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The Best Playards, Pack N’ Plays and Travel Cribs

Here are the best travel cribs and playards to keep baby safe and comfortable, whether you’re at home or out-and-about.
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profile picture of Martina Garvey
Associate E-Commerce Editor
Updated
September 13, 2022
best playyards and travel cribs 2022
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There’s a lot of baby gear you’ll want and need, but a versatile playard or travel crib 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, a playard is one of those items you’ll heavily rely on during the first few years of parenthood. 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. And having a portable place for them to play, whether you’re home or hotel hopping, is also important. 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 or travel crib, how to choose one and which options to consider.

Differences Between Playards and Travel Cribs

Can’t tell the difference between a playard and travel crib? We hear you. These terms are often used interchangeably, which can lead to a lot of confusion for parents. To make things easier, here’s a breakdown of the distinguishing features for each product:

  • Playard. A playard—also known as a pack ‘n play—offers an enclosed area with a soft but sturdy floor that’s safe to use for naps, overnight sleep and play. It usually features mesh walls for breathability and visibility. They typically have foldable mattresses with durable frames that can be quickly assembled and transported or easily stored.

  • Travel Crib. A travel crib offers all the benefits of a playard—it’s sturdy, comfortable and includes a firm mattress for sleeping—but there’s one key difference: weight. Travel cribs are lighter than playards and often have a more compact fold, which makes them easier to transport on trips. As they’re mostly made for sleep, they’re also often a bit tighter on play space than traditional playards.

How to Choose the Best Playard or Travel Crib

While all options offer a safe zone for play and sleep, the best playards provide additional features that can be helpful to parents and caregivers. When it comes to choosing the best playard or travel crib 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:

  • Portability: If you plan to use your playard or travel crib 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 lbs to over 30 lbs, whereas, the travel cribs on this list all weigh under 16 lbs.

  • Functional features: Some options come with or offer additional add-ons that allow them to be used as bassinets, activity centers and changing stations.

  • Height and weight limits: Many baby playards and cribs 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 second-hand item 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 or travel crib 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 while playing or snoozing? Here are our favorite options to consider.

Best Multi-Use Playard

Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard
Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard
Image: Graco

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 coined the term pack ‘n play, so you know the products are tried and tested. This model in particular—with an under-$150 price tag!—offers great bang for your buck. Designed for multitasking parents, it boasts a newborn seat that doubles as a changing table. Simply remove the seat to transition it into a spacious playard for your growing baby. It also has a convenient push-button compact fold; and, unlike most playards, it comes with a toy bar to help keep baby entertained. Looking for a no-frills option? Check out Graco’s portable playard with folding wheels that costs less than $70!

What We Love
  • Affordable price point
  • Push-button fold
  • Toy bar included
Things To Consider
  • Assembly instructions are vague
  • Some customers report that the changing table attachment tilts to one side

Age and weight limit: Up to 30 pounds

Dimensions: 40" depth x 28.5" width x 33.25" height

Weight: 25 lbs.

Best Playard for Easy Set-Up

4moms Breeze Plus
4moms Breeze Plus
Image: 4moms

The 4moms Breeze Plus baby playard is an all-in-one care station that adapts to baby’s evolving needs. The 3-in-one product comes with a removable bassinet and a double-sided pad for diaper and outfit changes. Ready for the real standout feature? The Breeze gracefully opens and closes within seconds using a single motion. Simply push down with one hand to open it, and pull the tab on the base to fold. Genius!

What We Love
  • No assembly required
  • Compact fold
  • Can be opened and closed with one hand
  • Carry bag included
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • Heavier than other options on this list

Age and weight limit: Up to 30 pounds

Dimensions: 43" length x 30" width x 29" height

Weight: 28.5 lbs.

Best Toddler Playard

Chicco Tot Quad Portable Playpen
Chicco Tot Quad Portable Playpen
Image: Chicco

Chicco broke the mold when they made this playard. Unlike other options on the market, this pick is square rather than rectangular—meaning tots have plenty of room to stretch out and play. The spacious design boasts a padded mattress and breathable mesh sides for visibility and ventilation. Better yet, it’s lightweight and has a push-button open and fold mechanism, so you can set it up in a flash.

