As your kid grows, it becomes more and more difficult to keep track of them. When your little one begins crawling around and exploring on their own you’ll be using all of your time and energy just following them around, making sure they don’t hurt themselves. This means any other essential activities, such as chores, food preparation or even a little bit of rest becomes impossible.
The best way to get around this issue by way of making sure your kid stays in one place while you do all the other things you have to do in your day is a pack and play. We’ve listed the best ones on the market right now, so do yourself a favor and take a pick.
Best Pack n Play
Fun & Portable
Fun & Portable
Fun & Portable
Fun & Portable
Joovy Room 2
Fun & Portable
BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
To start off our list, we have a very light and practical pack n play, great if you need some mobility. Let’s say you need to deal with some household chores in various rooms around the house and, like the great parent that you are, you don’t want to leave your child unattended in their playpen.
This product allows you to be wiping the counters in the kitchen one moment and vacuuming the living room the next, all the while keeping an eye on your child. It’s very light and opens with just one quick movement, yet it is sturdy and safe. It is easy to remove all the materials that need washing, all it takes is for you to unzip the top.
Due to its lightweight and compact design, you can easily take it with you on a family vacation, making it easy to keep your child safe on the beach, and giving them a familiar place to sleep anywhere you go.
- Light and easy to set up
- Easy to wash
- Bassinet option not included
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard
Another very lightweight and easy to set up option comes from Guava and is named the Lotus Travel Crib. It features a zippered side panel which allows you to lie or sit on the ground next to your child and be able to interact with them without having to remove them from the safety of the playpen.
This product also features a thicker mattress than most competitors, so your child can safely and comfortably spend the night inside, and the wide opening on the top will give your kid a sense of space, and not leave them feeling claustrophobic like some other products on the market.
The side panel that unzips will come in handy when your kid learns how to use it on her own to climb in and out of her play area. Keep in mind, though, that this is not the best option if you’re looking for something to keep your child in place since they will be able to easily get out of it once they learn how zippers work.
- Zippered side panel allows easy access
- Backpack straps included
- Not the safest options for older kids who can use a zipper
Graco Pack 'n Play Playard Nearby Napper Portable
Like most Graco products, this is a great multi-tasker which stays useful and relevant as your child grows. This particular pack n play comes with a comfortable napper easily attached to the structure of the playpen, which flips over to become a changing station.
Shelves are also included, which can turn the playpen into a storage space for all the stuff you know you’re going to need the next time you’re changing your baby’s diaper. When your kid outgrows the changing station, all of these features can be easily removed to turn this into a durable and strong playpen. On top of all that, Graco products are known for their strong build quality and easy set-up.
Basically, it is three items in one, so it’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for a pack n play that can stay with your child from the moment they are born until toddlerhood.
- Three products in one
- Grows with your child
- Larger and heavier than most on this list
- Not great for traveling
Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Removable Seat
Another product from Graco that will stay with your child for years is this play yard with a removable napper. Similarly to the previous product on the list, this has a changing attachment as well, making it a three-for-one purchase. Customizable to your child’s requirements and giving you the flexibility you need for a quickly growing child.
You can easily make this pack ‘n play the main ‘baby-station’ in the house since it does have pretty much everything you need. Use the changing attachment as the diaper station, and the included shelves as the storage for baby-related items. You can also take the vibrating seat with you when you need to go to the kitchen and want to keep sight of your kid at all times.
Just like the previous entry, this is not the greatest option for travel with a weight of 32 pounds, but it does fold up neatly and can be stored easily.
- All you need in one product
- Removable vibrating chair
- Included storage
- Too heavy to travel with
Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard
By far the largest pack ‘n play on this list, with 10ft² of space to play with, this is generally considered the best choice for parents of twins, or anybody who wants their baby to have some extra room to play around in.
This product has an exceptional build quality and feels very strong and robust. The moment you get your hands on it you’ll know that it is made of the highest quality materials and fabrics. It also looks like an item that was built to last, with its stark, almost stoic design which makes it fit well into pretty much any modern room.
