Raising and seeing your child grow is very rewarding, but sometimes it gets overwhelming because of the amount of information that you have to learn and know. You ask yourself “How can I properly and safely take care of my child?”
One of the things that you will need for taking care of a growing child is a pack n play/pack and play. You may have heard this term from other parents as well, but to enlighten you more, let us define first what is a pack n play.
You can define pack n play simply as a “portable playard.” During the years, pack n plays continue to evolve to cater to the needs of different parents. They are no longer just a “playpen” for your child, but most models nowadays come with various attachments from toys, changing stations, and bassinets.
This baby must-have is an excellent solution for parents who are on a budget and do not have ample space in their house. The portability of a pack and play will allow your child to be in the same room as you. We think that it’s a more economical and safe solution to opt for a pack n play first before making a “baby proof” room.
Pack n plays are also advantageous for parents who want to keep their children supervised while simultaneously taking a small break, or do other stuff like send an email and cook dinner. This way, as a parent, you’ll feel more secure knowing that your child is within arm’s length.
What a pack n play does is letting your kid enjoy and explore while you don’t have to worry about their safety because your child’s mobility is confined within a space. We will also review products that have features such as bassinets and changers that you can use if your child needs to take a nap or get their diaper changed.
Having a pack n play is also useful if you travel a lot and have to stay in hotels that you can’t babyproof, or even if you’re visiting Grandma for Christmas. We will include in our review some models that you can easily fold and use whenever.
Like with many baby must-haves, choosing the right unit can be daunting. You have to consider the factors and features. To help you find your perfect fit, we’ve reviewed our top 7 best pack n plays and also arranged them from the most expensive to the most affordable so that you can see which model fits your budget.
Best Pack n Play Comparison Table
|Baby Bjorn||32 x 44 x 24 inches when assembled||100% polyester crib fabric, Mattress cover is 100% polyester at the bottom, 50% polyester and 50% Polyurethane (PU) at the top||2 years|
|4moms Breeze GO||43 x 30 x 29 inches||78% Polyurethane Foam/22% Polyester||1 year|
|Lotus||46 x 31 x 25.5 inches when assembled||Aluminum frame||2 years|
|Joovy Room2||39.8 x 39.8 x 31 inches||Cotton||2 years|
|Graco||40 x 28.5 x 33.2 inches||Fabric||Limited|
|Regalo-6||48 x 1 x 26 inches||All-steel frames||90 days|
|Cosco Funsport||29 x 9 x 9 inches||Plastic||Limited|
Without further ado, here is our review of 7 best pack n plays this 2021:
Best Pack n Play Reviews
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light – Best Easy to Clean Choice
If you want an easy to clean and easy to set-up pack n play that is lightweight to travel with, the Baby Bjorn is an ideal contender.
Easy Clean Using the Washing Machine
Children can get messy; that is why we appreciate that the mattress cover and crib fabric are both washable and easy to remove . You can machine wash the mattress cover in 60 degrees Celsius, while the crib fabric is for a lower temperature at 40 degrees Celsius.
The mattress cover’s bottom is 100% polyester, while its top is 50% polyester and 50% polyurethane. The crib fabric, on the other hand, is made of 100% polyester. The fabrics used in this product are tested and approved under the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class 1 meaning that they are free from allergic or harmful substances. This approval from the Oeko-Tex can give you peace of mind because it guarantees that the fabrics are safe to touch and be in contact with.
The Baby Bjorn complies with the EN 716 Safety Standards for folding cribs and national fire safety requirements that is why we are sure that this product is safe for your child. This unit is also a JPMA certified product meaning it was tested and met the guidelines set by standards developer ASTM International.
Fold and Go, Unfold and Use
It is easy to set-up and folds down that from measuring 32 x 44 x 24 inches when assembled; it lowers to 19 x 23.5 x 5.5 inches when folded down in the carrying bag. You just fold and go or unfold and use because it has no loose parts to attach and reattach. The legs unfold automatically, and you just add the mattress inside.
This model is not raised from the flooring, and because of this, the weight limit of it is not as restricted as those models that are raised from the floor. The mattress, which acts as the flooring has a built-in plate in its base to support Baby Bjorn firmly when your child stands and is comfortable enough if your child is sleeping.
The age recommendation of the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light is from newborn babies to 3-year-olds. The unit no longer recommends usage if your child can climb out of the pack n play.
It is also a lightweight unit, weighing only 13 pounds which is a good weight for traveling and carrying it around. The sides are soft and breathable because they are mesh, and the mattress feels comfortable and soft to touch. You also don’t have to stress about your child moving around in the mattress because it uses hook-and-loop attachments.
We recommend this unit for the ease of cleaning and ease of set-up.
