The Best Pack 'n' Plays

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
279 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pack 'n' plays

Last Updated November 2019

As a parent, you know that skin-on-skin touch is vital for your baby’s development. At the same time, you know that it’s just not possible to hold your baby all day. It helps to have a safe, dedicated spot for your child when you need to tidy up the house or start dinner. A pack 'n' play is the perfect solution for multitasking parents who want to keep their children safe and entertained.

A pack 'n' play is a portable, enclosed space where your child can safely play or lounge. It keeps the child contained so you don’t have to worry about hazards that could be in the room. Many pack ‘n’ plays come with toys or music to entertain your baby. A pack ‘n’ play can also be used as a sleeping space or diaper changing area.

In addition to music, some pack ‘n’ plays play soothing nature sounds to help calm your baby.

Key considerations

Age of child

While pack 'n' plays are designed primarily for infants, some models are suitable for toddlers as well. When choosing a pack 'n' play, take the age of your child into account. A model that’s safe for a younger child may not work for an older child. In particular, there is the concern that a toddler could climb out of the pack 'n' play. Children who stand 35 inches or taller are usually strong enough to climb out. 

Basic vs. deluxe

You’ll need to decide if you want a “basic” or “deluxe” pack ‘n’ play. Basic models are simple and lightweight; the focus is portability. These items tend to fold easily, so you can move them from room to room. They’re usually rectangular in shape and measure about 28 inches wide, so fitting through most doorways and into most car trunks should be no problem.

Deluxe pack 'n' plays are usually larger; the typical width is 30 inches. As a result, these structures can be more cumbersome and difficult to fit through doorways and other tight spaces. A deluxe pack ‘n’ play may have a variety of extra features, such as a bassinet, changing table, mobile, music console, or night light.

Portability

Most parents want to be able to bring their pack ‘n’ play with them wherever they go. Size plays a role in pack ‘n’ play portability; larger, heavier models are obviously more difficult to lug around. If you plan to travel regularly with your pack 'n' play, a basic model may be your best bet. That said, even larger pack 'n' plays can be portable if you choose one that folds easily. Some include a carrying bag or tote for this purpose.

Wheels

If portability matters to you, consider whether a pack ‘n’ play has wheels. Some models feature wheels or casters for smooth transport. In fact, some deluxe pack ‘n’ plays can be wheeled after they’re folded. If you choose a pack ‘n’ play with wheels, be sure to select one with locking wheels or casters.

Bassinet

Some pack 'n' plays have a removable bassinet in which your baby can nap. If you choose a pack ‘n’ play with a bassinet, make sure the bassinet fastens securely to the pack ‘n’ play. Most pack 'n' plays have clips or bars that may be easy for older children to disengage, so if you have both an infant and a toddler in your home, you might have some safety concerns. Consider a model with clips that are hidden by fabric flaps or other materials and are unlocked by pressing a button. That way, children aren’t likely to see the clips in the first place.

Pay attention to the weight limit for the bassinet, too. Most pack 'n' play bassinets can only support a baby up to 15 pounds. Once your child can sit up and roll over, it’s possible that the child could fall out. Opt for a pack 'n' play with a bassinet that runs the entire length and width of the structure, so there’s no place for your child to fall.

A versatile multitasker

If you’re looking for a pack ‘n’ play that does it all, the Graco Mason Everest Pack ‘n’ Play Playard fits the bill. It has a bassinet, lounger, changing station, play area, and built-in organizer where you can store your child’s must-haves. It can accommodate children up to 25 pounds, so you’ll be able to use it for a while. We love the calming two-speed vibration that can help soothe your baby to sleep, too.

Changing station

Some pack 'n' plays include a changing station. The changing station might adhere to the pack ‘n’ play with removable clips and straps, or it might be fixed to the structure via a hinge. Hinged changing stations can often be flipped out of the way when not in use.

Changing stations have a weight limit, so make sure your child is within the guidelines before using it. Also, for safety’s sake, you may wish to consider a model with restraining straps.

