Pack N Play vs Crib
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Pack N Play vs Crib: Which Is Better For Baby?

As a first-time parent, you’ll find there are many things to decide on before your baby arrives. From baby names to nursery themes, or even deciding to become a stay-at-home parent, it can get overwhelming! 

One thing that shouldn’t be overwhelming is your baby’s sleeping area. When it comes to where your new baby will sleep, you might be wondering the differences between a Pack N Play vs crib. 

While there are many pros and cons when comparing a Pack N Play vs a crib, the decision will be simple once you know what to look for. Let’s get started!

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Pack N Play vs Crib: Differences

What is a Pack N Play? 

A Pack N Play is essentially a portable playpen that sits low to the ground. Pack N Plays often have mesh sides, a thin mattress for babies to sit or lay on, and wheels for easy relocation. 

When looking to buy a Pack N Play, there are two main types to choose from:

Standard Pack N Play

Graco Pack 'n Play - Pack N Play vs Crib

The Standard Pack N Play is the most budget-friendly option; you can usually find them in the price range of $50-$70. These Pack N Plays are less expensive because they don’t have the bells and whistles that many other options have.

Pack N Play Care Station

Graco Pack 'N Play Quick Connect DLX Playard

The Pack N Play care stations are the more expensive options to choose from. Care stations typically fall between the price range of $85-$250, depending on how fancy you want to get. 

Pack N Play care stations are more expensive because they provide you with many upgraded accessories. For example, most care stations come with a full-size infant bassinet addition, which makes it to where you don’t have to bend over too far to lay your sleeping baby down.

In addition to the full-size infant bassinet, many care stations come with a newborn bassinet, diaper changing area, and some storage options. 

Pack N Play: Pros and Cons



One of the most significant features of the Pack N Play is that they are portable. Not only does the portability ensure that you can quickly move the Pack N Play throughout your house, but you can also travel with it. 

More Budget-Friendly 

Compared to a crib, the Pack N Play has more budget-friendly options to choose from. While you can certainly spend a lot on an upgraded Pack N Play, you can find simple models for a fair price.  

Easy Setup

Another significant aspect of the Pack N Play is that they are simple to set up. If you choose the standard Pack N Play, you can pull it out of the box and set it up within minutes. 

For the care station accessories, like the newborn bassinet or changing area, you connect some bars together on each piece and then snap it onto the frame of the Pack N Play.  

Having this easy setup makes traveling with a Pack N Play excellent. You can assemble and disassemble in minutes, and they come with a travel bag for easy storage. 

Doubles as a Play Area

Because the Pack N Play is portable, it can serve as a safe place for your little one to play. Whether your child is a baby or a toddler, having a contained, safe space for them to play in is crucial for times when you need a minute to get something done.

Easy to Store for Future Children

The Pack N Play is very simple to disassemble for storage, as I mentioned above. Being able to store the Pack N Play easily is fantastic if you know you want to have more children.


Smaller Size 

While you can use a Pack N Play until your child is 35″ tall (or until they can climb out of it), it can’t be used as a long-term sleeping space. Unlike a crib, a Pack N Play doesn’t offer any conversion into a bed, making it unsafe as your child can try to climb out of it.

Thin, Less Comfortable Mattress

Most Pack N Play mattresses are about 1″ thick, which is the safest size to use to prevent any injuries. It’s possible that as your baby gets older, they might find the thin mattress uncomfortable. 

Not as Sturdy as a Crib

While a Pack N Play isn’t flimsy, it’s not as sturdy as a crib. This is primarily due to the difference in the materials it’s made out of. 

Most Models Look Similar

If you plan on using a Pack N Play instead of a crib, you won’t have much choice in style. Most Pack N Plays have the same structure, and the design only varies in the fabric that covers the railings.

Our Favorite Pack N Play

Graco Pack 'n Play Change 'N Carry Playard - Pack N Play vs Crib

When I first picked out all of my son’s nursery must-haves, I only thought of looking into cribs. But, as my due date got closer, my husband and I realized we needed to have a safe place in our room for our baby to sleep in.

