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Pack N Play Vs. Crib: Which Is Better for Your Baby?

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How to give your baby peaceful sleep? The best solution is to choose the best sleeper for him. However, you may find this decision a little tricky because there are tons of choices.

This post will compare the two most popular sleepers for babies: Pack n Play vs crib. You can come up with the right one after checking our guide.

The Difference Between a Crib and Pack n Play

A Pack n Play, or playard, is the combination of a sleeper and a crib. It has a frame, a mattress, and four mesh walls.

On the other hand, a crib is a permanent structure fixed in your room. Each crib comes with a mattress and a frame without mesh surrounding its walls.

Both are popular choices when it comes to baby sleepers. Yet, they are different in many terms, so parents are arguing for the real winner.

Main Differences

Here’s a brief check of the differences between the two sleepers to help you figure out which is better for your child.

  • Cribs are a fixed part of your room, and you can’t move them easily around your house. Hence, they are not suitable for traveling.
  • Pack n Plays are smaller, making them portable. You can fold them for your traveling; however, you can’t use these sleepers for long because of their limited size.
  • A Pack n Play can work as a sleeper and a playing area.
  • Cribs are more costly.
  • Both sleepers are safe options for your little child.

Size

A crib is bigger. It’s a few inches taller than a pack-n-play, measuring 33″. In comparison, a typical crib is 35″ in height and the same width. For example, the Delta Children Essex 4-in-1 Convertible Crib measures ‎54″L x 29″W x 34″H while the dimensions of the Graco Pack ‘n Play Close2Baby are 27″L x 29″W x 33″H. You can see the sizes of some popular crib and pack-n-play models in the table below.

These smaller pack-n-plays are more comfortable for your newborn than cribs. If you want your baby to sleep in a pack-n-play as his main sleeping arrangement, keep in mind that he will outgrow it considerably fast.

Crib Vs Pack and Play Dimensions (L x W x H)
Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX 27″ x 29″ x 37″
Graco Pack ‘n Play Anywhere Dreamer 41″ x 28″ x 31″
Baby Trend Pack n Play Lil Snooze Deluxe 2 ‎42″ x 35″ x 41″
Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center 41″ x 29″ x 29″
BABY JOY 5-in-1 Pack n Play ‎43″ x 30″ x 22″
BABY JOY 3-in-1 Pack and Play 40″ x 29″ x 44″
4moms Breeze Plus 43″ x 30″ x 32″
ADOVEL Bedside Pack and Play 50″ x 27″ x 29″
Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib ‎54″ x 35″ x 30″
Babyletto Gelato 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib ‎40″ x 26″ x 35″
Delta Children Essex 4-in-1 Convertible Crib ‎54″ x 30″ x 34″
Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib 57″ x 34″ x 41″
Graco Hadley 5-in-1 Convertible Crib with Drawer 56″ x 30″ x 44″
Graco Remi All-in-One Crib with Drawer & Changer ‎72″ x 30″ x 36″
Dream On Me Synergy 5-in-1 Convertible Crib ‎53″ x 29″ x 39″
Dream On Me Aden 4-in-1 Convertible Mini Crib ‎39″ x 36″ x 23″
Storkcraft Equinox 3-in-1 Convertible Crib 58″ x 30″ x 35″
Storkcraft Steveston 5-in-1 Convertible Crib with Changer ‎73″ x 30″ x 42″
DaVinci Dylan 3-in-1 Folding Mini Crib ‎40″ x 25″ x 41″
DaVinci Jenny Lind 3-in-1 Convertible Crib 55″ x 40″ x 41″

Material

The main materials for cribs are wood, metal, and acrylic. These solid and heavy materials make cribs sturdier, more durable, and more stable than their competitors. However, they are also harder to move around.

Meanwhile, manufacturers use plastic and aluminum to make Pack n Plays. The sleepers also have four mesh walls. These lightweight materials make the pack n plays highly breathable and portable. However, stability is a big concern.

Durability

As you can guess after checking their materials, cribs are far more durable than their competitors. However, you should also specifically consider the construction of each model and manufacturer to ensure they are sturdy enough for your baby to sleep in.

Portability

If portability is your top concern, go for the pack-n-plays because they are built for this purpose. They work well for traveling, sleepovers, and transitions from the parent’s bed to the baby’s nursery.

These sleepers are lightweight and have foldable frames along with breathable mesh walls. Some have wheels to maximize their portability. On the other hand, a crib is a big, heavy tool designed for keeping your baby safe while sleeping. It must be a fixed sleeper for that purpose.

Mattress

Crib dimensions are standard in the USA, so you can change your baby’s mattress. Cribs also come with a specific mattress, which is firm yet comfortable. On the other hand, the mattress in a pack-n-play is often thin and doesn’t offer enough comfort for your baby.

According to experts, a thin mattress is never a good idea for newborns as it raises the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Other features

The features vary depending on the model, brand, and product type. However, a regular pack-n-play has more features than a crib because it works as a playing area and a bassinet. When you buy a pack-n-play, you get a pack of an extended changing station, a storage area, and other soothing tools.

Although cribs have fewer features, they still have their own advantages. For example, if you own a convertible one like the Delta Children’s Emery Deluxe 6-in-1 Convertible Crib, you can turn it into many other things like a sofa bed or a full bed for your kids’ use; even if they get a little bigger.