Canopy

If you plan to use your pack 'n' play outdoors, a canopy may be an important feature. Just as with a stroller, the canopy helps shield your child from the harsh rays of the sun.

Storage

Many pack 'n' plays have built-in pockets and pouches that allow you to store items you might need for your child. These compartments should be located on the outside of the pack 'n' play, where your baby cannot reach them.

Accessories

In addition to keeping your baby safe, a pack 'n' play can help entertain your child when you’re tending to other tasks nearby. Some models include a mobile with dancing toys or an activity mat you can place on the floor of the pack 'n' play. Others have built-in entertainment features that play soothing music or display soft lights. Keep in mind that these pack 'n' plays require batteries and are usually heavier and more cumbersome than basic models.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

To prevent injury, never attach a bassinet or changing station to a pack ‘n’ play when your child is inside.

Pack ‘n’ play prices

Pack 'n' plays vary in price based on size and features. Most range from $40 to $300. The simplest models are small and don’t offer many extras, but the budget-friendly price range of $40 and $70 can be very appealing.

Deluxe pack 'n' plays with one or two special features, such as an add-on bassinet or a changing station, tend to cost between $70 and $150. The priciest pack 'n' plays include even more features: built-in toys, lights, music, and sometimes vibration. These items usually cost between $150 and $300.

EXPERT TIP

A pack ‘n’ play with mesh sides will help your child stay cool and comfortable while inside.


Staff  | BestReviews

Affordable and feature-packed

The Evenflo Portable Babysuite Deluxe Playard is a budget-minded parent’s dream. It features a generously sized play area, a full-size bassinet, and a changing station that rotates over the side for storage when not in use. There’s even an attachable toy bar to entertain your child. And when you need to take your pack ‘n’ play somewhere, the carrying case is highly convenient.

Tips

  • Don’t place your child inside a pack 'n' play until you’re certain it’s fully assembled. Shake the structure a few times to make sure it’s locked in place.
  • Never add a mattress that isn’t included with your pack 'n' play to the structure. If there are any gaps between the mattress and the pack 'n' play frame, your child is at risk for suffocation.
  • Don’t allow your child to sleep in a pack 'n' play that’s full of toys. Remove all toys before your baby falls asleep.
  • Avoid placing items inside a pack 'n' play that an older child might be able to use to climb out.
DID YOU KNOW?

The average pack ‘n’ play weighs approximately 25 pounds.

Other products we considered

There are plenty of pack 'n' plays on the market, so you should be able to find one that suits your child’s needs. The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard is a highly portable model that’s perfect if you want something your child can grow with. It features an inclined sleeper, a changing station for infants, and a padded play space for toddlers. We also love the Costzon Baby Playard. In addition to a bassinet and changing station, it has a mobile and a music box to entertain your little one.

 

Most pack ‘n’ plays take a minute or less to set up.

FAQ

Q. How do I clean a pack 'n' play?
A.
Gentle dish soap or laundry detergent and warm water are usually all it takes to clean a pack 'n' play and its floor pad. You can scrub the surfaces by hand with a sponge, rag, or brush, or you can fold the pack 'n' play and soak it in the mixture in your bathtub for a couple of hours. Hose down the pack 'n' play afterward and allow it to dry completely before use.

Q. Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a pack 'n' play overnight?
A.
A pack 'n' play is usually a safe alternative to a crib when your child needs to sleep for the night. However, you shouldn’t add a mattress, blankets, pillows, or toys to the pack 'n' play before your child goes to sleep. If you use a fitted sheet, make sure it’s designed specifically for your pack 'n' play.

Q. At what age do most kids outgrow a pack 'n' play?
A.
Pack 'n' plays have weight limits, so read the manufacturer's’ instructions carefully to see what the guidelines are. In most cases, a pack 'n' play is meant to be used by children who weigh 35 pounds or less. That typically means that your child should stop using it at around two years of age.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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