Initially, we chose to get a small bassinet for our bedroom. What happened was a few months after our son was born, he outgrew his bassinet, but we weren’t ready to move him to his room. That’s when we got this Pack N Play.

I wish I would have skipped the bassinet altogether and bought a Pack N Play before our son arrived. The Pack N Play that we chose had an infant bassinet and a diaper changing area, which were perfect for our needs. Also, the Pack N Play fits easily in our room while giving our son more room to grow.

At about 9-months-old, our son started showing readiness to move to his crib in his own room. But, this didn’t mean that the Pack N Play was useless! Once we transitioned our son to his crib, we moved the Pack N Play into our living room/kitchen area, and it became his playpen for quite a while. 

Pack N Play vs Crib Pin Image

What is a crib?

When you read, ‘what is a crib?’, you might think that’s a self-explanatory question. Most people know what a crib is; a safe place for your baby or toddler to sleep. But, there are many kinds of cribs to choose from. Here are the top three types of cribs:

Convertible Crib

Delta Children Emery 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Crib

A convertible crib is a crib that you can build in at least two different ways. For example, a convertible bed can change from a standard crib to a ‘daybed,’ at the very least.

The next convertible crib is a 3-in-1 option. A 3-in-1 convertible crib can go from a standard crib to a toddler bed with a safety rail to a daybed. 

The final convertible crib option is a 4-in-1. A 4-in-1 convertible crib can change into everything that the 3-in-1 crib can, but it can also transform into a full-size bed frame.

Having the option to make the crib into a full-size bed frame means that the crib will grow with your child, and you won’t have to buy a new frame as your toddler gets older. 

One thing to keep in mind about convertible cribs is that you usually have to buy upgrades to make them convertible. For example, you’ll need to buy a safety rail to make a toddler bed. To make a full-size bed, you’ll need to purchase the slats that the full-size mattress will sit on. 

While this does make the crib a bit more expensive, it will be cheaper in the long run rather than buying a whole new full-size bed frame.

Mini Crib

Delta Children Folding Portable Mini Baby Crib - Pack N Play vs crib

A mini crib is precisely how it sounds; it is smaller in size compared to a standard crib. Typically, a mini crib measures about 24 x 38 inches, whereas a standard crib measures about 28 x 52 inches.

One positive aspect of a mini crib is that it is usually less expensive than a standard one. Not to mention, they are perfect if you are low on space.

Crib with Changing Table

Graco Benton 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer

A standard size crib with an attached changing table is the last type of crib option. While these cribs are the largest, they will provide you with extra storage space. 

The most significant downside of a crib with an attached changing table is that it can be pretty expensive and take up quite a bit of room.

More often than not, these types of cribs are also convertible cribs, which means you are paying even more for the changing table parts.

One thing to think about is that your baby can only use the changing table for so long. There are more budget-friendly options for a changing table, like on top of your child’s dresser, for example.

Crib: Pros and Cons


Larger Overall Size

Because a crib is bigger than a Pack N Play, it will be able to grow with your child. For example, if you choose to invest in a convertible crib, your child will use it for many, many years!

Thicker, More Comfortable Mattress 

Most cribs have mattresses that measure about 4-6 inches in depth. There is no doubt that a crib mattress is more comfortable than a thin Pack N Play mattress. 

Also, some crib mattresses, like this one, for example, have two sides for even more comfort. Typically, there is a newborn side, which is more firm, and then a toddler side that is a little softer. 

Better Quality 

Because cribs are made out of more sturdy material, they can last you longer than a Pack N Play. Not to mention, when reusing a crib for another child, it can be much easier to clean than the mesh material walls of a Pack N Play.

Different Styles To Choose From

The last benefit of choosing a crib is that there are many more styles to fit your nursery theme. When selecting a crib, there are more colors, but there are also more designs to consider.



Except for some mini cribs, the majority of cribs are stationary. That means that once you build the crib in a specific room, it will be more challenging to move the crib to a different room.

Sure, you can move the crib if you need to, but it will require using tools and a little more time and elbow grease.

