Playards are an incredible multi-purpose place of exploration and familiarity for your baby. They are designed for, as the name indicates, mobility and play. It can be a challenge to figure out which is best for your child given the plethora of options. Let’s break down the assets for 7 kinds of Pack N Plays on the market and what to keep in mind as you pick.
The Best Pack N Plays
1. BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light
(Most lightweight — $$$)
Why it’s great: This crib features an incredibly soft mattress, machine washable fabrics, airy mesh windows, and is surprisingly light and portable at 13 lbs. Users love its one-move set up feature as well and how it fits into the unique traveling briefcase.
As parents, we want the highest safety standards for our kids. BabyBjörn makes their crib with high quality materials that is free from all harmful substances.
Keep in mind: The cost may be high for some, but as parents, we prefer value and quality above price. This crib is best for a newborn (minimum 8 lbs) to 3 years old or 33 lbs, so you’ll be using it for a long time.
Good for: Parents with bigger budgets and for traveling light.
2. Baby Trend Twins Pack N Play
(Best for twins — $$$)
Why it’s great: This set has everything you need to take care of two bundles of joy. It is equipped with two removable bassinets with carry handles and two cute little hanging toys. Each bassinet converts into a stand alone rocker too! It also has a changing table and a deluxe organizer to keep all your accessories sorted and close at hand. The playard is big enough for two and the mesh sides make it breathable easy to see through.
It also has large wheels and is lightweight on its own, which means you can move it fairly easily from room to room. The wheels do have brakes, so you won’t have to worry about it moving when you don’t want it to.
Keep in mind: This one doesn’t fold up very easily and with all the attachments, it’s pretty big and bulky even when you get it folded. It’s not the easiest to use for travel.
Good for: Families with twins.
3. Lotus Travel Crib
(Best for travel — $$$)
Why it’s great: This Lotus crib folds up quickly and easily, is lightweight at 13 lbs, and packs up into a backpack. It only takes about 15 seconds to fold this up and pack it away. The backpack design is comfortable and it is one of the easiest to carry and take on an airplane. These features make it the absolute best for traveling.
Plus, this crib features a side zipper, so you can lay on the floor and play with your baby or help them to fall asleep without having to try to lower them into the crib when you’re done. All the materials are non-toxic and safe for your child. The mesh sides make it airy and breathable. The mattress is thick, soft foam that will allow your baby to sleep comfortably all night long.
Keep in mind: This one doesn’t come with sheets and you’ll need to purchase sheets from the same brand, since the mattress is not a standard size.
Good for: Families that travel a lot.
4. Baby Trend Trend-E Nursery Center
(Best value — $)
Why it’s great: For parents on a budget, this set provides a full, comfortable bassinet, toys, and an organizer to hold all the essentials.
For portability, this nursery center features large wheels with brakes (how safe is that added stability?!), is ridiculously easy to assemble and fold, and has a traveling bag to carry it all.
It comes in multiple styles and colors, so you can choose the one you like best. And they all have a matching mobile to keep your baby entertained.
Keep in mind: The playard is suited for newborns up to 30 lbs or 35″ while the bassinet is for birth to up to 15 lbs or 25″. As far as weight, this center is 20.5 lbs.
Good for: Parents on a budget who need a bassinet and playard sold as a set.
5. Pop Up PlayPen
(Best indoor/outdoor Option — $$)
Why it’s great: This playard is great for all around use. It doesn’t take up too much space indoors and has UV protection for outdoor use. It also comes with stakes to secure it into the grass outside, so even though it’s incredibly light weight, you don’t have to worry about the wind blowing it away. There’s plenty of space for multiple babies to sit and play, so it’s great for families with more than one child. You can choose to use the shade roof or have it open. The shade roof and mesh sides will also keep out bugs when you’re out at the park.
Another great feature on this playpen is the zippered door. You can unzip one of the sides to let children crawl in or out, or to make it easier to play or nurse your child to sleep. It comes in 4 different color options and has lots of matching and compatible accessories available.
