Pack N’ Play vs. Crib: Differences, Pros and Cons
Time to read 10 min
Time to read 10 min
There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best sleep space for your baby—and there’s no shortage of choices! If you’ve narrowed it down to a pack n’ play or a crib, this guide can give you a better look at the pros and cons of each so you can pick the best bed for your little one.
A crib or a pack n’ play—also called a play yard or playpen—are both safe places for your baby to sleep. Although they can both serve as your baby’s first bed, there are significant differences in size, portability, and other factors that may help you determine which one is right for your family.
Some of the main differences between cribs and pack n’ plays are …
Cribs are stationary pieces of furniture. They can be easily moved around for redecorating or organizing your baby’s room, but you won’t be taking them apart to move them from one room to another on a daily basis.
A crib mattress is larger and thicker. This gives your baby more space to spread out while sleeping on a comfortable mattress that’s most like your own.
A full-size crib takes up more space but gives your baby plenty of room to move even as they grow bigger.
Although a crib does come at a higher price point, investing in a quality piece of furniture can save you money in the long run. The same crib you purchase for your newborn can still be used well into their toddler years without ever needing to replace it.
Cribs are a safe place to put your baby down at any time, but they’re mainly used as a sleep space for naptimes and bedtime.
A crib is generally made of natural or synthetic wood and metal hardware giving it a sturdy frame and long-lasting durability. Cribs have a higher weight capacity to hold your little one as they grow and can withstand prolonged, daily use. Even a teething baby may only leave behind minor marks that don’t affect the solidity of the frame.
The features that make the pack n’ play unique can present advantages and disadvantages in certain situations. Depending on how your family will use the pack n’ play, these are some of the pros and cons you might consider.
Rolling, sitting up, and pulling up to stand are all safe for your baby to practice in the pack n’ play. The four-sided enclosure provides boundaries as your child learns to perfect their gross motor skills. And the mesh sides give you a front-row seat to watch all the new tricks your little one has learned.
The design of a pack n’ play includes breathable mesh sides and a firm flat surface for your baby to sleep on. A play yard is approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) as a safe infant sleep product. To further adhere to the CPSC safety standards, pillows, blankets, and plush toys should not be in the pack n’ play while your child is sleeping.
A pack n’ play generally supports a weight of 25-30 pounds. If this is your child’s everyday sleep spot, you might find yourself needing to transition them to a toddler or big kid bed sooner than you thought.
It can be frustrating when you’re trying to quickly put together a pack n’ play for a tired baby. Each model comes with its own instructions to guide you through the process, but every minute is precious when your little one needs to get to sleep. Even a slight struggle may leave you feeling that the pack n’ play is more burdensome than helpful.
Pack n’ plays are compact when folded, but they still take up a significant amount of space length-wise. If you can’t designate part of a closet or other storage area to fit the size of the play yard, then it could be left to sit out in your way or as an eyesore in the corner of the room.
As your baby grows, he or she will take up more space. Older babies will stretch and change positions while they sleep just like adults. When your child is long enough to bump into or rub against the sides of the pack n’ play, it’s likely they’ll start waking up in the night because they’re uncomfortable. The padding on the pack n’ play mattress is minimal, but adding any extra cushion would increase the risk of suffocation.
A crib may seem like a staple piece of furniture in your baby’s nursery, but is it the best choice for your home? Weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a crib can help you decide.
You can find peace of mind knowing your baby is safe in their crib. The side rails are high and the bed is raised up off the floor making it more difficult for pets or other siblings to interfere. Cribs are rigorously tested for structural integrity and safe design features.
Room sharing is encouraged during the early newborn months, but when it’s time to move your baby into the nursery it can be helpful to have the crib set up and waiting. The transition from bassinet to crib can be tedious, but early introduction with small amounts of time awake in the crib will help your baby learn to sleep in their own space.
A high-quality crib is made to withstand several years of use. Your little one can safely sleep in a crib well into their toddler years, or you can save the crib for each new sibling you bring home.
You can find a crib with a design that the rest of your nursery theme centers around or one with a simple style to match any type of room decor. The possibilities are endless and you have many color and customization options to personalize your baby’s crib.
Without fabric sides, the bare frame of most cribs only requires a quick wipe-down for drool and spit-up messes. Crib sheets can be machine-washed after a diaper blowout and a crib mattress like the Lullaby Earth Breeze Air is waterproof with a removable, washable, waterproof cover.
The dimensions of a standard crib give your growing baby plenty of space to move around and get comfortable while they sleep. Babies can maneuver into crunched-up positions while they’re dreaming, so room to stretch out is a necessity.
There’s no doubt that a crib will cost you more money. This can be a problem for some families who have their finances focused on other things. The cost of a crib may be something that takes a while to save up for.
A crib takes up a considerable amount of space in the room. Safely placing all of your nursery furniture in one room can feel like a game of Tetris. There can be a slight variation in sizes among different brands so check the dimensions before you buy to make sure it fits in your space.
A crib requires a setup of screwing large panels of side rails and end pieces together, making it impractical to take with you on the go. Even moving the crib from one room in the house to another can take a significant amount of time and energy.
The advantages of a crib tend to outweigh the negatives for most families. It can be an even easier decision to make when you find out there are several different types for you to choose from. Each style of crib has a different purpose so you can find exactly what you need in your baby’s nursery.
A convertible crib is the epitome of a long-term investment. This crib comes with the option of a guardrail that can be swapped out with the front crib rails to become a toddler bed. Although they typically come at a higher cost upfront, you’ll benefit from extended use with the convertible crib.
A crib combined with an attached changing table or shelving unit. This is most convenient during the newborn stage when you’re up changing diapers frequently in the middle of the night.
There are safety concerns as your baby gets older. Take notice of when your baby can stand and reach things up on the changing table and when they begin trying to climb. The piece attached may make it easier for your little one to escape the confines of the crib.
As the name suggests, the mini crib is a smaller version of the standard crib. This type of baby bed requires a special mattress since the mini crib can be 12-14 inches shorter in length than a regular crib. The mini crib is a great option for small spaces or room sharing.
Yes, a pack n’ play can be used as a crib. Meaning, it’s safe for your baby’s daily naps and bedtime.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers play yards, along with cribs and bassinets, to be a safe sleeping surface for babies and toddlers within the height and weight limitations of the product. The AAP recommends a baby’s sleep space consist of a firm, flat mattress covered only by a fitted sheet to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
While a pack n’ play and crib can be used interchangeably with your newborn, it’s important to think ahead when choosing a permanent bed for your baby. Many new parents find it helpful to have both a pack n’ play and a crib.
A pack n’ play is better suited as a temporary sleep solution or as a piece of baby gear used while traveling. A crib can be designated as a permanent sleep spot from infancy through toddlerhood. The long-lasting benefits of investing in a high-quality crib ensure the safety, comfort, and overall well-being of your little one.
Ultimately, you know your family and your lifestyle better than anyone else. When you look to this list of pros and cons as your guide to buying a pack n’ play or a crib, you can make an informed decision.
Discover The Crib and other nursery furniture from Nurture& in our online store. We’re proud to offer you our premium, modern, and non-toxic nursery furniture and baby essentials made for parents, by parents.
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