When you have kids, getting a pack and play has become a must-do. You can take your baby with you wherever you go, and when you want to ensure your baby stays near you, a pack and play allows that to happen. Whether you want to make sure they sleep with you in your bedroom when they’re newborns, or you want to take them with you to the beach, a pack and play can make all of those things happen in a safe environment for your baby.
Our advisor, Richard J. Bartlett, looked at all types of pack and plays to determine which is the best option for you. He considered factors like extra features, ease of use, and types of material. He chose the hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe Portable Playpen for its efficiency and its quality. You’ll love the security you’ll get putting your little one in such a durable and spacious place for play. Read how he chose the top 5.
Whether you have a child or even twins, there are some supplies you just can’t overlook – and for a lot of parents, a pack and play is that. When your little one has a spirit that can’t be tamed, or you need a little more space for your multiples, then you can consider moving to the larger playpens for bigger adventures.
Our Top 5 Pack and Plays
Here are our top picks. Compare the ratings and features of different models to find the right one for you.
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Bassinet Attachment||Weight||Material|
|Best Overall||hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe Portable Playpen||15.32 lbs||Padded fabric, nylon mesh|
|Best Budget||Graco Pack and Play Portable Playard||20.2 lbs||Metal, Plastic, Polyester|
|Best for Newborns||Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center||33.4 lbs||Polyester, Alloy Steel, Plastic|
|Best for Travel||Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib||11 lbs||Polyester, Polyvinyl Chloride|
|Best for Beach||POP ‘N GO Baby Playpen||7.2 lbs||Fiberglass frame, UV Cover, Polyester|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy Pack and Plays
- Parents who travel. If you plan on taking your child anywhere, then a pack and play is an excellent idea. In fact, we recommend just keeping it in the trunk of the car, if you can spare the room. That way, if you’re at a friend’s house for dinner and your little one is tired, you can safely put him to sleep without worrying about where to put him down, or if he’ll wake at a loud noise if he falls asleep in your arms. See more recommendations in our Baby Travel Essentials Checklist.
- Grandparents. If you’re planning on having that new grandbaby over, then you may be able to sweeten the deal by taking an item off the new parents’ to-bring list. Having a pack and play already set up in the room your children plan on staying is an excellent way to show them that you’re planning on being a source of help, not bother. (This is also a kind gesture to make if you have friends with children, as well.)
- The baby room isn’t ready yet. If the day to bring home your baby arrives and your nursery isn’t quite ready (or you’re not as ready as you expected to put your baby so far away from you) – you’re not alone! A pack and play is an excellent option for the “in-between” stages to give you a bit of a buffer on getting the room (and yourself!) ready.
Who Should Not Buy Pack and Plays
- Parents of older children. You can’t stop time, and unfortunately, they don’t stay little forever. That means that there will come a day when all parents must give up the pack and play. Though you can probably get away with using it for longer if you already have one, we’d say you probably won’t be able to justify a new purchase if your children are over 2 years old.
- No children at all. The only reason we can see that you absolutely shouldn’t get a pack and play is if neither you nor anyone you regularly socialize with, have small children.
Because purchasing pack and play can be a concern for your baby’s safety, you will want to do some research and find the one right one to fit your needs. Here’s what to consider when picking a pack and play for your family:
- Weight. The weight of anything you’re planning on transporting frequently is an essential consideration. You won’t lug around something that weighs as much as you do, even if you’re strong enough. That’s something a lot of people overlook in their shopping of baby essentials – if you have to struggle, even a little, to use it, you simply won’t use it. Find one that you can carry easily.
- Attachments and add-ons. When you have a baby, you don’t know what they’ll need from one minute to the next, so more options are always better. Maybe they’ll prefer to sleep in the bassinet? You may love the diaper storage options for add-ons. Your child may not be able to sleep without a mobile, or sound machine. There are pack and plays that have each of these attachments and all are worth a good, long thought.
- Weight capacity. Bear in mind that your little one won’t be little forever. You don’t want to find a pack and play that you love only to find out that your son’s going to outgrow it far before you’d like. Of course, you won’t be able to use the pack and play past toddler years but you can certainly look for one that lasts you well into them.
- Climbing deterrents. We won’t sugar coat it for you: If your little one has a propensity to climbing, there’s a good chance that will translate to the pack and play, too. You can look for options that have taller sides to prevent it, or you can add toys and activities within the pack and play that your little one will be distracted by, but ultimately, your little guy is going to stay that same beautiful escape artist, pack and play or no.
- Size. Most pack and plays are a pretty standard size: roughly 40″ long and 30″wide. However, the days of being stuck in that same size and square shape are gone and you can find other options (we’ve included some in our top picks, too!). You need to consider your needs and pair that with the space you have available to find the right pack and play for you and your family.
How Much Do They Cost?
You can expect to spend your fair hair on your baby through the years, and it starts early on. Luckily, you won’t have to break the bank on a pack and play. You can get one of good quality for fairly inexpensive. You have the outliers that will go as low as roughly $50 to $60, or as high as over $300. However, the bulk of pack and plays will fall somewhere in the range of between $100 and $200.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Safe Sound Family
When you’re looking for gear for your baby, you want to look for the best – without experience, then you have to make the choice based on the advice of experts. Luckily, you can borrow some of our experience with pack and plays to still make a wise choice. You have to consider the portability and durability as well as the size and safety. A pack and play that weighs a ton won’t get used as often and one that feels flimsy will keep you from using it in good conscience. Think of the space you’ll use it in the most and work with the dimensions you need to make it a comfortable fit. We evaluated all the factors and prioritized the most critical of these to come up with product recommendations that fit each family. – Richard J. Bartlett
The Best Pack and Plays: Full Reviews
The hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe Portable Playpen is an excellent pack and play for your baby or toddler. You’ll love how robust it is, so you won’t need to worry about your little one plowing it over, and you’ll love that the waterproof fabric features an extra padded floor for baby’s comfort. The top rails and corners are also padded to protect him from the sturdy metal frame, and the frame folds so easily, you’ll never struggle with taking this pack and play from one place to another.
