Whether you use your baby’s playpen as a convenient napping location while you make dinner or a play area while you pay your bills, the enclosed structure provides a safe place for your baby when your hands are full with other responsibilities. To ensure the playpen remains safe, clean the playpen and its linens regularly. Fortunately, cleaning a baby’s playpen is quite simple and straightforward.
The playpen serves as a sort of “safe haven” for babies, featuring a thin mattress enclosed on all four sides by vertical bars. Traditional playpens were built out of wood, but modern versions might also feature metal, plastic, nylon and/or mesh materials. The playpen functions as a safe place for the baby to sleep or play while his parents are busy.
One of the easiest and quickest tips you can follow to keep your baby’s playpen clean is to quickly wipe up any spills that occur. Whether your baby spills his bottle of milk, spits up or smears banana on the mattress, clean the mess immediately with mild soap and warm water. This quick action prevents the spill from hardening or leaving a stain.
If you choose to use linens inside the playpen, washing those linens regularly is essential to maintain a clean environment. Linens inside a playpen might include a mattress sheet and blanket. Because of the risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends leaving the crib and playpen free of bedding, including “pillows, quilts, sheepskins, pillow-like bumper pads or pillow-like stuffed toys.” However, if you do use linens inside the playpen, wash them at least once a week. Since harsh chemicals can irritate a baby’s skin, use mild detergents made specifically for baby laundry. Avoid scented fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Wash the linens in hot water to disinfect them properly.
Cleaning the Structure
While the linens are washing, scrub down the playpen itself. Remove the crib support from the bottom of the structure. Since harsh chemicals can be harmful to the baby, avoid using abrasive cleaning solutions. Instead, sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto a damp sponge and gently rub all surfaces of the playpen. Follow up with a clean, damp sponge to remove any baking soda residue. Allow the crib to dry completely. Clean the mattress in the same manner, ensuring that you thoroughly clean both sides. Once the mattress has been washed and rinsed, set it outdoors to dry in the sun. Do not place the mattress back into the playpen until it has dried completely.
Inspect for Safety
While you are cleaning the playpen, take the opportunity to thoroughly examine it for safety hazards. If the playpen features mesh sides, ensure that the mesh is securely attached at the top and bottom and contains no tears or holes. Holes in the mesh place the baby at risk for entanglement and choking. If wooden slats are used, all slats should be firmly attached with no cracks or splinters. Any hardware used in the construction of the playpen should be secured into place without any protruding sharp areas. The playpen mattress should fit tightly inside the enclosure; the baby should not be able to get his arm or leg wedged between the side of the playpen and the mattress.