The Best Pack and Plays and Playards, Tested by Active Kiddos
A versatile playard that offers a safe space to place baby—out of your hands but not out of sight—is arguably one of the most important must-haves for new parents. Also known as a pack and play, a playard is a portable place for baby to play (and often sleep), whether you’re home or hotel hopping, and it’s one of those items you’ll rely on heavily during the first few years of parenthood.
A well-constructed pack and play is an investment that can take you from the new baby days into the early toddler years. It’s great for playtime, travel and often sleep. To help you navigate this very crowded baby gear aisle, we’ve tested some of the buzziest, most beloved playards on the market. Keep reading for advice to inform your shopping journey, and to discover our top picks, including this year’s Best of The Bump winner.
The term “pack ‘n play” is actually a trademarked brand name; it refers specifically to Graco products. However, much like Velcro, Xerox or (believe it or not) Bubble Wrap, the term “pack and play” tends to get used interchangeably with the generic term, playard. And the Pack ‘n Play is a well-named product, might we say! After all, a playard is a piece of gear for baby to play in, and when you’re done using it, you can fold it up and pack it away.
Today’s playards offer more than just a space for playing. They’re typically an enclosed area with a soft but sturdy floor that’s safe for supervised play, and sometimes are even designated as safe for naps or overnight sleep. They usually feature mesh walls for breathability and visibility, and typically have foldable mattresses and durable frames that can be quickly assembled and transported or easily stored. That said, some do not feature a mattress or padded bottom and are intended only for play, not sleep; these products are still considered playards. Playards are popular to bring when traveling, and many offer incredible accessories such as bassinets and changing pads. Certain models can be used outdoors and offer SPF, bug and rain protection.
While all options offer a safe zone for play, the best playards provide additional features that can be helpful for parents and caregivers. When it comes to choosing the best pack and play for your family, it’s important to think about when, how and where you intend to use it. Here’s what to look for when shopping:
- Portability. If you plan to use your playard as a portable sleep space—or simply need to be able to move it from room to room—you’ll want to make sure it’s lightweight with a compact fold. Playards can vary significantly in weight, ranging from less than 10 pounds to over 30.
- Functional features. Some options come with or offer add-ons that allow them to be used as bassinets, activity gyms and changing stations.
- Height and weight limits. Many playards can be used until a child is 3 years old, or until they can climb out on their own. When the playard comes with a bassinet or changing table attachment, these usually have weight limits. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommended limits for safe use.
- Safety standards. As with many baby products, if you buy a second-hand item or receive a hand-me-down, it’s important to find out whether it’s been recalled and if it meets current safety standards. Test the playard to see if it can fold and unfold properly. The mesh walls should be completely intact without any rips or holes, and the mattress should either be original to the playard or an approved add-on from the manufacturer, and should fit snugly against the playard floor without any gaps along the side walls.
To find out which playards are truly the best in class, we enlisted the help of real parents to thoroughly test the leading options on the market. They put these playards to work, using them as a safe play and sleep space for their own newborns, older babies and toddlers (and even twins!). Based on their reviews of the products’ ease of use, portability, effectiveness, features and design and value for money, as well as our own extensive research, we’ve rounded up the playards that are best suited to your particular needs.
