How Is A Pack N Play Different From A Playpen

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
26 min read

Infants can safely play in a Pack-N-Play or a playpen because they are enclosed, supervised spaces.

The two pieces of gear are utilized to create an area where infants can play and sit without constant supervision.

Parental supervision of infants is required at all times, however playpens give parents a much-needed break so they can get some things done.

Both the playpen and the pack and play, which is an enclosed unit made of wood or plastic, have foldable designs that make them convenient for transport.

Differences between a Pack and Play and a Playpen are the focus of this article.

What is a Pack and Play?

A pack and play, or playard, is a portable, mini-crib designed for newborns and young children to play in or sleep in.

It’s rectangular with wheels that raise one side (the mesh one) off the ground.

The mesh construction of the walls ensures that infants may get plenty of fresh air while they sleep, which is crucial for their health and safety and for lowering the risk of SIDS (SIDS).

The pack and play’s wheels are free to use, and they can be adjusted to the proper height for the baby to sleep in, or lowered for playtime.

Graco Pack 'n Play Bassinet vs. Pack 'n Play Travel Lite with Stages

Because of its portability, parents can store them away when their infants aren’t using them or relocate them to accommodate other hobbies or housework.

The pack and play has a detachable changing table, a crib for napping, and some hanging toys for entertainment.

The remaining components of the setup are constructed of vinyl, a material that can be folded with ease.

Most pack and plays are larger in width and height than bassinets, providing extra room for things like diapers and toys.

What is a playpen?

When parents need to get things done, they can set up a playpen, which is a portable play area for their infant or young child.

Protecting infants from danger while their parents are at work or performing chores is the major goal of this item.

When stocked with toys, playpens can also serve as informal playrooms.

Baby playpens are commonly used by parents for children aged seven months to three years.

Pediatricians recommend introducing the playpen to infants as early as possible so that they become accustomed to spending time there even when their parents are not there.

Most modern playpens have multiple uses and can be converted into a room divider, a travel bed, a fire guard, or a stair gate.

However, babies shouldn’t spend too much time in there because it limits their ability to explore their environment.

When children are too young to play safely outside, parents and caregivers often utilize playpens to keep them from leaving the area.

Differences between a pack and play and a playpen

There are significant distinctions between playpens and pack ‘n plays.

Most baby stores sell playpens and pack and plays separately, despite the fact that the former is widely regarded as the superior option.

The main difference between a playpen and pack and play is that the latter is well-fitted with extra features such as a portable crib, a diaper changing station, storage shelves, and organizers.

The pack and play is more than just a playpen; it also serves as a portable crib, a diaper change station, and has shelves and bins for storage.

Although playpens are more useful for older infants, they perform an excellent job of keeping infants safe and secure without any extra bells or whistles.

A playpen is spacious, lightweight, and cheaper due to the missing features as compared to pack and plays, which are more massive and expensive.

In comparison to pack and plays, which are bulkier and more expensive, a playpen offers more space, is easier to transport, and costs less because of its limited features.

Tips to consider when choosing a pack and play or a playpen

The following are some things that parents should keep in mind when shopping for a pack and play or a playpen, whether in a store or online:


It’s crucial for parents to think about keeping their kids safe.

Before purchasing a playpen or pack ‘n play, parents should familiarize themselves with the product’s guidelines and read reviews written by other parents and industry professionals.

Finally, keep an eye out for anything that has been recalled because of security concerns.

Parents may rest easy knowing that their children are always protected when they invest in a product that has received positive feedback from others.


The difference in size between the two is another consideration. It’s important for parents to know that there is a size difference between the two goods.

Parents with infants or young children under a year of age may want to invest in a playpen, while those with a larger living space or older children may prefer a pack and play.

When deciding which to use, parents can look at both options.


To the same end, newborns and babies can enjoy safe playtime in either a pack and play or a playpen.

Sleeping is another option for those who take use of the covered areas.

A playpen is a great way for parents on the go to keep their infants and toddlers contained while they play, while a pack and play is a great option for those who need two pieces of equipment.


Since both the playpen and the pack and play are easily transportable, they are equally viable options.

For example, parents who enjoy spending time at the park or outside with their baby and a good book can choose any of these options.

Both are practical for ensuring the security of infants, and the convenience of folding makes them convenient to carry anywhere.


Unlike playpens, most pack ‘n plays provide additional storage space.

A pack and play is a great option for parents who need more storage for things like diapers, bottles, and clothing.


