When it comes to baby gear, the list can get long and expensive. Who knew that someone so small could need so many things? One of the must-haves on your baby gear list is the pack ‘n play. If you’re new to the parenting scene you should know that the pack ‘n play can come in handy for several reasons.
Let’s take a look at why you should seriously think about investing in a pack ‘n play, what to look for and of course, the best pack ‘n plays in 2020.
Table of Contents
- 1 In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks:
- 2 Why a Pack ‘n Play Comes in Handy
- 3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Pack ‘n Play
- 4 Pack ‘N Play Safety
- 5 How to Clean Your Pack ‘n Play
- 6 7 Best Pack ‘n Plays in 2020
- 7 #1. Graco Pack ‘n Playard with Cuddle Cove
- 8 #2. Baby Trend Trend-E Nursery Center
- 9 #3. Delta Children LX Deluxe Portable Baby Play Yard
- 10 #4. Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center
- 11 #5. Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe 2 Nursery Center
- 12 #6. Evenflo Portable BabySuite DLX Playard
- 13 #7. Graco Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard
- 14 The Bottom Line on Pack ‘n Plays
- 15 Pack ‘n Play FAQ
- 15.1 Up to what age can I use a pack ‘n play?
- 15.2 Is the pack ‘n play bassinet safe for sleeping?
- 15.3 Can babies sleep in the play portion of the pack ‘n play?
- 15.4 Do pack ‘n plays come with sheets?
- 15.5 Do pack ‘n plays have an expiration date?
- 15.6 How do I check to see if my pack ‘n play was recalled?
In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks:
Why a Pack ‘n Play Comes in Handy
Pack n’ plays are great because they keep your baby safely contained in one area. You don’t have to worry about your baby getting into spaces they shouldn’t when they’re in their pack n’ play. In this space, they can play, roll around, nap, and even stand up if they can.
There are also some pack ‘n plays that are multi-purpose. They can also be used as a bassinet or changing station. As the name suggests, they’re also good for packing up to bring to grandma’s house or on vacation. It can give your baby a safe place to play and sleep. You can’t expect every place you visit to have a crib and letting your baby sleep in the pack ‘n play can be safer for them than sleeping in your bed with you.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Pack ‘n Play
The first thing to consider is to think about how many bells and whistles you want your pack ‘n play to include. This will make shopping easier and will help you set your budget. Obviously, the simpler the product, the less expensive it will be.
Once you settle on this, think about if you will be packing it along for a trip to Grandma’s or somewhere else. If so, you’ll want to choose one that’s lightweight and easy to move.
Next, do you plan to use your pack ‘n play outside or just inside? If you’re going to use it outside, think about getting a canopy to protect your baby from the sun. There also mesh covers for the top to keep the bugs out while still providing ventilation for your baby.
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If you’re choosing a pack ‘n play with a changer or napper station, make sure that one side is waterproof (changing side) and the other is softer and cozy (the napping station). Also, this handy dandy feature is only good for when your baby can’t rollover. Once they can, this is no longer an option because it’s just not safe.
Beware of using mattresses and sheets inside of your pack ‘n play. This is often dangerous due to suffocation risks and not recommended by many pack ‘n play manufacturers.
Pack ‘N Play Safety
Be sure to keep safety in mind when buying a pack ‘n play. These tips are a good starting point.
Read Safety Guidelines. Make sure your pack ‘n play meets all safety guidelines. This includes rules for locking and latching devices as well as the size of the mesh holes on the sides of the pack ‘n play for ventilation.
Buy a current model. While you may want to save a few bucks with a used pack ‘n play, this could be dangerous. There are often recalls that you may not be aware of when buying second-hand or getting a hand-me-down from a friend. Older pack n’ plays (those sold before the early 1990s) had non-locking rails. These could collapse at the hinges, putting babies in danger. It’s best to spend a few more bucks so your baby is safe.
Set up in a safe place. Don’t set up your pack ‘n play near any electrical or phone wires. Also, keep it away from window-blind cords. As tempting as it may be to tie toys or decorations to the top or sides, don’t. This can cause a strangulation hazard.
Clear the pack ‘n play before naps. Clear the pack ‘n play before your child taps a nap. This means no toys or stuffed animals. If there is a mattress inside, be sure it’s one that’s made for your pack n play model. Don’t add any extra padding or bedding. If you think your baby is going to be cold, dress him in warmer clothes rather than adding blankets. This is dangerous because they can suffocate your baby.
How to Clean Your Pack ‘n Play
If your baby is sleeping, playing, and hanging out in the pack ‘n play you’re going to want to make sure it’s clean. There’s probably plenty of baby drool and licking of toys going on in there!
Across the web, mommy bloggers and maids offer ideas of how to best clean the pack ‘n play. Here are some ideas:
Fill your bathtub with very hot water. Place the bottom mattress piece in there and the folded base. Add ½ cup laundry detergent, ¼ cup of baking soda, and about ⅛ cup of vinegar. Let it soak for about an hour. Don’t be surprised if your bath water is brown and dirty when you’re done! You may be surprised at just how dirty this piece of baby gear can get. Be sure to give your tub a good cleaning too once you’re done.
