Daycare Inspectors Won't Allow a Pack'n-Play Mattress?

Updated on August 22, 2013
S.O. asks from Billings, MT
22 answers

My 12 month old is the only baby at his daycare. All the other kids are 2 or older. He naps in a pack'n-play in the morning and in the afternoon. I purchased a pack-'n-play mattress online,

(Here's the link to the one I purchased: )

and took it over to the daycare because I can only imagine how uncomfortable those boards are in the bottom of the pack'n-play, since they ony have a tiny bit of padding on the thing. So he's been sleeping comfortably on the mattress for the last 6 months. Recently the "Childcare Resources Inspector" came to visit (state regulator). They told my daycare ladies the mattress is not allowed because it wasn't made for the pack'n-play. (It actually says on the mattress "not intended for use in a pack'n-play", even though they market and sell it for use in one.) They said I needed a doctor's note. So at our 1 year wellness exam, my pediatrician gave me a note that said my little guy is well past the age of SIDS, and that the mattress is safe (I showed her a picture of it inside the pack'n-play.) Apparently the inspectors are *still* not allowing the mattress because it's not a super-snug fit in the bottom of the pack'n-play. I have to say I am thankful my daycare is inspected, but this is so ridiculous to me I can't even stand it. They won't let me sign a waiver either.

Just curious what everyone's opinion is about this? I offered to bring in a crib and mattress instead, but the daycare lady thinks he could just sleep on the floor on a mat like the bigger kids. I still kinda think he needs his own space away from all of the other kids. He's not walking yet, just crawling around, pulling self up and down, etc.

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answers from Dallas on

I would be thankful that the daycare is being inspected, and follow whatever rules they require. The mattress is not made for a pack and play, and they have to cover their inspections thoroughly. I think 12 months is plenty old enough to sleep on a mat.

I don't understand why you see this as ridiculous.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I do think that it is silly that they aren't allowing this mattress, but I do think that the padding in the Pack-n-Play is comfortable enough for a one year old to sleep on. Both of my boys slept in the Pack-n-Play when we travelled until they were almost three years old and it was comfortable enough for them without adding any kind of additional mattress. It might not be enough padding for an adult, but it is fine for a child that weighs 20-30 lbs.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

Steady there. You sound upset because the previous arrangements were working fine even though they weren't totally legit. Step back for a second and realize the objective is to protect your child. I think your little one will nap fine in the pack n play without the mattress. Maybe not as cushy but very workable. I would prefer that to a mat on the floor. Your little one sounds like he still needs the safety of confinement in a pack n play. This sounds like a molehill issue not a mountain issue. Good luck and deep breath.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

If you think of the flip side, and an inspector DID allow incompatible equipment to be used in a daycare (if they allow this, they have to allow others...), and something DID happen... Then everyone would be in an uproar over how the situation had been preventable, how sad that they didn't stick to their guns, etc.

In this situation, it is a suffocation hazard that a child could pull up the edge and get under it... Or get wedged between the pack n play and the mattress. Is it likely to happen? No... *Could* it happen? Yes. And the daycare and inspectors would be liable if it did.

THIS a preventative measure. While it may seem a bit silly in your specific case, I am glad that they are sticking to their guns.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I wonder why your day care lady does not have an day care approved crib for him. I would not want him on a mat on the floor with bigger kids either. I'd talk to your day care provided about bringing in a day care approved crib. If she is not open to it your options are to have him sleep in the pack n play or find another placement.

Personally, I think he will be plenty comfortable in the pack n play.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

He's not sleeping the whole night in the pack and play, it's a nap. I'd just let him nap in it as it was intended.

Toddlers and kids can pretty much sleep anywhere. They really don't care. I'm sure he'll be just fine. Have you seen some of the contorted positions they sleep in? They're like ragdolls!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm sure it's frustrating but be glad it's inspected!
They don't just make up random rules to enforce. It's obviously a safety issue.
If you don't want to use the mat, INSIST on bringing the crib.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

The daycare has to follow the rules or risk losing accreditation.

That said, at my daycare, when kids turn 1 they all move from the infant room (with cribs) to the toddler room, where they all nap on a floor mat. So if your daycare provider thinks that will work, I think you should go for it. Neither of my kids had trouble moving to the mat at age 1.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would say that allowing a mattress not made for it would be dangerous. That isn't to say I don't use one myself! :) But he's 2.5. The "gap" is what an ant could fit through.

At 12 months I would be much more concerned. We don't even use blankets until age 2.5 or 3.

Honestly the biggest concern with a mattress would be the flame retardants. I buy ones that are organic (not saying they are perfect, but better than what's out there generally).

A baby died in a daycare around here for unsafe sleep, though this child had been napping in the carseat (in the living room), a huge no no. So, rules are meant to protect.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I just like to think about this this way: a couple of years ago they recalled all dropside cribs because a very minor percentage of babies died, often as a result of parents failure to assemble the crib correctly.
Yes, the likelihood of a baby suffering death or injury is probably less than being hit by a lightning strike - but most people agree that when injury or death of a child can be prevented by a simple measure, it should be done.

Same goes for your situation. Sure, the likelihood of your child suffering any injury from the ill-fitting mattress is minor, but if these regulations don't exist, other children may be put at risk.
If he isn't ready for a floor mat yet, leave him in the pack'n'play on the mat that comes with it - not much different from the floor mats anyways and honestly, most kids don't care.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You know, I think that if the daycare provider feels that she can keep him contained on the mat, that's a great idea.

