Last Updated on January 23, 2023
Why would any dad care what’s the best pack and play?
Let us imagine for a moment that your baby has started to crawl. It’s your turn to babysit, and you want to answer the door to get a pizza…where to put your baby? Leave him alone for a moment? Hold her in your arms and try joggling the money-pizza exchange with one hand? Run to another room and place him in a crib?
It’s just so much simpler (and safer) to have a playpen in the same room.
So I figured out that I’m lazy and safety-conscious enough to buy one.
But which is the best pack n play? Keep reading to find out.
10 BEST Pack n Plays for DadProgress Reviewed
Babybjörn travel cot light is an excellent portable playard for active parents. It weighs little, and you can assemble it in seconds. Additionally, machine-washable fabrics make it effortless to clean.
If you keep reading, you’ll discover I created a small survey years back to determine the best pack n plays. This Travel Cot Light and Lotus Travel Crib by Guava Family ended both with seven votes. They are perfect for active parents and are pretty similar. I like that both are also Oeko-Tex certified, so the materials are guaranteed to be safe. I’ve covered this topic more thoroughly in the guide section after the reviews if you wish to learn more. Many parents have found that the Babybjörn play yard is easier to set up, though. This said, the Lotus has a couple of other pros, which I’ve covered in the following review.
Dimensions (assembled): 44 x 32 x 24in (112 x 82 x 64cm)
Weight: 13lb (6kg), including carry bag
- It’s very easy to set up, as you don’t have to deal with loose parts
- This pack n play comes with a neat travel bag measuring 19 x 23.5 x 5.5in (49 x 60 x 14cm)
- A mattress is included, but it’s only around 1in thick (as required by federal safety standards)
- Travel Cot Light is very durable
- It’s JPMA and Oeko-Tex (Class 1) certified, so it’s a safe pack n play for your baby
- Both the mattress cover and the crib’s fabric are machine washable
- The mesh siding comes in three different colors
- The sides of this pack n play are quite high. For example, many parents who are under 5,3″ have found it challenging to put their babies in
This is another excellent portable playard. It weighs only 13lb, and you can carry it on your back with the included bag.
As I’ve already mentioned (sorry for repeating myself), Lotus Crib and Travel cot Light both got seven votes in my old survey. They are time-tested, great for active parents, and pretty similar. A zip-up door is a superb feature and sets this pack n play apart from many competitors. The small company has really managed to create something unique here. It may also feel bigger than the BabyBjorn, which has slanted legs.
Dimensions (assembled): 45.5 x 31.5 x 25.5in (~117 x 79 x 65cm)
Weight: 13lb (6kg), including carry bag
- This pack n play is effortless to set up
- The carrying bag comes with shoulder straps and measures only 24 x 8 x 12in (61 x 20 x 30.5cm). It’s smaller than the one by BabyBjörn, which comes especially handy if you’re a frequent flier
- It has a zipper door for easier baby transfer, soothing, and it’s great if you’ve got back issues
- This pack n play comes with a mattress pad that is around 1in thick (as required by federal safety standards)
- Greenguard Gold certification ensures that it’s a good sleeping space for your little one. Additionally, it meets all the required standards
- The fabrics are machine washable
- As this is such a good pack n play, it would be nice to get a couple of color options
Graco has a great variety of pack and plays for every need, and this is one of the most popular models. This may be the right pick if you’re looking for a so-called changing station.
The removable bassinet with hanging toys is a comfortable sleeping place for your infant. The snap-on changer is right next to it, so you don’t have to go to another room for diapering. Additionally, the built-in storage basket lets you keep all the essentials nearby.
Once your baby is older and starts to move around, you can take advantage of the ample play space below the detachable changer and bassinet. This travel dome is relatively easy to move thanks to the front wheels.
My “study” mentioned nine pack n play models by Graco. On the Go and a pack n play with a reversible napper were also very popular.