Modern pack n plays have music and toys that hang from the ceiling to keep babies and toddlers occupied.

Parents of newborns up to six months of age may choose to invest in a pack and play, while those with children older than that may want to go for a playpen.

8 Best Pack N’ Plays of 2022

1. Graco Pack ‘n Play Dome Playard

You can’t go wrong with the Graco Pack ‘n Play Dome Playard if you’re searching for a pack ‘n play that will last from birth through toddlerhood. This playard may be used in several different ways, beginning with its infant seat, changing pad, and bassinet, and ending as a cot for your toddler. The changing pad is simple to clean, and there are built-in spaces for storing diapers, wipes, and other necessities for baby care.

There are a few special characteristics that distinguish this pack ‘n play apart from its competitors. If your bassinet is close to your bed, one option is to lift it so that baby is at eye level. The toddler cot is an alternative; it can be used in tandem with a newborn seat for families with multiple infants. Since Graco is a well-respected name in the baby-products industry, you can rest assured that this is a high-quality item.

This pack ‘n play has a lot of features for its price, so you probably won’t need much more in the way of baby gear. Depending on your demands, you may choose to go with a less cumbersome alternative because of the additional setup time and space requirements.

2. Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center

The Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center is an excellent choice if you need a convertible pack ‘n play for your child but are on a tight budget. The Graco Newborn2Toddler Pack ‘n Play is similar to this one in that it has a bassinet and a full-sized bassinet, as well as a changing pad and lots of storage, but it also has a cot for a toddler.

When compared to other pack ‘n plays, the Baby Trend newborn bassinet stands out due to its additional features, such as a canopy, soft overhead toys, music/nature sound selections, and a night light. If you need to relocate your sleeping infant to another room, but don’t want to wake them, you can detach it and use it on its own; it even includes a handle for carrying!

This convertible pack ‘n play, like several others like it, might be cumbersome if you don’t have a lot of room or need to take it with you on the road often. This pack ‘n play is a terrific choice that can be left set up at home and used as your child gets older, making it ideal for the infrequent trips you expect to take.

3. 4moms Breeze Plus Portable Playard

The 4moms Breeze Plus Portable Playard is yet another excellent all-in-one option, as it also features a full-sized bassinet and a changing mat. This one doesn’t have some features that parents want, like extra compartments for diapers and wipes, but it’s built to last and can be used for years. The larger crib on the bottom can be used as a travel bed or playard once your child outgrows the smaller bassinet stage.

The 4moms Breeze Plus is a great option if ease of use is an important factor for you. This pack ‘n play is a lighter weight option and folds up easily for those who plan on using it for travel, and the detachable changer can be easily flipped over the side for storage. For the price, this one doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but the quick, one-handed set-up and take-down makes it great for families on the go. Graco Pack and Play Portable Playard, Push Button Compact Fold,  Carnival

4. hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe Portable Playpen

If convenience is paramount, go no farther than the 4moms Breeze Plus. If you need a pack ‘n play for travel, this one is a good option because it’s lightweight, folds up quickly, and has a removable changer that can be stored by flipping it over on its side. Even though it doesn’t come with many extra features for the price, this one is perfect for on-the-go families because it can be set up and taken down with only one hand.

Some nice additional features the hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe includes are the childproof side zippers — which will save you from having to bend over to lift your child — and the soft padding. Other outdoor pack ‘n plays sometimes just have a thin piece of fabric on the bottom, but your little one can play and even nap comfortably in this one thanks to the extra padding.

5. Lotus Travel Crib

You won’t have to bend over as far to lift your child in and out of the hiccapop PlayPod Deluxe, thanks to the childproof side zippers and plush cushioning. If you compare it to other outdoor pack ‘n plays, you’ll see that this one has more padding on the bottom, making it comfortable for your child to play in or even take a nap in.

After a long flight or car travel, you’ll appreciate the convenience of this pack ‘n play’s quick assembly and side zipper, which can lighten the load a bit. The fact that it has earned the prestigious GreenGuard Gold certification indicates that it was manufactured without the use of toxic substances, which is great news for the health of your child and the quality of the air in your home. The Lotus Travel Crib is not equipped with a bassinet or a diaper changing station because it was designed with portability in mind.

