Graco Pack 'n Play Review

Graco Pack 'n Play Review

January 25, 2018

Graco Pack 'n Play Review

Graco Pack 'n Play Review
Photo by @l1aubin
The Graco Pack ‘n Play is a category defining product. But do you need one?Graco Pack 'n Play Review

Upshot: The Graco Pack ‘n Play is the most popular playard. Because it’s so inexpensive, parents can forgive that it’s heavy and hard to fold.

Price Range: $

The Graco Pack ‘n Play is a category defining product. Many people say “pack ‘n play” to talk about non-Graco playards like the 4moms breeze.

So what is it? The Pack ‘n Play is a playard and sleeper/bassinet that can be used from birth through the toddler years as an easy, portable place for your baby to sleep or play. Whether you are going to grandma’s regularly or want a safe place for your baby to play at home, the Pack ‘n Play is a great solution that many parents find essential. Some even use it instead of a bassinet or crib since it grows with baby.

Why We Love It

The price is hard (no, impossible) to beat. It serves a useful function, and has been a most registered for and most loved product for years.

Most Pack ‘n Plays have a bassinet attachment in the top, so it can be used as a sleeper from the earliest days. With the bassinet, the baby is higher up so they are easier to reach. As your baby grows, you can use the lower portion of the Pack ‘n Play as a travel crib.

The Pack ‘n Play can also be a playard, which is a handy place for your baby to hang out when you have to do something else and can’t keep eagle eyes on them. (Oh, hi, toddler climbing on the table.)

Lastly, some models of Pack ‘n Plays can be used as a changing table, too! This can eliminate getting a stand-alone changing table, or you can use it as a second changer somewhere outside of the nursery.

Why We Don’t

It’s heavy and hard to use. Folding and unfolding can devolve into a wrestling match. The lightest version is more than 20 lbs, and most are closer to 30.

Tips about How to Use

Some parents find the Pack ‘n Plays with changing stations to very useful to use as an extra changing table in the living room or another room in the house.

The fold is THE major challenge of the Pack ‘n Play. Each arm has a button that has to be pushed before you start to collapse the base. The buttons can also get sticky, and you aren’t sure when it’s been pushed. When setting it up, each arm has to be locked in place before you can flatten the base.

The Competition

To be honest, there is no competition at this price.

The closest comparison is the Joovy Room2. However at 40” x 40”, it takes up a lot of…room. Joovy offers a bassinet addition to make it easier for a sleeping newborn or two, since the addition is made for twins.

The other popular playards that have the option to add a bassinet are the 4moms Breeze and Nuna SENA which are both very easy to unfold, but they are a lot more expensive.

If you are optimizing for portability, consider the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light. The big advantage? It’s only 13 lbs and much smaller than the Pack ‘n Play. This makes it ideal for flying to see family or smaller outings like weekend camping.

User Reviews

From the Babylist Store

“This is where our baby girl slept her first year of life!! I loved the napper insert for when she was teeny tiny it kept her snuggled in and at a slight incline. Once she outgrew that she just slept right in the top part like a normal crib. We were able to keep this right beside our bed so baby could be super close but not in our bed.” - Ashley

“A Pack n’ Play is a bit of a registry ‘must have.’ It has been a travel crib for us, and it has been a safe play area. Now that she is mobile, it is vital to have a safe place to put her so I can leave the room without having her chew on furniture or lick floors… Ya know, like babies do.” - Cole

“Does the same thing as more expensive ones, for cheaper.” - Mary

“Our son slept in the bassinet until he was 15 lbs (~4m). Haven’t used it since (he’s 9m) and never once used the newborn napper/changer. If I could go back, I would have bought a nicer bassinet for early same-room sleeping, and skipped the Pack n’ Play.” - Rachel

Versions

There are dozens (literally dozens) of Pack ‘n Play models to consider! Here are a few of our favorites and their major differences.

On the Go

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 2.44.49 PM

This is the simplest Pack ‘n Play with the playard base and a bassinet that hangs from the top bars. If you aren’t worried about the changing station or other bells and whistles, this is the most economical Pack ‘n Play and still gets the job done. It’s also a little bit smaller and lighter than many of other options.

Includes Bassinet and playard
Dimensions 29” x 28.5” x 40”
Weight 22.9 lbs

Change ‘n Carry

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 2.44.32 PM

This model offers a changing table surface that hangs from the top bars. The bassinet is half the size of the top unlike the On the Go and Reversible Napper Changer which have full-length bassinets. This can be an issue as the baby grows.

One nice thing is that the changer is removable and can be taken with you in a diaper bag (thus Change and Carry). It also includes a side pocket for your essentials and a small mobile with three plush starts that hang over the bassinet.

Includes Half-size bassinet, mobile, portable changing table and playard
Dimensions 33.25” x 28.5” x 40”
Weight 28.5 lbs

Reversible Napper and Changer

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 2.44.23 PM

This model includes a small changing station that can flip over into a napper for when the baby is very little, and also includes a full-length bassinet, unlike the Change ‘n Carry. It also includes a mobile that hangs over the bassinet.

Includes Bassinet, mobile, flippable napper/change and playard
Dimensions 33.25” x 28.5” x 40”
Weight 28.5 lbs

Accessories

Pack ‘n Play Sheet: The Pack ‘n Play doesn’t come with a sheet, and the included mattress is pretty scratchy. If you’re going to be using it as a bassinet/crib frequently, we recommend getting a couple sheets, or even quilted ones, to help baby sleep better.

After-market Mattress: The included mattress is also not very soft. If this is your go-to crib, consider a softer one like Dream on Me or Millard. The Pack ‘n Play cannot be folded with these on it, but if you keep it in one place, this is a good add-on.

Specs

Age Recommendations: Bassinets and changing tables are for babies under 15 lbs and unable to push up and the playards are for children until 35” tall who are unable to climb out.

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