The Graco Pack ‘n Play Range

 

The Graco brand of Playard, or mini-crib, has been so successful that their trademark term “Pack ‘n Play”  has become synonymous with all playards and travel cribs.  Often people refer to any brand of Playard as a Pack and Play and use these terms interchangeably but, technically, only Graco can use the name “Pack ‘n Play”.

There’s a good reason why the Graco Pack and Play has become so successful.  Graco, in itself, is one of the most recognizable baby brands in the world and its products are known for their quality and reliability at a decent price.

Plus they actually invented the portable playard back in 1987 so they should know what they are talking about.

In the more than three decades since, Graco have expanded and optimized their range and, at time of writing, there are no less than 23 different kinds of Pack ‘n Play Playards available in the Graco range; plus a whole host of discontinued models you can still by on marketplaces like ebay and Amazon.

[A search for ‘graco pack n play’ on Amazon revealed 79 results when I just tried it!]

If you’ve decided you want a Graco but are confused about which model will be right for your needs read on below and we’ll talk you through the pros and cons of some of the most popular models.

 

Best Overall Graco Pack n Play

 

The perfect combination of great price and great quality is the Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard.

At around $80 (on Walmart.com) it is amazingly good value. At time of writing it has over 1,000 5 star reviews and is one of the top rated playards on the market.

The Pack n Play on The Go will make sure your little one is as comfortable as possible, wherever you might be.

This pack n play has a removable full-size bassinet that allows your baby to sleep comfortably, while still being confined to the safe space of their crib. The crib has automatic folding feet, and wheels which conveniently allow you to move it around the house.

With a quick press of the Graco push-button, the pack n play folds down really quickly, with little hassle. It is just as easy to set up as it is to fold down, simply push the bottom down flat and pull out the sides until the crib clicks.

A toy bar sitting above the crib features soft toys that will keep your baby amused, and the neutral yet warm colors are the perfect combination for a calming area.

The pack n play comes with a carry bag that allows for fuss-free storage and travel.

Graco has poured their years of experience into ensuring this pack n play is of the best quality, keeping your baby safe and happy.  The video below is a demo video from Graco which will give you a good overview of what it looks like and how it works.

There’s no doubt in our mind that this is the best value Graco Pack ‘n Play currently on the market.

Head on over the the Graco website for more information or buy now from online retaillers like Walmart.com.

Most Versatile Pack n Play 

 

The top end of the range is the Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn2Toddler Playard.  It is pricey at approx. 300 bucks (check latest price) but it comes with a toddler cot and raised bassinet so it is almost like three-beds-for-one.

Graco claim 7 different modes of use actually:

  1. Raised Bassinet – for sleeping next to your bed. Keeps baby at eye level so you can just turn and glance and don’t have to get out of bed
  2. Crib-Level Bassinet – slightly lower bassinet setting for when baby is sitting up
  3. Travel Bassinet – you can detach the bassinet and just take that with you for quick overnight stays
  4. Care Station – comes with a diaper changer so you can lie baby at waist level and change her
  5. Portable Seat – can be positioned as an upright seat for babies up to 3 months old who can’t sit yet
  6. Toddler Playard – convenient playard for toddler to play or sleep safely
  7. Toddler Cot – raised sides to keep the bigger kid safe while sleeping away from home

This really is a truly versatile piece of kit and can be used with two kids of different ages and it stays useful as the family grows.

Pros:

  • Easy clean with wipe down fabrics
  • Works for kids of different ages and grows with baby
  • The most versatile playard on the market

Cons:

  • High end pricing
  • Can be a bit awkward to assemble the playard section (needs a bit of jigging to get them to click in place)

If you regularly travel with a baby and a toddler then this pack ‘n play could be the portable crib / playard for you.

More details can be found on the Graco website here.

Lightest / Most Portable Pack and Play

 

The Graco Travel Lite Crib With Stages is made for portability.  This lightweight crib has so many useful features. It is less than 20lb and 20% smaller than traditional playards hence it is super-portable.

It’s not just light-weight though it has some great, functionality too.  It can be used initially as a bassinet and then, as baby grows, converts into mini-crib / playard for infants up to 35lb

This one-of-a-kind adjustable height bassinet grows with your baby, seeing them through many different stages.

The travel crib easily transforms into a portable playard, while keeping your baby safe throughout. The sides of the pack n play are ventilated, to allow for easy airflow, and for you to keep an eye on your baby as they play or sleep.

Perfect for the family on the go, while still providing utmost comfort for your baby, and adjusting to their needs as they grow.

The stages they talk about are the three different age ranges that the TravelLite is suitable for. Namely:

  • Stage 1 Bassinet: For infants unable to push up on hands and knees and under 15 lbs
  • Stage 2 Bassinet: For infants unable to push up on hands and knees and under 20 lbs
  • Stage 3 Playard: For children unable to climb out and under 35″ tall

This pack and play is a great combo of bassinet, travel crib and playard.  By its nature it’s on the smaller side (hence why it’s so light) so perhaps is more suited to the younger age children than some of the other pack ‘n plays.