4moms Breeze GO Playard – Best Easy Set-Up Pack n Play
Another item that is easy to set-up but costs less than the first unit we’ve mentioned is the 4moms Breeze Go Play Yard. This unit is incredibly easy to set-up and pack up that all you need to do is one step. You don’t even have to use both hands while doing it! However, it weighs 10 pounds more compared to the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light.
One Hand Single-Step Set-Up and Pack-Up
Like we mentioned earlier, this model is very easy to set-up and pack up.
We love how easy and hassle-free it is to set-up and pack up this item, but unlike the first unit we’ve reviewed, it has a weight limit of 30 pounds because it is raised on the floor. Another similarity it has to the product from Bjorn is that the sides of this unit are also useful for supervision because it’s a breathable see-through mesh.
There is no bassinet nor diaper-changing area in this playard from 4moms, but they have a model that is the Breeze Plus that has those features if you want.
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Play Yard – Best for Travel Pack n Play
Hands-Free Lightweight Travel
Our next unit is the Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Play Yard. We present this model for those who are buying a pack n play and using it for traveling with their little one. It is lightweight at 13 pounds and set-ups at 15 seconds. We think that those things are essential for those parents who travel whether it’s two houses state away or two states away. You can also walk around hands-free because this pack and play folds into a backpack using the convertible backpack straps included; a convenient option for airports.
The sides are breathable mesh just like the first two units that we’ve reviewed, but this unit gives you the ability to open it up because it has a fully zippered side panel. Parents who love to bond on the floor with their child without being too disturbing to their child who might be asleep will love this feature. This zipped side panel is also better for your back because you don’t have to bend to check on your child.
The Lotus Travel Crib is GreenGuard Gold non-toxic certified as it is free from flame retardants, PVC, phthalates, lead, heavy metals, and is low in VOC making it safe for your baby. This unit directly sits on the floor and recommends it for usage from 0 to 3-year-old kids.
Joovy Room2 Portable Playard – Best Pack n Play for Twins
We reviewed the Joovy Room2 that is large enough for twins, or if you want to give extra love to your little one via extra space. It measures at nearly 10 square feet of space that is a right amount of space for twins.
The mattress is heavy duty and can support babies age 0 until they peak at around 35” in height. We also love that the Joovy Room2 includes a machine washable soft cotton fitted mattress sheet. You could buy extra sheets if you needed them as well.
Even though this unit is large enough for twins, it is still foldable for the travel bag that it comes with. Another useful feature is that unlike most pack n plays that only provides two see-through sides, the Joovy Room2 Portable Playard gives you a full 360-degree view.
This unit has two lockable wheels for ease of moving it around. Build-wise, the fabrics were easy to wipe clean, and the materials felt robust. We think that this product is one of the sturdiest models built and we like that it has a low center of gravity to avoid accidents like the child tipping over. It also has other safety features like locking latches.
This model also offers the option to become a nursery center. You can add a bassinet and changing table designed for twins. The bassinet can hold two 15-pound babies and has a divider for the twins to have separate napping areas.
Graco Pack n Play – Editor’s Choice
The Graco Pack n Play is our top pick because of its versatility for children of all ages. This playard can multi-task as a napper and a changer. The fabrics are machine washable, and the changer itself resists mess; you can clean it by wiping.
Multi-Functional as Changer and Napper
The simple push-and-lift motion is behind the switch from napper to changer. The strong attachments also make the switching secured.
It also has another removable feature which is the removable toy bar that has three soft toys to entertain your kid while inside the playard. The full-sized bassinet is removable and can hold babies under 15 pounds like the changer.
The ventilation in this unit is also great because all the sides are mesh and you can monitor your child because it is see-through. Also, the cushioned mat is elevated making it easier for you to keep an eye on your child; you have the option to lower this mat once your kid becomes more active too.
Graco’s signature “push-button fold” is also a feature in this unit for quicker and easier closing of the pack n play. It also includes a carrying bag for travel and storage. The downside to being a multi-tasking model is it will be heavier and although it has the push-button fold feature, compared to other simpler products, this unit from Graco will take more time to be broken down. As expected, it also weights heavier that is 28 pounds.
We think this is a great unit especially for those who do not have ample space to have multiple tables.
Regalo 6 Panel Portable Playard – Best for Toddlers
We are now closer to the most affordable pick that we reviewed but first, let us talk about the Regalo 6. This unit has a simple water-resistant design that assembles fully for set-up and folds down compactly fit for a carrying bag in a single motion. This product offers the convenience and simplicity of the unit we reviewed from Baby Bjorn for a more affordable price.