Just to expand; there is a child development approach called 'Reggio Emilia' which originated in Italy-- there, babies actually sleep in these neat baskets they can crawl in and out of, to encourage autonomy (The child does not depend on the caregiver for sleep/waking cycles or to be taken out of a crib. It's like a larger Moses basket, only there's no wall at the foot...

(I tried to find an image to share, the baskets are lovely, sadly could not.)

If you are worried about him being underfoot of the bigger kids, talk to the care provider about how she might keep him safe. Or accept the ruling and just use the porta-crib's mattress... plenty of kids have slept in the porta-crib and have slept well.

ETA: I also have to agree wholeheartedly with Bug-- be glad that your care provider sought a license or a permit and is doing things by the books. So many family care providers don't.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

not a hill worth dying on.
i'm a little surprised that your ped would even give you a note for this, especially for a mattress that actually says 'not intended for use in a pack'n'play.'
i too wouldn't want a fellow this small on the floor with the bigger guys. if your daycare lady refuses to purchase a conforming crib or playpen, i'd just go with the padding on the bottom, such as it is, and a good blankie. 1 year olds sleep just fine without lots of cushiness.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Why does your daycare provider NOT have a crib or a pack 'n play for your child?

Why have they NOT purchased one yet? I don't get it.

I would find out exactly why the inspector will approve and work with your daycare provider to get what will be approved. Personally? If my day care provider didn't have a crib for my child? My child wouldn't be going there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well this is tricky and I do see both sides of the coin here. I'm slightly surprised they weren't appeased by the doctor's note, but since they weren't, I would probably just take the extra mattress out and let him sleep in the pack and play with the factory pad. I know you feel like it isn't that comfortable and he may notice it since he had the cushier thing before, but honestly, I think he'll be okay without it. I do agree with you that I would feel more comfortable having him in the P&P during nap time for just a bit longer. Since he's over a year maybe you can put a pillow or an extra blanket in there and have him use those during nap time. My son starting using a pillow pet when he was about 15 months as his first pillow and he very rarely ever uses a real pillow now at almost 4. Those things are so soft and fun that he LOVES his. Maybe let him pick one out and keep that at the babysitters for nap time.

That is what I would do, anyway! Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I think you and your daycare provider have to follow what the state regs say. Some of them are ridiculous rules but they are usually written enforced for the safety of the kids. And in this case it's not even because people are stupid, like the rule that you can't have exer-saucers because people put them too close to stairs or leave kids in them for 12 hours a day and mess up their hips.

YOU might think that it's ridiculous, but if it saves your child from suffocation when they wiggle underneath the mattress and can't get out somehow, it's probably worth it.

Incidentally, where Iive kids can not sleep on a mat until they are 2 and over... you might have your provider check that before she has another site visit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Imagine if inspectors periodically came to parent's houses. Geesh! We'd all be in trouble! Seriously though, I would be irritated too, but their job is to protect your child and I'm sure prevent any accidents. If it were me, I'd put the original mattress back in the pack n play and let him sleep on it. I used to do in home daycare and I watched a little boy that napped twice a day in one and he slept fine on that skimpy padded board. I also think he's a little young to be on a nap mat with the rest of the kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

You can buy a quilted fitted crib sheet to fit over the actual pack n play mattress that will make it significantly softer. I agree that it's silly, but this is a pretty cheap way to keep him comfy and safe at nap time (I wouldn't be comfortable with mine just on a mat at that age, either).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Please know I sympathize with you but I have a lot of years in child care and can see it from the inspectors point of view.

Your child is old enough to be sleeping on a cot. In fact if you were taking him to a full child care center he'd be in the toddler room right now and they sleep on cots, in the baby room they start them sleeping on cots a month or so before their birthday so when they move up at age 1 they are ready to sleep on a cot.

Have the provider put your child on a regular cot and take the pack n play home or tell her to put it in storage. He's too old for it in child care. It would not have been allowed in Oklahoma either. We have very strict regulations about where an infant is allowed to sleep and in a regulation crib is where they go. Then they move to a cot, then up to the toddler room.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My 16 month old sleeps in a pack n play for both naps and night. I have a nice crib, but he hates it. He loves how cozy his pack n play is. I would just put the regular mattress back in. It would be safer than a mat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If they won't allow the mattress, what will they allow? I would consider letting him sleep on the floor, as long as the area he's in is appropriate for children his age. My nephew slept on a low cot from 12 months on.

You can also take out the mattress and use it on the floor when he's a little older. Use a slightly padded crib sheet/cover made for pack and plays. And for places like daycare, always check that it's made for that particular item.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the inspectors. I followed the link above. The description says it is for a portable crib or mini crib. It does not say a pack-n-play. The customer picture shows that for their pack-n-play it does not fit correctly. Just because someone responds to a question with 'it seems it should fit', doesn't mean that it is what it is made for.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

In Minnesota, the provider would have gotten a $200 fine for having the extra mattress in there. After 12 month, the regulations loosen up a bit, but they are very tight for infants, due to all the infant deaths in the past few years. As other posters have said, the standard mattress is perfectly fine.

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