Dimensions: 27 x 37 x 28.5in (68 x 94 x 72cm)
Weight: Around 33lb (15kg)
- The pack n play folds flat, and you can carry it with the included bag
- It’s very durable
- The playard comes with a pad that is not very thick, thanks to safety regulations
- This Graco pack n play functions as a changing station. The weight limit of the changer is 25lb
- You can choose between many different colors
- You also get an alternative to a crib for the first one to two months
- This product meets all the required standards
- It has wheels for mobility, but some doors in your home may be too small for it
- Setup up is quite challenging compared to other pack and plays in this article
- You can’t remove the mesh fabric for machine washing
Summer Infant pack n play is one of the best baby playards because it’s quite big and effortless to assemble. The straightforward easy-to-clean design makes it a perfect option for outdoor use. Additionally, it got five votes in my old “study,” and I bought this one.
As you can see, it’s a time-tested popular playpen. This said, the Pop n Go (check out the following review) is now probably a better choice. The play area is also quite large, it’s also easy to set up, and you don’t need to worry about the bars.
Dimensions: The play area is 14 sq ft
Weight: 12.2lb (5.5kg)
- Set-up is straightforward. It takes about 15 seconds
- You can carry it in a relatively small 38 x 7 x 7in (~97 x 18 x 18cm) soft case
- The play area is 14 sq ft, so you can keep two younger toddlers in it
- Because the floor is water-resistant, it’s easy to clean
- Although older toddlers can climb out of it, extra-large pack n play also has other uses. You could turn it into a ball pit, for example. Many people have also used it for small dogs
- There’s no padding on the bars. Many parents have reported that their babies have hit themselves against the bars. You may want to consider a pipe insulation foam
- Older toddlers can climb out using the crossed bars
- If you are looking for a pack n play where your kid can also sleep, this product isn’t for you. The floor has no soft padding (although you could place it on a thick carpet). That said, the Summer SE Hex playard already has a removable padded flood. It may be an excellent alternative if this feature is important to you
- The canopy is sold separately. It’s effortless to put on, and the playpen looks great, like a little castle. That said, it doesn’t protect your kid from the sun unless it’s directly above you
If you’re looking for a large playpen that’s effortless to assemble, you can’t go wrong with this one by Pop n Go. It unfolds just in seconds beating even the Summer Infant pack-n-play (if you’re in a hurry and don’t need to insert the support rods, of course). This is one of the best pack and plays for active families. As it’s lightweight and comes with a carry bag and ground stakes, it’s great for camping or going to a beach.
Dimensions: 59 x 59 x 48 inches (the play area is over 14 sq ft)
Weight: 7.2lb (3.3kg)
- The setup is extremely easy. You just have to pop it open. This said, it’s advisable also to insert the safety stakes, which takes about one minute or so
- You can effortlessly carry it around because it weighs little and comes with a carry bag
- The play area is over 14 sq ft (49 x 49 inches), so your little one has plenty of room to crawl around. Alternatively, it’s possible to also keep pets in it
- Because the floor is water-resistant, it’s easy to clean. You can also buy a play mat and a cover for it. As a result, you can make it more comfortable for your little one in case you’re only using it on hard flooring
- The sides are made of soft, breathable mesh
- You also get a protective UV canopy. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the firm was founded in 2018 in California
- You can choose between four different colors
- One of the best features is the side door which makes it easy to put your baby in
- This playpen isn’t intended for sleeping, so it doesn’t come with a pad
New Room2 is one of the best pack n plays because it has a large play area and is also intended for sleeping. Although it’s relatively bulky, it features lockable wheels for better portability. You can also fold it in case you need a large travel crib, but it requires some practice. In my small survey, this model shared fifth place with four other pack n plays.
Dimensions: 39,8 x 39,8 x 31 inches (the play area is 10 sq ft)
Weight: 29.6lb (13.4kg)
- You get a mattress and a suitable waterproof sheet for this playard. As the play area is so big, you can even have two babies sleep in it
- The storage container bag is included, and it measures around 37 x 10 x 9.5in (~94 x 25 x 24cm) when folded
- It has two lockable wheels for portability
- You can choose between two different designs
- This playard is JPMA certified
- It’s big even when folded, and assembling requires some practice. As a result, it’s not the best pack n play if you have to travel a lot
This giant playpen is perfect if you want to create personal space for your baby and don’t plan to move it around too often. While it’s easy to assemble, you must take it apart when switching between rooms or going outside, as most doors are too small for it. This said, your little one gets a large play area with two side doors. As a result, this pack and play is easy to use even if you’ve got back pains. Additionally, you can keep the doors open most of the time so your baby doesn’t feel confined.
