The Ultimate “Pack and Play Set” Buyers Guide + The 5 Best Pack and Play Sets We Could Find
If you are expecting a new baby in the house, then a Pack ‘n Play is definitely going to be one of the must-buys in your baby gear list, as these little contraptions are going to be a lot of help in taking care of your incoming bundle of joy.
But with a lot of Pack ‘n Play models available in the market today, finding one that would best suit your needs can be a challenge. So, I have assembled this guide to help you when shopping for a Pack ‘n Play.
Reviews Of Five Best Pack And Play Sets
I have provided the following summary of 5 of the best pack n play/playards for your baby. This will give you a snapshot of all the best features each and every style has. And hopefully, these features will help moms choose the pack and play for their child.
Graco Pack ‘n Play with Reversible Napper and Changer
At first glance, the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer didn’t strike me as any more extraordinary than the ones I had seen online. But I was out to get Pack ‘n Play gear; so I set out to see the options at my disposal. Whether by coincidence or by fate, this Pack ‘n Play is the first one I came across. The one thing that instantly convinced me to opt for it was its reversible napper and changer all rolled into one. I knew I needed something that I would keep using as my tot grew older; not a one – time artifact that would be discarded within a few months.Why is it a Top Pick?
While this is my first ever Pack ‘n Play Playard, I have no doubt I settled on the right choice. The fabric on the side is extremely handy by virtue of being non – absorbent and any mess can easily be cleaned right out.
Apart from the baby’s comfort, of course, I also liked how simple it was to assemble the whole thing. The write-up that came with it had direct instructions an assembly and therefore fitting the toy arch and eversible station was fairly easy. Being a stickler for structural firmness and balance, I had it all in my brand new purchase.
The only downside of this nifty little piece of ingenuity is that I cannot carry it in my bag. This means I can only use it at home but I wish I can carry it wherever I go. Overall, I really like this version of the Pack ‘N Play. The usefulness and convenience of a reversible station far outweigh any problems I’ve had with it. My son sleeps in it almost every day and I would highly recommend it.
Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking
I know how frustrating it is to try and decipher what Pack ‘n Play Playards are all about just by reading online reviews. As much as they are a must – have for parents with small children, going through the hazy descriptions online simply goes on to befuddle us even more. I have just acquired a Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat; and would like to shed some first – hand experience that I have had so far. First off let me admit that I made my purchase out of sheer instinct rather than affordance or aesthetics.Why is it a Top Pick?
The first thing that struck me was the removable rocking seat (which vibrates as well); and that means you can carry the baby without having to carry the whole contraption. The subtle vibration goes a long way in soothing and keeping the baby calm and relaxed for prolonged periods. Small babies, especially around 6 months and below, always find themselves balled up just like they were in fetal position. The cuddle cove ensures that the baby lies on its back always; thus eliminating the risk of rolling over. Furthermore, you can use the canopy to block out light from the sun or from the room bulbs.
The only downside to this fine gadget is its inbuilt music box. It is nice to play soothing tunes for the kid; but those tunes can get stuck in the head by virtue of continuous replay. If you can get through that, then definitely this is the Graco product you should opt for.
Graco Pack ‘N Play with Newborn Napper Elite
Being a stickler for variety in products, I was elated to finally identify a Pack ‘N Play available in both plastic and metal. For obvious reasons I opted for the plastic one (and in the process got to learn that ‘Vance’ is a color. The first thing that struck me with the Graco pack ‘n play with newborn napper was just how stylish it was. It looked like the kind of thing that I would love to take a picture alongside.
Aesthetics aside; this is the perfect thing to get for my newborn. My baby is barely a month old and I needed a nice place to let him have his lengthy sleeps uninterrupted. Naturally, babies have very delicate skin and the fabric in this playard is very soft to the touch. I had no doubt my tot would peacefully lie in it.Why is it a Top Pick?
I was a bit worried about what to do with it after my child grew, but I was shown how I could adjust it to counter for a baby’s increase in size and height. I was not particularly keen on storage but my wife adores the deluxe storage hamper that comes along with it. In there we store baby wipes, diapers, spare clothes and bibs, as well as towels. The big changing table in it could do with a bit of restyling but that also has come in handy too.
I however don’t like their idea of a newborn napper. I realized that attaching it was cumbersome; and detaching it was an even greater core. I wouldn’t ask you to get it if your intention was to severally put and remove the napper.
Graco Pack N Play Playard with Automatic Folding Feet
If you are keen on getting a playard that is extremely easy to set up and take apart; I would gladly recommend the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Automatic Folding Feet. Don’t let the lower price (as compared to other playards) scare you, it is by no means an indication of lower quality.
Sure, some amenities can’t be found on this playard – specifically the bassinet; but there is hardly a handier playard in your vicinity. For starters, it would only take you a few minutes to set it up. You can set it up and dismantle it as many times as you want. This was the aspect that made me courageous enough to assemble it without the help of a manual. Furthermore, I did not require the help of any tools!Why is it a Top Pick?