6. Graco Pack ‘N Play On the Go Playard

A stripped-down version of Graco’s Pack ‘n Play is available for a reasonable price. It still has a full-size bassinet that can be detached, storage pockets, and some plush hanging toys to keep your baby happy. If you already have a baby seat and changing table and are seeking for a simple solution that will provide a safe space for your child to nap or play from birth through the toddler years, this is a fantastic choice.

Since there isn’t much to this model, it’s simple to put together and can be moved around with no hassle. There are wheels on the base, which come in handy if you ever need to relocate the entire unit to a different room. Although it lacks the bells and whistles of more expensive models and has smaller storage pockets, this Graco Pack ‘n Play is well-made and should last several years.

7. Joovy Room² Portable Playard

The Joovy Room2 Portable Playard eliminates the need for two pack ‘n plays, a common source of stress for parents of multiples. This playard, with its approximately ten square feet of space, is ideal for families with multiple young children or for those who simply want to offer their infant or toddler more room to roam. The Joovy Room2 playard is somewhat simplistic when used alone, but a more elaborate twin nursery center is available for purchase. This center features a bassinet and changing table that attach to the top of the playard.

This pack ‘n play is unique in that it includes a waterproof sheet (normally these are offered separately) and its all-around mesh design allows you to see your child at all times without disturbing them. Because of its bigger size, this playard is a bit heavier than its smaller counterpart. But if you’re just relocating it within the house, the wheels will come in help, provided you don’t have to squeeze through any particularly narrow doorways.

8. Dream On Me Nest

This top pick at the National Parenting Center’s annual awards show is both inexpensive and stylish. This pack ‘n play is a great option for those looking for a high-quality product at an affordable price. It’s convenient for parents on the go because it’s not cumbersome to carry about, takes up little space when folded, and is easy to set up and take down. You can keep an eye on your infant from anywhere in the house with this one because of the 360-degree field of view.

The Dream On Me Nest is a basic pack ‘n play that does not include any extras like a bassinet, changing pad, or drawers. Lacking wheels may be a deal breaker for those who want to easily relocate it around the house. This award-winning product is beautiful, easy to use, and simply built if you need a basic location for your baby to sleep and snooze while traveling on a tight budget.

Best Baby Playpens of 2022

Okay, let’s jump straight into our list!

Since this is so quick and simple to put together, we ranked it first. It’s ready to use straight from the packaging. That fact alone makes it appealing to families. When you can reduce the amount of time and effort you have to expend, you relieve a lot of pressure. If you’re like me, you find it tiring to sit about and read directions while gathering a plethora of equipment and materials to put together a single piece of furniture. When possible, I try to avoid having to do more than absolutely necessary. Read on and see why this is our top choice in the portable category.

Considering how simple it is to put together, we ranked this as our top pick. It’s ready to use straight when you open the box. Just that fact alone makes it appealing to families. Reduces anxiety when you can do the same amount of work in a fraction of the time. If you’re like me, you find it exhausting to sit down, read directions, and assemble furniture that requires many tools and a number of different parts. I try to stay away from unnecessary tasks wherever possible. See why this portable option is our top pick by reading on.

It can be folded down to a mere 11 inches in width, making it easy to stow away practically anywhere. Put it away when you’re not using it to free up some valuable floor space. When folded, the product weighs around 36 pounds, making it manageable to carry.

Use Either Indoors or Out

It has nonslip pads built into the base, so you may use it indoors or out. It’s a nice feature to have because it folds up compactly and is easy to transport. Wherever you choose to put it, it will keep your youngster safe. Furthermore, the bottom will not scratch your flooring.

Handles that are built in

What characteristics allow something to be transported easily? Handles. The Fortella Cloud Castle’s panels have convenient carry handles for parents. If you want to stow it away or transport it, you can simply pick it up and put it under a bed, on a shelf, or in the trunk of your car with ease.

Is there anything else that kids can do with this structure?

  • Board and interactive display wall
  • There are no rungs for toddlers to use as handholds.
  • Constructing a simple and reliable safety gate
  • Material is safe for use with food and has no BPA.
  • Simply put, there are no points of any kind.
  • Variable geometry
  • Encompasses a 25-square-foot floor space for fun
  • There are little slats to keep arms from getting stuck.

This option is more expensive than others we provide. After our #3 option, this one comes in at a close second in terms of price. However, its adaptability and the aforementioned extra features make it well worth the cost. You can modify the form so that it fits just where you want to put it. You can encourage your child’s imagination and hand-eye coordination with the integrated activity wall and whiteboard. Obviously, this is especially important while one is young.