At the moment of writing, you can find (at least on Amazon) many brands selling very similar playpens. They all seem to be based on the same design. This means that if the model by Fanbufan is sold out, you can find almost identical products by other sellers, and most of the pros and cons here apply to it. The downside is that you can generally find very little information about the manufacturers.
Dimensions: 51 x 51 x 27 inches (the play area is 18 sq ft)
Weight: Around 8lb (3,7kg)
- One of the most obvious pros is the vast play area
- This playpen is safe for your baby. The sides are made of soft, breathable BPA-free mesh. Additionally, it comes with four suction cup bases for stability
- It comes with two mesh doors
- You don’t need tools to assemble it
- It comes with two colorful hand grips for your baby
- Moving it around or storing it away for short periods of time can be annoying as you have to disassemble it every time
- At the moment of writing, it’s hard to find information about this Chinese brand and its return/warranty policy. At Amazon, it’s at least eligible for return within 30 days
If you’re looking for something man-cave-suitable, then a caste is hard to beat. Ok, I admit that a white cloud castle may not exactly be Castle Grayskull. But the important part is that you’ll be able to keep your baby safe while working, and he or she has a lot of room to play in. Additionally, the caste will come with an activity center.
Dimensions: 60 x 60 x 24 inches (the play area is 25 sq ft)
Weight: 35lb (15,8kg)
- It’s easy to put together, and you can simply fold it for quick storage
- You don’t have to worry about the flooring as it comes with non-scratch pads
- This playpen comes with an activity wall and whiteboard. At the moment of writing, my younger kid is two years old and enjoys drawing (mostly on the floor though, so I’d recommend some floor protection or washable pens)
- It’s made of food-grade plastic and comes with a side gate
- You can choose between two different designs
- It’s more suitable for babies and young toddlers. My two-year-old is already quite a good climber. This said, older children can use this castle for pretend play
- You probably end up tightening the screws quite often as they loosen easily
If you’re looking for an affordable bare-bones playpen, this is one of the best options. It’s easy to set up and comes with a travel bag. As it’s also intended for sleeping, the removable padded mat is included.
P.S I can’t show you the picture because, at the moment of writing, this product is not included in the Amazon Associates Program. This said, if you’re looking for a cheap pack-and-play (prices may change), check out the latest price from the internet:)
Dimensions: 40 x 28,5 x 29 inches
Weight: 16,6lb (7,5kg)
- If you’re looking for an affordable playpen by a reputable firm, then this is often the best choice
- You can choose between many different colors
- The pad is very thin. If you mainly need another sleeping area, then consider buying another mattress
- It meets all the required standards
This pack and play by Delta Children is sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about stability. It’s effortless to assemble and comes with a travel bag.
Dimensions: 38,5 x 38,5 x 28 inches
Weight: 32lb (14,5kg)
- It features engaging, colorful artwork
- The material is easy to clean
- It comes with a thin pad
- You get a safe playpen as it’s JPMA certified
- If you’re looking for a travel-friendly playard, then keep in mind that this is one of the heaviest options in this review article
What’s a Pack and Play?
The terminology can be quite confusing (at least it was for me), so I wrote this introductory paragraph. That said, feel free to skip it if you already know the topic:)
As the name suggests, pack n plays are usually designed for portability.
The purpose of a playpen or a traditional pack’n play is to provide a safe space for your baby to play in. They are usually larger but don’t have to meet all the safety regulations. Playards and cribs, on the other hand, have to follow more strict federal rules because they are also intended for sleeping (at least in theory). This all said, these terms are often used interchangeably in real life.
Take-home point: Not all pack n plays are intended for sleeping.
How to Choose the Best Pack n Play?
In this paragraph, I’ll go through several important points about choosing a playard. I hope they’ll help you select the right pack n play for your needs.
1. Modern Pack n Plays are Lightweight
These days it’s rare to see heavy wooden frames. Modern pack and plays use materials like mesh and metal to minimize weight.
Non-rigid mesh sides are also safe and allow good ventilation.
2. Portable Playards Should be Easy to Fold
A pack n play is great if you travel a lot. You can always have a little safe playing space for your kid with you. Look for a pack n play that’s easy to set up and can be folded in seconds.
