7 Best Playards and Pack ‘n Plays of 2020

best playards


Playards — colloquially referred to as pack ‘n plays — are typically high on a parent’s list of must-haves for a new baby. They’re often multi-functional spaces ripe for sleeping (especially for those who need a travel crib), keeping baby safe and secure while you cook or clean, and containing baby during play time.

What differentiates a playard from a crib is its construction: Instead of a heavier, more fixed structure, a pack and play is generally made of more lightweight materials like plastic, fabric, and mesh. Perhaps their most distinguishing feature, though, is that many fold and unfold with the click of just a few buttons for easy storage or transport.

With so many options on the market — with prices that swing wildly — how do you choose the right pack and play for your family? The Good Housekeeping Institute Little Lab vets hundreds of baby products each year, including playards.

When evaluating these enclosures for baby, we place a high importance on functionality and safety, looking at everything from ease of initial assembly and ease of opening and closing to structural integrity and construction quality. We also evaluate the structures for conveniences, like ease of cleaning and added features (Does it have a carry bag? Does it include accessories like a bassinet or a changing table?). Through many rounds of testing, including thousands of hours logged with active infants and toddlers and countless openings and closings and attempted cleanings of these playards, we’ve determined that these playards stand above the rest:

Do you actually need a playard?

Though playards aren’t the only option for keeping baby contained at home — gates, jumpers, and other seats work well, too — pack and plays have two distinct advantages:

  • They’re multifunctional. Playards can be used for sleep or for play, plus some even come with additional accessories, like bassinets for infants and attachable changing stations.
  • They’re highly portable Even if you don’t plan to travel much, you’ll appreciate the ability to fold the playard up and out of the way when necessary. It’s also a great option for bringing to a friend or relative’s house, particularly if the space isn’t babyproofed.

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Best Overall Playard

Safari Fun Play Yard

Delta Children


Overall, this playard is a great long-term option for parents, as it accommodates babies up to 30 pounds or 35 inches tall (whichever milestone is hit first). For many, that should be sufficient through age two or even three. Granted, by that age you’ve likely got a Houdini on your hands who won’t stay put! 

The play/sleep space is roomy, yet the entire thing folds up easily for both storage and travel. Unlike other playpens, this one also features printed mesh sides that help encourage imaginative play. Our engineers love that the base is elevated off the ground, making cleans up underneath and around easier!  

Max Weight: 30 pounds
Max Height: 35 inches
Product Weight: 28.6 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 36 x 29 x 36 inches

  • Easy to clean
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Folds compactly for storage/travel
  • Stiff bottom cushion
  • Slightly heavy

Best Value Playard

Pop ‘n Play Portable Playard

Summer Infant


Though this playard weighs a mere 12 pounds, it provides an impressive 14 square feet of playing area — ideal for bigger babies who need more space and freedom to crawl or walk around. Parents love the versatility of this enclosure, too, since it can be used both indoors and out. For extra protection from the elements, you can purchase a half or full sun canopy separately making it great for beach outings. 

Max Height: 35 inches
Max Age: 24 months
Product Weight: 12 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 48 x 26 inches

  • Lightweight
  • Optional canopy
  • Suitable for older kids
  • Exposed bars on the sides

Best Versatile Playard

Play to Night Expanding Playard and Travel Crib

Skip Hop


This pack ‘n’ play does something most other models doesn’t: It has a two-in-one design that converts from a smaller crib-sized pen to a 60{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} larger enclosure for play time. It’s a great concept, and our engineers had no trouble with conversion — it requires just a bit of zippering. Some reviewers noted it took some practice and definitely required two hands, particularly if they are petite.

Max Height: 35 inches
Max Age: 
3 years
Product Weight:
20 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 38 x 24 x 29 inches (crib size); 38 x 38 x 29 inches (play size) 

  • Easily converts from travel crib to playard
  • Includes a sheet
  • Folds easily for storage
  • Setup is slightly cumbersome

Best Indoor/Outdoor Playard

NISA Playard

Born Free


An oversized pop open playard that provides plenty of room for babies to move about, yet folds up in flash for the ultimate in convenience. But one of the biggest draws of this indoor/outdoor style is that the fabric comes off in a single piece, allowing for easy machine-washing, whether you need to remove grass and dirt or boogers and food crumbs. 

Max Height: 35 inches
Max Age: 
2 years
Product Weight:
11 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 48 x 48 x 50 inches

  • Very sturdy
  • Optional canopy

Best Convertible Playard

Pack ‘N Play On The Go Playard

The Graco Pack ‘N Play has long been a go-to choice for parents for good reason: It’s a very reliable playard that comes at an affordable price. The company also offers a wide range of models that come with accessories like mobiles, infant bassinets, changing tables, and side pockets for storage. The company even makes models suitable for twins! Folding and toting is a breeze — it clicks in and out of place with the push of just four buttons. Choose from a wide range of colors and patterns, too. 

Max Height: 35 inches
Product Weight: 
21.2 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 39.5 x 28.25 x 29 inches

  • Wide range of available models and accessories
  • Affordable
  • Footprint is a bit small for play

Best Playard for Travel

Travel Crib Light



Pricey, yes, but parents who travel frequently love this playard for overnight sleep, thanks to a mattress that’s thicker and more plush than other options. The lightweight frame assembles and disassembles easily too, plus slips into a convenient handled carry case that resembles a suitcase. If there’s any downside, it’s that this playpen really isn’t large enough to accommodate play time. 

Max Age: 3 years old
Product Weight: 
13 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 
44 x 25 x 32 inches

  • Sleek design
  • Stable
  • Lightweight
  • Machine-washable fabric
  • Small footprint
  • Expensive

Best Long-lasting Playard

SENA Aire Playard

Pottery Barn Kids


Consider this the Rolls Royce of playards. It’s a nice-to-have splurge that can be justified by the fact that it accommodates babies and toddlers from birth to roughly three years old. (Worth noting: You have to buy the bassinet separately, thus adding to the already-expensive price point.) 

It also has some comfort features other pack ‘n plays lack, like a triple-layered, ventilated mattress that comes with an organic cotton sheet for added breathability and comfort while sleeping. Folding is easy — even with one hand — and skid-proof feet ensures things stay quiet even if your toddler tries to rattle the enclosure. 

Max Height: 35 inches
Max Weight:
 30 pounds
Max Age: 
3 years old
Product Weight: 22 pounds
Assembled Dimensions: 
41.25 x 29.5 x 30.75

  • Comfortable, breathable sleep space
  • Skid-proof feet
  • Quick and easy folding
  • Grows with baby
  • Expensive, and bassinet costs extra
  • Heavier than other options

How to choose the right playard

If you’re on the hunt for a great pack and play, safety should be your primary concern. Any playard you select should meet current safety guidelines, which is why it’s important to buy new models. Some older models had features, like non-locking rails, that are now considered entrapment and strangulation risks. (If buying second hard, be sure to do a quick recall check to cover all your bases.)

Beyond safety, here are some things to consider:

How you’ll use it. Do you need something basic for occasional nights away? Or, are you looking for something that can function as baby’s home base? If the latter, opt for a model with more bells and whistles, like an included bassinet and changing table.

How important portability is: Will you only fold up occasionally? Or, do you plan to tote your playard to and from the grandparents’ house, to the beach, and so on? If the convenience of portability is important to you, set your sights on a lightweight, easy-to-fold model. You may even consider one with a UV-blocking canopy that can be used both indoors and out.

How long you plan to use it. Weight and height limits vary and it’s important to abide by them for safety reasons. If you plan to use your pack and play well into toddlerhood, be sure to check the weight and age specifications first.

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