It has a quilted mattress pad for comfort and the bassinet can be set on two different heights.

This is comfortable enough to use at home but it comes into its own most during travel.

Check out the Graco video below and head on over to their site for more details.  Click here to get latest pricing on some of the cheaper retailers.

 

Best Budget Pack-n-Play

The no-frills Graco Pack n’ Play entry level version can usually be picked up for less than 50 dollars if you shop around but is still a decent option for occasional travel.  It is the best-selling playard of all and has thousands of satisfied customers.

Despite the low price, it is solid and durable but isn’t the lightest nor the smallest; although the wheels do fold in to make it smaller for transportation and storage.

The wheels are good to transport it to and from your car – you can wheel it along instead of carrying it like you have to with other models.

It has a push button fold action making it easy to pack up and put away.  Like most playards it has mesh sides to allow air to flow through.

For convenience it has a bag to store it in and there are mesh pockets to attach to the side when in use – handy for a couple of diapers and wipes, etc.

The dimensions are:

Weight: 22.9 lbs Height: 29″ Width: 28.5″ Length: 40″

If you’re only going to use your pack ‘n’ play for the occasional night away and you’re not planning to use it as a playpen then this is probably the one for you as it’s pretty decent for the price.

Here’s what other parents have said:

  • “I love having a secure place for my little one to nap and sleep. The compact size and light weight make it great to take anywhere.”
  • “At home I use it for friend’s little ones to nap when they are over visiting. We also take it when we go out in the evening to friend’s and family’s houses so we may enjoy ourselves past his bedtime.”
  • “It is so simple to put up and take down that it takes only seconds. We keep one at our in-laws house for a quick and easy crib. The material is easy to wipe down and keep clean.”
  • “Due to the great price it was cheaper to order the pack and play online and have it shipped to my destination in Florida rather than flying with it my own from home” – now there’s a thought!

Check out how cheap it is on Walmart for the latest prices.

Best Graco Carestation Pack n Play System

Graco care station Pack ’n Play playards are complete sleep, play, changing systems that not only include the pack and play itself but also come complete with diaper changers and cozy infant seats to help keep baby clean and comfortable.

There are a number of these in the Graco range but the best choice in our view is the Pack ‘n Play Nearby Seat Playard.

Its standard price is north of $300 but you can often find decent discounts if you shop around (at time of writing they were 25% off at Walmart) and, despite the higher price, it is still great value as you get so much with it.

Take a look at the product picture below.  There are so many accessories included you forget there’s a mini crib under there! 😊

There’s a ‘nearby’ infant seat which flips over into a bassinet.  There’s also a changing station which sits on top of the pack and play itself – we love this as it really makes great use of space.  The changing station is good until the baby reaches 30lb (that’s a big ol’ baby!).

Gadget-wise it comes with a mobile that detaches and fits into the infant seat / bassinet.  There are also dual vibration modes which soothes baby in the bassinet or seat.

The playard itself is roomy and comfortable and has an adjustable height facility to reduce bending in the earlier months.

This is a pricey but very popular pack-n-play; especially for those who want to save on space.  It’s not so portable though so you wouldn’t want to be lugging it around too much.  Here’s what other parents have said:

  • “I love how the Pack ‘n Play® Playard Nearby Napper® Station is 3 products in 1 – it’s going to be SO helpful with our second baby! I wish we had it with our first!”
  • “I have had this product for 3 weeks now and love it. First of all the pattern is adorable. The portable bassinet/napper is great! I can move it anywhere around the house with me, and my daughter has a place to lay down and sleep without having to be too far away from me.”
  • “The play yard frame and raised bassinet were simple to construct but the extras were more difficult”
  • “It’s going to be a lifesaver because we have a 2-story house, so I can keep this downstairs and have the Travel Lite Crib upstairs! It also means I won’t have to go upstairs to change the little guy either!”

There’s so much to the Pack ‘n Play Nearby Seat Playard it’s easier to explain with fellow mom Larisha Campbell’s short demo video below.

Else head over to the Graco website or compare latest prices on Walmart.com

Summary – the best pack and play for you and your baby

Choosing a portable mini-crib is complicated as there are so many pack-n-plays and playards on the market it gets quite confusing.  Overall though they’re a relatively simple concept so just have a think about how often you’re going to use it and what you’re going to use it for.

For occasional travel to a friend or relative just opt for one of the two cheaper options – the Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go Playard or the entry level Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard.

If you are travelling a lot or have need to carry the mini-crib more than just a short distance consider opting for the lightweight Graco Travel Lite Crib With Stages.

If versatility and space-saving are more important to you than a bottom end price consider either the Graco care station Pack ’n Play playards or the Graco Pack ‘n Play® Newborn2Toddler Playard.

For extra comfort you may want to buy an extra Mattress for your Pack n Play. Of course that means extra things to carry but they’re fairly flat.