Keep in mind: This doesn’t come with a mattress pad or covers, so you’ll need to buy those separately if you want to use this as a crib.
Good for: Families that spend a lot of time outdoors, but still want to be able to use their playpen inside too.
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6. Joovy Room² Playard
(Most durable — $$)
Why it’s great: For parents seeking the ultimate durability, Joovy created this one with you in mind. With its padded mattress and waterproof, machine washable cotton sheet included, your little one’s space is all set to go.
Take it anywhere thanks to its durable frame and movable, double wheels. It folds beautifully into a compact design complete with a travel bag. Joovy keeps safety at the forefront with strong, see-through mesh windows. There’s 10 feet of space for any toddler to enjoy and it comes with the most extended warranty on Pack N Plays (2 years).
Keep in mind: For newborn to 35 inches. If you need a bassinet and/or changing table, it’s sold separately. This one weighs in at 29.6 lbs.
Good for: Twins, spaciousness, indoors, and outdoors.
7. Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard
(Best set — $$)
Why it’s great: Parents can appreciate this Pack n’ Play’s removable travel dome bassinet, perfect for indoors or out. Its UV 50 screen optimizes the outdoor experience, and the height of its bassinet keeps baby in view.
The bed of the playard itself can be kept low for when the baby is up and moving, or high for bedtime. It’s easy to move around for any reason thanks to its wheels. You don’t need to purchase a separate changing table or a travel storage container, as both are included with this set.
Keep in mind: This weighs 33.1 lbs, so it may not be one to take outdoors often. The changing station and napper will require a little time to remove and put back on.
Good for: Shorter moms, thanks to the bed’s tiers, and parents who prefer to buy a set.
8. 4Moms One Handed Collapse Pack N Play
(Easiest setup — $$$)
Why it’s great: This Pack n Play comes with everything you need in a design that’s incredibly easy to use. In fact, you can set it up and break it down with one hand! But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that your child will be able to accidentally open or close it.
This can be used as a playard, bassinet, or changing table. The changer easily flips to the side when not in use. The bassinet is removable and will support your newborn up to 15 lbs. The bottom of the playard is more spacious than the majority of Pack n Plays, so you’ll get to use it longer than most.
Keep in mind: This one doesn’t have any kind of storage for essentials. You can buy a diaper caddy separately that attaches though.
Good for: Families that want a Pack n Play that they can set up or break down while holding their baby.
9. Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play Portable Playard
(Most spacious — $)
Why it’s great: If you’re looking for the ultimate combo of lightweight and spacious, Summer Infant made this one for you. With an unheard of 14 feet of space, moms can be seen playing with their little one(s) inside. Parents rave about its sturdiness, too.
It’s unique “pop and fold” design means no assembly hassles. It even packs away perfectly into its carrying case, which includes a shoulder strap.
It’s excellent for indoor and outdoor use due to its water-resistant flooring. Use it on damp grass or the beach without wet worries. Keeping an eye on your little one is easy thanks to its 360 air mesh composition. Plus, you can buy the canopy that attaches on and protects your baby from the sun.
Keep in mind: This Pop ‘n Play is best for 6 to 24 months old (35 inches or less). Its bottom is not removable for washing, but it can be wiped. It’s 360 x-shaped metal crossbars may need to be insulated for added safety, but they are lightweight for travel overall at 12lbs.
Good for:Indoors, outdoors, and spaciousness.
10. Fisher-Price On-the-Go Baby Dome
(Most portable — $)
Why it’s great: If you don’t want a playard, consider this solo bassinet. The On-the-Go Dome is one of the highest recommended of its kind by parents. With its soft padding, 360 canopy (protects from sun and insects), and portability (folds flat with carrying handles), it’s an easy favorite.
Messes are bound to happen, but this dome cleans up well by wiping or washing the sheet. It also features toys to assist your baby’s sensory development and fine motor skills. It’s also surprisingly spacious, and a must-have for the beach.
