Best Pack and Play Guide & Review

Often used as a safe, temporary playpen or a portable place to sleep, pack and plays come in handy for parents with new babies or small infants. We’ve done our research and consulted the experts at Consumer Reports, advice from experienced moms, pediatrician recommendations, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to give you the safest, tried-and-tested best pack and play suggestions for your baby.

If you are expecting a new baby, then a pack n play, or playard, is definitely going to be on your list of baby gear must-buys. Pack and plays are an excellent product that helps out parents a lot when it comes to taking care of your family’s new addition. With so many models offering so many features available on the market today, finding a best pack and play to best suit your needs can be challenging. We’ve assembled this guide and review to help you when you’re shopping for a pack n play. We’ll help you find a safe, top-rated, and affordable best pack and play that will be perfect for you and your baby’s needs.

How to Choose the Best Pack and Play

Not all pack and plays are created equal or will meet everyone’s specific needs. Here are some of the top things to consider when you’re shopping for a best pack and play.

1. Extra Features

Pack and plays range from the most basic models to high-end premium products loaded with features. If you’re just looking for a temporary sleeping place for your baby or a travel crib, a basic model is probably all you need. However, if you’re using the pack and play for a newborn, you might want to go a step up and choose one with an adjustable mattress. This feature will make it easier for you to pick up and lay down your baby. Some other features that more

premium models include are:

  • Napping station or bassinet
  • Changing station
  • Mobile and other toys

Keep in mind that the more features the pack and play has, the more expensive it probably it.

2. Portability

Pack and plays are meant to be easily transported, but some do a better job of that than others. Many roll on wheels, and when they’re folded up, they wrap up in their own totes, or sometimes the mattress doubles as the tote. Models that fit in their travel bag with the wheels expose are much easier to move through busy places like an airport or pull behind you when your hands are otherwise full than styles that require you to carry them. Size and weight are considerations when it comes to portability. The basic models will be easier and lighter to transport than the premium models that are loaded with extras.

3. Foldability

If you plan on traveling often with your baby, the ease of foldability and reassembly is definitely something to take into consideration. Most models feature buttons to push to collapse the unit, and the sidebars lock back into place for reassembly. If you can test out models before you purchase them, you’ll want to be sure that the buttons are easy enough to push that you won’t have to struggle with them, but not so easy that a child could accidentally fold the unit. Some models feature feet and wheels that also fold in, which make them even more compact.

4. Wheels or Casters

A pair of wheels or swivel casters on one end of the pack and play will make the unit easier to move and transport. To ensure safety, make sure the wheels lock. Some designs can still roll after they’re folded up, which makes traveling a breeze and is a definite plus if you plan on using your pack and play for trips or weekends at Grandma’s house.

5. Extra Storage

Some pack and plays feature storage for toys and other baby items in the form of:

  • Zippered side pockets
  • Fabric shelves
  • Hook-on fabric storage pouches
  • Clip-on organizer bags

While storage features aren’t a necessity, they can be very helpful if you plan on using your pack and play around the house as they can save you trips to the nursery every time you need to change a diaper. If you want storage, look for options that are big enough to hold the things you need. Also, for safety, make sure that the storage features are on the outside of the pack and play out of your baby’s reach.

6. Safety

As of February 2013, pack and plays must meet these new safety guidelines according to the CPSC:

  • Side rails don’t form a sharp V to avoid strangulation
  • Strong corner brackets that prevent sharp-edged cracks and rail collapse
  • Sturdier mattress attachments on the pack and play’s floor to prevent injuries

Recommended Pack and Play Reviews

If you’re looking for safe, top-rated, and affordable pack and plays, you’re at the right place. With so many options available, we want to make it easy for parents like you to pick the perfect product. After our research, testing, and consulting, we’ve hand-picked the following ten pack and plays that we believe are the best on the market for traveling and everyday use.

NAME IMAGE BUY NOW
Fisher-price ultra-lite day and night play yard BUY NOW
Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette Playard, Farrow BUY NOW
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard BUY NOW
Chicco Lullaby Baby, Rainfall BUY NOW
BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light, Silver BUY NOW
Joovy Room2 Portable Playard BUY NOW
Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat BUY NOW
Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer BUY NOW
Summer Infant Grow with Me Playard and Changer, Swingin’ Safari BUY NOW
Safety 1st Prelude Play Yard, Sail Away BUY NOW

Fisher-price ultra-lite day and night play yard

Fisher-price-ultra-lite-day-and-night-play-yard-review

The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard finds the perfect balance between useful features and portability. The unit is an inclined sleeper, changing station, and playard all in one while still only weighing 15 pounds. It gives a safe and comfortable place for babies to do the three of the things they do the most: sleep, play, and get diaper changes. It folds up and transports easily with a carrying handle.

Infants can nap and play all day in the comfortably inclined sleeper. The supportive seat back, cushioned head support, and three-point harness system keep your baby comfortable and safe. Many babies prefer to and sleep best in an inclined position, so you might even see improved sleeping with this unit. The sleeper is removable, and the pad and head support are machine washable, so they stay fresh and clean for your baby.