We named Regalo as our best pack n play for toddlers because it is large enough to accommodate children from 6 to 24 months. Regalo is best suited for toddlers not only because of its capacity, but we also think that because it is made of an all-steel frame, it can withstand everyday use. We all know that toddlers are very energetic and because of this they can play roughly; Regalo’s reinforced stitching will prevent this pack n play from tearing accidentally during playtime.
Its 6 panels are all breathable being made with mesh and the bottom is made of sturdy nylon for easy clean-up. You just wipe the nylon bottom with a damp cloth and soap. If we could make this unit better, we will add wheels for ease of moving and a mattress to make it suitable for smaller babies.
It’s bulky if used in a small space, but when folded down, it fits well to the provided carrying bag and can fit a trunk of a larger car.
Cosco Funsport Play Yard – An Affordable Straightforward Choice
The most affordable unit we’ve reviewed is the Cosco Funsport Play Yard. Remember what is lacking from the model of Regalo? Wheels; and this unit from Cosco has it. If you want portable and affordable, this item is for you.
The Cosco Funsport Play Yard is not only easy to transport and maneuver around, but it is also easy to store. It includes a carrying bag that can fit inside most cars, to fold it down use the quick squeeze latch. Not only that, but this unit is also easy to set-up in a minute; you just open the base and prop the sides up.
For breathability, this unit is surrounded by mesh sides which also help for better surveillance on your kid and proper ventilation. Over-all, if it is the simplicity that you are seeking and you only have an allocated budget, you can consider this unit.
Best Pack n Play Buyer’s Guide
As promised, we have included a Buyer’s Guide so that you don’t have to dig through the internet to answer your questions. We will also discuss each factor to consider in choosing and buying a pack n play.
Pack n Play vs Playpen
Playpens can be described precisely like what they are called: a pen for playing. They are fences that you can fold so that you can create a confined space for your kid inside a larger area. Their main difference to pack and plays is that they don’t have flooring and their size is quite large for traveling compared to pack n plays.
Pack n plays have mattresses which convert them into a crib for your child if they need to go to sleep or take a nap, while playpens are for playing only. But even though a playpen is larger for travel, this quality also becomes an advantage because you can still use the playpens as your child is growing.
Playpens are expandable, so most of them are usable even if your child becomes a toddler. Pack n plays, on the other hand, have height and weight limits. You can also describe pack and plays as improved versions of playpens. They are usually equipped with different features and accessories such as bassinets, changing tables, toys, and even organizers.
Pack n Play vs Playard
As you have seen in our reviews, some models are called “playard.” Most manufacturers use the terms pack n play and playard interchangeably. Other terms that are used to denote a pack n play are play center, nursery center, portable crib, and travel crib.
What about cribs?
Pack n plays, playards, and even playpens are more portable than cribs because you cannot fold cribs. Although for sleeping, a crib is more comfortable than a pack and play because cribs have a wider space as they do not have other features or accessories integrated into the unit. This simplicity is also the very reason why pack n plays would be more cost effective because it already includes the said features and accessories unlike in cribs where you have to buy them separately.
Types of Pack n Play
Before we go on to the factors to consider, let us first discuss the different types of pack n play. Hopefully, these explanations can help you narrow down what kind of pack n play is appropriate for you and your little one.
Out of the two types of pack n play, the basic model is, of course, the more affordable one. This type of pack n play offers one of the fundamental duties of a travel crib: portability. Some brands even offer a travel bag that comes with their unit to make the unit easier to bring around. Most basic items are lightweight and wide enough to fit through most doors and car trunks.
Even though a deluxe model would cost you more, it will also give you access to other features that can be considered useful in the long run. Some of the features you can find in deluxe items are removable changing tops, cabinet or organizers, good-sized bassinets, battery-operated or electronic mobiles, canopies, vibrating mattresses, music consoles, and nightlights.
Obviously, with the addition of these features, a deluxe unit would be bulkier (33 pounds) to carry around compared a basic model (24 pounds.)
Some deluxe products are even wider than 30 inches which is the size of most interior doorways. They are still foldable and collapsible, so we advise you to “weigh” which personal needs should you prioritize.
Should you opt for extra value for more features or stick to basic for the ease of moving it around?
Factors to Consider
There is a lot of models to choose from, and their various features make it harder to decide. Here we will discuss the factors to consider in choosing and buying a pack n play. Your ideal choice should be a combination of the features and factors that you and your child will be happy, safe, and at ease upon purchasing.
What Do I Need in a Pack n Play?
A well-built pack n play is a feature that you should never overlook. This feature is not only due to economic reasons but also for you and your child’s safety. The frame, the sides, and the clips should be strong enough given that you’re frequently folding and unfolding the unit. It will also make you feel more confident if you know that it wouldn’t break accidentally and hurt you or your child.
