Best Pack N Play Playards in 2019
Pack n play playards are a great way to keep a baby safe when you need to step away for a moment. They can be incredibly versatile items, doubling as a play pen, crib, or even as extra storage when you need it. Because playards are so versatile, and can have so many features, and can be essential for a child’s first couple years of life, it’s important to choose the right one to meet the needs of your growing family. Here are some of the best pack n play playards, and a guide to help you choose the best pack and play for your exact needs.
Let’s first have a look at a comparison table, and then talk about each Pack n Play review in more details:
Table: Best Pack N Play Reviews in 2019
Note: If you use a small screen you may have to scroll right in order to see all the columns.
|(Kim's #1 Pick)|
Lotus Travel Crib
|42” x 32” x 25” 13 lbs||$$$|
|Graco Pack 'n Play Snuggle Suite LX||40" x 28.5" x 33.3" 18 lbs||$$$|
|Summer Infant Pop N' Play||48" x 26" 12 lbs||$|
|Graco Pack 'n Play Newborn Napper||40" x 28.5" x 33.3" 18 lbs||$$|
|Joovy New Room2||39.75" x 39.75" x 31" 29.6 lbs||$$|
|BABYBJORN Travel Crib||44" x 25" x 32" 13 lbs||$$$$|
|Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go||39.5" x 28.25" x 29"||$|
What is a Pack N Play?
The term “pack n play” is a brand name for a Graco product line, but is frequently used more generally to refer to all portable playards, regardless of manufacturer. In their simplest form, they are the modern interpretation of playpens: a contained, safe place where a baby can play or sleep without crawling or toddling too far. They are ideal when you need to step away for a moment to take a shower or tend to something on the stove. Modern playards are almost all designed to be collapsible and portable, so you can move them easily from room to room, or from indoors to outdoors.
How to Choose the Best Pack N Play
Here are some important considerations for choosing your first pack and play:
- How big should it be? If you have more than one child, or frequently have friends and family with children over for a visit, you may need a playard that’s big enough for multiple children.
- How portable should it be? Of course, the larger the size of your playard, the less easily portable it will usually be. If you need to travel with your playard, look for one that’s fast and easy to set up and take down. And have a weight you can easily manage.
- Is it easy to clean? Of course, everything for a baby needs to be easy to clean. Look for machine washable fabrics. If the playard is “wipe clean,” be mindful that small crevices, surface details, and nooks and crannies are more difficult to clean in that way. And streamlined surfaces are easier.
How Will You Use It?
The most important consideration for a pack n play playard is how you intend to use it. Here are some of the most common uses for a pack & play, and what to look for.
Child Safety in and Around the Home
If you’re looking for a playard to keep your child safe and let them play independently for a moment, there are a few key things to look for:
- Wheels on the legs: You may be moving the playard from room to room or indoors to outdoors, and wheels will make that process faster and simpler than folding it down and back up again.
- Mesh sides: Look for a playard that doesn’t impede your line-of-sight to your child, so that you can see at a glance how they are doing
- Toy bar or accessories: You may want a playard that includes a toy bar or something to amuse your child that’s built in to the design, so they can’t throw it outside of the playard.
- Stable design: All the best playards should be designed with a stable, no-tip design and a low center of gravity. But it’s particularly important if you’re using it as a way to occasionally take your eyes off your child. Remember that at just 8-10 months old, your baby will start to pull themselves up. Hence the sides of a playard will need to be able to support their weight.
Occasional or Temporary Child Care
Playards are a fantastic item to have for occasional or temporary child care. For grandparents, in-laws, and others who may sometimes have babies as guests in their homes, a playard is a great way to ensure your tiny visitor is safe, in case you have overlooked anything in baby-proofing the environment. When buying a playard for occasional child care, here are a few things to consider:
- Accessories: Depending on how long you’re expecting your visitors, you may want to invest in a more complex, comprehensive pack n go that also has a changing table, bassinet, or other accessories. The most complex pack n go’s are practically small nurseries, so investing in a fully equipped pack n go can take care of a lot of baby needs in one compact package.
- Small storage footprint: If your portable playard will be in storage most of the time, look for one that folds down to a small, easy to manage size and can be put away easily.
