Babies seem to have infinite energy levels. In fact, there is nothing they love more than to play all day, well, except for the occasional breaks they take when feeding and napping. Although their high energy levels is a sign of good health, keeping up with them can be challenging.
Enter pack and plays. Also known as playards, these are units that combine a bassinet/ sleeper and a play area into one.
The beauty of these gadgets is that they’re mobile. So whether you love to travel or are a stay-at-home, you can provide your toddler with a safe play and sleep area. Read on to learn the best pack and play on the market.
Features to Consider when Choosing a Pack and Play
When looking for a playard, you want to invest in one that offers the best combination of features. However, be careful not to spend on features that you don’t really need. Here’s a rundown of the main aspects to look for:
There are two handy elements that a pack and play should have: bassinet and changing-table insert.
While these two components provide your baby with a safe sleeping area and give you an easier way to change their diapers, there’s one point you should always take into account: never leave your toddler by themselves.
If you leave your toddler alone for a prolonged period, and they happen to fall asleep on the bassinet, they face the risk of falling onto the floor or the floor of the bassinet.
To prevent such incidents, get a model with a high-quality bassinet. It should be fastened to the pack and play in a way that eliminates any risk of your toddler dismounting or meddling with it. Similarly, the changing station should be well-secured to the playard.
Some bassinets attach to the playards using bars and exposed plastic clips. The problem with such connecting mechanisms is that older kids can easily unfasten them and find their way out.
Instead, look for pack and plays with complex fastening systems. Alternatively, their connection points should be hidden away from plain sight; hence preventing your baby from tampering.
This is another crucial factor to consider. Ideally, the pack and play should be lightweight but it should also feature sturdy construction. This way, it will be easy to carry it around whether you plan to travel upcountry or are forced to move it to another room on a regular basis.
For this reason, a lot of the pack and plays are fitted with wheels. If you opt for a unit with integrated wheels, remember to check the quality of the wheels. They ought to be lockable and stable to prevent wobbling.
As part of making a playard portable, some models have folding mechanisms while others come with carrying cases. While these accessories seem unnecessary, they provide a great deal of convenience, especially when you’re traveling with your young one.
A pack and play is just one among the dozens of items that you have to buy for your toddler. As such, it’s important that you choose wisely; hence, ensure that you’re making a worthy investment.
On that note, the unit you purchase should be highly-durable. By that, we mean that every component of the play unit should feature premium-grade materials. Whether it’s the mesh covering, fabric or the carrying case for the folded playard, they should all be made of long-lasting materials.
An easy way to determine the longevity of a pack and play is to check its warranty. Usually, a long and comprehensive coverage is an indication that the manufacturer is confident about his products.
Thus, the longer the warranty, the higher the chance of that pack and play being functional and durable.
Unlike in adults, a toddler’s skin contains very little melanin. This is the pigment responsible for the skin’s color and offering protection from the sun. This means that babies are more vulnerable to the debilitating effects of the UV rays, which include sunburn, skin and eye damage.
So if you’re planning to use the pack n play outdoors, you should look for a way to protect them from the sun. More specifically, you should invest in a playard with a canopy like the Graco Sport Playard. Apart from sun protection, this additional covering protects your child from pests.
While this is one of the trivial features to consider, it can be very useful if you have limited space. For parents living in small apartments, every square inch of space counts. To maximize, look for a pack n play with extra storage units.
You can use these compartments to store diapers, baby toys, and a few clothes. Often, these storage units are added in the form of zippered side pockets, hook-on pouches, clip-on parent organizers and fabric shelves.
The size of the pack n play is another aspect you shouldn’t forget. The size you opt for will depend on your child’s age and energy levels.
If you’re buying it for a newborn, then you shouldn’t spend a fortune purchasing an overly big playard. Instead, choose a reasonably-sized unit, which they can use until they reach 3 months.
However, if your baby is a little older, it’s likely that they love to move around and play a lot. Thus, you should look for a bigger unit that provides an ample play area.
Always check the weight limit of the playard before buying. If the manufacturer has recommended a weight limit of 10 pounds, then don’t buy it, if your baby weighs more.
Ideally, the pack n play should be capable of accommodating a lot more weight than that of your toddler. As a rule of thumb, always shop for at least 10 pounds heavier.