Playards Comparison Chart
|Overall best playard||Best playard with bassinet||Best baby playard||Best travel playard||Best portable playard||Best twin playard||Best outdoor playard|
4Moms Breeze Plus Playard
Graco Pack 'n Play Close2Baby Bassinet Playard
Graco Pack ‘n Play Sit ‘n Grow Playard
UPPAbaby Remi Playard
Chicco Alfa Lite Lightweight Travel Playard
Veer Basecamp Playard
Summer Infant Pop 'n Play Portable Playard
|Folded dimensions||13.3" (L) x 12" (W) x 30" (H)||10.5” (L) x 9.3” (W) x 33.3” (H)||N/A||11" (L) x 10" (W) x 28.5" (H)||9.5" (L) x 9.5" (W) x 23.5" (H)||6" (L) x 6" (W) x 36" (H)||7.5" (L) x 7.5" (W) x 38" (H)|
|Open dimensions||43" (L) x 30" (W) x 29" (H)||33" (L) x 27" (W) x 29" (H)||38" (L) x 29.5" (W) x 38.3" (H)||40.5" (L) x 26" (W) x 28.5" (H)||43" (L) x 29" (W) x 25" (H)||56" (L) x 43" (W) x 35" (H)||48" (L) x 48" (W) x 26" (H)|
|Weight||28.5 lbs.||29 lbs.||32.5 lbs.||20 lbs.||13 lbs.||7 lbs.||-|
|Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review||Buy NowRead Full Review|
For more than 10 years, The Bump has been recognizing the absolute best baby and pregnancy products on the market through our awards series. Curious to see which playard was named the Best of The Bump award winner this year? Keep scrolling for the overall top pick, plus a list of carefully vetted playards and pack and plays that are particularly good for specific needs, whether you need a safe play space in the park, a hotel or just your living room.
When it comes to design, functionality and top-notch accessories, the 4Moms Breeze Plus Playard checks all the boxes. It scored perfect 5 out of 5 ratings from our product tester across all categories, and rightly received this year’s prestigious Best of The Bump award for best playard. (Head here to see all of this year’s Best of The Bump winners.)
“The design on this playard is incredible,” our product tester gushed. “All the other pack and plays I’ve tried are tacky, flimsy and hard to assemble, but this one is the opposite. You don’t have to mess with clicking in the sides.” The chic black-and-white playard comes completely assembled; just pop it open to expand it or pull the band to close it—a task that can be done one-handed. “So incredible!” our tester added. (And I can vouch for her enthusiasm; I’ve also used this playard, and even Grandma andGgrandpa in my family were able to set up and collapse it easily.)
When it came to storing the playard, she described the process—appropriately enough—as a “breeze.” She went on to tell us, “It’s also on wheels, which makes for easier transport/moving while assembled.” The Breeze Plus comes with a bassinet and changing table to create a one-stop piece of baby furniture for the early days of parenting. When you don’t need the bassinet, it hangs over to the side to create more space for the changing area.
Of course, the real test of a playard is whether it provides a safe and stable place for baby to play. “The mesh design on the sides of the playard is very innovative,” our tester said. “You can see baby so well through it, yet it’s sturdy and high quality. It’s also strong and not flimsy when you shake or move it.” That strength is super important as you transition from baby’s gentle playtime to the play of more active toddlers. With the 4Moms Breeze Plus Playard, you get one item that can take you from day one through the first few years of life.
Dimensions (expanded): 43" (L) x 30" (W) x 29" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 13.3" (L) x 12" (W) x 30" (H) | Weight: 28.5 lbs. | Weight capacity (playard): 30 lbs. | Weight capacity (changing table): 25 lbs. | Weight capacity (bassinet): 18 lbs.
“The design, ease of use and style make it all well worth the price… I highly recommend this playard to both new and toddler parents.”
- Seamless one-handed setup
- Works as a bassinet, changing table and traditional pack and play
- Sleek and sturdy design suitable for babies through toddlers
- Sheets for playard and bassinet are sold separately
The Graco Pack ‘n Play Close2Baby is perfect for the newborn days (and nights!). This combination product comes with a fully portable newborn bassinet that can fit securely on top of the playard, or move around your home to keep baby close by as they slumber. “I love the bassinet,” our product tester told us, singling out the mesh construction and firm, durable mattress for praise. She even told us her child’s overall sleep time—nap and overnight alike—increased by almost a full hour!
If that’s not tempting enough, the bassinet is machine-washable, and the playard also features a portable diaper-changing station with a mesh side pocket to store extra diapers, wipes and lotion. When baby is ready to transition from the bassinet to the playard mattress, the mattress can be set at two different heights—and the playard doesn’t become any less portable once baby gets too big for a bassinet, due to the integrated wheels. “I love how there’s an option for wheeling it around. That helps when moving it around the house.”