When you take both pieces out, let them dry for enough time. You don’t want anything to be water-logged and end up having mildew. It’s a good idea to let the mattress dry for about 24 hours.
It’s also important to wipe down the rails and bars regularly with a safe anti-bacterial wipe. Some moms also take the mattress pad out and throw it in the washing machine and dryer if they don’t have time to do the bathtub cleaning method.
7 Best Pack ‘n Plays in 2020
While keeping all of those things in mind, here are the seven best pack ‘n plays to keep on your radar in 2020.
- Graco Pack ‘n Playard with Cuddle Cove
- Baby Trend Trend-E Nursery Center
- Delta Children LX Deluxe Portable Baby Play Yard
- Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center
- Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe 2 Nursery Center
- Evenflo Portable BabySuite DLX Playard
- Graco Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard
Think of this pack ‘n play as the Mercedes of pack ‘n plays. It’s definitely more sophisticated than your basic pack ‘n play and has many added accessories. Let’s start with the changing station on top. It’s extra large and can accommodate your baby up to 30 pounds. It also has a removable vibrating seat on top that allows you to bring your baby close to you. There are handles that make it easy to move from room to room too.
This pack ‘n play is made to grow with your baby from newborn all of the way to the toddler stage. There are also built-in storage shelves where you can put diapers, wipes, extra pacifiers and anything else you need so that you don’t have to run around your house to get them. You can even store rattles and other small toys so that they’re not all over the floor in your house. For all of these reasons, this pack ‘n play is tops on our list.
Although this pack ‘n play is pricer than others on the market, it has so many bells and whistles that you can really get your money’s worth.
- Extra-large changing table for babies up to 30 pounds
- Removable vibrating seat
- More expensive than other models
Here’s another pack ‘n play that got our attention. This model from Baby Trend has a removable full-size bassinet on top that can also double-up as a place to change your baby. There is also a removable parent organizer for things like diapers, wipes, and cream. This is handy because you can take it off, refill it, and then put it back on. The bassinet is recommended for babies up to 15 pounds or 25 inches, whichever comes first.
If you plan to use this on-the-go, it folds compactly and has a one-hand locking mechanism. You don’t have to worry about your baby moving the pack ‘n play because the wheels have sturdy brakes.
You should be able to use this pack ‘n play through the early toddler years as this pack ‘n play is good for babies up to 30 pounds or 35 inches, whichever your baby reaches first. This pack ‘n play is also reasonably priced for all of the things it has to offer.
- Large bassinet on top
- Removable parent organizer
- Reasonable priced
- Lockable wheels
- No separate changing area
This is also a good pack ‘n play to keep on the list. It has a removable bassinet and changing area on top that holds up to 25 pounds. This one has an added bonus of toy mobile on top to keep the baby occupied, especially during diaper changes. The bassinet area is recommended for babies up to 15 pounds.
While there isn’t a huge amount of storage with this model, it does have a removable hanging storage compartment for things like diapers and wipes. The two wheels make it easy to move from room to room if that’s something that you’re looking for. It’s also extremely portable as it folds quickly. It even comes with a carrying bag for quick and easy travel.
Price-wise, it’s pretty much in-line with its competitors for what it has to offer.
- Removable waterproof changing station
- Bassinet area
- Reasonably priced
- Compact and easy for travel
- Not as many bells and whistles as other models
When you first look at this pack ‘n play it looks like the ultimate baby command center. It has a lot going on. There is a large changing area that is removable as well as a bassinet, which is also removable. The bassinet has some cute toys hanging from the top to keep your baby occupied.
You can also have a little nighttime dance party for your baby with the electronic music and night light that it comes with. There is also a vibration option. It also has large wheels that make it easy to move. The one-hand locking mechanism makes it safe and sturdy for your baby. Don’t forget about the parent organizer station where you can store diapers, wipes, and other goodies.
This pack ‘n play falls into a price range that’s a little more than your average pack n’ play but not as expensive as some high-end models.
- Removable bassinet area
- Changing area
- Electronic music and nightlight
- One-hand locking mechanism
- Convenient travel bag
- A little more pricier than other models
We like this pack ‘n play because it gets the job done while offering some fun extras and not looking too intimidating. For starters, there is a removable full-size bassinet that has some cute toys attached to it.
There is a flip-away changing table with a storage pocket. You’re not going to be able to store all the diapers you need for a week, but there is enough space to get you through the day, minus any baby blowouts!
Like many other pack ‘n plays, there is a one-hand locking mechanism which is a great safety feature. Don’t forget the large wheels with brakes to keep the pack ‘n play in place. This model also folds compactly into a provided storage bag which makes it great to bring along on trips.
Pricewise, it isn’t bad for what it has to offer.
- Removable bassinet with toys
- Reasonably priced
- Folds easily
- Colorful design
- Small storage area for diapers and supplies
This pack ‘n play makes the list because it has many features for its price. There is a full-size bassinet for babies up to 15 pounds, a floor playmat, a diaper changing station for up to 25 pounds and a toddler play yard. That means you have four baby gear items in one. The price tag is extremely reasonable for what it has to offer.
