Pack ‘n Plays vs. Cribs – Which is Best For Babies?

Pack 'n Plays vs. Cribs - Which is Best For Babies?

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So your baby has outgrown their bassinet and you need to find a new sleeping area for them.

Do you make the decision to move your baby to their own room and into a crib or should you purchase a pack n play and keep the baby in your room a little while longer?

This is a common problem that many parents find themselves with, but it also brings to light a few questions too. We are going to take a look at some of those questions and help you to find the right choice for you and your baby. 

Let’s dive in!

Short On Time? Here Are Our Top Choices for A Crib and A Pack n Play

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What is A Crib?

A crib is a permanent structure, set up in your baby’s nursery. It provides a safe sleeping area for your baby.

Cribs are quite heavy compared to a pack n play and provide a larger sleeping area of around 28 inches by 52 inches. There is also the option of a mini crib, these are more suited for infants.

A standard crib should have a minimum weight of 30 pounds. Many cribs can also be converted into a bed once your baby reaches that age, providing better value for money and extended use.

Cribs do tend to be more expensive than a pack n play and there is the added cost of a mattress. Cribs are available in a wide range of designs and colors, ensuring that you will find the perfect one for your home. 

Pros Of A Crib

  • They provide a larger sleeping area, so will last longer.
  • They are built to last.
  • Huge variety of colors and styles available.
  • Many can be converted into a toddler bed.

Cons Of A Crib

  • They are more expensive than a pack n play.
  • They are bulkier, heavier, and take up more space.
  • They are not portable.

What is A Pack ‘n Play?

pack n play crib

The term Pack n Play is actually trademarked by Graco but it is commonly used along with the terms Playard, playpen, or travel crib. A pack n play is basically a portable crib that can also be used as a playard – great multifunctional uses.

Many of the models come with wheels on one side so they can easily be moved around even when all set up without the need to collapse them.

The bottom of the pack n play is slightly raised off of the floor, yet still low enough in order to prevent them from being toppled over by a wriggling little one.

The sides of these travel cribs are made from breathable mesh and this helps to provide airflow and visibility.

Many of the pack n play available now come with additional items such as a bassinet that is suitable for newborns up to around 15 pounds. They are detachable and some can be used as a stand-alone item.

Some come with changing tables and patent organizers allowing you to change your baby off the floor and still keeping all essentials close to hand. These changing tables are also detachable.

A standard pack n play is usually suitable for a child up to a maximum of 30 pounds or 35 inches. But these can vary from model to model, you will need to check the instructions for your individual one.

On average they are around 40 inches long and 28 inches wide. But you can get some that are different shapes or dimensions.

Most pack n plays weigh anything from 15 to 30 pounds, but this weight can vary depending on accessories included such as a bassinet, changing area, or parent organizer.

The weight can also vary depending on the materials used and whether or not it comes with any form of an entertainment center.

Pros Of A Pack n Play

  • More budget-friendly
  • They are easily folded and can be taken almost anywhere.
  • Provides a safe area for your baby to play in.
  • They are lightweight and have wheels meaning they are easily moved around your home or outdoors.

Cons Of A Pack n Play

  • They are smaller than most traditional cribs
  • Their build quality is not as strong as a crib.
  • Your baby will outgrow one sooner than a crib.

The Main Differences Between A Pack n Play and  A Crib

To begin with, a standard crib is going to be different from a travel crib or pack n play in terms of weight, dimensions, and price.

Here are the main differences between a Pack n Play and a Crib. These should help you to decide on which is the best option for your little one and you.

  • Cribs are very much a permanent fixture in that they can not easily be moved from room to room. So if you are looking to travel with your baby, have occasional sleepovers, or have the option of moving it from room to room then a crib is not going to be the right thing for you.
  • A Pack n Play is normally smaller in size so depending on the size of your child they could grow out of them much quicker. But they are super portable, fold in seconds, and can be used outdoors.
  • Pack n Plays can double up as a safe area for your little one to play in.
  • There is the price – Pack n Plays are normally the more budget-friendly option of the two.

Our Top Three Pack ‘n Plays

1. Graco Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard

Graco Pack 'n Play Change 'N Carry Playard, RipleyThe Graco Pack ‘n Play provides you with the best of both worlds as it comes with a changing station and a bassinet for your little one when they are small. It can then easily be transitioned to a full-size playard to suit your growing baby. 

It packs up quickly and easily with Graco’s signature push-button fold. This makes it great for traveling or the occasional night at grandparents.

It also comes with a convenient carry bag for storage or if you are traveling with a baby. The pack ‘n play also has mesh on all four sides allowing for maximum ventilation and visibility.

Pros

  • Quick and easy setup.
  • Comes with a newborn bassinet and changing table.
  • Mesh sides.
  • Raised sleeping area for little ones.

