It is amazing how many baby products are on the market nowadays. A few decades ago, all you needed was a crib and a few other things, and you could say that you were all set for a baby. Today, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. There are cribs, bassinets, cosleepers, changers, and so much more that you can barely keep up.
Every year baby furniture manufacturers come with a bunch of new things that people didn’t need before, but they are very useful and convenient. Take a pack and play for example. It is rather a new concept but has gained a lot of popularity these last few years.
What is a baby pack and play?
If this is the first time you hear about a pack and play, you may be scratching your head wondering what it is. That was my first reaction too. It is easy to confuse a pack and play with a portable crib, but what you need to keep in mind is that they are different.
The main thing you need to remember is that a pack and play is some sort of baby playpen, only that it is a lot more portable (if that is even a real expression), and is entirely suitable for sleep. The term of pack and play was exclusively used by a company named Graco, who came up with the name for play yards. But the term is used as if it has its own identity.
The benefits of a pack and play
Although you may believe that a pack and play is just a glorifying term for a portable crib, there are still major differences between the two. Personally, I like the idea, and I think a pack and play proves to be most useful for parents. Here is why.
- It’s extremely portable – trust me when I say this, it does not get any more portable that this. Not only that it occupies little storage space, but you can actually take it with you when you travel. Some models come with a cover bag that allows you to carry it on your back as a backpack. You can take it to a park, on vacation, or you can install it in a hotel room. No matter where you go, the portability of a pack and play will prove to be extremely useful.
- It is very lightweight – the materials a pack and play is made of weighvery little so that it can be carried with ease. This kind of goes hand in hand with the portability. It’s not enough for a crib to be foldable, but it has to be lightweight as well. Otherwise, what’s the point?
- They are terrific for travel – did you ever take your child to visit your parents, for example? They will not purchase a crib just for the few days you’ll be spending But you can take along a pack and play, and the problem is solved. Since your baby can sleep in it, it can easily pass as a crib for a couple of days.
- It is a lot easier to assemble than a portable crib – you get a manual that will teach you how to do it, but you can also watch a few instructional videos you can find online. You’ll see that the assembly requires little effort and not very much
What to look for in the best pack and play?
The beauty of a pack and play is that it has a ton of features. The more money you are willing to spend, the more features you will get. The most complete, so to speak, pack and play will be a mini-nursery in a bag. Here are the most favorite features.
- It can have a bassinet – that means your baby can take a nap in-between playing sessions. And since the pack and play has a bassinet, you can easily use it as a portable crib. I mentioned before, and I say it again, a pack and play is ideal for travel in any possible way. Your baby can sleep in the same place where he or she plays? That’s the dream.
- It has a changing station – at home, in the nursery, you have everything you need in order to care for your baby, but when you are in other places, things may not come as easily. Going from a changing table to nothing can be difficult because the space needs to be appropriate. It cannot be cold, it has to be adequately sanitized, and you need a little privacy. A pack and play can provide all that on the go. No matter where you are, you can simply install the changing table, and you have a full baby station with you.
- Canopy – pediatricians say that it’s very healthy to keep babies outside (when the temperature is adequate, of course.) However, they have to be hidden from direct sunlight because their skin is way too sensitive to withstand the UV light. Here is where a canopy intervenes. You can assemble the pack and play outside so that your baby can enjoy the beautiful weather, but at the same time, you can protect him or her from the harmful
- Casters or wheels – lockable wheels or a pair of swivel casters will make carrying the pack and play easier. It helps with the portability. Just make sure that whatever you choose can be locked. Accidents do happen. Some models allow the use of the wheels even when the pack and play is That should help with transportation.
- Music, toys, and lights – it’s not news that infants respond very well to outside stimuli. Some of them are meant to keep them busy, while others are designed to stimulate their brain activity. Whichever the case, it’s always best to have at least one of them. Some deluxe models come with all three. I know that you can buy separate toys, but the ones that come with the pack and play have all kinds of attachments.