If you plan on taking this indoor/outdoor pack and play outside, then you may want to invest in the option with the removable dome to offer your little one some extra protection. For inside, the anti-slip feet ensure your baby’s scoots don’t send the pack and play scooting, too, and the external zipper doors give you easy access to him at all times.
- 2 side doors
- 3 purchase options
- 4.5′ wide of play space
- Some struggle with setup
- Mesh siding is less durable
Chances are, the Graco Pack and Play Portable Playard is just what you picture when you imagine a pack and play. There may not be extra bells and whistles on this model, but you likely have all you need to make this a fun play area for your baby or toddler already.
There are other options with this listing if you want more from your pack and play, too, though. You can opt for a bassinet insert that will prevent you from having to reach all the way down to place your little one at the bottom. If you’re more concerned with changing your child, then you could also opt for the option that comes with a changer attachment, as well. But the best bet for your money, this pack and play will give you a comfortable place for your baby to sleep and play.
- Other features available
- 2 color options
- Side pocket for essentials
- Mesh siding is less durable
- Some struggle with disassembly
When you have a newborn, and you’re not sure what you’ll need in a pack and play, the Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center is the perfect solution. It has all the features you want in a pack and play and then some. It can’t guarantee to make your baby sleep, but if he is fussing, it’s definitely no fault of the pack and play. Between the night light and music box and the bassinet attachments, you’re giving your little one all the comforts he needs to sleep soundly.
When you’re up with that precious one doing late-night changings, you’ll appreciate the changer that keeps you from bending down deep into the pack and play or taking your baby elsewhere. You can make sure you have everything you need to keep your little one happy right there with the attached diaper caddy.
- Includes music/night light, bassinet with mobile, changer, and diaper organizer attachments
- Large wheels for transport
- Removable bassinet so baby can sleep anywhere
- Cannot remove bassinet sheets to clean
- Requires force to click together
If you’re a traveling family, then you would do well to take a close look at the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib. Far more compact than its competition, this pack and play can be folded up into a backpack carrying case that you’re sure to appreciate as you go through busy airports. Guava makes the extra effort to ensure the safety of your baby. In fact, they claim they’re the only pack and play with a GreenGuard Gold non-toxic certification (which means they use no Volatile Organic Compounds, lead, phthalates, PVC, or heavy metals).
The setup and tear-down of this pack and play are each far simpler than others – something crucially important when you’re making every effort to keep to your traveling schedule. And even better? It ships fully assembled, all you have to do is unfold it for your first use.
- External zipper side door
- Lightweight – 11 lbs
- 2-year warranty
- Complementing accessories have steep price tags
- Some struggle putting into carrying backpack
The POP ‘N GO Baby Playpen is the perfect pack and play for the beach. When the summer sun gets too intense, you won’t have to worry about your baby getting burnt when you bring your pack and play. It’s only 7.2 pounds, so you won’t struggle to carry it, either. – And that’s a big bonus when you have a dozen different bags and chairs and accessories to drag down the beach. But the real win is the permanent arch that you can use to form a solid canopy over your little one. The included canopy completely covers your child from the harmful UV rays and offers some shade to get out of that blistering heat.
You can even purchase the mattress from POP ‘N Go for added support when your little one is sleeping. (However, that does make the trek to and from the car a bit more cumbersome, so you may opt to let your baby enjoy the soft sand underfoot.)
- Removable canopy
- Includes UV cover, 6 ground stakes, 7 sand stakes, and a carrying bag
- External zipper door
- Dome makes overhead access tricky
- Can tip over if toddler is too forceful
Frequently Asked Questions
What age is the pack and play for?
Do I need a crib, or can I use a pack and play?
However, having a designated sleep place is crucial to establishing sleep patterns and making bedtime less difficult. You don’t have to make that designated sleep zone a crib, it could be the pack and play, but make sure you’re not also using it as a “play” area during wake times.
Can newborn sleep in pack n play without bassinet?
In fact, in 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided free pack n plays for caregivers that did not have an appropriate sleep location for their child. If the AAP is providing it, then you can assume it’s safe.2
Can you put a mattress in a pack n play?
You may notice that your little one’s pack and play isn’t very plush – so you may want to add some cushion or support. Indeed, your baby may not sleep as soundly when in the pack and play, but you want to be especially careful when trying to modify it. Once you add an extra mattress, you’re negating any assurances the pack and play’s manufacturer guarantees on safety. You can do it safely, but you have to ensure that you follow all the same guidelines for a mattress for your baby’s crib.3
Safe Smart Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Perrone S, Lembo C, Moretti S, et al. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Beyond Risk Factors. Life (Basel). 2021;11(3):184. Published 2021 Feb 26. doi:10.3390/life11030184
- Zerr A M, Pontikos L, Caperell K, Healy A, Anderson B. Implementation of an Emergency Department-Based Educational Intervention to Improve Infant Sleep Practices. Pediatrics. 2020; 146:1.
- Gillani SH, Lowell GS, Quinlan KP. A firm recommendation: measuring the softness of infant sleep surfaces. Inj Epidemiol. 2021;8(Suppl 1):30. Published 2021 Sep 13. doi:10.1186/s40621-021-00325-x