More Expensive

Generally, cribs are more expensive than Pack N Plays. Now, of course, this will depend on what kind of Pack N Play you are comparing the crib to. For example, the lowest option for a Pack N Play is around $50-70, whereas the lower end for a bare convertible crib is about $150.

More Complex to Put Together

As I mentioned above, cribs are more complicated to put together than a Pack N Play. Like any piece of furniture, you’ll have to build it with some tools and probably someone else to help you hold the pieces. 

Our Favorite Crib

Delta Children Emery 4-in-1 Convertible Crib - Pack N Play vs Crib

We chose to invest in a convertible crib. I loved the idea that the crib grows with the child and can adapt to the many stages of their earlier years. 

We chose a 4-in-1 crib, so it can convert into a full-sized bed when the time comes. I also loved that this crib has three mattress heights, making it easier to lay a smaller baby down in.

Pack N Play vs Crib Pin Image

Pack N Play vs Crib: Size

The size is a huge factor when deciding whether to get a Pack N Play vs a crib. You want to be sure that whichever item you choose will fit your space while also ensuring it won’t be too small for your needs.

Many parents wonder, ‘Is a Pack N Play the same size as a crib?’. The short answer is no. Most Pack N Plays measure around 28 x 40 inches, while standard cribs measure about 28 x 52 inches.

Pack N Play vs Crib: How To Choose

Now that we’ve gone through the differences between a Pack N Play vs crib, it’s time to choose which one is right for you. 

Ultimately, it comes down to your needs. For example, if you want to room share, but you know you want to have a crib for the future, then getting both a Pack N Play and a crib might be best for you.

Getting a Pack N Play and a crib can be beneficial if your budget allows it. But, if you’re having a baby on a budget, then sticking with just Pack N Play, for the time being, is excellent, too! 

Also, don’t be afraid to put a Pack N Play and a crib on your baby registry. There is always a chance that someone wants to get you a big-ticket item!

Related Articles:

Pack N Play vs Crib: FAQs

Is it ok to use a Pack N Play as a crib?

When using a Pack N Play as a crib, the biggest concern is safety. When used correctly, both a crib and a Pack N Play are safe places for babies to sleep. 

One of the most important things to remember when using a Pack N Play for sleep is to stick with the mattress that it comes with.

The Pack N Play’s mattress is thin, firm, and, most importantly, fits correctly in the Pack N Play. Replacing the Pack N Play’s original mattress with something different increases the risk of entrapment or suffocation. 

Also, you’ll want to follow standard safe sleeping practices and never include any blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in the Pack N Play.

Do babies sleep better in a crib vs a Pack N Play?

Where a baby sleeps better depends on the individual baby. Some babies prefer sleeping in a crib, while others prefer a Pack N Play. 

To determine where your baby sleeps better, you’ll have to try both options and see how their sleeping patterns change.

How long can a baby sleep in a Pack N Play?

When it comes to how long a baby can sleep in a Pack N Play, it depends on the baby’s size. Most Pack N Plays recommend you discontinue use once your child is 35″ tall (or once they can climb out of it).

Pack N Play vs Crib Pin Image

I hope this guide helped you decide between a Pack N Play vs crib! Learning the pros and cons of each option helps solidify your choice, whether it’s one, the other, or even both! 

Before you go, check out these related articles:

What factor helped you decide between a Pack N Play vs crib? Or, did you invest in both options? I would love to know in the comments below!

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  1. I personally think every parent should have both if they can afford it! Both our kids slept in the pack n play for the first 6 months in the guest room, where my hubby did the night shift. After that, the moved into their own rooms and into the crib! But we still used the pack n play for over a year for traveling! They are both great to have!

  2. We invested in a crib for my son (firstborn). We received a bassinet as a gift; it was helpful for the first month when we had him in our bedroom. Then we transitioned him to his crib.

    However, when we had our daughter, we purchased a Pack N Play and bought the same one you had. It was easier to move around and versatile (playpen when older). We did not get a crib because we transitioned into a floor bed for her.

    There are plenty of pros and cons to both, and it’s important to pick the ones that work for you and your baby.

  3. My son is in his pack n play mostly. But we bought a pack n play mattress which is about 3 inches thick. He likes bouncing on it. lol

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