When it comes to sleeping in the playard, our tester said her children slept and napped well in it. “My child usually moves around a lot, and I believe the closed-in space helped her stay calm. Very simple to use—nothing extra is needed—and secure; it gave me a sense of relief!”
Dimensions (expanded): 33" (L) x 27" (W) x 29" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 10.5” (L) x 9.3” (W) x 33.3” (H) | Weight: 29 lbs. | Height limit (playard): 35" | Weight capacity (infant bassinet): 15 lbs. | Weight capacity (portable bassinet): 20 lbs. | Weight capacity (changing table): 25 lbs.
“This product is safe and functional. It won’t be a hassle in your room or nursery.”
- Includes a portable bassinet and changing table
- Bassinet is machine-washable
- Playard mattress height is adjustable
- Compatible sheets sold separately
- Can be challenging to assemble
If you only buy one piece of furniture for your newborn, this is it. The Graco Pack ‘n Play Sit ‘n Grow Playard doesn’t just come with a bassinet and changing pad, but also a portable infant floor seat to help baby learn how to sit independently. “The chair was amazing and my favorite part of the whole set,” explained our product tester, giving the Sit ‘n Grow 5 out of 5 for features and design. “This item is a must. I’ll be taking it everywhere I go since my baby loves to sit now.”
Of course, the chair wasn’t the only thing our tester appreciated. “The playard offered a side organizer that I'm in love with!” she raved. “I placed all the diaper-changing items there and some toys. I use it every day, since my playard stays open all day.” Not only are these accessories amazing to use around the house, but if you brought the whole set with you on a trip, you’d have everything you’d need.
When it came to sleeping and playing, baby enjoyed both. “She slept more in the bassinet than she did in the actual playard,” our tester said, while also describing the playard as “the perfect size” for tummy time. “I place toys next to her so she can look at them, and she loves it,” she said. “It was super easy to place and pick up my baby from the playard even though it’s low. The corners are not extremely high; they’re the perfect height.”
When it came to value for money, our tester was no less effusive, rating the Sit ‘n Grow another 5 out of 5. “This set is definitely worth its price! [It offers] different items that cost more if you put them together separately,” she said. “The price is actually cheap in my opinion—the quality exceeded my expectations.”
Dimensions (expanded): 38" (L) x 29.5" (W) x 38.3" (H) | Dimensions (folded): N/A | Weight: 32.5 lbs. | Height limit (playard): 35" | Weight capacity (changer): 25 lbs. | Weight capacity (bassinet): 15 lbs.
“I am definitely running to my mommy friends and telling them about this playard set! I love, love, love it!”
- Wide variety of accessories
- Quick push-button fold
- Mesh sides offer breathability and an easy way to see baby
- Can be challenging to find sheets that fit
- Smaller than many other playards
The UPPAbaby brand is beloved for its strollers, but don’t sleep (pun intended) on its pack and play. The design is sleek, with mesh sides, neutral colors and a chic, minimalist look. The playard includes a machine-washable air-mesh mattress, a bassinet you can zip on for newborns and a zip-side opening for kids to crawl through (or for you to reach baby more easily).
But as our best travel pick, the Remi needs more than a stylish look and cool add-ons. It needs to be seamless to set up—and it delivers. “The Remi is a brilliant play yard,” said our product tester, giving it 5 out of 5 scores for portability and ease of use. “Not only is it super easy to use, but the instructions are very easy to follow. I love how there’s a QR code on the card that takes you directly to YouTube for a short video about how to set it up. The written instructions are very easy to follow too. The first time setting up the playard and bassinet portion took me less than a minute, and that was even with a curious 3-year-old in tow!”
A travel playard also needs to be simple to pack down and carry about, and our product tester assures us, “the Remi is easy to store as it folds down small, and it’s very portable. It folds down to a small rectangular shape and has a sturdy carrying case with handles. You would be able to check it on the plane or pack for a road trip without having to worry about the playard or carrying case ripping.” And with built-in wheels, you can move around your destination with ease. “We needed to change rooms, so it was easy for me to wheel the playard over even while I was holding my infant,” she added.