I thought the idea of having wheels on one side to be ridiculous but quickly found out how ingenious this design is. Whenever I want to move it, I simply lift one side and roll it. If I reach a desired position, I just set the other side down and it stays put. I was a bit worried about the chemical scent it had at first, but my reservations quickly vanished after two or three days. The chemical odor disappeared and was swiftly replaced by that nice gentle baby scent of infants.
I admit; I bought this playard as a second option for whenever we visited my mom’s but it is now my baby’s primary playard.
Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Play Yard
You have probably been through all kinds of write – ups about play yards for babies but from a personal point of view I declare the Fisher-Price Day and Night Play Yard the best thing I have got for my baby so far. It is multi – purpose just like other play yards but I like the twist in this one. The detachable inclined sleeper is the icing on the cake; and guess what – it is also machine washable! I needn’t worry about a scrubbing brush or anything of that kind.Why is it a Top Pick?
While we are still on structural aspects, I think I should also point out one nifty characteristic. This play yard is approximately half the weight of other movable playards. What more could I have asked for; considering that I shuttle to and from my parent’s house very frequently?
I love the fact that I can have my baby in there while I attend to other tasks without having to worry about her rolling over or sticking her face into the beddings. This playard is so sturdy that there is absolutely no risk of a hyperactive sibling toppling it over (which is a wonder in itself; considering this playard is ultra-lite). I don’t know about you but I would buy this thing ten times over.
Pack And Play Buyers Guide
What is a Pack and Play?
For those who might still be a bit confused by the term, play yards are basically the modern day cousins of the classic playpen. Both products are designed to serve as an area where babies can safely play and move around without worry that they might get into dangerous areas of the house. Both can also serve as sleeping quarters for your child should he need a nap.
The main difference between playpens and play yards is the shape; most playpens are square while play yards are rectangular in shape. Play yards are also usually slightly smaller than playpens, as they are intended to be more mobile than their larger cousins.
Another major distinction between play yards and the older playpens are the features. As playpens are mostly intended to be just an enclosure for your baby, it usually doesn’t come with anything else aside from the main playpen body. On the other hand, play yards are marketed as all around baby care stations, thus they have a lot more features including diaper changing stations, bassinets, and even toys and music for entertainment.
Thus, while playpens are still present, play yards have become more popular with parents in recent years for their more varied use.
Types of Pack and Play
When you start browsing through the various play yard models, one question that will likely pop into your mind is whether to go with basic or deluxe models. In this section, we will take a look at the difference between these two.
Basic pack and plays
Basic pack and play playards contain all the standard features that you can expect with play yards. These included a removable bassinet, changing table, and storage pockets for baby stuff. These are also lighter weighed and come with a carrying bag for easier transport.
Basic models are also on the lower end of the price range, usually in the $30 to $100 range.
Deluxe pack and plays
While they contain all the features basic models have, deluxe models go further by adding premium features. Such features include larger bassinets (or sometimes twin bassinets for twin babies), more luxuriant mattresses, and even baby massage chairs. These models also go heavy on the electronic entertainment features for your baby.
However, with all the features they pack in, deluxe models end up bulkier than basic ones. The premium features also mean you get them for a premium price, sometimes going up to $200.
So which one should you pick?
In most cases, pricing will be your primary consideration. For starting families, a basic model would often suffice. This is also a good pick if you tend to move around a lot with your baby. However, if you really want to give more comfort to your baby and have money to spare, then feel free to do so.
One thing worth clarifying at this point is the misconception that basic models are of an inferior to deluxe ones. The thing is, basic models, especially those coming from the same companies, are made from the same materials as the deluxe ones; thus, they have the same quality. Also, basic model undergo the same rigorous testing to ensure the highest quality possible.
The features to look for…
Whichever model you go for, there are several important features you have to look into to ensure you are getting the best pack n play playards available.
The bassinet is the basket-like cradle where your baby can sleep. Many play yard bassinets easily clip onto the top of the play yard frame so that you don’t need to reach down to put in or get your baby. Some of the deluxe models have room for twin bassinets, which is perfect if you have twin babies to take care of.
When checking the bassinet, consider its maximum allowable weight. Most play yard bassinets have a maximum capacity of 15 pounds. Once your baby outgrow the bassinet, transfer him to the bottom play yard mattress and remove the bassinet to avoid suffocation or entanglement.
Another essential feature of any pack and play playard is the changing table. As is with the bassinet, the changing table simply attaches to the top of the play yard frame with Velcro straps. The changing table is either an integrated unit that stores to the side when not in use or a separate one you detach completely.
As is with the bassinet, you should stop using the changing table once your child exceeds the maximum capacity. For most models, this would be around 15 to 25 pounds in weight, 25 inches in height, and around 4 months old. Also, be sure to completely secure the table during use and never leave it attached when not.
