Best Pack n Play Options for Travel and Home
A pack n play — also known as a playpen — is a highly versatile piece of baby equipment and a must-have for parents who travel. It’s more than just a play yard. It’s a diaper changing station, a contained area to play while you’re doing chores, and a place to sleep safely. Planning to visit friends or relatives overnight or during naptime? Pack n plays are simple to take with you – just fold them up and tuck them into a bag! Some have inserts that make them perfect for infants and allow them to “grow with” your baby. Many parents even use the pack n play in their own bedroom as a portable bassinet so that they can keep their newborn nearby overnight.
Important Considerations When Choosing a Pack n Play
Pack n plays are available in a variety of styles and offer a wealth of features that you may or may not need. Selecting the right model may take a bit of research. Before choosing a specific pack n play, consider the following factors:
Understand how you’ll plan to use the pack n play before you start shopping. Will it be used mostly for travel? You’ll want something lightweight and compact. Will it stay primarily in your home as a “safe zone” for your baby to play? You might want a diaper changing insert. Do you plan to use it outside? Some are weather-safe.
A pack n play that's set up directly on the ground won’t have a weight limit, but a model with an integrated floor will. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations against your child’s size.
Folded Size and Weight
If you plan to do a lot of traveling or have limited space in your home, consider a lightweight model that folds up into a compact shape and takes up minimal trunk space.
Will you be storing the pack n play or leaving it set up? If you’ll be putting it up and taking it down often, opt for a model that’s simple to assemble and break down. If you’re trying to wrangle a fussy baby, the last thing you’ll want to deal with is a frustrating playpen setup.
Today’s pack n plays come with a variety of bonus features. Here are a few options you may find handy:
- Changing table
- Diaper storage
- Wheels (for ease of transport)
- Activity bars, mobiles, lights, and other toys
Pack n Play Safety
As with all baby products, it's important to consider safety when investing in a pack n play. Staying up-to-date on product recalls is one way to do this. Keep these tips in mind:
- Complete the registration card that comes with your pack n play. This allows the manufacturer to contact you if there is a recall.
- Scan the bulletin boards at retail stores and baby shops for recall notices that may apply to your item.
- Visit the website for the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the government entity that handles recalls of baby products. Enter the brand of your playpen in the recall search field to see if it has been recalled.
Our Favorite Pack n Plays
There are so many different types of pack n plays out there that it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. That’s why we rounded up the 5 best pack n plays and what we absolutely love about them.
The AeroMoov Instant Travel Cot can be assembled and folded back up in seconds! It’s an ultra-lightweight and compact travel cot for use at home and on the go. Your child can play happily and sleep safely wherever you go.
Why We Love It
- It’s one of the most lightweight pack n plays on the market (less than 11 lbs) which makes it ideal for travel. It also folds to less than 5” wide and fits easily in the included carrying bag.
- It literally takes only seconds to set up and dismantle.
- This pack-play features two easy-to-adjust levels based on your child’s age. You can use the mid-level for newborns up to two months, then transition to the lower level for older babies and toddlers.
- Its ergonomic, multi-level design, along with two cavities underneath the cot to place your feet, help protect your back as you lift your baby.
The Phil & Teds Traveller travel cot likes to brag that it’s lighter than the baby – and they’re not wrong! Weighing in at only 6 pounds, this pack n play is one of the lightest, most compact, and most portable travel cribs on the market.
Why We Love It
- This lightweight pack n’ play grows with your child. It’s good from birth until kids reach the toddler stage (35″ tall).
- The crib walls are made from breathable mesh – perfect for safety and comfort.
- The mattress has a unique self-inflating design which is amazing for ease of use. It’s also thermally insulated for your child’s comfort.
- The pack n plays lightweight, compact design is one of its best features. It weighs only 6 pounds! It also comes with its own carry bag. All in all, this travel cot is incredibly practical for long-haul trips.
The new Slumber travel crib from Silver Cross is one of the most effortless pieces of baby gear we’ve ever used. It’s approved for overnight sleep and is flexible enough to use from infancy to toddler days.
Why We Love It
- This crib grows with your child. Use it as a bassinet when they’re tiny or as a travel bed when they’re toddlers (it holds up to 50 pounds). The mesh walls and zippered sides allow them to easily crawl in and out to play. It also makes it a little easier for shorter caregivers by not making them struggle to reach over the guardrail.
- It has a dense, cushiony mattress that’s comfortable the whole night through. It also has an innovative design feature that allows the full-size mattress to zip down into a smaller cushion that fits snuggly into a bassinet.
- This pack n play is amazingly simple to disassemble and set up – just extend the legs, and you’re finished! Fold them back in with only the push of a button.
- The entire crib folds into a convenient travel case with handles – perfect for travel!
This travel crib is beautiful and easy to assemble. At 22 pounds, it’s a bit heavier than other cribs on the market. On the upside, it’s also the only pack n play with a bassinet that folds with the lead on.
Why We Love It
- This crib has a gorgeous, sleek eight-leg design that provides double the durability and stability.
- The skid-proof feet keep this crib quiet and still while the baby sleeps.
- It has an above-ground base that keeps baby draft-proof. It even comes with an organic sheet!
- Assembly and disassembly are a breeze (unless the crib is on carpet). Those skid-proof feet may create a little friction on a thick rug, making it a bit more challenging to open and close the crib on a carpeted space. Otherwise, just push down to expand it, and pull up to collapse it – super easy!
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