Traveling with a Baby
Most portable playards are too big and non-essential to bring with you on short weekend trips. However, if your child sleeps in their playard and you use it as a crib, it may be worth traveling with rather than further disrupting their sleep routine. And for longer trips, a pack n go may be a lifesaver. It’s a great way to keep your child safe and protected in unfamiliar, and possibly not baby-proofed environments like hotel rooms, the homes of friends and relatives, or anywhere else your travels may take you. When looking for a traveling playard, here are some considerations.
- Weight: Traveling with a baby often means traveling with a lot of big, heavy equipment. Choosing a portable playard with a compact size and light weight will make all forms of transportation simpler.
- Electronic features: Some playards have built-in electronics, with a light, music, nature sounds, or connectivity to your media devices. These features can help soothe a child or help them sleep in an unfamiliar environment, particularly if they are used to these sounds and light levels at home.
As a Crib
Most of the best pack and plays also functions as a crib, particularly for newborns who will wake often. And keeping them in the parents’ room reduces the frequency of trips to the nursery. Using a playard as a crib also reduces the amount of furniture you need to buy for a baby, and adds more versatility to the device. If you travel with a baby, using their portable playard as a crib can also make it easier for them to fall asleep in a new environment. If you plan on using your playard as a crib, here are some things to remember.
- Safety of your baby: The playard mattress should be firm, and all toys, blankets, and bedding should be cleared out of the playard. See child sleep safety guidelines here.
- Your own safety: For many people, using a playard as a crib means bending their own upper body over the sides of the playard with a sleeping child in their arms, and bending at the waist while lowering the child to the floor. As a baby gets bigger and heavier, this maneuver can become increasingly unstable, particularly for shorter people. Even if you aren’t worried about falling down or dropping the baby, if you’re unstable, you may jostle and wake them in the act of laying them down
- Height of the base and walls: If you can’t comfortably bend at the waist and touch the floor, you may need a playard with legs and an elevated base (instead of the kind that rest all the way on the ground). Consider how long your legs are and whether you will be able to comfortably lean all the way over the sides. For safety reasons, the sides of a playard should never be less than 20 inches tall, but taller sides are better as children grow and begin standing and toddling. A taller playard will last longer, but balance that against your own ability to comfortably bend and reach.
- Access panels: Some playards have zipable side panels that can make it easier to reach in and out without bending over, which may be a better option for a playard that doubles as a crib.
In Small Homes
Not everyone has a home big enough for a dedicated nursery right away. Space can become a huge issue in a small home, when you consider a crib, a glider, a bassinet, a changing table, a playard, and everything else a baby needs. A playard can be a great solution to meet many of a baby’s changing needs in a small space. Here is what to look for when you want a playard to substitute for a nursery.
- Bassinet accessory: If you get a pack n play with a bassinet accessory, your child can potentially sleep in it from their newborn days until they upgrade to a toddler bed a couple years later. It’s a great way to save space in the short and long term
- Storage: Many playards also have storage solutions, so you can keep a child’s essential items nearby and save space at the same time.
Playard Safety Considerations
- Federal standards for playards: In 2012, new federal safety requirements were passed for pack n plays. Because newer pack n plays address serious safety concerns in earlier models, it’s important to never buy a used pack n play, and always buy one manufactured after 2013. And, as with any child product, be attentive to recall information as standards may change in the future.
- Mesh and fabric safety: Look for mesh openings that are less than ¼ of an inch, so that baby fingers, buttons, and toys can’t get trapped in the mesh. Look for durable, high quality, easily cleaned fabrics that are free of VOCs or other contaminants, because a child is likely to chew on parts of a playard.
- Mattress considerations: Many playards have a firm mattress at the bottom that is about an inch thick. This is perfect for toddlers and crawlers, as it gives them a stable base as they begin to explore and pull themselves up. However, for parents who want to use their playard as a crib, the mattress may seem too thin and uncomfortable for sleeping.
You should always use the mattress that comes with the playard, to ensure a perfect fit with no gaps. The mattress should be firm, and not conform to the baby’s weight, particularly around the face. The mattress should be no more than 6 inches thick, and dense foam is a good choice because it provides firmness and stability. Cover it with a washable, waterproof cover.
My Best Pack N Play Reviews in 2019
Now when we know the basics about pack and play’s, let’s have a look at some of the best pack n play’s of this year!