Once the sleeper is removed, the unit becomes a cozy and safe place with plenty of room for older babies and toddlers to rest and play. You can use any standard-size crib sheet on the padded platform, and the playard rests firmly on the floor. The playard features a built-in storage pocket that holds the portable changing station diaper clutch for quick and easy diaper changes no matter what room you’re in. The diaper clutch opens to a wipeable changing pad.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette Playard, Farrow

Graco-Pack-n-Play-Silhouette-Playard-Farrow-review

The Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette Playard in the Farrow design is a beautiful playard with soft colors and contoured lines that make it look almost like a real crib and compliment your home decor.

Changing diapers is super convenient with the posture-friendly, pivoting changing table. It integrates an organizer that holds your baby’s basics like wipes and diapers to make diaper changes quick and hassle-free. In fact, the unit features a built-in wipes case and diaper stacker, so you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.

The pack and play includes an enhanced electronics module to keep your baby calmed and entertained. It provides soothing vibrations, five classical songs, five relaxing nature sounds, convenient look light, and an auto shut-off timer.

Raise and lower the cozy quilted mattress pad to give your baby a comfortable and safe spot to nap that’ll work from newborn to toddler ages. It features a removable canopy to keep the light of your baby’s eyes while they are resting.

Parents praise this unit for its sturdy construction and the fact that it has plenty of room for children to grow and play.

Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard

Lotus-Travel-Crib-and-Portable-Baby-Playard-review

One of the best-reviewed pack and plays of 2016 is the Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard. It’s also on the higher end of the price range, but after reading about all of the great features of this stylish playard, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

The playard is ultra-portable thanks to weighing in at only 13 pounds. Adding to the portability is the fact that it fits in a backpack. You can even bring it on a plane as a carry-on. The Lotus playard assembles and disassembles in about a minute, and once you get the hang of it, you can probably do it even quicker. Lotus boasts that it can be assembled in as little as 15 seconds. I believe it’s the ideal playard and worth every penny for families who travel frequently. Its size makes it great for camping or picnics, too.

Babies will feel comfortable with the nicely padded mattress and soft fabrics. Ease your mind knowing that it is free of harmful chemicals and is well-constructed to keep your baby safe. The sides are made of breathable ClearView mesh, so you can always have a clear view of your baby. One side zippers down, making it a fun fort and play area for bigger babies and toddlers. The zippered side also makes it convenient to lay down a sleeping infant without having to lean over the sides.

Chicco Lullaby Baby, Rainfall

Chicco-Lullaby-Baby-Rainfall-review

The Chicco Lullaby Baby playard offers all of the essential features you need to create a cozy environment for your baby and a convenient care station for yourself. The all-in-one nursery center easily stores in the included carry bag, including all of the added accessories, which makes it ideal for travel.

The Lullaby Baby playard has three configurations for the three unique stages of use from newborn to infant to toddler. The quilted, angled infant bassinet can be installed in seconds, and it folds up compactly for storage. It’s perfect for babies from birth up to 15 pounds. For the infant stage, the raised bassinet features a deluxe quilted mattress to give your baby a comfortable place to rest and play. The extra-large playard area is perfect for toddlers up to 30 pounds to rest or play at home or away.

The detachable changer simply snaps on and off, and you’ll have everything you need for diaper changes in one spot with the side storage pockets. Use the changer for babies up to 25 pounds.

Keep your playard clean thanks to the EZ Care Zip and Wash mattress pad. Just throw it in the washing machine and zip back over the floor boards when it is clean.

BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light, Silver

BABYBJORN-Travel-Crib-Light-Silver-Review

Similar to the Lotus playard, the BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light is ultra-stylish, lightweight, and compact. It only weighs 13 pounds, and the smart design of the carrying bag allows you to easily carry and store it in baggage spaces, so traveling with it is a breeze.

The mattress is comfortable, so your baby will rest well in this playard. All of the sides are made of soft and airy mesh, which allows you to keep a close eye on your child for added safety, and they won’t get too hot inside of the playard. Parents know that babies and toddlers can be messy, and BABYBJORN addresses this fact by using removable and machine-washable textiles that are free of any harmful chemicals or allergens.

You can assemble and disassemble it in about 30 seconds in one simple movement. There are no loose parts to attach, and the legs fold and unfold automatically. Once you put the mattress in and secure it using the hook-and-loop attachments, you have a sturdy and comfortable playard that’s perfect to use both at home and on the road. Unlike some pack and plays that sit raised off the ground, the BABYBJORN Travel Crib sits on a built-in rigid base for added stability.

Joovy Room2 Portable Playard

Joovy-Room2-Portable-Playard-Review

Available in black, orange, purple, and red, the Joovy Room2 Portable Playard is 39” x 39”, which gives your child 10 square feet of play and nap space to utilize. Joovy claims this is about 50% more space than traditional pack and plays. The modern and sleek design fits in seamlessly with contemporary and modern home decor.

The sturdy steel construction means it is durable in all types of conditions, both indoors and outdoors, but it also means it is one of the heavier options at about 32 pounds. Joovy includes this as a disclaimer stating that although it is portable, its main purpose is to be sturdy, strong, and big.