- Side pockets and storage – as a parent, whenever you go away, you always have a bag full of things your baby may need. It’s the same with the pack and play. The side pockets are meant to hold diapers, the mattress for the bassinet, the changer in some cases, toys, and other necessities. It’s always convenient to have everything at hand, isn’t it?
What are the best pack and plays?
If you do a simple search online, you will notice that most of the pack and plays are from Graco. It makes sense since they were the one who brought the idea of a pack and play in the first place. However, there are other manufacturers who produce it, just not as much.
Graco Pack ‘n Play with Reversible Napper and Changer
The thing you’ll love about a pack and play in general is its versatility. Whatever the baby needs, you’ll be able to provide. You can switch from the changer to a newborn napper in just a few moments. After you get the hang of it, it will take you under a minute to make the switch. You’ll be able to tend to your baby needs in a matter of seconds.
One of the issues babyplayards have is that whenever the infant needs some rest, you have to move him to another room. With this pack and play, that is no longer necessary. The newborn napper creates a very comfortable and safe environment for your baby to rest. The napper is designed for infants until they reach the age of three months, and it will stop the baby from rolling over.
Cleaning GracoPack ‘n Play is very easy. The changer is made of a wipe-clean fabric that will make your job a lot easier. You will be done in a moment, and you will have more time to spend with your child. You have plenty of side pockets that make storage convenient. You can keep diapers, wet wipes, or whatever necessities you may need while caring for your baby.
As opposed to a bassinet, the pack and play is designed to transition with your child. You won’t have to throw this away after the child exceeds a certain age. You can keep it until your child reaches toddler years. The overall design looks lovely, and you have the possibility of hanging some toys over the bassinet so you can keep your child entertained.
Graco Pack ‘n PlayPlayard Bassinet with Automatic Folding Feet
This pack and play is also brought to you by Graco. I believe they hit the jackpot with this piece of furniture, and they keep improving it. This one basically unfolds itself. The mechanism is simple and easy to handle.
The pack and play is made of a combination of polyester, metal, and plastic. All the parts are strategically placed so that you can create a comfy and safe environment for your baby. The bassinet will provide the ideal spot for your child to take a nap while at home or away, and it is entirely removable. The playpen changing station has a removable changing pad that will make changing diapers comfortable for both you and the baby. The wipe-clean fabric will make cleaning a child’s play.
The walls of the pack and play are made of airy mesh for maximum ventilation, and the frame is equipped with two handy wheels for your convenience. You will also receive a carrying bag for easy portability and storage. You can find this pack and play in a variety of colors, and there is a top bar with soft toys hanging for entertainment.
Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center
Leaving Graco aside, other manufacturers produce deluxe pack and plays. Deluxe means that there are more features and the overall experience is richer. That, of course, will reflect on the price, but I still think it’s pretty affordable.
The full-size bassinet is entirely removable. You can take it out and provide a comfortable and safe environment where your child can play. One of the things I like the most is that this product comes equipped with a canopy. That will allow you to put it in the yard and your child can spend some time outside without worrying about the UV lights. The pack and play comes with plenty of storage space. You have side pockets all around where you can put diapers, wipes, food, or whatever else you think necessary.
The flip away changing table will provide an excellent changing station. It is easy to clean, and you can just take it away when you are not using it. The pack and play also features a music center that includes two styles of music, among which there are nature sounds. That will relax and entertain the baby. The one-hand locking mechanism will provide the safety you need, and the large wheels will make maneuvering easy. Of course, the wheels come with brakes for maximum security.
The design looks fantastic, you are going to love how this pack and plays looks in your living room. It is very lightweight, when folded it is compact, and you will receive a travel bag for convenient transportation and storage.
It is easy to fall for the deluxe pack and play, but personally, I love the GracoPack ‘n Play Playard Bassinet with Automatic Folding Feet. The fact that it is so easy to fold and unfold, and that has so many safety features makes me believe that it is one of the best pack and plays on the market. That is why I strongly recommend it.
Since there are so many helpful tools on the market nowadays, parenting has become easier than it used to be. That is not a bad thing. Those tools can help you keep your sanity, which translates into more quality time that you can spend with you child.
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