Because of its adaptability to both indoor and outdoor use, this playpen for babies ranks second. This playard from Evenflo can be utilized indoors on gloomy days or outdoors in the sunshine. At 18.5 square feet, it’s not quite as roomy as the Fortella, but it’s cheaper and more suited to cramped quarters.

The Number of Panels Can Be Increased

Additional panels to increase floor area are included with your order. As a result, the infant playpen can be adjusted to suit a variety of situations. Of course, if your outside space is bigger than your indoor space, or if your indoor space is bigger than your outdoor space, this can be quite useful. You may adjust it so that it fits the room perfectly. What could be more ideal?

Safe and sound inside and out

Because of its hinge design, assembly is quick and painless, and it comes with useful extras that set it apart. Lawn stakes are included so that it may be put down in the yard and used when the kids are playing. It won’t be a moving target, so relax. There are pads you can use to protect your floor and keep the panels in place if you set it up inside your home.

Check out the many other benefits of the Evenflo Versatile Play Space.

  • Panels of 28 inches in height
  • Suitable for infants and toddlers 6-24 months of age
  • Collapsible with a comfortable grip
  • Putting it together requires no tools
  • resistant to the effects of ultraviolet light
  • Shaped resembles a rounded hexagon

Whether inside or outside, this is a fantastic option. The ability to expand or contract the play space by adding or removing panels is an interesting twist. You’ll notice that the Evenflo playpen is the only one on this list that can be extended in size. Moving in and out of your home is a breeze because of how quickly and easily it can be disassembled and reassembled.

When compared to the other playpens we discuss, this one is the most spacious, covering more than 30 square feet. This is a fantastic choice if your home has a dedicated playroom or other space for children to run around in. A child’s desire for freedom of movement belies its apparent simplicity. If you are capable of doing so, then by all means, proceed. Although it lacks the versatility of a Graco Playard, it still has plenty of entertainment options for your young child. When compared to other options, what makes this the greatest one? To put it simply, let’s dissect this.

In other words, it’s safe to use.

You don’t want your infant or toddler to get wounded while exploring the baby playpen’s confines. In the event that any of the panels are bumped, this enclosure is equipped with nonslip pads and place holders to keep it in place. For further security, a double-locking door has been incorporated into the design.

Safe, Extra-Large Panels

This enormous playpen has extra-large, robust panels. Your child’s limbs will be able to move freely in and out between the slats. We know that no matter what we say, our infants will insist on trying to accomplish this. Relax knowing they won’t get caught or have enough traction to climb over the panels.

Here are a few more features that stand out.

  • You can find a gym or play mat that precisely fits your space needs.
  • Available in four distinct hues
  • Totally devoid of any harmful chemicals and designed for consumer use
  • Waterproof
  • Simple, tool-free construction and disassembly
  • Easily maintained
  • Formal square

Although the price of this extra-large playpen is higher than that of the other options we recommend, it is absolutely worth it if you have the means. It has a wide range of applications and is particularly helpful for families with active children. They’ll be safe from harm and harm itself.

This infant playpen from Babyseater is designed to be used practically everywhere. It is easy to store away and move thanks to its compact size and low weight. It doesn’t take much to go somewhere else, whether it’s to see relatives or just to hang out in the backyard. Let’s have a look at the main advantages of this baby playpen.

The Floor Is Cushioned

This playpen is the only one on our list with a built-in floor, unlike the Graco Pack N Play which follows. All the others are vented at the base. The cushioning provides a gentle barrier between your infant and the floor. To put it simply, this is ideal for the youngest infants who are just learning to pull themselves up to a standing position. The peace of mind it gives anxious parents is greatly appreciated. On top of that, it can withstand some moisture.

Lining Can Be Removed

This playpen’s lining is even another perk. It can be quickly and simply disassembled, unlike the alternatives we recommend. It can also be washed in a machine. Babies drool and have accidents occasionally. These baby items are most suited for infants and toddlers who are still in the teething stage. Never again will you need to stress about the cleanliness of your children’s playground. Graco Pack and Play On the Go Playard | Includes Full-Size  Infant Bassinet, Push Button Compact Fold, Stratus , 39.5x28.25x29 Inch ( Pack of 1)

What makes this playground unique is enumerated below.

  • There is a see-through mesh panel so you can keep an eye on your kid.
  • For further security, there are two latches.
  • Simple, one-handed folding
  • It comes with a travel bag, free of charge.
  • Under 15 pounds in weight.

