The Best Pack And Play For Busy Families Travelling In 2023

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 01/11/23 •  9 min read  •  Baby » Baby Parenting Advice

When you have a newborn, it can feel like the list of must-have baby gear never ends. And while you might not initially think of a pack and play as a parenting essential… I would argue otherwise. From providing a safe sleeping and play space, pack n plays are versatile items that will make a busy parent’s life a whole lot easier for years to come.

Our Top Pick
Best Budget
Best For Travelling
Pros:
  • Additional bassinet, storage and changing unit included
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Comes with it's own carry bag
  • Unique push-button fold technique
  • Grows with your child
  • America's No.1 Playard Brand
Pros:
  • Easy to assemble and collapse
  • Lightweight
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours
  • Award-winning
  • Very affordable and reliable
Pros:
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • One motion assembly
  • Comes with a carry case
  • 0-3 years compatibility
  • Machine washable
Our Top Pick
Pros:
  • Additional bassinet, storage and changing unit included
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Comes with it's own carry bag
  • Unique push-button fold technique
  • Grows with your child
  • America's No.1 Playard Brand
Best Budget
Pros:
  • Easy to assemble and collapse
  • Lightweight
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours
  • Award-winning
  • Very affordable and reliable
Best For Travelling
Pros:
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • One motion assembly
  • Comes with a carry case
  • 0-3 years compatibility
  • Machine washable

Best Pack And Play – Graco Travel Dome Playard

Our Top Pick
Graco Pack 'n Play Travel Dome LX Playard

Perfect for families with a young baby, this pack n play comes with a removable baby bassinet and diaper changing station as well as a spacious and airy playpen for your little one to play in as they grow! Designed with style, longevity and safety in mind, Graco has created the perfect playroom companion for busy parents.

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Graco has many years of experience when it comes to producing great baby gear and this Pack N Play Playard is no exception. 

Its signature easy-assembly playpen comes with a removable domed bassinet (featuring a UV50 canopy for safe use in the sun), a diaper-changing table with built-in storage pockets, and its own carry bag to pack everything into. 

The extra features do add weight and this pack and play is the heaviest of our 3 options… So at 33lbs (15kg) it may not be suitable for families who do a lot of travelling and road trips.

However, this pack n play has also been designed with 2 front wheels to make moving it around incredibly efficient and the unique push-button fold also makes Graco’s playard one of the quickest and easiest on the market to pack away.

Cleverly designed with mesh sides to be used as a safe sleep and play space for years to come, this pack and play is a wonderful option for any family at great price.

Best Budget Pack And Play – Dream On Me Nest Playard

Dream On Me Nest Portable Play Yard

Choosing the perfect pack and play can be overwhelming... But if you're looking for a safe, well-designed, lightweight and wallet-friendly option that does exactly what it says it will... You cannot go wrong with this portable playpen from Dream On Me. Perfect for travelling, visiting friends and general around-the-house use, this playpen will last for years to come.

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If you are on a budget or looking for a simple award-winning pack and play item then the Dream On Me Nest Playard is your perfect solution. 

Made with mesh sides and a quick-pack design, this pack n play meets all the CPSC and ASTM safety standards and is the perfect space for newborns up to 18 month old toddlers to relax in.

The mattress is made of baby-safe polyester foam and its four airy mesh sides allow easy ventilation and allow 360° visibility for you and your child.

The playard also comes in a wide variety of colours so it won’t stand out in your home (unless you want it to!) and weighs a very reasonable 16.8lbs (7.6kg).

Best Pack And Play For Travel – BabyBjörn Travel Crib

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Do you travel a lot? Spend weekends away? Visit Granny and Grandad often? Then this pack and play from BabyBjörn is your ideal travelling companion. Super lightweight, easy to assemble (only one movement required!) and designed to be used from newborn to 3 years, this playpen will remain loyal to your little one for all of your future adventures!

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By far the lightest of our 3 options (13lbs/6kg), the BabyBjörn Travel Crib is the perfect companion for young families on the go. 

Designed to be set up in one swift movement and easily foldable into a carry bag, travelling with children has never been so easy. 

The airy mesh fabric gives you reassuring supervision over your baby and the included soft mattress means your little one will always have somewhere comfy and safe to rest when away from home. 

It’s worth mentioning that this pack and play does not have an upper weight limit. Baby Björn state that it’s suitable from newborn to approximately 3 years (or until your toddler can climb out). Meaning this pack and play will stand the test of time for many family trips to come!

Why Should You Use A Pack And Play?

Pack and plays are an excellent addition to your little one’s kit list as they are versatile and super handy both at home and away. 