Safety Considerations when Using a Pack and Play
To guarantee that you’re getting a pack n play that’s truly suitable for your baby, keep these safety points in mind:
- The playard should have ample stability even under pressure. Whenever possible, look for a model that’s been subjected to the test set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This test is carried out to ensure the platform cannot topple under any pressure.
- If the playard is supported by wheels, then it should have a locking mechanism and latch. These help to secure it and prevent it from folding when it’s in use.
- It should have passed the entrapment test. What this means is that there shouldn’t be any risk of your baby getting trapped in the bassinet, changing the station or other accessory attached to the playard
- The best pack n play is one that has a good height. Essentially, your baby shouldn’t be able to climb out of the unit.
- Place the unit in a strategic location. You should be able to get a clear view of the playard and your baby. Also, there shouldn’t be harmful or hazardous items nearby. This means putting it away from doors, windows, cables, heaters, and radiators.
- Keep the pack n play clean and organized. This includes the toys that your child plays with and the bedding on the napper.
Top 5 Pack n Play
1. Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer
We consider this to be the best Graco Pack n Play for several reasons. The playard, which comes in a stylish design, not only cuddles your toddler for naps but it also doubles up as a changing station.
The napper ensures your baby has a cozy place to snuggle in, outside of your arms while the changer saves you huge chunks of time. Instead of having to rush to the nursery for diaper changers, you can conveniently do this from the playard.
Another feature we love about the Graco Playard with Reversible Napper is that it grows with your child. With a weight limit of 15 pounds, this unit is perfect for newborns, infants and toddlers up to the age of 3 months.
In case you have to travel, Graco has provided a hassle-free way of packing it away. Simply put; you can fold this playard with a single push of a button. Even better, a carrying bag has been provided for convenient storage and portability.
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2. Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard
If you have twins, the Graco Playard with Reversible Napper might not be a feasible option. For such instances, you need a bigger unit like the Joovy New Room2.
Measuring 39.75 x 39.75 x 31 inches, this playard is said to have 50% more space than traditional pack and plays. Even if you have one toddler, the Joovy is a good choice as you’ll be able to fit a play gym within the playard.
Apart from space, this pack and play has a lot more to offer. For instance, it arrives when it’s already pre-assembled, saving you time in setting it up. This is a vital feature for moms who are not DIY enthusiasts or those who can’t find time to spare.
The steel bars are designed in such a way that they connect to each other seamlessly. The only thing I recommend is that you snap the top bar straight before laying out the bottom part of the unit.
Disassembling the Joovy for storage or portability purposes is also relatively easy. However, it requires more time and energy than when you’re piecing it together.
Another noteworthy feature of the playard its design. It’s available in black and charcoal hues, offering more versatility than the Graco that comes in only one color. Additionally, the manufacturer offers a thick mattress sheet made solely from cotton. The benefit of this fabric is that it can withstand numerous washes.
You’ll also find a carry bag, which is constructed using high-quality nylon. This material is durable and it’s easy to clean with warm water and a mild detergent. Better yet, the carry bag has a shoulder strap, providing greater convenience when carrying your playard.
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3.Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard
Did you know that soothing sounds and light can lull your baby to sleep? Chicco Lullaby Dream is among the few pack and plays that incorporate a nightlight and sweet lullabies to ease your toddler to sleep. Plus, the manufacturer provides remote control to help you adjust all these settings from afar.
There are a couple of other features that drew us to this multifunctional unit. For instance, it’s one of the best pack n play with bassinet. It also includes a napper, changing station and an exceptionally comfortable mattress.
Though this mattress has a firm texture, it’s also very comfortable to lie on. As a result, many parents use the playard not only as a playroom but also as a sleeping surface where their kids can sleep all night long.
Moreover, this pack n play is incredibly easy to maintain. If you want to clean the changing pad, all you have to do is unzip and detach it from the playard then toss it in the washing machine. Similarly, cleaning the mattress requires you to unzip it from the floorboards then put it in the washing machine.
If you wish to move the pack and play to a different room, all you need to do is roll it away thanks to the included wheels. There’s also a large carry bag with enough room to accommodate the folded unit and all the extra attachments.