“My baby seems to love sleeping in the [Remi],” our tester said. We’ve tried it as a bassinet and crib and he sleeps great using both.” She appreciated the depth of the regular playard (“I don’t have to worry about my 3-year-old trying to get my infant out,” she explained), but the convenience was what really sold her. “When traveling, the last thing you need is the headache of having to set up a complicated crib to put down a tired, fussy baby. You can set [the Remi] up in less than a minute and be able to focus on other things.”
Dimensions (expanded): 40.5" (L) x 26" (W) x 28.5" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 11" (L) x 10" (W) x 28.5" (H) | Weight: 20 lbs. | Height limit (playard): 35" | Weight capacity (bassinet): 20 lbs.
“The Remi is very well-thought-out. I love the side zipper and the bassinet, which is easily set up. The crib itself is very sleek, and I recommend it to my friends who live in Singapore, where their space is limited and they don’t use a standard crib for their children. ”
- Stylish look
- Convenient side-zipper for easy access
- Easy to set up and store
- Not compatible with standard sheets
For something lighter on your back and your wallet, this pack and play fits the bill. Weighing in at only 13 pounds, it’s one of the easiest playards on the market to lift, and priced at half the cost of many of its competitors.
The low price doesn’t mean the Alfa Lite is short on features: Our product tester rated the simple-to-assemble snap-open setting 5 out of 5 for ease of use. “It took me less than five minutes to get it set up, and it took about five minutes to figure out how it folds together,” she said. It also has breathable mesh sides and a larger-than-average side-zip panel. “It was easy to keep an eye on my baby when he was in the travel crib,” she added.
If you're worried that a lightweight playard is going to be flimsy or fragile, our tester found it to be sturdy. “I like that the bottom of the playpen is very close to the floor,” she explained. “The sides are strong enough to hold my one-year-old leaning on the mesh, and it’s tall enough that he can't crawl or climb out over the top.” If you need a featherweight option that will get the job done in multiple rooms, this might be the playard for you.
Dimensions (expanded): 43" (L) x 29" (W) x 25" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 9.5" (L) x 9.5" (W) x 23.5" (H) | Weight: 13 lbs. | Height limit: 35"
“I like that you can fold it up and take it with you on the go or a vacation. It's small enough to fit next to your bed or wherever you may need it, and lightweight enough that we can bring it up and down the stairs in our house easily.”
- Lower price point than competitors
- Super lightweight
- Zip-open side panel
- Mattress pad is thin
- Doesn’t come with a sheet
If you’re a parent of multiples, you need baby gear that can take on twice the child. The Veer Basecamp measures a whopping 56 inches across, creating a playspace suitable for two or three children at a time. “We used this playard with our twins outdoors and loved it,” our product tester said, giving the Basecamp 5 out of 5 for effectiveness. “They both had enough room to move around and play. We were able to relax while they were playing right by us outside, knowing they couldn't get out of the playard.”
If setting up baby gear intimidates you, then you’ll love the Veer Basecamp, which comes fully assembled. “The playard is very easy to use,” said our product tester, who rated the playard another 5 out of 5 for ease of use. “It opens with one motion and is all in one piece. You don't need to put tent poles in it, as they’re already assembled.” If you’re watching two kids, the last thing you need is a lengthy set-up process. And the lightweight playard—we’re talking just 7 pounds!—folds down to be stored in an included bag that measures only 6 inches wide. “I thought once we took it out it would be hard to put back in, but it goes in very smoothly,” our tester explained.
This playard works well for outdoor use, since it's made of a water-resistant polyester, and offers both insect protection and a removable UPF 50 sun cover. But our tester found it worked just as well inside too. “The price is worth it since you can use it all summer long and indoors as well. This is great for us to bring to friends/family's houses as well as to the beach/playing outside in the backyard. We love that it has many uses and our twins can use it for years to come.”