Play yards use a wide variety of materials for their sides. However, mesh sidings would be the best pick, as these allow for better ventilation within the play yard. Also, these are semi-transparent, which makes it easier for you to monitor what your little tyke is doing while inside. Plus, they are surprisingly easy to clean than fabric sidings.
For safety reasons, look for play yards that have tightly-woven mesh sidings, with the holes being only ¼ inch large. This will prevent your child’s fingers, toes, and clothes from getting caught on them.
Pack and play playards are, by default, already made to be portable. However, the degree of portability can vary from model to model. Basic models fold in more compactly than deluxe one as they don’t need to pack in a lot of parts into a tight space. However, some deluxe models make up for their bulkier size by including carrying handles on their add-ons such as the rocking seats.
Another important factor in assessing portability is how fast you can assemble and disassemble the play yard. Most models already come pre-assembled. All you need is to unfold them and lay down the mattress for use. This also means they are easy to take back down as you simply have to fold them back without the need to remove parts.
What use would a play yard be if your child eventually gets bored while in it? That’s where entertainment features come into play. Basic models come with toy mobiles hanging small colorful toys that baby can play with. The toy bar in some models can also come off to be used anywhere else.
However, it’s the deluxe models that really take the cake when it comes to baby entertainment, as these come with a host of electronic music and sound players and lights. Some of the higher-end deluxe models also feature electronic massage pads to keep your baby comfy. However, note that these add in extra to the price of the play yard.
As pack and plays are designed to be used when traveling with your baby, having enough room in them for you to stuff in baby essentials is vital. In the most basic models, extra storage space comes in the form of pockets sewn onto the sides, while the higher priced ones sometimes come with additional storage backs you can clip and remove as needed.
Whichever storage option you pick, make sure that these are well outside the reach of your young one when he is in the play yard. Also, keep them closed when not in use.
The canopy is a shade that you can pull over the play yard to protect your kid from harsh lights or other disturbances. This makes them an ideal feature is you want to take your baby to places like the park or the beach. Canopies in deluxe models also often serve as attachment points for the various toys your baby can play with.
4 Benefits of Owning a Pack n Play
When browsing through the various models of pack and play playards, safety should also be an important consideration. So, here are some important safety reminders when selecting a playard:
While other play yards can be easily moved around a room through the use of the wheels, pack and plays it take portability to another level. These play yards are designed so that they can be easily collapsed and disassembled into a more compact size for taking it with you to other places like your relatives’ homes. Furthermore, they also come with travel cases for carrying it easier.
Safe Baby Area
If you are busy with all the household work, or if you need to attend to some other things, you won’t be able to keep a steady eye on your baby. This is where pack and plays come in handy, as they are made to be a safe place where you can temporarily leave your child to take care of other errands. The play yards also undergo strict safety testing to ensure that they don’t do more harm when in use.
As it is, when traveling with your baby, you can’t take a lot of the needed stuff for caring for him. Pack and play playards take care of this by packing all of them into itself. Aside from the requisite removable bassinet, many pack and plays also come with easy clip-on diaper changing stations and entertainment features. The play yards also house pockets where you can put in essentials like extra diapers, clothes, and milk bottles.
Early Learning Aids
According to researches made by child development specialists, the sooner a child is able to play and interact, the better their learning capabilities would be, which means a lot for their development. Many pack and plays come not only with colorful mobiles that they can touch and play with but also electronic entertainment like music and lights. These help stimulate their senses and make them more attentive.
When browsing through the various models of pack and play playards, safety should also be an important consideration. So, here are some important safety reminders when selecting a playard:
- Take your babies initial weight into account. As mentioned, most play yard bassinets can carry only up to 15 pounds while the changing tables are around 25 pounds. Be sure that your child is well below the weight limit to ensure longer use.
- Inspect the frame of the play yard. It should be thick enough to be able to handle the strain of it being closed and opened frequently. Also check the locks to see if they hold tightly so that the play yard won’t fold in on itself when in use.
- Look out for any frayed or torn threads and fabric. Also, check for any holes that your child might end up getting his hands or other body parts into. On the other hand, the cloth straps that hold some of the parts together should not be able to undo themselves easily to avoid strangulation dangers.
- Check the materials used for the play yard. In order to be considered baby-safe, these materials should be from lead, phthalates, BPA, and other chemicals. Ensure that the product has all the necessary safety markings attached to it.
- Make sure to read through all the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. While baby play yard manufacturers go through great lengths to ensure their products are up to standards, negligence on the part of the user can still cause accidents to happen.
Some Final Words About Pack & Play Playards
Looking through this guide, you will probably realize by now that there are quite a lot of things to consider when buying your first baby play yard. However, if you consider all the comfort and benefits you and your baby will get, you will realize that it is worth all the effort. So, go shop wisely and find the best pack and play playards for you and your little bundle of joy.