What You Need to Know on How to Set up a Pack N Play

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
February 27, 2023
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Playard

The pack n play becomes the center of every room as soon as you have a baby old enough to get up and move on their own. Knowing how to set up a pack n play is not as difficult as it may sound. It does take some practice at first.

They work best for trying to wrangle your toddler or distract them while you try to get ready for work. You'll always want to have a pack n play on team parent.

Knowing how to set up a pack n play is only half the battle, wait until your child is old enough to climb out!

What Is a Pack N Play?

Technically "Pack 'n Play" is the name of Graco's line of playpens. However, the term is now commonly used to describe playpens in general. It’s a portable low lying playpen that allows your child to remain in one spot when you may not be able to pay immediate attention to them.

Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Playard

When playtime is over, you can fold the pack n play down. You will slide it inside a bag or fold it up using its own mattress. The one I used for years would require you to remove the mattress and then tie it around the frame.

Why have a pack n play?

The main reason most parents use a pack n play is to keep their children entertained. You can provide your child with a safe and secure place to play with their toys and stay busy.

The pack n play also serves as a portable crib if your child needs to sleep somewhere other than their home. You want to make sure you choose the best pack n play if your child will sleep in it because there have been recalls regarding possible suffocation.

Is a pack n play necessary?

I believe that a pack n play is a smart thing to have for a few reasons. First, you can set it up anywhere, so during the baby stages, your baby can sleep wherever they need to. If you’d rather have your baby take naps close to you instead of in their bedroom, this is a smart way to do it.

Another great thing about pack n plays is that they serve as a variety of different parenting accessories. You don’t need to have a bassinet, changing station, and playpen because you get it all in one. Your child can also use it for the first chunk of their life, so it saves money in the long run.

How to Set up a Pack N Play?

Now it’s time to learn how to set up a pack n play. The process is rather simple and shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes. The first thing you want to do before setting up the pack n play is read the instruction manual included on the exterior of the carrying portion.

Make sure you take note of any special assembly instructions, so you get the job done right.

Getting started

Once you’ve looked through the instructions, you’ll want to start undoing the straps that hold the entire pack n play together. Most pack n plays will come this way, and here’s a video that explains the process in detail:

Looking through the materials

Inside once you’ve undone the straps, you’ll find a carrying bag, a bassinet, and the pack n play itself. You’ll want to go through these materials and line them up with what the instruction manual says you should receive with the pack n play.

Setting it up

Once you have all your materials together, you’re ready to learn how to set up a pack n play. You’ll take the pack n play and pull it out from the center while locking in all four sides of the walls.

In the middle of most pack n plays, there will be a raised portion with a pull tab on it. You’ll have to push that down to lock the entire thing in place.

When you have the bottom section locked in, you can then insert the mat on the bottom. Make sure that there are no gaps or open spaces where your baby could get stuck or trapped.

Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Playard
Image source: amazon

What about the bassinet?

If you have a small baby, you might plan on using the bassinet. These will vary based on the company you purchase your pack n play from. You’ll have to secure at least two rods into each other on the bottom. Once you’ve done that, you’ll take a variety of clips to clip the bassinet onto the sides of the pack n play raising it up from the base.

You’ll then take the pad you used in the previous section and insert it into the bassinet. Make sure the padding is properly secured to the Velcro. Many pack n plays come with Velcro for added security.

What if my child doesn't like the pack n play?

Knowing how to set up a pack n play is great, but what if your child or baby doesn’t like it. What if they scream or cry when you put them in? I will say that I experienced this first hand, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience.

If your child is older they might have already gotten past the separation anxiety. You may want to calmly explain to them that they need to play in there for a while so you can do something.

Playtime Is Fun Time

By now you should understand how to set up a pack n play and maybe you’ve already got yours up and running. These are great tools for parent productivity so you can accomplish things while keeping your child or baby entertained.

They also make sense for a lot of reasons. You can set up shop anywhere, change your baby anywhere, and provide them with a place to sleep comfortably, no matter where you go.

If you have any tips or tricks for setting up and making use of your pack n play, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Featured image source: amazon

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