The organizer located on the side of the playpen is fairly large so you can store plenty of diapers and wipes. This is a great pack ‘n play for on-the-go action because of its wheels and easy-to-carry storage bag.
The bassinet portion has a fun little arch with a couple of cute toys hanging down to keep your baby busy. That arch can come off when you use the floor playmat. This is great for that all important tummy time!
- Easy-to-clean fabric
- Many features
- Reasonably priced for features
- Simple model, while there are many features, there are other models that can offer more
Some people just want a simple pack ‘n play with no accessories or fancy features. If that sounds like you, then this model is probably on your list. While Graco makes pack ‘n plays that are extremely fancy, it also has this simple model.
As one of the lowest-priced pack ‘n plays out there, this model is your standard playard. There’s no changing station or top or bassinet. It’s extremely easy to fold and transport if you’re traveling. There are also handy wheels to move it from room to room. The frame is durable so you can feel safe when your baby is standing up in it.
- Sturdy frame
- Easy to move
- Good for travel
- No changing station
- No storage
- No bassinet
The Bottom Line on Pack ‘n Plays
When it comes to finding a pack ‘n play for your baby, it all comes down to the features you’re looking for. Some parents want a pack ‘n play that also serves as a changing station and bassinet. Others just want a standard pack ‘n play. Once you determine your needs, you can narrow down your search.
We love the Graco Pack ‘n Playard with Cuddle Cove as our top pick because of all it has to offer. The extra- large changing station on top is great because you can use it for longer. The removable vibrating seat is a huge bonus because it’s like having an entire other piece of baby gear with you.
The storage shelves are extremely convenient because you can pack a lot of supplies in there without having to refill frequently. You can even throw some small receiving blankets in there. While it may cost you more than some others, you can get your money’s worth if you use all of these features.
When you’re shopping, don’t forget to consider safety features as well. We all know that safety comes first with babies. Also, don’t forget to clean your pack ‘n play frequently, no matter which model you choose. Keeping baby gear sanitary is important for baby’s health. Remember all of these things when you shop will make the process go smoother. Happy Shopping!
Pack ‘n Play FAQ
Here are some typical questions people ask before they buy a pack ‘n play:
Up to what age can I use a pack ‘n play?
It’s not so much your baby’s age as it his size. Many pack ‘n plays have weight and height restrictions for use. For example, many of the changing tables on top of the pack ‘n plays will have a weight limit of 15 pounds. The bassinet portion will also have weight and height limits, with the height limit around 25 inches or so.
Some babies are born in the eight-plus pound range, so their time in the changing area is going to be short-lived. Babies that are born smaller and grow at a slower pace will get more use out of the changing station and bassinet.
The play area of the pack ‘n play will also have a height restriction. If your baby is too tall there is a chance they can try to climb or tumble out. Height restrictions vary from model to model but are typically in the 30 to 35-inch range. For some people this will bring them into the toddler-age range. For others, it won’t get them past the first year of their baby’s life.
Is the pack ‘n play bassinet safe for sleeping?
Yes, as long as you follow sleep guidelines for baby sleep as you would in a normal crib. This means no loose blankets and putting baby to sleep on his back. Also, take the stuffed animals and toys out before putting the baby down to sleep. These all pose dangers.
As was mentioned above, height and weight restrictions for the bassinet portion are important to follow. A general rule is if your baby can roll over on his own and reaches around 15 pounds you should stop letting him sleep in the bassinet.
Can babies sleep in the play portion of the pack ‘n play?
Once they get too old or too big to sleep in the bassinet, babies can sleep in the pack ‘n play portion. As long as your baby has enough room to stretch out, it’s usually okay. You don’t want them to be cramped or squished in the pack ‘n play. Also, follow the same rules regarding blankets and stuffed animals as you would with the bassinet.
Do pack ‘n plays come with sheets?
Usually, they do not. But, for many models, you can purchase sheets made specifically for your brand and model number. It’s important to get the right sheet. If you get one that doesn’t fit, you run the risk of it being too loose which can cause a danger.
If the sheet is too tight, it can also be problematic. The best thing is to do your research and buy the sheet when you buy the pack n’ play. Also, be sure to buy more than one. We all know how unpredictable and messy babies can be.
Do pack ‘n plays have an expiration date?
They do not, but there are frequent recalls of all baby gear products. It’s important to constantly be aware of all recalls. Register your pack ‘n play and any other baby product you buy. This way you’ll get notified when there are any recalls.
This is why you should never buy pack n’ plays second-hand. You’ll never know what is being recalled unless you see it in the news.
How do I check to see if my pack ‘n play was recalled?
If you didn’t register your pack ‘n play, you can check with the CPSC (Consumer Product and Safety Commission) to see if your pack ‘n play has been recalled. This will let you know the specific problem and if it is being fixed for free from the manufacturer.
Some companies will send a repair kit for you to fix the problem at home if it’s possible. Other times, you may be instructed to return the product to the place where you purchased it.