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4.Graco Pack 'n Play Sport Playard
The only thing that kids love more than playing is spending time outdoors. Even for younger children, taking them to an outdoor setting allows them to enjoy the fresh air and natural sunlight. If you want your baby to enjoy the outdoors as much as you do, Graco Sport Playard is the perfect pack n play to invest in.
It’s equipped with loads of features that keep your toddler safe, comfortable and secure when they’re outside. To start with, the base is designed using tough materials; hence, helping to protect them from ground elements like sand and grass.
Secondly, the playard has a canopy reinforced with UV50 protection. This is added to shield your baby from direct rays that can damage their delicate skin.
Furthermore, the sides are constructed with mesh. This is to facilitate proper airflow so as to keep your baby cool. The dome-shaped canopy also helps to keep out irritating bugs.
Another noteworthy feature is its easy setup. It takes only a few minutes to assemble this unit and a few more to incorporate the canopy. The easy assembly is made possible by the 2-latch system.
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5. Graco Pack 'n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX
If you have a limited budget, your best option is to look for a playard that prioritizes function over aesthetics and other features. A pack n play like the Graco Pack n Play Suite LX serves numerous uses, eliminating the need to buy the incorporated tools separately.
The playard has four different baby gear all incorporated in the unit. These are a full-sized bassinet, a detachable new-born station, a play area and a portable toddler seat that doubles up as a bouncer.
The seat is actually equipped with 2-speed vibration control, which helps to rock your baby to sleep. Plus, it can accommodate weights of up to 18 lbs. meaning that you’ll be able to utilize it long after your baby passes infanthood. On another note, the changing station holds up to 30 pounds.
Also important to note is the portability of the Suite LX. There are two main factors that make it easy to move around. One, it’s made of lightweight but durable materials. Two, it has smooth caster wheels.
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Are Pack n Plays necessary?
These devices might not be as essential as other baby gear, but they sure can be handy. Besides, manufacturers have found a way to turn playards into highly multifunctional units.
This means that you’ll be saving a ton of money as you won’t have to buy additional tools once you get the playard. Examples of the attachments incorporated are bassinets, changing stations, infant seats, and safe toys.
Do Pack n Plays offer any real benefits?
Yes, they do. In fact, they offer so much more than a play and napping area. These include:
If you have kids of different ages at your home, then it’s vital that you protect your little one at all times. Keeping them in a playard is a convenient and easy way to keep your baby out of others’ reach.
Even though some older kids are fond of infants and newborns, they can be rough and unruly at times.
Kids start learning the minute they are introduced into the world. Within a few months after birth, they try mastering language and communication skills.
The environment they grow up in has a profound effect on how efficiently they learn. To boost your baby’s development, you should incorporate fascinating and educational toys that your toddler can start interacting with.
Every parent wants to keep a close eye on their babies. However, holding them for long hours at a time can cause extreme fatigue.
A pack n play gives you an opportunity to monitor your toddler closely without having to hold them. You can even engage in other activities like cooking, reading a book or catching up on the latest episode of your favorite t.v. show.
Planning to travel overseas for your vacation? You can take the pack n play with you. Whether you’re traveling by car, train or airplane, these gadgets are lightweight and compact enough to fit in any space.
How do I clean a pack n play?
It’s vital that you keep the pack n play clean. Chances are, this is where your child will spend most of his/her time. So it’s only fair that you provide a clean environment where they can hang out.
The good news is that cleaning this piece of equipment is not difficult. The fact that it’s made from very few materials makes for an easy cleaning process. Here’s the procedure to follow:
- Start by removing all machine-washable parts – Go over the instructions or the label to determine which parts can be cleaned using a washing machine.
- Spot clean the remaining sections – If the fabric on the napper or the changing pad isn’t machine-washable, then you’ll have to spot clean them. Use a mild detergent and water to lightly clean these portions.
Usually, it’s wise to avoid pack n plays that don’t have detachable or machine-washable parts. With such models, dirt tends to accumulate in different spaces, and this can affect your baby’s health.
Pack n plays are very handy tools. They’re easy to move around and can be used as safe areas for your toddler to play or take a nap.
If you’re looking to purchase one of these baby gears, we recommend the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX. User-friendly design, multiple storage compartments, wheels and a machine-washable are some of the features that make this unit stand out.