Always check if the unit that you are buying has a quality floor padding for protection against bumps on the flooring and hygienic purposes. Safety clips and locks on wheels should also be regularly checked to avoid accidents. Children at this age are understandably curious so expect them to move around more.
You can check if the unit that you’re buying has complaints and recalls to get a more in-depth idea about the model. And remember never to buy a used item just to be safe from health and construction concerns.
Ease of Usage
You can try at the store first on how your unit feels if you’re going to set it up or fold it. The purpose of a pack n play is to make your life easier that is why your time shouldn’t be wasted on the difficulty and complexity of doing those tasks on the pack n play.
Like we mentioned in the types of pack and play, you should keep in mind what should you prioritize. A unit with a lot of features on it would feel heavier to move and travel with compared to a basic model without bassinets for example.
Wheels and foldable features can make your life easier and make the moving time more efficient.
What Can I Search for in a Pack n Play
A bassinet is a good addition to have in a pack n play especially for those parents with a newborn. A pack n play is more space-friendly than a crib; you can put your pack n play inside your bedroom. This portability gives you the peace of mind by having your baby sleep in your room for the first months.
Lastly, check if your bassinet is securely fastened to avoid it from being dislodged accidentally. If possible, find those models with bassinet clips that aren’t exposed so that other children or the child itself will not tamper with it out of curiosity. And do not use the bassinet if your child exceeds the weight limit.
A model that has a changing pad is one of the reasons that make a pack n play ideal for traveling. Unlike playpens who doesn’t have this feature, having a changing pad attachment will let you change your baby in public. Some parks and restrooms do not have a changing station after all. Remember to use the safety straps while you’re changing your child to avoid any accidents.
Most changing pad attachments are detachable, so if that is what you only need to take with you, you can take it off. Like the bassinet, you can remove the changing pad or flip it outside the pack n play if your child is playing under it. Changing pads have weight limits as well. You can also opt for a changing mat that is a safer option.
Make sure to get a unit with a robust set of wheels. Wheels can make your work a whole lot easier especially if you continuously move your pack n play around the house.
You should also check the mattress’ comfortability. The right mattress can make a difference because it will make your child sleep more comfortably, therefore, reducing your own sleepless nights.
Having a carrying bag would make it easier to travel with your pack n play. It will also make it more organized as you can bring the pack n play in one place. Carrying bags can vary from backpacks or sometimes, they fold flat which is an ideal feature if you’re commuting with it or putting it at the trunk. Before buying your pack n play, test it out first on how easy and fast it’ll be to fold.
Other features that a pack n play can have are:
- Canopy that acts as the shade for sunlight
- Storage to organize baby products, toys, laundry, and diapers
- Lights, toys, and music for entertainment and early learning
What are the Ages Appropriate for a Pack n Play?
A newborn can already use it but for mothers who have just given birth, bending over regularly to check on their baby may be difficult. You can check the weight and height limit of the unit to know when your child has outgrown the model. If your child can climb out, that’s a good sign of stopping the usage of the item for safety purposes.
Can I Clean a Pack n Play?
Check each element of the model to know which are machine washable. You can use a soft cloth, mild detergent, and water to wash fabrics.
What Sheets Can I Use for a Pack n Play?
We advice using 100% cotton sheets because they are soft enough to make your child comfortable and rashes are avoidable. You can wash machine washable sheets at around 40 degrees for hygienic purposes. Also, always make sure that they fit well to avoid accidental suffocation.
A pack n play is an economical and useful way to make your life convenient while making sure your child is safe. It lets your child satisfy his/her curiosity with your mind at ease. It is also a cost-efficient way to have a unit that your little one can use for playing, changing, napping, and entertainment.
Owning a pack n play will also let your child travel with you without needing to trust a stranger to watch him for you at home. We think that our reviews have given you not just options but also clarity about the unit that you’re planning to buy.
Overall, our top choice is Graco. It is a cost-effective space saver because of the reversible napper and changer, as well as the included toy bar which are all removable in case you want to use it as a playpen or if your child outgrows them. When it comes to durability and we feel can last you for quite a long time, we choose the Joovy Room2 Portable Playard. This unit is perfect for twins because of its size and feels well-built for extended usage.
We believe that every parent has varying needs, desires, and priorities. We created this article in consideration to every parent and child out there so they can weigh their options and tailor a unit that will be a hundred percent fit to their needs and wants. We recommend that you also use our buyer’s guide and keep the information in mind when choosing a unit.
In conclusion, when it comes to our kids, let us not forget to do our homework. Research, note, and read everything you can about the pack n play that you’re eyeing on.