver.
Others may disagree, but it’s the exact opposite of relaxing to hold baby the entire time at the beach.
For me, to be at the beach for 8 hours and either myself or my husband have to hold the baby the entire time is exhausting. This is especially true is baby is already walking…
5. Use the Pack and Play at Your Family’s Homes
My mom likes to keep a pack and play at her house so that my youngest two can nap or sleep there if they stay over. She has a spare room, but the bed is large and tall and the littler ones can’t be counted on not to roll off.
Safety first, of course. (What you must do if you let a toddler share a room with a baby)
If we have impromptu visits and the baby gets tired, there’s a place to sleep. This is more versatile than a crib which is not easily broken down or put up.
6. Places with Big Drop-Offs (A huge help with separation anxiety…)
If your child is used to napping in his/her pack and play, it’s not such a stressful thing for them to nap at the sitters.
Especially if your child is having some “drop off anxiety”, they may find comfort in having a bit of their familiar surrounding stay with them.
This is the equivalence to you bringing your favorite pillow when staying in a hotel room. The familiar pack and play may add an extra comfort element for your toddler.
After all, you want them to be comfortable while staying the day with the sitter or other family members.
7. When You Need “a Minute”
Let’s be real…sometimes a mama just needs a minute!
This is especially true is baby is a hip hugger or extra needy today. Having a handy pack and play gives you a minute to calm down, relax, and stop being angry. As a mommy, you could use a minute to pee, call a friend, call your mother, or whatever.
The truth is, using a pack and play can make sure everyone is safe…so you can be alone for a minute.
If you have a little crawler or pre-toddler, using the pack and play is a great way to get a few minutes peace. As long as you aren’t doing this for long stretches to Netflix binge, it’s not something to feel guilty about.
These lovely cards and checklists will help you create and keep healthy wind down and sleep routines for your little ones.Learn More
8. Use Pack and Play as a Newborn Sleeper in Your Room
We always put our babies in our room for their first few months of life. Nursing, safety, and overall peace of mind are found when baby is close.
I’m nursing and do not sleep well if I have to walk to their room and feed them sitting up.
By the time I get back to my room I am wide awake.
By keeping a pack and play in our room, I can feed the baby…even without totally waking up fully. How about that! Plus, he is there so I can check on him. Here are thoughts on letting the baby sleep in your room. When they are sleeping through the night with no feeds, then they go to their more permanent sleep situation.
9. Hotels and VRBO’s
More often than not, hotels and VRBOs have cribs available. I’ve had success using cribs in both places, but I’ve also had situations where there were none… and that’s a disaster!
If you are driving somewhere, it’s good to put a pack and play in the car if you’re able. Check the ratings on the pack and plays listed at the top for travel ease.
Kids (toddlers through elementary school) will learn everything from life management, social, survival, and hygiene skills PLUS MORE!
FAQs on Pack and Plays
Yes! If you keep all the same safety standards you would in a crib, no toys, no loose blankets, put baby to sleep on their backs, etc. then it is safe.
You can use the pack and play from birth until your child grows out of it. It is a great thing to keep in the car or at a relative’s house, etc. That way, you can visit and still have a familiar place for bubs to sleep.
If they can fit in it, they can sleep in it! It won’t be as comfortable on a nightly basis as a bed, of course. But for travel or naps on the go it is a perfect solution.
You can use the pack n play for napping, independent play time, for corralling your little one, sleeping at night for travel, and much more.
If you are going to be home of the most of the time and traveling very little, you don’t need it. If you frequently go to others’ homes, travel, or like to put baby to nap no matter where you are, it’s a great buy.