Pack N Play Toddler Cribs – Buyer’s Guide

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The pack-n-play (aka “pack and play” or “playard”) crib, designed for newborn babies on up to kids of around 3 years of age, is a wonderful household accessory for any parent.

Why are pack-n-plays a popular go to for parents, as opposed to your average crib or playpen?

Well, because, with pack-n-plays, we have a secure – but soft and comfortable – crib that is super easy to set up or take down in no time (a few seconds once you get the hang of it), and the typical pack-n-play has many other benefits, as well.

If you are old enough to remember what cribs used to be like decades ago, you will know that pack-n-plays are a quantum leap forward as far as eliminating some of the problems people had with old style cribs of yesteryear.

Such old metal-made and wooden cribs were hard and hazardous, and could actually harm a baby quite easily! But, smart people learned from our elders’ mistakes and invented pack-n-plays!

Table of Contents

Ok, let’s continue…

Pack-N-Play Benefits – Short List

Yes, people do love their pack-n-plays, and it’s no mystery why.  

Just go on Pinterest and type in the word, and you’ll get barraged by cuteness and it’ll no doubt make you at least think about acquiring one – even if you don’t have a kid!  (though that’d be a little weird, they’re just really cute in and of themselves).

To be fair, if you want your pack-n-play to be uber-cute, you’ll probably have to do some customizations to it to make it as cute as some of the models on Pinterest.

If you just buy one as is, it will be nice, but maybe not quite as cuteness-overloaded as some you may see.

One thing parents like to do with their pack-n-plays now is, to use a common colloquialism, “pimp them out”.  Not sure what that means, but it’s what people say! 😉

Feature Picks

Dream On Me Travel Light Play Yard, Black

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Lotus Travel Crib – Backpack Portable, Lightweight, Easy To Pack Play-Yard With Comfortable Mattress

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Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard, Black

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Graco Pack ‘N Play Quick Connect Portable Napper Deluxe Bassinet, Diana

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Ok, on to the most common question asked about pack-n-plays.

Are Pack-N-Plays Safe to Sleep In?

This is the number one concern of most parents when shopping for a pack-n-play – “Are pack-n-plays safe to sleep in?” 

It’s a very understandable question, since this is the most popular reason you might need a pack-n-play in the first place, is to put your child to sleep. 

The answer is, most often, yes of course they’re built to be very safe for sleeping!

Here’s short list sums up some of the reasons why people go crazy for pack-n-plays.

  • Perfect for traveling, fits neatly into most vehicle trunks and back seats
  • Much harder for kids to hurt themselves than with old-fashioned cribs made of metal or wood
  • Kids can sleep in them, as there’s no way they can roll out
  • Comes with a carrying case which doubles often as a padded blanket
  • Put up / take down in seconds flat
  • Stores away easily into storage, closet, or even some drawers
  • Easy to wash and clean
  • Often comes with bassinet
  • Move from room to room, or home to home easily (light, portable)
  • Can provide entertainment for kids in the form of toys which can be attached or adorned to it

Up, next, a quick how to…

How To Set Up A Pack-N-Play

Here’s a quick video showing how to set up your typical pack-n-play. 

As you will see, the point is for it to be simple, and, as mentioned, the piece that is used to wrap up the pack-n-play also doubles as a bed.

Reasons to Love Pack-N-Plays (Continued…)

In addition to an easy set-up, pack-n-plays are known to be relatively portable, so they are especially useful when you are on the go and have your child in tow. 

In other words, it is possible to have your child in a carrier, and hold your pack-n-play as well.

They are about 30-40 pounds, usually, which is about as much as a typical 3-year-old.

So, while this isn’t as light as you might expect, if someone has a free hand or two, they can most likely carry it.

Some pack-n-plays are even lighter, of course.  Be sure to check the weight of the pack-n-play before you purchase if carrying something of this weight might be an issue.

Your child will, at one point, of course, be needing a nap, or a place to play and be active that isn’t just roaming free around someone’s house!

Additionally, pack-n-plays are designed to be tossed quickly and hastily into your car or SUV and off you go to your next play date! 

There are no sharp metal edges so they will not damage the vehicle, or the pack-n-play itself.

Pack-n-plays is also great because, no matter where you are, you can do things at home while your toddler is safely playing, napping lightly, or sleeping soundly in the crib.