This playpen is ideal if you frequently travel or spend long periods of time away from home. A specific and secure place for your child to play and learn about the world around them is what you’ll get out of this. Allowing them some independence wherever you go is beneficial to their development. The hexagonal design allows it to fit into virtually any room. The play yard will receive plenty of usage from your baby, and you can rest easy knowing they are safe from harm.

This playpen, which is referred to as a “playard” in the lingo, is intended for infants. Reason for this is that it has numerous supplementary functions. I ordered two since I was so pleased with ours. We had two, one at Grandma’s and one here at the house. They are so sturdy that they outlasted both of our children, and we even gave one to a relative who had young children. Exactly why, therefore, did you decide on this particular crib for your infant? Explain why this is the best option we’ve found.

It Serves Many Purposes Beyond That of a Simple Playpen.

The convenience of having a second diaper changing station in the house was invaluable. Because of its small footprint, we never had to store it away. Instead of bringing the baby back into the bedroom to be changed on the table, we kept ours in the living room and it was excellent for rapid emergency diaper changes. Simply remove the soiled diaper and dispose of it in the provided container.

You may quickly and easily take out the optional attachments and put your infant in there for some playtime. In addition, there is a pad at the base, and you can use that in conjunction with a sheet if you choose. Your kid can sleep well there without any worries. Children of that age tend to tire quickly, so we were relieved to be able to leave him to nap there in peace.

Excellent Infant Playards

Because of how light it is, transporting the Graco Playard is a breeze. It can be folded down quickly and simply. And, rather of having to fold it up, you can roll it about the room on its wheels. It can always be at your disposal. Ours had wheels, which I thought was fantastic. When our son wasn’t using it, we tucked all of his toys inside and pushed it to one side of the room. Indeed, that was one of my favorite features.

Is there anything else that this baby playpen has to offer?

  • Great for the time between having a newborn and having a toddler.
  • Pockets for storing things
  • Infant playpen with a special newborn seat (also machine washable)
  • Bag to transport items in
  • The Toy Store
  • Mesh vents on the side provide airflow.
  • Simple to clean

This is a fantastic option for a kid-friendly playroom. It is reasonably priced relative to other playpen options. It’s a lot more than just a place for your infant to play in safety. Multifunctional baby goods are typically a huge bonus for busy parents.

These features separate it from our runner-up choice. In any case, if you’re willing to splurge, that one is fantastic as well. Please continue reading to learn why we ranked Baby Care Fun Zone in second place.

This playpen is the ideal option for those on a tight budget, as it costs the least of the top options. Its dimensions are quite modest at 49 by 25.5 inches. However, there is still enough room for your infant to run around. This is something to think about if you need a small, inexpensive play area for your child. The most compelling arguments in favor of this product will be presented here.

Leaning Panels Toward the Interior

The panels of the GrowthPic Playpen are angled slightly inward, which is one of the playpen’s most distinctive design features. The purpose of doing so is to eliminate potential for toppling. It’s very common for infants to lean against the play area’s walls and push against furniture. This design ensures your child’s safety without taking up unnecessary room.

Easy to Carry

The GrowthPic has the smallest overall product weight on our list at at 6 lbs. A portable carrying case is included for portability. It’s lightweight and easy to transport from inside your home to the backyard.

For what other reason did we prioritize this?

  • Your child can’t get out of this one unless you let him or her
  • Guaranteed for 12 Months
  • Corners are rounded off so they won’t scratch your floor.
  • Great for indoors or outdoors
  • Great for indoors or outdoors
  • Excellent for use both indoors and out.

This playpen is the ideal option if you need a safe space for your child to play either indoors or outdoors, costs less than $60, and meets those criteria. The price is the primary distinction between this product and our #5 best seller. In terms of cost, the GrowthPic is preferable. Even though it’s more affordable, you won’t have to sacrifice quality or safety for your kid.


There are a variety of options for playpens; a portable crib, a playard, or a free-standing baby gate may be more appropriate for your situation.

The basic playpen or the baby gate is a fantastic alternative if you need a safe space for your child to have autonomous playtime throughout the day while you take care of some duties around the house.

Choose a playard, like Graco’s Pack ‘n Play, if you want to use the playpen for daytime naps or as a portable travel bed.

However, the small crib is an option to consider if there isn’t enough room in the bedroom for a regular-sized crib. Mini cribs are not portable, yet they are highly fashionable.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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