Graco Pack n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX Features
Graco Pack-n-Play Snuggle Suite LX Features
Delta Children Emery Deluxe 6-in-1 Convertible Crib
Delta Children Emery Deluxe 6-in-1 Crib Features

Price

The accessories of these baby beds create a price gap. In general, pack-n-plays are more affordable. A regular Pack-n-Play costs between $60 and $300. You can pay higher for models with extra features, such as changing stations, toys, canopies, and storage organizers.

Meanwhile, cribs have a wider price range, from $170 to $500. Some models don’t have the features of pack-n-plays. Hence, you may have to purchase and install them on your own.

Comparison Table

So now you can picture the differences between cribs and pack-n-plays. This comparison table will help you sum them up.

Criteria Crib Pack n Play
Size 27-50″L x 27-35″W x 22-44″H 55-58″L x 25-40″W x 23-44″H
Material Wood, metal, and acrylic Plastic and aluminum
Durability More durable and stable Less durable
Portability No Yes
Mattress Firmer Thinner
Other features Simple design with few features More features
Price $170 to $500 $60 to $300

Types Of Cribs

Cribs come in different sizes, from mini, normal, to full size. We can also classify these sleepers based on their construction.

Non-convertible

This model has a basic design. It’s a frame with a mattress inside, and you can’t convert it into different beds.

Convertible

In contrast to the non-convertible model, this model is adjustable. You can convert it into a bed, a sofa bed, or even a full bed with a headboard.

Combo

A combo crib has a convertible design with a changing table attached to the side, making it multifunctional. The changing table has different drawers that can slide smoothly. You can use them as a storage space. Put all your baby’s stuff there to reduce the time to find them in a hurry.

Portable

This type of crib has wheels to help you move it around. The framework of this design must be minimalistic to fit in any doorway. Some models can be foldable. If you want to put the crib in your car, choose the one with a foldability feature.

types of cribs

Types Of Pack n Plays

If the four types of cribs differ in size and construction, most pack-n-plays variants differ because of their accessories.

Traditional

The size of a traditional playard is the same as that of a care station. The compact size makes it ideal for traveling because it doesn’t have many accessories.

The top models come with a removable full-size bassinet to give a decent sleeping place for a baby. You can quickly fold up this sleeper, and all of its elements fit into the attached traveling bag.

Care Station

This model has the same size as the traditional version. However, its accessories take up more space. The additional features vary by model, but the most typical ones are a portable napper that can work as a rocker, storage bags, soft toys, and a changing table.

Travel

These ultra-light models are the best options for traveling as manufacturers aim them for. You can find all the components made for portability. You can fold the sleeper up and carry it around. Some models allow you to store them in your suitcase or even backpack.

Graco Pack n Play Day2Dream
Graco Pack-n-Play Day2Dream

FAQ

Parents, especially the new ones, have a lot of concerns when it comes to choosing sleepers for their babies. Here are some of their frequently asked questions.

1. Can a baby sleep in a Pack n Play instead of a crib?

You certainly can if the playard is safe enough to sleep in. Always examine the playard for structural strength and loose parts before using it.

Please note that they can become unsteady over time because a playard has numerous moving components. Before putting your baby inside it, make sure that the sleeper can still work and won’t break.

This sleeper is relatively small. Hence, check if your baby exceeds its limited weight and height.

2. Are mini cribs and Pack n Plays the same size?

No. In general, mini cribs are smaller. Although the dimensions vary from model to model, pack-n-plays are still slightly bigger.

A mini crib is smaller than its regular version, measuring about ‎39″L x 23″W x 36″H on average. Meanwhile, the average size for a Pack n Play is 40″L x 20″W x 29″H.

3. How long will my baby fit in a mini crib?

Most babies can sleep in this sleeper until they reach the age of two. Not only will they begin to grow the crib’s size, but they will also try to get out of their sleeper. The weight and height of your baby decide how long he can stay in this sleeper.

Weight

According to the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), all mini cribs can handle the weight of 45 pounds. So, your 35-pound kid can sleep safely in this sleeper.

When your baby reaches the age of two, he or she may weigh somewhere from 24 to 26 pounds. As a result, parents often transition their sleepers into the bigger ones to withstand the weight.

Height

By the age of one, the male baby will be approximately 29.3 inches tall, while female babies can be 28.7 inches tall.

From their birth, most newborns can grow roughly 10 inches. It’s easy to see why many infants outgrow their mini cribs when they turn two years old.

4. When to transition from a crib to a toddler bed?

About 30% of toddlers can transition to a bed when they are 1.5 to 2 years old. 30% move to a big bed later, between 2 to 2.5 years old.

You can check these signs to determine it’s time for babies to change from a crib to a toddler bed, such as:

  • They can climb out of the crib.
  • The crib can’t handle their weight and height.
  • They are between 18 months and three years old.
  • They show that they are ready.
  • You are expecting a baby.

Should You Buy A Crib Or Pack n Play?

Each type has its own set of pros and cons. It comes down to your requirement and preference to opt for the better one.

If you have enough space and are willing to pay a higher price, go for the crib. It’s a long-term investment because it can withstand more weight and height. On the other hand, if you like something convenient, portable, and cheap, a Pack n Play should be your way to go.

Both Pack-n-Plays and cribs are safe sleeping solutions for your baby. However, each model shines in its own way. While the pack-n-play is lightweight, transportable, and cost-effective, the crib has a more durable structure and better mattresses.

Hopefully, you can choose your desired sleeper after reading our comparison.

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