Picking a Pack ‘n Play is overwhelming! If you plan on searching the baby aisle at Toys R Us or cruising through Amazon’s selections, you’ll soon realize how many different styles and features they have available. Here are some basic tips to help you choose:
If you’re temporarily substituting your crib for a Pack ‘n Play for your newborn phase, there is one key feature to look for. You’ll want something called a newborn napper or sleeper attachment. A bassinet would work fine too, but most parents prefer the look and security of the napper. A napper is like a small detachable Moses basket that sits over the opening of the Pack ‘n Play. This feature is good for babies until they are 15 pounds or 3 months old.
I would suggest the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Newborn Napper Elite or the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat.
Are you like me and tight on money and available bedroom space? Consider substituting the traditional crib for an all-in-one Pack ‘n Play crib. Honestly, I skipped the whole newborn napper feature because those play yards were simply out of my budget, but we managed. You’ll definitely want the removable bassinet feature, which is an attached unit that acts as a raised bottom. This way, when you’re putting your baby down for a nap, you don’t have to reach way over to set them on the crib floor. The bassinet probably sits about a foot below the edges of the crib. It says on the instruction manual that it is good for babies up to 15 pounds or until they begin sitting up on their own. For me, I used it until my daughter was seven months old when she started trying to grab on to the sides to pull herself up. After that, I just took the bassinet off and began laying her at the bottom floor of the crib.
The version I bought has since been discontinued, but a similar version is the the Pack ‘n Play on the Go Playard.
You don’t need any additional features if you plan on using your play yard as a contained area for your baby to hang out other than the simple set-up. No frills necessary!
Graco has since given up making the basics, but check out these affordable alternatives: Cosco Funsport Play Yard or the Evenflo Portable BabySuite 100 Play Yard.
Honestly, the diaper changer is the most useless feature you’ll come across. After reading reviews on these products, you’ll find they’re flimsy and certainly don’t hold the weight they’re supposed to. My daughter is extremely petite and by the time she was two months old and less than nine pounds, we had to ditch the changer because she kept bending it down and rolling over to one edge. I don’t see how they can hold “up to 15 pounds.” Although you’ll find many Pack ‘n Plays come with the feature, don’t let it be a make or break your decision when choosing the right play yard.
Mobiles are useless and just get in the way. If it comes with one, great, but don’t worry if it doesn’t.
Because my daughter spits up and drools in her sleep, a removable crib sheet makes cleaning a little bit easier.
It specifically states on the side of the play yard to not add a mattress, though there is a company called Dream on Me that makes them. You have to be extremely careful if you do choose to buy one. Make sure you get your play yard first, measure the bottom, and then carefully research which size mattress you need. It seems no two play yards have the same dimensions nor do the different mattresses! I bought one and despite my best efforts it still leaves a 3″ gap – not safe! The mattress pad provided with the play yard should be sufficient enough for your sleeping baby.
Do your research to see what is on the market. Depending on what you want to use your Pack ‘n Play for, there are certain features that are must-haves and others that are just a pain in the rear end. I hope this helps you in choosing the perfect play yard.