7 Best Playards and Pack n Plays of 2022

The Best Playards for Safe Play and On-the-Go Sleep

Here are the best portable playards to keep baby safe and comfortable, whether you’re at home or traveling.
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January 4, 2022
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There’s a lot of baby gear you’ll want and need, but 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 n play or travel crib, a playard is one of those items you’ll heavily rely on throughout baby’s first few years. Remember, baby will spend lots of time snoozing, so you want to set yourself (and your little one) up for sleep success wherever you are and whenever it’s time for rest. Ready to get the lowdown on the best pack n play options for your family’s unique needs? Read on to learn why you need a playard, how to choose one and which options to consider.

Benefits of a Playard

A playard is an enclosed area with a soft but sturdy floor that’s safe to use for naps, overnight sleep and playtime. It usually features mesh walls for breathability and visibility. But unlike regular bassinets or cribs, baby playards are designed for portability; they typically have foldable mattresses with durable frames that can be quickly assembled and transported or easily stored—all without compromising baby sleep safety.

Whether you need another place for your little one to sleep in your own home, a sleep solution for Grandma’s house, a travel crib for family getaways or simply a contained area for a baby or toddler to play in while you cook dinner, a portable playard will definitely come in handy.

How to Choose the Best Playard

While all options offer a safe surface for sleep and play, the best playards provide additional features that can be very helpful to parents and caregivers. When it comes to choosing the best pack n 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 for a playard:

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  • Portability: If you plan to use your playard as a travel crib 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 lbs to over 30; they also come with different types of carrying cases.

  • Functional features: Some playards come with or offer additional add-ons that allow them to be used as bassinets, changing stations and even shady escapes from the sun.

  • Height and weight limits: Many baby playards can be used until a child is 3 years old, or until they can climb out on their own. Some of the best pack n plays are designed as toddler playards too. These portable playards typically sit directly on the ground, so they don’t have an upper weight limit.

  • Safety standards: As with many baby products, if you buy a used playard or receive a hand-me-down, it’s important to find out whether it has 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. It should fit snugly against the playard floor without any gaps along the side walls.

Best Playards to Shop

Ready to shop for the best playards to keep baby safe and secure? Here are seven options to consider.

Image: Guava

Best Portable Playard for Travel: Guava Lotus Travel Crib

Light and easy to transport (it comes in an airport-friendly backpack), the Guava Lotus travel crib is sturdy and versatile. These are just a few of the reasons the Lotus is one of the best pack n plays on the market. It’s also a multi-year winner in our annual Best of Baby awards. The lockable side-zipper door makes it great for soothing, snuggling and playing. You can also use the playard with bassinet (a separate configuration) for a safe, portable sleep solution suitable for newborns up to babies weighing 18 pounds. Guava also offers additional playard accessories, such as fitted sheets, a mosquito net and a SPF 55+ sunshade—making it an ideal outdoor playard with canopy for al fresco naps.

Buy it: starting at $239, Amazon.com

Image: Silver Cross

Best Playard with Bassinet: Silver Cross Slumber Travel Crib

With the simple push of a button, this smartly designed 3-in-1 baby playard assembles into a safe sleep or play space in seconds, making it one of the best pack n plays for frequent use. But it’s the removable zip-off bassinet frame (with an expandable mattress) and the comfy convertible mattress that earned this product the 2021 Best of Baby award for best travel crib. The Slumber is also one of the best playards for toddlers and parents—there’s a zippered door panel so you don’t have to lift your kiddo in and out; plus, it can be used until your child reaches a whopping 50 pounds. When not in use, you can store it in the included waterproof bag, complete with an adjustable shoulder strap for easy transport.

Buy it: $299, BuyBuyBaby.com

Image: BabyBjorn

Best Playard for Toddlers: BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light

So many baby products have a short shelf life, whether because of general wear and tear or how quickly baby grows out of them. But if you’re looking at portable playards for toddlers or browsing for a baby playard you’ll use for years to come, you’d be wise to consider one that sits directly on the ground. Despite being a mere 13 lbs, this travel crib more than holds its weight as one of the best pack n plays. With a plush mattress that can be used until your child can climb out on their own (with no upper weight limit) and an airy, machine-washable mesh design, this is one of the best playards to use in your home or when traveling.

Buy it: $300, BuyBuyBaby.com

Image: Joovy

Best Twin Playard: Joovy Room²

If you have twins or two little ones close in age, this iteration of the parent-favorite Joovy Room playard is made for you. It boasts nearly 10 square feet of soft, safe play space, with large mesh windows that allow a 360-degree peek into what your two tykes are up to. Plus, unlike many other baby playards, this twin playard comes with a waterproof sheet, making it an even better value. We especially love the add-on twin nursery center for the newborn stage, which comes with a changing table and bassinet with removable divider that are safe to use until your twins reach a combined weight of 30 pounds.

Buy it: $170, BuyBuyBaby.com

Image: Bugaboo

Easiest Playard to Set Up: Bugaboo Stardust

A playard is a quintessential piece of travel gear. Still, you don’t have to stray far from home for it to get plenty of use. The lightweight Bugaboo Stardust is one of the best pack n plays—compact and stylish enough not to overpower whatever space you find yourself needing it in. It couldn’t be easier to move from room-to-room; it takes literally one second to pop open and fully assemble this portable playard for naptime or playtime—one of the main reasons it won top honors for best playard in our 2020 Best of Baby awards. And it won’t take up too much trunk space when you take it on the road: It folds flat, with straps to keep it securely closed, even without using the transport bag.

Buy it: $330, BuyBuyBaby.com

Image: Graco

Best Affordable Playard: Graco Pack n Play On the Go Playard

With so much baby gear to buy, it’s a good idea to look for items that are high quality and multifunctional—so you can feel confident, they’ll last for years. Graco is known for having some of the best pack n plays. This model in particular—with an under-$100 price tag!—offers great bang for your buck. It has a convenient push-button compact fold and removable bassinet attachment; and, unlike most playards, it even comes with a toy bar to help keep baby entertained. Plus, with folding wheels and feet, it’s easy to move from room to room for sleep and play, making it one of the best baby playards for traveling, keeping at a grandparent’s house or using in your own home.

Buy it: $72, BuyBuyBaby.com

Image: California Beach Co.

Best Outdoor Playard With Canopy: California Beach Co. Pop N’ Go

By definition, all playards are portable. But weighing in at only 7.2 lbs, the Pop N’ Go is one of the few baby playards that likely weighs less than your baby! Large enough to hold multiple kids at a time, it’s not only a great outdoor playard, it’s also one of the overall best portable playards. Made with durable fiberglass framing, it comes with a UV shade cover to block out the sun and a carrying bag to tote it to the park or the beach with ease. Plus, it’s a breeze to set up, using patented “pop-up” technology to fully assemble in seconds with a secure safety lock to keep it in place.

Buy it: $149, Walmart.com

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