Feel like getting some work done?  The pack-n-play is there for you, keeping your child enclosed and safe while you fire off some emails or run the monthly budget.

Pack-n-plays are often colourful and soft, and provide a sense of comfort and security for your child, so often, they enjoy it when you put them in their own fun little crib, complete with entertaining things for them to do if they so choose. 

pack n play toys

As mentioned, you can easily wash a typical pack-n-play as they are water-friendly.  Here’s a video showing how to wash a Pack-n-Play. 

Grime and dirt can easy be removed with just baking soda, vinegar, powder or liquid detergent, and of course water.

To your baby or toddler, pack-n-plays can seem rather large – even expansively sized. 

Some popular brands of pack-n-play dimensions include:

  • Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX – 28.5 x 40 x 33.3 inches
  • Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard – 37″L x 10″W x 9.5″H up to 41.34” L x 25” W x 28.35” H
  • Lotus Travel Crib – 25.5 x 13 x 10 inches
  • Dream On Me Travel Light Play Yard – 40.5 x 27 x 26 inches
  • BABYSEATER Pack and Play Portable Playard Play Pen – 60″ hexagon where each side is 27.5″

Compared to the size of your child, the entire crib can seem huge, even if they are two years of age.  Though, by this point, they may be looking for more things to do.  

Parents have found that babies who get restless easily enjoy the pack-n-play environment for this reason.  There is enough room for your child to actually play and not feel trapped.

Babies who are somewhat mobile can roll around in a pack-n-play, and enjoy this even more if there is an extra soft surface to roll around on, and if they do hit a barrier while rolling, it is a soft one.

Pack-n-play cribs don’t have hard bars like your typical old-fashioned cribs, which is partly the reason pack-n-plays are made this way – as a reaction to cribs of old that were uncomfortable and could potentially cause injury, just due to how they were designed back in the old days.

See the crib below as an example of something which, although it looks alright at a glance, can prove hazardous under certain circumstances.

Comparatively, with a soft mesh for the pack-n-play walls, there won’t be any getting stuck between the bars, thus reducing their risk of that kind of injury.  

Moreover, the pad of pack and play is firm and doesn’t have any bumps that can cause discomfort to the kid while sleeping.

What Can Go Wrong With A Pack-N-Play?

As there are many positive qualities about good pack-n-plays, a poorly made pack-n-play can have several problems, including the following:

  • Bunching up or lumps in the floor mat / mattress area / suffocation hazard

  • Missing parts on delivery (this one here is missing the bassinet it was advertised as including)

  • Flimsy build / too much bounce / no security in structure because of space between the floor of the pack-n-play and your own floor

  • Ripped stitching leading to unsafe structural integrity

  • Damage, torn threading

These types of issues can range to anywhere from irritating to extremely dangerous, but the problem is that some of these are factory defects, while others are just the result of a brand who makes lesser grade products.

And so, when shopping for pack-n-plays, like anything else, you need to do your due diligence when it comes to researching the products, the brands, and the potential for issues. 

This is what we do on this website, when reviewing pack-n-plays, or anything else, and of course you should too!  Always visit the company website. 

Look for things like the fact that the company selling the pack-n-play may not even have a website, or maybe all the reviews are negative. Find out why.  Go to the store, and ask questions!  

Once you’ve done your research (some of which we have done for you on this website), and you’ve purchased your new pack-n-play, you can then enjoy the benefits of having a good one.

As a parent, there are times when you wish you could, or even have to, take your eyes off your baby for a moment or two. 

Sure, you can blockade the room off, letting them roam free, but that still leads to certain hazards. Pack-n-plays offer assurance in this sense, as you know exactly where your baby is at all times.

Plus, your child won’t be at risk of any injury and won’t be able to pull any daredevil stunts and escape.  They’ll be safe and sound.

Now, lets touch upon safety.

Mandatory Safety Standards

There are many safety standards about pack and play cribs established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  

Here are the things you should pay attention to when choosing such crib:

  • To prove that the pack-n-play crib won’t tip over under pressure, it needs to have passed a stability test
  • The pack-n-play should have lock mechanism and latch to ensure that it won’t fold when a kid is using it
  • This crib should pass an entrapment test to prevent a child’s head getting caught when bassinet or similar accessory is attached
  • The pack-n-play crib should follow the requirements for minimum side height to prevent the kid climbing out of it on her/his own
  • Hinges should not be used for those cribs which have top rails folding downwards, since they can create a V or diamond shape upon folding, and be a potential risk for entrapping a child’s head or neck

Here, we’ve chosen to review what we think are 3 of the best pack-n-play cribs available currently, all of which abide by the proper safety standards and are simply outstanding according to customers across the web.