Best Pack N Play in 2019: Lotus Travel Crib
The Lotus Travel Crib is the only travel crib in the world to be Greenguard Gold certified, meeting this rigorous standard of chemical emissions testing, with no flame retardants, no PVC, no phthalates, lead, or heavy metals, and low VOCs. The mesh construction is completely breathable and gives you a full view of your child at all times.
It’s lightweight at just 15 pounds, and packs down into an included backpack, making it easy to take anywhere. It sets up in just 15 seconds, and has a quiet side zipper door for easy access for you and your baby. The included mattress is sized for perfect convenience and safety for your child. And the clean lines, art-inspired graphics, and modern colors will look stylish in any room.
- Fast and easy set up and packing away
- Lightweight and portable, with included backpack-style case that keeps your hands free
- Designed for safety and convenience
- Greenguard Gold certified against emissions
- Mesh design is lightweight, breathable, and never obstructs your view of your baby
- Side zipper gives great access during playtime or naptime
- Clean, modern design
- For some people, bending all the way to the floor to place a sleeping baby in the crib feels awkward and unstable
Runner-Up Pack N Play: Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX
The Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX is much more than just a playard – it’s a portable suite of baby care needs, that all packs down into one convenient case. The Snuggle Suite can be assembled and used as a bassinet for infants, or a playard for toddlers. It comes with a bouncer that has a vibrating function to soothe newborns, and a changing station for quick diaper changes. And it also has a hanging accessory storage area for everything your child needs.
Furthermore, it plays soothing music or nature sounds, and has a built in light for extra visibility inside the playard when needed. It’s everything you need to protect, comfort, and amuse a child from infancy to toddlerhood, in one convenient, portable suite.
This Graco pack and play is great for hotel rooms, staying as a guest, or people in small spaces who don’t have room for a nursery, because it keeps all of baby’s essentials in one compact area. It requires 3 AA batteries.
- The best pack and play with bassinet
- All-in-one child safety and comfort suite
- Bouncer can go anywhere with you
- Has vibration and sound features to help calm and soothe children
- Converts easily from bassinet to playard
- Storage area is perfect for all your small necessities
- Easily packs into included carrying case
- Versatility allows it to grow with your child
- Some people find initial assembly difficult and unclear
- At over 30 pounds, this isn’t a playard you will want to quickly pack up and take everywhere with you. It is portable, but is also substantial
Best Playard 2019: Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard
The Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard is a lightweight, portable playard designed to easily go anywhere, indoors or out. The generous 14-square-foot play area and 26-inch high sides make it suitable for bigger toddlers or multiple children at once, but it weighs just 12 pounds and quickly folds down into the included carry bag.
The mesh sides give perfect visibility and breathability, and the canvas floor is durable, weather resistant, and useful indoors or outdoors. It can be put up or taken down in seconds, and is sturdy and stable enough for children to pull themselves up and lean on the sides. It may also be useful for pet care as well as child care.
- The best playard for babies in 2019
- This playard has a generous size
- Canvas floor is weather resistant and can be used indoors or outdoors
- Folds and unfolds quickly and easily
- Comes with a carrying bag
- The green fabric can’t be taken off and washed separately; the water-resistant floor needs to be hosed or scrubbed down for cleaning.
Best Pack N Play For Newborns: Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard
Another all-in-one solution from Graco, the Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard has everything you need to care for the smallest newborn up to toddlers under 35 inches tall. This compact station includes a fleece-lined and canopied newborn napper, a bassinet, a changing table, a playard, and plenty of storage.
This advanced playard has enhanced electronics, with 2 speeds of vibration, 5 classical musical melodies, and 5 nature sounds with an automatic shut-off timer. Even better, it all folds up with the push of a button and packed into the included carry bag. The modern color scheme and soft, comfortable materials make this an excellent solution for any home that welcomes a newborn.
- Soft, micro-fleece newborn napper and padded, quilted mattress pad keep babies comfortable even as they grow
- Included music, vibrations, and nature sounds calm and soothe children
- The canopied napper helps shield a baby from excess light so they sleep soundly
- Mesh sides are breathable and let you see your child at all times
- Lots of storage, with side pockets for diapers and changing, and hanging shelves below
- At 39 pounds, this isn’t as “portable” as some portable playards, and isn’t fast and easy to just pick up and go.
