5 Best Pack and Play Playards 2017

Pack and play playards have become a top item on many parents’ list of essential baby gear.  Why are these baby items so popular among parents? They are convenient and practical.  The best pack and play options keep baby safe and under your watchful eye at all times. 

Now that you know you want one, how do you go about choosing the best playard? That’s a tough question because there are so many playards to choose from. But don’t worry we can help.    No matter your budget or the intended use of your pack and play, you’ll be able to find the best pack and play playard that suits you and your baby’s needs.  Whether you’re looking for a simple, contained play area where baby can safely spend some time, or a deluxe, multi-use space with built-in changing table, toys, and storage, you’ve come to the right place. We have a guide that can help you find the right playard for your needs.

Top 5 Pack and Play Playards

Below, we have included detailed descriptions for each of our top 5 pack n plays and travel cribs.  We highlight key features that make them stand out from the rest.

This is a fun playard with a truly standout feature, the reversible napper and changer. Not only do you get as a multi-tasking napper but also a changer station. First it is a cozy napping space, then after a quick transformation, you have a nice changing platform, and it’s a cinch to change. Just press and lift. The napper cradles your baby in several positions, then presto, change it to a quick changer lined with easy-to-clean fabric. Make nap time and changing time a breeze with one of the best pack and play options available today.

Additional Features:

 This playard grows with your baby as well.   Use it well into the toddler years as a fun playard.  After your baby outgrows the napper and changer, you can convert the unit into a portable, full-sized playard, perfect for toddlers up to 35” tall.

Parents love the removable, full-sized bassinet (for babies under 15 lbs) and the well-ventilated mesh sides. Similarly, the removable toy bar holds the baby’s interest for long periods of time. Also, it is portable to a degree. When ready, carry it with you in the included carrying case.

The feature that most impressed us with this playard is the Graco Pack’n Play Playard Bassinet Changer and the Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat. Plus, we love the built-in vibration mode for soothing fussy babies. Better yet, the seat is removable for easy cleanup. We also love the useful carrying handles. Leave your baby in the seat, in the playard, or remove the seat and take him to another room. We love that the rocking seat has a protective canopy, and the fact that all fabrics are machine washable. This is a baby product suitable for babies under 15 lbs.

Handy features of the Graco Pack’n Play Playard include a bassinet with vibration technology, a cushioned changing table, 3 storage cubbies, and an electronic singing module. We also like that this playard transitions as your baby grows.  It is feature that gives the playard added value and usability.

Ease of use wins the day on the Graco Pack’n Play Playard Bassinet with Automatic Folding Feet. We love the folding feet and wheels and the nice compact design. The easy push-button fold feature makes the setup and putawa of the playard very simple. This playard is the perfect choice for parents on the go.

The Graco Pack’n Play with Automatic Folding Feet also comes with a full-sized, removable bassinet (for babies under 15 lbs) and a removable toy bar with plush soft toys. This playard has fewer features than some of the more deluxe models, but its relatively low price and sturdy, easy-to-use design make up for the omissions.

The Graco Playard With Change 'n Carry Portable Changing Pad is different from many other playards. It has an oversized, removable changing pad which allows you to comfortably change baby practically anywhere. It comes with built-in storage pockets and best of all, it folds up into a compact pouch that you can easily take with you anywhere you go.

The changing station is lined with wipe-clean fabric, but make a quick change and this playard has a separate, cozy nest bassinet. It is great for comfy naps or relaxing play, as the playard has a detachable mobile with 3 soft toys. The ventilating mesh on all 4 sides keep baby comfortable, and allow him to look out on the room. When baby outgrows the bassinet and changing table, convert it into a full-sized, portable toddler playpen.

The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day and Night Playard  really lives up to the Fisher-Price brand name. It only weights about 15 lbs, which is half the weight of other portable playards. This is an aspect you want to focus on, especially if you plan on traveling with your playard. Another plus is the multi-purpose design (sleeper, changer, and playard all in one). This product offers a wide versatility that comes in handy during the different growth stages of your baby. Let’s not overlook the fact that the removable sleeper is adjustable for baby’s optimal comfort. It also comes with a built-in support for baby’s head and back, which is useful for early infant care. And Hurray! We have a winner, the liner fabric is removable and washable.

Other noteworthy features include a travel changing pouch, a wipe-clean, vinyl changing pad and a handy attached storage compartment. This is definitely a keeper, with a sturdy design that ensures easy setup and disassembly.

Choosing the Best Pack and Play Playard

What is a Pack and Play?

best pack and play reviews

Pack and play playards are portable playpens. They offer a safe place for baby to play or nap in. Plus they and are very convenient for travelling or even for everyday use. Many parents also use pack and plays as a nighttime sleep environment for their newborns instead of a more traditional bassinet. This is because the playard is portable, ventilated and has a thin, firm mattress.

Types of Pack and Play Playards

There are almost endless varieties of pack and plays available on the market.  They range most basic models to the fully-loaded ones.  The right playard for your baby will depend on its intended use.

Basic Playards

Basic playards have just a few features,such as bassinet and/or change table, but they are also inexpensive. If you only need an enclosed space where baby can safely play while you are occupied, then choose just a basic playard. Basic models also offer lightweight portability which makes them an ideal baby product for travelling parents. These items work wonders on short day trips, or as a back-up playard at a grandparents’ house.