Keep in mind: This one isn’t for a baby who can climb out, but it’s perfect for those early months of life. It doesn’t have a playard, but not every child needs one.
Good for: Play and nap, and as an alternative to an entire set with a playard.
11. UV Protection Tent and Travel Bed
(Best outdoor option — $)
Why it’s great: This cute little tent acts as a crib or playpen for babies on the go. It has UV protection and a mosquito net, which makes it perfect for outdoor use. It’s perfect for a day at the beach or the park and gives your baby a safe space to play or nap. It even comes with two little pegs to drive into the sand or grass, so you don’t have to worry about it flapping in the breeze or blowing away when not in use.
There’s no assembly required either. It folds down easily, kind of like a car window shade, and fits snugly in it’s carry bag. You can also unzip both sides and they roll up and hook to the top. It’s even big enough to fit a car seat in it, if your child is already asleep when you arrive somewhere.
Keep in mind: It doesn’t have a mattress or even padding in the bottom. If you want your baby to be able to sleep in it, you’ll need to find something that will work to make it more comfortable.
Good for: Families that spend a lot of time at the beach or the park.
Good to Have Accessories:
1. SnoozeShade Pack N Play Crib Canopy and Tent
Why it’s great: This is a breathable cover that fits over most Pack n Plays and offers your child the darkness they need to sleep, even in the middle of the day. It also has side panels that you can open or close, to adjust the light level for your child. When not in use, it packs up nicely and could easily fit in your luggage if you’re going out of town. This is a great accessory to have if you want your child to be able to sleep wherever and whenever you need them to.
2. Pack n Play Mattress Protector Waterproof
Why it’s great: This mattress protector fits most Pack n Play mattresses and adds extra padding and comfort for your child. It’s also machine washable and waterproof, so you’ll be saving the crib mattress and extending its life. It’s ultra soft and made especially for babies with sensitive skin. It comes in multiple colors, so it should be easy to find one that matches your Pack n Play.
FAQs about Pack ‘N Plays
1. Do you need a bassinet, playard, or both?
A playard, or Pack ‘N Play, is a portable, multipurpose item that can be used as a crib, napper, or as a safe and familiar “play yard.” Some playards come with bassinets for no additional cost.
A bassinet is also portable and primarily for sleeping. It’s excellent for newborns and babies who haven’t learned how to push up, roll over, sit up, or climb. They can also be used in your room in those early months for cosleeping. Buying both as a set is budget-friendly because babies can grow from one into the other.
2. When should I switch my baby from the bassinet to the playard?
When your baby starts moving, around 4 to 6 months, it’s time to switch from playard to bassinet to prevent any falling injuries.
3. How can I ensure my playard is safe?
The CPSC recommends having your baby sleep on their backs. Playards should not be close to cords to prevent strangulation. Read all instructions thoroughly to make sure you’ve assembled everything correctly. Getting a playard with a mesh means you’ll always have easy eye access to your baby at all times.
4. Do I need to get a changing station with my Pack ‘N Play?
If you intend to be portable, it is highly advised to get one with a changing table, so you’re ready for cleanups without the fuss of trying to set up your own.
5. Are Pack N’ Plays only for portability?
You can use Pack N’ Plays as stationary furniture. If you plan on moving, get one that’s lightweight, compact, and movable (wheels will definitely help). If you plan to use it outside, a canopy or mesh will assist on those sunny and bugged up days.
Having a Pack N Play, be it a bassinet, playard, or a combination, will be quite helpful in those beginning weeks and months of having a child.
Bassinets provide a safe, cozy place for newborns that reminds them of the closeness of the womb and mother. Playards give parents a sense of ease from worrisome thoughts concerning safety. Having both takes the thinking out where to put our babies as they evolve into toddlers.
On top of all these features, you can take these all outdoors or to any family’s house. Familiarity is vital during the first years of a child’s life after all.
No matter what kind you get, you’ll be assisting your child and yourself. Bassinets and playards are entirely designed to make life easier.