1. Graco Pack-n-Play Playard with Automatic Folding Feet

Feature Pick

Baby Joy Baby Playpen, Ultra-Light Aluminum Portable Travel Crib With Comfy Mattress & Oxford Carry Bag, Gray

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The Graco Pack-n-Play Playard, with its automatic folding feet, is one of the most popular pack-n-play cribs currently on the market.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let us tell you that customers love Graco cribs, and especially with this one in particular, we have found that there is a ton of positive feedback associated with it.

The Graco Playard crib is a sturdy, well-made crib, and is easy to set up and take down any time you want.

It has handy wheels for easier transfer from one room to another, which are folding automatically just like the feet of the crib.

So, this means that this crib is super convenient when carrying with you on trips and grandparents’ visits, as it has folding wheels and feet that allow for a 20 percent more of a compact fold.

With this Graco crib your kiddo will be relaxed and comfortable no matter where you take him/her.  

Its frame is durable so whether you decide to pack it into the trunk of your car, or put it in the back of your minivan, the crib will be up to a challenge.

With a push of the Graco button, you will easily break it down and fold it without any problem.


2. Delta Children Square Play Yard 36” x 36”

Feature Pick

Delta Children 36″ X 36″ Playard, Novel Ideas

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The Novel Idea play yard from the brand Delta Children has a square shape with 38.5″L x 38.5″W x 28″H dimensions.  

The playpen, when extended to full size is 36” x 36”, and it’s recommended for kids up to 35 inches tall and 20 pounds in weight, so that means basically young children are the maximum size child it can safely sustain.

The first thing you will notice is the colorful artwork on all four sides, which kids seem to love (at least those with an eye for art, and if they are awake).

The sides are made of mesh material which is convenient for the parents as it provides clear view into the crib where your child is.

Customers have commented that this is a slightly hard playard, which to some means more sturdy, while to others it means it can be uncomfortable, but it simply depends on what you put down as bedding.

That said, this is a fully certified crib that passes all industry tests for quality and safety.  

This Delta Child play yard comes with a travel bag which only increases its travel friendly design which enables a nice, compact fold.  

The mattress pad is really comfortable for both napping and tummy tickling.  🙂


3. Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard Totbloc with Carry Bag, Bugs Quilt

Feature Pick

Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard Totbloc With Carry Bag, Bugs Quilt

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Another baby-friendly product from the well-known brand Graco.

The square play area is nice and large with 38 by 38″ dimensions, providing more than enough space for your growing kiddo to play and enjoy.

The set-up of this portable crib is truly quick and simple as it doesn’t require any tools and it takes less than 1 minute to have it up.

You can fold it back down in the same amount of time, and put it into the included carrying bag to take it with you whenever you go.  

The compact fold and the lightweight frames (25 pounds) make it perfect for your travels.

We shouldn’t forget the airy mesh on all four sides of the crib which enables maximum ventilation.

It’s easy to clean and maintain with a warm water and household soap, while the carrying bag can be washed in a washing machine.

We hope you enjoy these pack-n-plays as much as we do.  Leave us a comment below if you’ve used one of them and detail your experiences!

Wrapping (or Folding) Up – HA!

Parenting is a full time job, and with these pack-n-plays, it is made at least slightly easier.  Although the innovations seem simple, they are major in terms of the effect it has on both you and your young one.

You can finally tackle that teetering pile of dishes while your toddler is safely playing in the crib, or you might even dare to have some friends over.  

Luckily, kids seem to have a good time in these pack-n-plays as well, but of course, if they’re too old for them, they either won’t fit or they’ll want to bust loose, so make sure your child is the right size and age to be using them.

The only disadvantage with these cribs is that kids can quickly outgrow it, although this is really no different from any crib or anything you buy for your baby. Your baby will outgrow it, and this is why luckily they aren’t that expensive.

Here’s one more video of how to set up a pack-n-play and then we’re on our way.  Take care!