You only want the best possible products for your special little one and that is one of the reasons you chose a Graco Pack n Play. However, if you are like many parents around the world, you may have been surprised to learn just how different a crib mattress is from a Pack n Play mattress.
In this buyer’s guide I will explain to you some differences between enclosures, differences between a standard crib mattress and a Pack n Play mattress, how to shop for the perfect mattress, and my own well-researched tally of the best mattress for Graco Pack n Play.
The Best Mattress for Graco Pack n Play (Updated)
Mattress for Graco Pack n Play
Dream On Me Foam Pack and Play Mattress *Best Choice*
(*) Below, you'll find my detailed review, but you can also click the links above to see prices and read customer opinions.
What is the Difference Between Pack n Play, Crib, and Playard?
A crib is a specially enclosed sleep area that is designed solely to be a safe sleeping area for your baby. A play yard (or playpen) is an enclosed area that is intended to provide you and your baby with a safe place for her to play. On the other hand, a Pack n Play provides the best of both worlds and is equally suitable as either a sleep area or a play area. An added bonus of the Pack n Play is the convenience in which it can be transported.
If you decide you would like to use the Pack n Play as a more permanent sleep area (such as while camping or visiting overnight with Grandma) then you will want to get an appropriate Pack n Play mattress.
Is a Graco Pack n Play Mattress Different From a Crib Mattress?
The biggest difference between a standard crib mattress and a Graco Pack n Play mattress is the size. The standard crib mattress is much bigger than a Graco Pack n Play mattress all around.
Where a standard crib mattress measures around 51.5" long x 27.25" wide x 6" thick, a Graco Pack n Play mattress measures around 37" long x 25.5" wide and 1.5" thick. This is a huge difference!
You would never be able to fit a standard crib mattress inside a Graco Pack n Play and there would be too many gaps if you tried to sit a Graco Pack n Play mattress inside a crib.
What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Mattress for Graco Pack n Play
There is a lot more to picking out the best mattress for a Graco Pack n Play then just selecting a cute design or cheap price tag. Consider these features when making your choice:
1. Size: Your baby's mattress should fit snugly inside her crib or play yard. There should not be any gaps along the edges. The ideal mattress for a Graco Pack n Play should be close to or exactly 37.5" long x 25.5" wide x 3" tall.
2. Firmness: Your baby will sleep the safest on a firm mattress. Many of the newer mattresses will have a different level of firmness on each side. These different firmness levels are intended for different age groups.
Make sure you use the firmer side for younger babies and then you can flip it over and use the softer side for toddlers. Ask your baby’s pediatrician for the best age to do this.
3. Cover: Check into the product specifications to find out what type of cover is on the mattress. A good mattress cover should be breathable, easy to clean, and waterproof.
4. Condition: Used or hand-me-down mattresses may be tempting to use, but you will want a brand-new mattress for your baby to ensure that it is free from disease or bed bugs.
If you want to use the same mattress you used for a previous child, make sure that it matches current safety standards and that there has not been any company-issued recalls for safety issues.
5. Durability: There are few things that are worse than a baby mattress that tears at the seams or sags in the middle after only a few nights. Pay attention to product reviews to learn which brands or models are durable and which ones are easily damaged.
6. Maintenance: You should consider how much time and energy it will take to keep the mattress clean. A cotton surface is soft and cozy but may be very difficult to keep clean.
If you do not want to be putting too much effort into the maintenance of a mattress, I suggest you choose one with a surface that is easier to clean (such as vinyl).
7. Weight: When it comes time to move the mattress, flip over, or clean, you will appreciate the thought you put into how much it weighed. Two mattresses that look identical in every way can have entirely different weights. As you will read below, foam mattresses are much lighter than spring coil mattresses.
8. Foam vs Springs: Modern baby mattresses may either be made with a foam or spring interior. Both options are equally safe, breathable, and comfortable. However, neither option is perfect and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.
One of the biggest advantages of foam baby mattresses is that there is currently a wide range of choices for parents. Foam baby mattresses can be made of gel, memory foam, or organic foam and are generally considerably cheaper than spring mattresses.
Coiled spring baby mattresses may be heavier than foam mattresses, but they are also generally more durable, which makes them more useful for long-term use or for heavier babies. Unfortunately, coiled spring mattresses are not as forgiving for the environment once they hit the landfill.
Necessary Features of Any Baby Mattress
Safety: I know that your child's safety is your number one concern and I want to make sure you know it is mine as well. A baby mattress must be absolutely safe regarding the materials it is made out of and the way that it fits inside your Graco Pack n Play. It must fit snug with no gaps.
Comfort: Your sweet baby will not be a happy sleeper if the mattress is uncomfortable. Pay attention to how firm it is and how the cover material feels under a sheet.