REMEMBER: A pack n play is a tool to help parents keep their children safe for short periods of time during the day or to put their child down to sleep. Please do not leave your child unattended for extended periods of time. To learn more, read this post from Valerie Plowman about age-appropriate independent play times.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Pack And Play?

With so many pack n play options on the market, it can be a little daunting deciding which one to pick…  So, here is my list of things that you should consider when choosing the best pack and play for your family:

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Pack And Play
  1. Safety. Undoubtedly your first consideration is always safety. Ensure that any pack and play you buy complies with the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). And if you plan to use your pack n play as a place for your little one to sleep… ensure it meets safe sleep guidelines for babies under 1 year of age, has breathable sides, and that the mattress fits well.
  2. Is it easy to assemble and collapse? The best pack and play for you should be easy to assemble but also take a close look at how easy it is to collapse. Some pack n plays are designed with a one-handed set up too.
  3. It is easy to pack away? Most pack and plays come with carry bags so ensure that they are easy to pack into the bag and that the bag itself is easy to carry and stow away.
  4. How heavy is it? Pack n plays are designed to be used on the move so they need to be lightweight and not too bulky. If you are planning on doing a lot of travelling having a lightweight pack and play is even more important.
  5. Easy to clean? Little ones are messy and there is always a chance of accidents so check how easy your pack and play is to clean for when the inevitable happens.
  6. Is it comfortable for your child? As well as wanting your little one to be safe… you want them to be comfy too so having a good mattress and sleep space that is the right size for them is especially important if you intend your pack and play to be a portable sleep space.
  7. How adaptable is it? Decide what you want your pack n play to be used for and choose accordingly. Some are mainly designed for sleep… others for play and some for both. Some pack and play options also come with a bassinet and changing station which are great if you have a small baby to care for.

NOTE: Pack and plays manufactured prior to 2013 may not comply with current sleep safety standards, so be careful when buying second-hand items.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pack And Plays

Looking for more information about pack and plays? Find answers to the most common questions here.

How To Set Up A Pack And Play?

Every pack and play will come with instructions on how to set it up properly. Please ensure you read these carefully to ensure your child is being left in a safe and secure space.

REMEMBER: As with cribs and bassinets, pack n plays should be set up away from windows, curtain cords, cables, radiators or places where your little one can reach up and pull things down.

How To Clean A Pack N Play?

Pack and plays are best cleaned with warm soapy water. Do not use bleach them and ensure the mattress is completely dry before putting any sort of sheet on for sleeping.

How To Fold Up A Pack N Play?

Every pack and play will come with instructions on how to fold it up and pack it away. Most have a button to initiate the folding, but some only require a bit of clever wiggling.

Are Pack And Plays OK For Long-Term Use?

Yes. As long as your pack and play complies with sleeping safety standards for children under 1 year of age then it is completely safe for your baby to sleep in a pack n play every night. Most are also safe for children up to the age of 3 (or 30lbs) to sleep in too. 

REMEMBER: You should not leave your little one unattended for long periods of time in a pack n play.

Is It OK For Baby To Sleep In Pack N Play?

Yes. Providing your pack and play complies with current sleeping safety standards, it is perfectly safe for your baby or toddler to sleep in there.

How Long Can Baby Sleep In Pack N Play?

Newborns to toddlers of 3 years of age (or up to 30lbs) can sleep safely in most pack n plays all night long.

Are Pack N Plays Worth It?

Yes. Pack n plays are definitely worth it. They provide a safe place to encourage independent play and give you the peace of mind that your little one is safe when you are busy. In addition, they provide a safe place for play and sleep when travelling, on days out or visiting family and friends!

Our Top Pick
Best Budget
Best For Travelling
Pros:
  • Additional bassinet, storage and changing unit included
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Comes with it's own carry bag
  • Unique push-button fold technique
  • Grows with your child
  • America's No.1 Playard Brand
Pros:
  • Easy to assemble and collapse
  • Lightweight
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours
  • Award-winning
  • Very affordable and reliable
Pros:
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • One motion assembly
  • Comes with a carry case
  • 0-3 years compatibility
  • Machine washable
Our Top Pick
Pros:
  • Additional bassinet, storage and changing unit included
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Comes with it's own carry bag
  • Unique push-button fold technique
  • Grows with your child
  • America's No.1 Playard Brand
Best Budget
Pros:
  • Easy to assemble and collapse
  • Lightweight
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours
  • Award-winning
  • Very affordable and reliable
Best For Travelling
Pros:
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • One motion assembly
  • Comes with a carry case
  • 0-3 years compatibility
  • Machine washable

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Paula McLaren

Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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