Obviously, Joovy was thinking about versatility when they designed this pack ‘n play because it is surprisingly easy to clean after a long day of playing outside in any environment. If you’re looking for substance over style, this is the choice for you.
- Great for use outdoors
- Sturdy and safe
- Lots and lots of space
- Not very stylish or colorful
- Large for traveling with
Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard
As the name suggests, this playpen is much lighter than most of the products on this list, making it very portable. It also has some versatility with a sleeper and diaper changer included on top of the padded and large play area.
Basically, your baby can play, change and sleep using the same light-weight and portable product. This product from the industry-leading Fisher-Price brand, is extremely useful if you need to go on the move, whether it is visiting the grandparents, friends or relatives, or going on vacation, all you need to do is put everything you need inside the travel bag provided, put it on your shoulder like an oversized purse, and off you go!
The included head support and sleeper pad are machine-washed, so cleaning and taking care of this item is no hassle. Look no further if you need a premium product that provides lots of versatility and portability.
- Very light-weight and portable
- Three-in-one product
- Easy to assemble
- The bottom mattress isn’t fixed in place
Disney Baby Minnie Mouse Sweet Wonder Play Yard
This is a play yard featuring your girl’s favorite character, and a great pack ‘n play for your baby that includes a newborn bassinet, a changer, and a play yard for when your child gets older. The bassinet sits high on the play yard so you don’t have to lean in too hard to pick up your baby.
The removable changer is easily wipeable, and the organizer attached helps organize wipes, diapers, lotion, and all the essentials. Two wheels on the set allow parents to push this play yard around from room to room. The soft hanging arch has toys for your kid to engage with, especially in the lay-and-play phase, while in the bassinet.
Once your baby has outgrown the bassinet phase, the base of the bassinet drops down to make this a playpen. The Sweet Wonder Play Yard is great for everyday use and especially convenient for travel.
- Disney Minnie Mouse branding
- Easily foldable and great for traveling
- The organizer on the side often falls off
Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard
A changing table, sleep center and a toddler play yard all in one, the Ingenuity Smart and Simple Play Yard is a pack ‘n play that has some very thoughtful features to help parents and keep babies comfortable.
The soft washable fabrics and mesh details make this a comfy spot for newborns. A removable toy bar will keep your baby engaged and curious. The elevated changing table is the right height for parents and makes this play yard a one-stop diaper changing spot. The diaper changing table flips over the side when not in use. Large side storage pockets keep all of your kid’s diapers, wipes and lotions easily accessible. When your child has outgrown the dream center, simply remove the seat and the playpen base gets elevated to transform this into a bassinet that can be kept near the bed for young babies.
Overall, this is a great pack ‘n play that will grow with your child, eliminating the need for multiple baby items all around the house.
- Machine washable
- Travels well
- Simple and sleek design
- The bassinet material sags which may pose a suffocation risk
Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center
The Deluxe Nursery Center from Baby Trend offers your kid a chance to play and sleep safely, and it gives you a flexible yet sturdy surface to change them on while being able to carry the whole station with you anywhere you go. It also comes with a storage area, vibrating seat, and even music. Comfort and convenience combined in one neat package.
This pack ‘n play’s durable structure, held together by strong metal rods, means you can use it for years and be confident that it will stay in one piece even after it has been used by multiple children, so if you’re planning more kids you’ll never need to buy another one of these again.
In terms of safety, this product possesses a locking mechanism which prevents the bars from moving, as well as brakes, similar to the ones you’ve seen on strollers, that prevent the play yard from moving.
- Very portable and easy to travel with
- Vibrating chair
- Maybe tricky to assemble
- Thin mattress
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Playard
Just like the name says, this play yard is designed to keep up with you and your baby’s busy, on-the-go lifestyle. It’s perfect for an infant or toddler and includes a specially designed bassinet that folds with the play yard, so there are fewer parts to carry. This unique feature makes it easier to pack up and go. Just pull the strap and fold the rails; it’s that easy. Even the feet and wheels automatically fold compactly for added convenience.
This compact fold is the smallest in the Graco portfolio, up to 20% smaller than other Graco models. The full-size bassinet lets your baby sleep in comfort, and the toy bar with soft toys provides visual stimulation. You also have a handy storage bag on the side for your baby’s necessities.