What We Love
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable price point
  • Large, square footprint
  • Easy push-button fold
Things To Consider
  • No additional features

Age and weight limit: Up to 30 pounds

Dimensions: 37" length x 37" width x 30" height

Weight: 18 lbs.

Best Playard Activity Center

Century Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center
Century Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center
Image: Amazon

Step away from gray and black, with this vibrant pick by Century Play. Made from recycled materials, this colorful cube has a built-in activity wall with a sweet sunset scene and two removable toys. Three of the walls have mesh panels for visibility, and one even has a door that you can unzip from the outside for easy entry and exiting. Plus, the spacious square design leaves plenty of room to grow.

What We Love
  • Built-in activity wall
  • Colorful aesthetic
  • Mesh door with zipper
Things To Consider
  • Thin mattress pad
  • Heavier than other options on this list

Age and weight limit: Up to 30 pounds

Dimensions: 38" length x 38" width x 29.75" height

Weight: 27 lbs.

Best Travel Cribs to Shop

Need a lightweight travel crib to take on the road? If you need a cozy place for your little one to sleep, we’ve got you covered. Here are three top-rated models—all of which happen to be Best of Baby award winners.

Best Travel Crib with a Bassinet

Silver Cross Slumber Travel Crib
Silver Cross Slumber Travel Crib
Image: Silver Cross

With the simple push of a button, this smartly designed 3-in-1 baby travel crib assembles into a safe space for sleep in seconds. But it’s the removable zip-off bassinet frame (with an expandable mattress) and the comfy convertible mattress that earned this product a 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.

What We Love
  • Functions as a bassinet, travel crib and playard
  • Waterproof travel bag
  • Suitable for children weighing up to 50 pounds
Things To Consider
  • High price point

Age and weight limit: Up to 3 years (or 50 pounds in weight)

Dimensions: 44" length x 31.5" width x 26.4" height

Weight: 15.4 lbs.

Best Portable Travel Crib

Guava Lotus Travel Crib
Guava Lotus Travel Crib
Image: Guava Family

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 travel cribs on the market. It’s Greenguard Gold certified, meaning it’s passed rigorous testing for harmful chemicals, and 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 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.

What We Love
  • Quick and easy set up
  • Mattress is at floor level
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Greenguard Gold-certified
Things To Consider
  • Some customers report the side zipper is loud enough to wake baby

Age and weight limit: Up to 3 years

Dimensions: 45.5" length x 31.5" width x 25.5" height

Weight: 13 lbs. (15 lbs including carry bag)

Best Travel Crib for Toddlers

BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
Image: BabyBjorn

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 travel crib 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 options on the market. 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 picks to use in your home or when traveling. Oh and did we mention that it’s a Best of Baby award-winner too?

What We Love
  • Lightweight
  • Compact fold
  • Easy to set up
  • Mattress is at floor level
  • Crib fabric and mattress cover are machine washable
Things To Consider
  • Slightly larger footprint
  • Crib sheets sold separately

Age and weight limit: Up to 3 years (No upper weight limit)

Dimensions: 32" length x 44" width x 24" height

Weight: 13 lbs.

Best Lightweight Travel Crib

Babymoov Naos Crib and Playard
Babymoov Naos Crib and Playard
Image: Amazon

Overnight trips with a baby or toddler can be stressful, so the last thing you want is to lug a heavy crib to your destination. Introducing the Naos Travel Playard by Babymoov. Designed with convenience in mind, it folds in seconds thanks to a patented mounting system and then slides into the convenient carry case for easy transport. And, because comfort is key, the playard has a thick memory foam mattress pad.

What We Love
  • Lightweight
  • Mattress pad is at floor level
  • Opens and folds in under a minute
  • Simple instructions printed on the carry case
  • Carry case can be worn as a shoulder bag or backpack
Things To Consider
  • Some children may not like the opaque fabric section

Age and weight limit: Up to 35 pounds

Dimensions: 28" length x 53" width x 26" height

Weight: 8.8 lbs.

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