Deluxe Playards

?These are more upscale playards and have additional features. They serve a variety of purposes and help make your life easier. These extra features vary, but include things such as a roomier bassinet, a change table, extra cubbies for storage, a rocking or vibrating seating, a thicker mattresses. Additionally, some include entertaining music, lights, and sounds. Though many of these extras are nice to have, they also mean that the playard is more expensive and heavier to carry.

Advantages of Using a Pack and Play

1. Keeps Baby Safe
With the strict safety regulations that today’s playards must adhere to, a pack and play playard is the perfect place for you to safely leave your baby when you are temporarily occupied. Many new parents also use playards as baby’s first sleep environment beside their own bed for the first few months after birth.

2. Portable
Pack and plays have more than just their wheels to make them extremely portable. They are also easily folded up into travel-ready dimensions, and quickly assembled when and where they are needed. A handy carrying tote is usually provided for extra convenience.

3. Multi-Functional
Top pack and play playards serve a variety of purposes, providing designated areas for sleeping, changing, and playing. In addition, some features allow for added functionality, such as detachable changing pads, storage spaces, and entertainment. Together, these characteristics translate to a multi-purpose, centralized baby care station that has just about everything you and your baby need.

4. Stimulates Early Learning
The soft toys, colorful mobiles, music, lights, and gentle vibration included in some playards produce valuable visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation necessary for enhanced brain development. It also helps babies develop their coordination and sharpen their senses, making them more engaged and aware of their surroundings.

Best Pack and Play Features

Obviously, parents focus on price. This is an expensive moment in your life. However, you don’t want price point to be the only significant factor when you think of top pack and play playard options.  Consider all the features that each travel crib has to offer.

Here are some important points to consider:

  • Bassinet:

    Some playards come with a  removable bassinet. In most models with this feature, you simply pick up the bassinet to move the baby from place to place. This module sits in the top of the playard frame. And all you have to do is  pick it up and go. Take the bassinet out when the  baby reaches about 15 lbs, and use the space as a full playard.

  • Changing table:

    This is a detachable, lined surface that fastens to the top of the playard frame. .

  • Mesh sides:

    Having mesh on all sides of the playard offers maximum ventilation and allows you to keep an eye on your child.

  • Storage:

    Some playpens come with fabric pockets or removable cubbies.  This is a convenience you don’t want to do without because it helps you  organize and store baby necessities.

  • Portability:

    Pack and plays are portable. Just fold and store them in a handy carrying case. If you’re a frequent traveller, you want a basic model that is more compact and lightweight, but also extra durable. Furthermore, you want to consider easy setup and storing capability.

  • Entertainment:

    A bored baby is a fussy baby. So many playards come with toys and entertainment options like  a suspended mobile or toy bars. Some of the higher end models offer sounds, music, and light too. Remember though, these features often require batteries.

  • Canopy:

    A canopy protects your baby from bright indoor lights or sunlight. It also offers  a measure of privacy during  nap time.

  • Padding:

    This is the foam padding on the floor of the playard. It is the place where older babies and toddlers sleep and play.  Look for floor padding that is at least ¾” thick.

  • Style:

    You’ll find a playard in just about any bright color, pattern, or theme. Go with a traditional, modern style or a cute kid look.

  • Clean-up:

    Consider playards that are easy to clean. You are looking for detachable linings that are machine-washable.

Safety Considerations

If you’re in the market for a playard, one of the most important features to consider is your baby’s safety. In 2013, new federal safety standards were implemented for all playards sold in the U.S., making stability, entrapment, and structural integrity testing mandatory.

Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Examine the playard frame for sturdiness and durability. It should be strong and last for several years. Make sure that it  firmly in place when set up. .
  • Note the weight limits and age restrictions for bassinets and changing tables.
  • Check the playard’s fabric, lining, and/or mesh for holes or frayed threads.   
  • Read all safety notices on the packaging to ensure that the playard’s materials are free from BPA, lead, phthalates, and other chemicals.

Things to avoid:

  • Previously-used playards. You want to especially stay away from models built before 2013.  
  • Using  anything that baby can get tangled up in.
  • Adding toys with hanging cords or threads. Your baby can reach and pull these items down, and this can become a  potential strangulation hazard.
Mia - May 20, 2017

Due to the nature of my job, I have been searching everywhere for a simple playard that would allow easy packing and setting up. Graco’s Bassinet is just perfect for me. Easy to assemble and dismantle. Thanks for the awesome review!

Christina - June 30, 2017

The Graco park’n playard is my favorite any day. It completely takes off the stress of going to get a new playard as my baby grows up. It has the capacity to accommodate my girl through toddler stage. It’s just a perfect playard for me.

Jane - July 1, 2017

I would have given the Graco park’n play playard a 100%, just that it is not very useful for travelers like me; I have to buy it only for use at home. However, it’s still the first among many playards.

Eunice - July 2, 2017

The Fisher-price playard is just perfect for me. It is lightweight and easy to move about, easy to set up and also easy to park.
This playard is the best choice for every travelling mother.

Sophie van der Linden - August 21, 2017

“Best Pack and Play Reviews” is the best buying guide on Play Yards for babies.

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