With its unique features and quality design, this play yard proves that Graco has set the standard for quality and convenience.
- Quick to fold
- Easy to carry
- Very convenient
- Smaller than most pack ‘n plays
How to Choose the Best Pack n Play for Your Kid
Pack ‘n plays provide a safe and portable space for your baby to play in as well as take a nap. While playpens used to be just square-shaped containment areas for your baby, the models of today can be quite versatile and even very high-tech, with music-player connectivity, built-in soothing sounds, storage options, and most commonly changing tables and nappers. Buying a pack ‘n play for your kid definitely isn’t as simple as it used to be.
Some models are built for convenience, with features like travel cases and simple, quick folding mechanisms, and even have wheels like suitcases. Others focus more on comfort, realizing that many parents nowadays use these play yards as a sleep space that they can put close to their own bed in the early period of their baby’s life. That being said, almost all pack ‘n plays can be folded and used when traveling in one way or another, and most include a case that makes taking the play yard with you easier.
Some playpens can even be checked as luggage in airplanes. If you’re a traveler and want your baby to be able to travel with you comfortably, make sure to check the durability and weight of the pack ‘n play before you buy. Some play yards contain lots of features, which is great around the house but makes them pretty heavy and therefore quite inconvenient for traveling. Also, a flimsy playpen, that doesn’t seem very structurally sound from the beginning, will probably not be improved by constant folding, unfolding and banging around that comes with travel. So, try to find a balance between convenience, portability, and durability that suits your needs and the needs of your child.
Important Things to Look out For
If all you need is somewhere to put your baby to keep them safe while you go get something done or while you’re in the shower, you don’t need to spend too much time choosing since the most basic playpen will most likely suffice. However, if you want a full-fledged baby station, with a changing table, bassinet and storage, you might want to make sure all your needs can be met by a particular product before you take the plunge.
The same goes for frequent travelers; make certain that the play yard Is light and portable, as well as that it packs easily. If you plan to use the pack ‘n play as a full-time crib, keep in mind that they are not required to meet the usual safety standards that regular cribs do, so be careful about your choices there as well.
Weight Limits and Age Recommendations
Like every other kind of product for children, pack ‘n plays have recommended age guidelines and weight limits, which serve to protect your baby. If you want your child to be completely safe, never let them use a play yard after they have reached the weight limit listed.
That being said, some products have weight limits that are higher than others, so when you’re in the process of choosing which one to buy, and this is especially important regarding pack ‘n plays with many accessories such as changing tables, check the weight limits and make sure they meet your expectations and requirements.
The weight limit of an accessory such as this, can be a huge factor and make lots of difference in the longevity of the product, and therefore its value for money. Also be mindful of age limits and recommendations on bassinets and similar accessories, which usually have instructions to stop using them when your baby can roll over or sit up.
Benefits of Portable Playpen
A pack ‘n play with lots of features can make your life with a baby much simpler and more convenient. If all of the features function as intended, that is. Make sure that the play yard you purchase works as advertised, that everything folds and opens just as it’s supposed to. If it has a changing table or a bassinet, remove them and attach them again, just to test them.
Check if everything can fold up neatly and be stored, or if you’ll need to provide some sort of storage area. Will it fit through doorways and can it move around your house easily? A properly functioning pack ‘n play can give you a world of convenience, but a malfunctioning one will give you quite the opposite.
Some pack ‘n plays include soothing music. It starts with more simple systems containing lights and metallic sounding lullabies at one end of the spectrum and ends with jacks and Bluetooth systems that let you connect your phone or MP3 player so your kid can enjoy their favorite music anywhere you go.
Others have mechanical or vibrating chairs that soothe your baby by swaying. Keep in mind that any electronic functions will require AA or AAA batteries, and rarely have built-in rechargeable ones.
Babies are a messy bunch, even when you take all the precautions, but thankfully some pack ‘n plays come with detachable zip-off sheets that you can easily machine-wash, while others have surfaces that are easy to wipe clean.