The breathable mesh sides help keep a clear line of visibility and a cool environment for your baby to nap and play comfortably. The mattress is sturdy and well-made for safe sleeping. Unlike many of the available options, the Joovy Room2 Portable Playard includes a super-soft, 100% organic fitted sheet. It also has a durable nylon carrying bag for travel purposes.

Thanks to the generous size, you’ll get plenty of use out of this pack and play before your toddler outgrows it. It is suitable for children up to 35”.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat

Graco-Pack-n-Play-Playard-with-Cuddle-Cove-Rocking-Seat-Review

Sometimes, deluxe or premium pack and plays add features that you have to pay for but end up not using very often. The Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat delivers deluxe features and comforts that you’ll get plenty of use out of.

The Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat is designed to hold your baby snugly and safely in high-quality, soft fabric. Graco thought of nearly everything with the rocking seat as it includes convenient carrying handles so you can easily bring your baby with you around the house. Also, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the rocking seat since it features built-in gentle vibration that is a terrific calming feature that babies love. As a parent, I believe anything that gives you some hands-free time and keeps your baby happy is a worthwhile feature.

The playard transitions with your baby. Infants can start in the rocking seat for a cozy and safe place to rest. As your infant grows, transfer her to the cozy playard bassinet. Then, your toddler will have a safe place to play and rest in the playard. It’s truly design for years of use, which is an excellent feature for baby products to have.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer

Graco-Pack-n-Play-Playard-with-Reversible-Napper-and-Changer-Review

Two features of a playard that, while not necessary, are incredibly helpful are changing tables and nappers. Usually, when a unit offers these features, they are two separate pieces. With this playard, Graco combines both features into a single, easy-to-use piece that you will appreciate. Since you don’t have two pieces for each use, you’ll end up with a lighter playard, which makes it ideal for traveling with your baby.

All you need to do to switch from one function to another is flip the attachment over. When it comes to baby supplies, anything that saves time and space is a winner in my book. Either way you use it, the piece attaches securely, so you never have to worry about your baby’s safety while using it. When you’re done using it, simply fold it out of the way.

Graco made sure to use high-quality materials for this pack and play. The sturdy frame should last you several years and hold up under heavy use. The fabric on the napper station is soft to cuddle your baby, and the changer station features wipe-clean fabrics that resist mess and staining. The playard also features a removable toy bar with soft toys for extra visual interest for your baby.

Suitable for children from newborn up to 35” tall, this pack and play will transition seamlessly through your child’s early years.

Summer Infant Grow with Me Playard and Changer, Swingin’ Safari

Summer-Infant-Grow-with-Me-Playard-and-Changer-Swingin-Safari-Review

Designed to grow with your baby from birth up to 30 pounds, and give you all of the features you want in one unit, the Summer Infant Grow with Me Playard and Changer comes in an adorable safari design that coordinates with the other Swingin’ Safari pieces in the Summer Infant line.

The playard can be used as a newborn bassinet, infant changer, and full-sized playard. As a bassinet, your baby will rest comfortably on the mattress or be entertained by the removable toy bar that features three soft toys. For added soothing or entertainment purposes, you can use the removable music module. It plays soothing nature and womb sounds as well as soft melodies.

Diaper changes get a whole lot easier with the infant changer that folds aside when it’s not in use. The parent assist tray has plenty of storage for diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials. The surface is easy-to-clean, making it ideal for baby diaper changes.

Once you have a toddler that needs a safe place to play, the unit converts to a full-sized playard with plenty of space for your child. Move the playard from room to room easily with the wheels. Lock the wheels for added security when they’re not in use.

Safety 1st Prelude Play Yard, Sail Away

Safety-1st-Prelude-Play-Yard-Sail-Away-Review

The Safety 1st Prelude Play Yard is full of features that make life easier for you and more enjoyable for your baby. The Sail Away design features an adorable whale and stripe motif in shades of blue and green, and it comes with a toy arch that has cute, seashore-themed soft toys to match.

Your baby will sleep soundly in the comfortable bassinet lined with soft and cozy fabric. The bassinet features easy snap-on bars. When your baby is ready to play, they’ll have plenty of space in the spacious play yard area surrounded by breathable mesh.

Safety 1st makes changing dirty diapers on this pack and play easy with an elevated changing table and convenient accessory tray. Mesh baskets hold large wipes containers and diapers, so you have everything you need where you need it.

Just like its name suggests, Safety 1st focuses on safety with an innovative, visible secure tech lock system that cues to lock and unlock latches for easy set-up and storage. The unit folds up to fit in the on-the-go carry back, and the wheels make for incredibly easy portability.

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Final Verdict

The features and portability that pack and plays provide make them one of the top baby gear items amongst many parents. Since pediatricians recommend that the best safe-sleeping practice for your newborn is to be in the same room as you, but not in the same bed, playards also make the perfect temporary crib for infants. All of the options we’ve reviewed provide safe and comfortable places for your baby to sleep and play.

Depending on the features you desire and your intended use, we believe that you’ll be happy with any of the pack and plays we’ve reviewed, and you and your child will enjoy the plentiful use you’ll get out of it.

See Next: Best Playpen

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