Cons

  • The changing section is connected to the bassinet.
Check Price

 

2. Baby Trend E Nursery Center

Baby Trend E Nursery Center, to Rising StarThe Baby Trend is Amazon’s choice pack n play and it is easy to see why. It comes with a full-size bassinet, parent organizer, and entertainment center for the baby.

It is quick to assemble and just as easy to pack away. It comes on wheels making it super simple to move and is not very heavy at just 20.5 pounds. 

Pros

  • Good value.
  • Easy to assemble and fold.
  • Comes with a full-size bassinet.
  • Has wheels with brakes.

Cons

  • Mobile does not move.
  • No storage bag included.
Check Price

 

3. Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center

Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center

 

The Baby Trend retreat comes with some great accessories, a full-size removable bassinet, changing station, a parent organizer, and a baby entertainment center.

The removable bassinet comes with a canopy and carry handle. It can be removed from the pack n play and used as a stand-alone rocker.

It comes with plush fabric and mesh sides to provide great ventilation and visibility. It also has 2 toys on the bassinet.

The Retreat comes with a baby changer and parent organizer allowing you to keep all those essentials in easy reach. Along with its electronic music center that has a volume control, a nightlight, and a vibration option.

It is easy to assemble and has a one-hand locking mechanism. the travel/ storage bag makes it convenient and super easy to take traveling with you or visiting relatives.

Pros

  • Removable bassinet.
  • Changing table and parent organizer.
  • Entertainment center.
  • Easy to assemble and pack away into the storage bag.

Cons

  • The bassinet mattress is not covered and can not be removed for washing.
Check Price

 

Our Top Three Cribs

1. Dream On Me, Edgewood 4-in-1

Dream On Me, Edgewood 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib, Dusty Blue

The Dream On Me is a 4-in-1 crib that can be converted from a mini crib to a mini day bed or kids sofa, to a twin-size bed with or without a footboard.

This means that it should be the only bed your child will need. The bed rails for the bed conversion are sold separately.

It comes with a 3 position adjustable mattress height and includes a mattress pad. It is slightly more compact in size than a traditional crib in that it is only 40 inches long. It also has a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds.

The Edgewood is available in seven finishes all of which are non-toxic. It also meets or exceeds CPSC & ASTM standards.

Pros

  • Smaller footprint than a traditional crib.
  • Can be converted into a day bed and then a twin bed.
  • Available in seven different finishes.
  • Comes with a mattress pad.

Cons

  • Issues with paint defects on a variety of finishes.
Check Price

 

2. Delta Children Folding Portable Crib

Delta Children Folding Portable Mini Baby Crib with 1.5-inch Mattress, Natural

The Delta folding portable crib is a cross between a traditional crib and a travel crib. It comes with casters making it easy to move around your home and it has a relatively small footprint.

It has a two-position mattress height adjustment and has a maximum weight of 35 pounds.

The crib can be folded flat for easy travel and storage, but it is not as compact as a travel crib and does weigh around 35 pounds so not lightweight.

The Delta exceeds all safety standards and is JPMA certified. It also comes with a mattress that stores in the crib when folded.

Pros

  • Small footprint.
  • Portable and folds flat including the mattress.
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Wheels do not have locks.
  • Not suitable once baby starts climbing.
Check Price

 

3. Dream On Me Violet Mini Crib

Dream On Me Violet Mini Crib in Black, Greenguard Gold Certified

 

The Dream On Me mini crib is another 4-in-1 option. It converts from a crib to a daybed to a twin bed with or without a footer. This should allow it to see your child through until their early teens or beyond.

It is available in seven different finishes offering plenty of options to find the perfect one for your nursery. It comes with a 3 position height adjustable mattress position and is also Greenguard Gold certified.

This mini crib is great for smaller nurseries as it has a smaller footprint than a traditional crib. it is only 42 inches long and has a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds.

Pros

  • 4-in-1 convertible crib.
  • Small footprint makes it perfect for smaller nurseries.
  • Greenguard Gold Certified.
  • Great option for co-sleeping.

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble.
Check Price

 

FAQs

Which is better pack n play or crib?

A pack n play is far more affordable and they are extremely versatile. They can be used as a pack n play, a bed, or a playpen and are perfect as a temporary bed and for portability. While a crib is far more expensive but does provide the correct long-term solution for your baby’s nursery. 

Is it safe for baby to sleep in pack n play every night?

Pediatricians generally consider play yards, such as the Graco Pack ‘n Play, a safe environment for babies to sleep in every night. 

The Final Thought

Pack n plays are more affordable and are more versatile than a crib. But cribs do provide a long-term sleeping solution for your baby.

So which one is best for you is really going to depend on how you intend to use it and what needs it should meet. 

If you are looking for something that is super portable, multi-functional, and compact then a pack n play is going to be a good option for you.

But if you are looking for a long-term sleeping option for your baby that is going to be a permanent piece of furniture in your nursery then a crib is the best option.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!