Also, at most shops that sell baby products, you should be able to find sheets designed specifically for play yards and pack ‘n plays, so you can wash and replace those. Just make sure they fit your playpen of choice, and you’re good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I set up my pack ‘n play?
Ease of set-up is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right playpen for your child. Most modern pack ‘n plays, and all of the products on our list can be easily set up in minutes. Usually, the sides are simply pulled into a rectangular shape, and the bottom drops as everything is locked into place with some safety pins.
Some products, like the Fisher-Price play yard found on our list, are designed to be set up using just one hand, and others have a button that allows you to unlock the safety pins and fold the pack ‘n play in mere seconds.
If you value your time, the best thing you can do is avoid those pack ‘n plays that take a lot of work to open or fold up. There are enough high-quality products on the market nowadays, that you don’t need to waste your money on the ones that waste your time as well. A difficult, complicated fixture also likely has many weak spots, which means you would have to be extra careful when moving it.
Keep in mind that this does not apply for pack ‘n plays which contain lots of added features. These will obviously take a little while to set up, but they usually prove worth the time, especially if you intend to use them as ‘baby-stations’ in your house, rather than move them around too much.
Do I need to buy a mattress separately?
Some parents prefer to have an extra mattress for added comfort in their child’s pack ‘n play. If you plan to let your kid sleep in the playpen, even for an afternoon nap, and especially overnight, having some extra padding is well advised.
An extra layer of softness perhaps isn’t obligatory, but it does make it that little bit safer for your baby to play as well, and if your kid is a little bit clumsy and prone to accidents, you should definitely consider putting an extra mattress in the playpen.
When it comes to picking the right mattress, you should be very careful about it being the exact size of the pack ‘n play base, so as not to leave any gaps whatsoever. At this stage, any place, however small, where your kid can get stuck, could pose a considerable risk of injury or suffocation.
If you’re worried about spills or bathroom-related incidents, your safest bet is to go with a mattress with a protective coating. There are even whole mattresses that are entirely machine-washable as well. This will make life much easier for you when the inevitable accidents happen.
So I should probably get some extra sheets too, right?
As explained previously, it all depends on how exactly you plan to use the pack ‘n play, but as a rule of thumb, if you’re getting an extra mattress, it’s probably a good idea to go for some sheets as well. When it comes to picking the right ones, you should stick to some basic principles.
First of all, make sure that any sheets you put in your child’s pack ‘n play are always 100% cotton, since that is the only material pretty much guaranteed to avoid any rashes, plus it will be the most comfortable fabric for your baby, which is equally, if not more important.
Also, as previously mentioned, to make cleaning more convenient, always go for machine-washed sheets, the higher the temperature, the better. In terms of hygiene, it’s always best to wash your baby’s sheets and clothes at the highest temperature setting the manufacturer allows, in order to get rid of as many bacteria as possible.
Last but not least, make sure to always get fitted sheets. Babies, and especially toddlers, are quite restless sleepers, and they are sure to get tangled up in their bedding unless it is firmly secured in place.
What about the pack ‘n play itself, doesn’t that need to be cleaned as well?
It absolutely does. When you’re choosing a pack ‘n play for your child, always consider how easy it will be to clean. Most modern pack ‘n plays are generally made from three basic material types, namely metal, soft plastic, and some sort of fleecy, natural fabric.
Basically, this means that they do not provide too much of a challenge when it comes to cleaning. Most playpens allow you to remove the washable fabrics quickly and put them in the washing machine, while the parts that aren’t machine-washable can easily be wiped with a damp cloth and some detergent.
Steer clear of pack ‘n plays that are difficult to disassemble, as they will obviously be more challenging to keep clean. Also, if the provided mattress doesn’t have a protective coating, make sure to get an extra mattress or a washable cover at the very least.
As with any child product, there are lots of factors to consider when deciding which is the best pack n’ play for your baby. And as with any child product, it usually pays off to take some time to consider all the options and make sure you’re getting a product that is safe, easy to use and easy to clean.
We’re always here to help you figure out exactly what your child needs so that they would be happy, safe and comfortable. Now it’s up to you to choose from our list and let your child enjoy the many hours they are going to spend playing and resting in their pack ‘n play.