Hygiene: It is very important that the mattress you choose is easy to keep clean and free from germs. You do not want a mattress that can quickly become stained or infested with germs or odors.
The Best Mattresses for Graco Pack n Play
1. Dream On Me Foam Pack and Play Mattress *Best Choice*
The Good: Made in the US with an antibacterial, waterproof lock-stitched binding that helps prevent mold, mildew, and odor from seeping inside. Covered in a reinforced waterproof cover that resists stains and liquids. Fits perfectly inside a Graco Pack n Play with no gaps at all. Very lightweight and easy to move, flip, and clean.
The Bad: This mattress is very firm to the point of almost feeling hard. If your baby already has a hard time falling asleep, I would not recommend this mattress. There is also a question of quality control and this mattress does not seem to be very durable.
The Gist: While the Dream on Me Foam Pack and Play Mattress fits perfectly inside the Graco Pack n Play as suggested in its name, this thick mattress may not be very comfortable for your baby. All in all it will come down to what type of sleeper your baby is.
The Good: The NapYou Amazon Exclusive Pack n Play Mattress is made out of high-quality organic cotton and polyester with memory foam. This mattress fits securely in a Graco Pack n Play and is an extremely soft and durable tri-fold mattress that comes in a bonus easy handle carry bag.
The Bad: While cotton makes for a soft surface, it can also be more difficult to clean making it prone to stains and odors. While this memory foam mattress may be comfortable to sleep on, it can take a few hours to reshape. Another bad thing about this mattress is that for some reason, it has a very strong chemical odor.
The Gist: While this mattress did score as the most convenient of the five mattresses, the strong chemical odor and hefty price tag are huge turn-offs. However, the chemical odor is most likely a flame retardant that the manufacturer applied to the mattress to make it more resistant to fires.
The Good: The cheapest of the best mattresses for Graco Pack n Play, The Dream On Me, 2-in-1 Breathable Two-Sided 3” Mini/Portable Crib Mattress has a breathable mattress cover and is constructed from hypo-allergenic materials that are GREENGUAD Gold Certified for a healthy indoor environment for your baby.
The Bad: Quite thin and flimsy and at 24" wide, leaves a slight gap between the mattress and the sides of the Graco Pack n Play. While the gap is small enough to not be too much of a concern for older babies, it may present a danger to very small and young infants.
The Gist: While definitely the cheapest of my five selections, the gap between this mattress and the Graco Pack n Play leaves me with some cause for concern.
The Good: The Dream on Me 3" Playard Mattress provides your baby with an inviting and comfortable environment for both nap time or playtime. The hypoallergenic cover is waterproof to resist stains and easily wiped clean with mild soap and water. This mattress fits perfectly in the Graco Pack n Play.
The Bad: If your baby is 12 pounds or more, you may quickly begin to notice a sagging center in this mattress. The thought of a young infant rolling into a dent in a mattress leaves me with a lot of concern. The side stitching tears easily and overall, the mattress is very hard and loud when baby moves.
The Gist: Although this mattress is easy to wipe clean and fits snugly in the Graco Pack n Play, the super firmness and tendency to sag in the middle may be a problem for babies. If the firmness and sagging don’t present a problem, then the loud noise the mattress makes when your baby moves could mean her waking up at all hours of the night.
The Good: A perfect fit in all Graco Pack n Play options, this vinyl and foam mattress is antibacterial, waterproof, and easier to clean than cotton mattresses. The embedded springs inside this mattress make it more supportive sleeping surface than foam mattresses.
The Bad: It is an unfortunate truth that this soft mattress is just not very durable. The seams rip easily and the corners are often deformed. The inner springs might push through the top of the mattress giving your baby an uncomfortable sleeping surface.
The Gist: Priced closer to the high end, this mattress is antibacterial and easy to clean, but the springs might just poke through the sleeping surface and the seams could tear easily.
And the Winner is…
After lots research and some deep thinking, I have officially selected the Dream On Me Foam Pack and Play Mattress as the best mattress currently on the market for Graco Pack n Play.
The antibacterial binding and waterproof cover make this mattress super easy to keep clean and free from germs and the price tag is very appealing as well. Combine these qualities along with the perfect fit inside the Graco Pack n Play and it is easy to see why this mattress is definitely the best there is.
To Wrap Up
I truly hope that my buyer's guide told you everything you needed to know to keep your baby safe and sound in her Graco Pack n Play. Making sure your baby is safe is our top priority.
Please leave any questions or concerns in the comment section below.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, October). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics, Nov;138(5). pii: e20162938. Epub 2016 Oct 24. Retrieved January 30, 2017.