Although most hotels provide you with a crib, many parents prefer to buy a travel crib that can also function as a playpen.
In this case, it should be lightweight and easy to set up. It would help if you also considered the mattress’s thickness.
3. Wheels can Make Your Life Easier
Wheels are a good feature if your pack n play is heavy and you want to avoid folding it whenever moving around.
Wheels also allow you to move the thing while your kid sleeps in it.
Make sure that they are lockable, though! Unexpected movements may cause accidents.
4. Look for Extra Features if You Have a big House and Portability isn’t Your Main Concern
It’s so convenient to have a playpen in the room where you spend most of your time. This holds especially true if your house has more than one floor.
Some pack n plays count as traveling nurseries, and you can buy a lot of add-ons- a bassinet, a changing table, etc. These are usually quite heavy and are not very easy to fold. That said, if you’re planning only to use them at home, they may be perfect.
Even if you have babyproofed your man cave, having a designated safe place for your kid may be good.
For example, if somebody breaks a glass, you need time to clean the mess. This is where a playard becomes handy. Just leave your kid there for a couple of minutes until the emergency is over.
5. Consider Your Health
If you have back issues or are not very tall, check the height of the sides and opt for one with a zip-up door.
The weight of pack n plays can vary considerably. Even playpens reviewed in this article weigh between 12lb and 30lb. If you have back problems, shoulder pains, or knee issues, it’s best to buy as light a product as possible.
Which Extra Steps DadProgress Took to Find You the Best Playpen?
I have regularly updated this article since 2018, as it was one of the first on the site. Back then, I concluded a small “survey” to find the best pack and plays.
A meta-analysis is a study method in which the results of many studies are combined to give a more precise answer.
I ended my quest to find the best playpen by reading 14 various “studies.”
Only Four Pack n Plays got Mentioned More Than Five Times in 2018!
You can see the names of these four most popular playpens on the diagram.
After defining these four best playards, I dived deep and read many reviews from real parents to detect any problems.
Now, many years later, I’m surprised that the top models are still trendy. This said, as new playards have entered the market, I’ve updated the original article accordingly, and you can now see here ten reviews instead of five.
You can find the results under the reviews:)
How to Find Safe Pack n Plays?
As I’ve already mentioned (sorry for repeating myself), pack n plays don’t have to meet federal standards unless they are also intended for sleeping (cribs or playards).
Luckily for us parents, we don’t have to dig too deep to ensure a product is safe for our baby.
There are some independent testing and certification systems like JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association). These are voluntary for manufacturers, but if a product is JPMA certified, it meets federal and state requirements. All the reviewed playards, for example, have that certification.
You can read more about the most popular testing systems in the following paragraph or scroll back to reviews.
JPMA & OEKO-TEX & Greenguard
JPMA is a voluntary program in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s based on ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), and certified products also meet federal and state requirements.
Oeko-Tex is a worldwide testing and certification system for textile products at all processing levels and supplementary materials used. They have an extensive list of substances that should not be used. There are four product classes. Articles for babies and toddlers should meet Class 1 standards.
Greenguard is a testing system that ensures that a product meets indoor chemical emission limits. The best baby gear is Greenguard Gold certified.
To Sum Up
The best overall pack n play should meet your needs. Start choosing by first figuring out your lifestyle. After that, you can see if any of the reviewed playpens meets your criteria.
Best Playard for Traveling Parents
The Lotus Travel Crib (check the latest price on Amazon) and the Travel crib Light (check the latest price on Amazon) are equally good choices if you travel a lot. Both are lightweight and easy to put together. The Lotus Travel Crib may be slightly better as it has a zip-up door and feels bigger.
Best Large Pack n Play
The best portable playard is probably the Pop N Go Portable Playpen (check the latest price on Amazon). This said, the Fanbufan Baby Playpen (Check the Latest Price on Amazon) offers a larger play area for parents.
Best Playard as a Nursery Center
The Graco Travel Dome Playard With Napper and Changer (check the latest price on Amazon) offers your baby a nice play area and doubles down as a mobile nursery.
Best Pack and Play for Twins?
The best playpen for twins may be Joovy New Room 2 (check the latest price on Amazon).
I hope this article made your life easier, and thanks for reading!