Best Portable Pack N Play: Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard
The Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard is incredibly spacious, with over 10 square feet of room, suitable for two children. It is rugged and durable, and can be used indoors or outdoors. The padded mattress has a low center of gravity, and can support a baby up to 35 inches tall. It comes with a soft cotton sheet, and a waterproof sheet to keep it dry and easy to clean.
The large mesh windows give excellent breathability and visibility at all times and make it light weight and portable. It not only folds down into a compact, included carry bag, but it also has two sturdy wheels to move it quickly from place to place.
- Big enough for multiple children to play safely
- Sturdy and rugged construction
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
- Low center of gravity to prevent tipping
- Comes with waterproof sheet
- For some people, bending all the way to the floor to place a sleeping baby in the crib feels awkward and unstable
Best Pack and Play for Travels: BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
The BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light is JPMA certified, meeting the highest child product safety standards. It’s a playard and travel crib for children up to 3 years old, and has no weight limit. The fabrics are guaranteed free from harmful or allergenic substances, and also easily removable and machine washable.
The design is sturdy and stable, with a rigid base and rugged construction. Mesh sides are breathable and ensure good visibility at all times. It weighs just 13 pounds and can easily be packed away in the included traveling case.
- The best travel pack n play
- Lightweight and portable
- JPMA certified, and certified safe fabrics
- Machine washable fabrics
- Sturdy and durable design
- No weight limit
- Some people feel unstable bending all the way to the floor over the sides to set down a sleeping baby, particularly if they aren’t very tall
Best Budget Pack N Play: Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard
The Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard has a bassinet that transitions to a playard and travel crib as your child grows. The reach-through bassinet folds up with the playard for faster setup and folding for storage or travel. The wheels make it easy to move while set up, and the folding feet make it even more compact when folded down, so it’s easy to store or carry.
This cheap pack n play has a built-in toy bar to keep babies entertained, and the airy mesh provides visibility and breathability. And it has Graco’s signature push-button fold, so it collapses quickly and easily, and this full-sized playard can be stored in a small space. It also has a great look and stylish fabrics, to complement any décor.
- One of the few top rated pack and play’s that’s also affordable
- Soft toys and toy bar keep babies entertained
- Side pocket storage is convenient
- Wheels make it easy to move quickly from place to place
- Folding legs provide more compact size when traveling or storing
- Quick set up and folding down
- This cheap pack and play has an inch gap between the floor and support bars which makes it feel too bouncy and flimsy at times.
Best Pack N Play Reviews in 2019: Conclusion
A pack n play can be so much more than just a playpen. These versatile items can go so far as to become portable nurseries, with everything you need for the first two years of a baby’s life, packed into one compact, portable, comprehensive station. A good pack & play can even replace a nursery in a small home when necessary.
In fact, the versatility of these items, from simple mobile play areas all the way up to newborn sleeping, changing, storage, and play places, can make it difficult to choose the right one for your needs. In fact, we’re going to echo the excellent advice from Consumer Reports: Don’t let anyone else choose your playard for you and give it as a gift. It’s too important a decision, and the perfect playard for one family may not be the right choice for yours, so the considerations go well beyond simply positive comments and recommendations from others.
By following our buying guide and pack and play reviews, you’ll be able to balance your unique needs to choose whether it’s more important to have a playard that will last for years, or to have one that is light and portable; whether you need one with lots of attachments and accessories, or whether you would rather keep it simple; whether you need it to double up as a crib and sleeping solution, or whether you just need a safe place for a baby to play.
When you look at all the options, it’s clear that a pack n play playard has become a parenthood essential. And part of daily life for any growing family. Choose well and thrive!
PS: If you enjoyed my review of the best Pack n play Playards, I recommend you look around my site to learn about other useful baby products. For example our Best Baby Walker and Best Baby Gates For Stairs articles.
Who is Kim?
Hi I am Kim, and this blog is about my life raising my little birdy Olivia. I know. Now you’re probably thinking I am just one of those hundreds of mommy bloggers who writes about her very special life and her very special kids. Well, you’re probably right. There are a lot of mommy bloggers who do what I do. However, my blog is not about my daily routine, or about the food we’re eating, clothes we’re wearing, the toys we like etc.
The purpose of my blog is to share my very special story. An honest tale of being a mother and everything that comes with it. And if my blog will inspire or encourage at least one person, I will be very happy to know my sleepless nights with the laptop weren’t for nothing.