Dimensions (expanded): 56" (L) x 43" (W) x 35" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 6" (L) x 6" (W) x 36" (H) | Weight: 7 lbs. | Height limit: N/A | Weight capacity: N/A
“We love the design of the playard, how easy it is to open and close and that it has mesh all the way around, making it very breathable. I love that it comes with a bag to carry it in and is compact enough to fit anywhere in your car or closet at home."
- Roomy enough for multiple kids
- Offers insect, rain and sun protection
- Comes assembled and is easy to pop open
- Not intended for sleep
- The bottom of the playard isn’t padded
- Mattress pad sold separately
With its quick and easy fold and water-resistant floor, the Summer Infant Pop 'n Play Portable Playard is perfect for outdoor use. This playard is all about ease—simple to set-up, easy to see your child through the mesh sides and light enough to seamlessly move to the park, the beach or just between rooms. Small wonder our product tester gave it 5 out of 5 scores for ease of use, portability and features and design!
The Pop 'n Play weighs only 12 pounds (though our tester said it felt even lighter!). And it folds up “wonderfully.” Our product tester praised the ease with which she was able to store the playard when not in use: The compact fold fits snugly in an included travel bag, and once you've taken it out into the world, “the playard adjusts perfectly to fit any terrain it encounters,” our tester noted. “The flexible sides also allow for that adaptability.”
Don’t expect to leave a sleeping newborn in it, as there’s no padding or mattress, and it’s not intended for slumber. But as a play space, the roominess can't be beat. “This play yard gave my baby way more space,” our tester said. “She loved the fact that there were so many angles to look over. The playard was very secure, and I appreciate the sturdiness. She tried climbing it and it didn’t even move.”
Your child can play in it with friends or siblings. “The space within the playard was plentiful and could even fit three kids!” our tester shared. “It was extremely easy for me to get in and out of it. For my one-year-old, it was not so easy, which is a good thing!”
If you're worried that a dedicated play space will leave your home looking like a toy factory, this is one playard that won’t ruin your aesthetic. “I love the style and look of the playpen,” our tester told us. “I appreciated the fact that the netting was black, so it looked great in my living room. I would give it a 10 out of 10.” High praise on a scale that only goes up to 5!
Dimensions (expanded): 48" (L) x 48" (W) x 26" (H) | **Dimensions (folded): 7.5" (L) x 7.5" (W) x 38" (H) | *Weight:* 12 lbs. | Height limit: 35"
“I truly believe this play yard is worth the price. It is very sturdy and I can tell that this play yard has great longevity. The quality certainly matches the price, especially with its ease of use—this was the easiest setup I have ever had with a play yard. The playpen folds up wonderfully, so it’s very thin and easy to store.”
- Easy to open, use and store
- Spacious enough for multiple kids
- Lightweight and portable
- Not padded, no mattress
- Not intended for sleep
- Over-the-top canopy is sold separately
To help you find the best playards on the market today, The Bump editors did extensive research to identify the best-selling, highest-rated, safest and all-around top-notch products out there. We combed through user reviews, leveraging our familiarity with leading baby gear brands and relying on our own experiences as parents.
Then we put those products to the test. We enlisted the help of parents with newborns, older babies, toddlers and twins to try out these playards. In a variety of different environments, from their homes to the beach and their backyards, they carefully evaluated each playard for ease of use, portability, effectiveness, features and design and value for money.
Pairing this rigorous testing protocol with our own expertise and insights, we bestowed the prestigious Best of The Bump award to the overall best playard. Using the testing results, we also identified other standout options that are particularly good for specific needs, such as newborns, outdoor use and twins. Because finding the right right products for your family can be tough, and we can help make it all the easier.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
About the writer:
Lauren Levinson has over 15 years of editorial experience in both leading content teams and writing articles. She has held staff positions as the lead editor of Verywell Family, Popsugar Beauty and a beauty and medical aesthetics site created by Allergan Aesthetics. She’s been on staff at ELLE.com, Time Out New York and Dance Spirit. Her byline can be seen in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Magazine, What to Expect, Byrdie and more. She is also a #girlmom to a school-age daughter and a toddler.
Want to learn more about becoming a product tester for The Bump? Head here to apply.
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