Crib vs Pack N Play: Which One To Get? (Differences, Pros and Cons)

The crib vs pack n play has so many differences. Read on to find out which would suit your family better.

A lot of parents are on the fence about getting a crib or skipping it entirely for a pack n play. Some would wonder if it’s just better to get both or if one would suffice until the kid is old enough to get their own small bed.

If you’re undecided between a pack n play or crib, then this article will help you compare its uses, types, features, pros, and cons, to help you decide if the other (or both!) is right for you.

Let’s start first with the most common question about the crib vs pack n play.

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In a hurry? We recommend getting a crib. Assuming that budget and space are not an issue, a crib is more durable and would last you longer. 

If budget and space is not a problem, why not just get both! You can have the crib as a permanent fixture in the house and for when your little one gets older and you can have the pack n play for travel or for using in another room.

Here’s a tip: Ikea sells cheap yet high quality cribs so you might want to visit one and check out their Sniglar and Gulliver Crib.

So what’s the difference between a crib vs pack n play?

It mainly lies in their portability and functionality. A pack n play is portable and has multi-uses. A crib is not portable and is mostly solely use for sleeping.

A pack n’ play is easy to assemble, fold up and store. It’s lightweight enough for moving into another room and for traveling.

It can also turn into a playpen or playard. A lot of models come with tons of features and accessories such as a diaper changing table, storage, and organizers. Some can even come with a vibrating seat, baby bouncer, and more!

A crib is more of a permanent fixture in the house. It’s sturdier than a pack n play and some come with wheels, making it a little easier to move around. But it’s not portable at all, compared to a pack and play.

Some crib types, such as a convertible crib which can turn into a toddler bed (or even a full-sized bed!), can last longer, giving you more bang for your buck. 

Crib vs Pack N Play: Feature Comparison Table

This is best viewed on a desktop. Here’s a quick comparison guide on the pack n play vs crib.

FeaturesCribPack ‘N Play
SizeHeavier and largerSmaller and lighter than a crib
TypesVariousVarious
MattressThick and firmThinner and less firm than a crib
LongevityCan last until 3 yrs old (or more, depending on child)Can last until 3 yrs old (or more, depending on child)
Durability• Can typically hold between 35 lbs (16kgs) to 50 lbs (23kg)
• Usually made of wood or metal
• Can typically hold until 30 lbs (14 kg)
* Usually made of polyester, plastic and some metal
PortableNoYes
Setup• Takes a while to assemble
• Permanent fixture in the bedroom
Can be assembled and disassembled for traveling or storing
FunctionalityUsually for sleepingCan be used as a crib, travel crib, playpen
AccessoriesMany, depending on modelVarious
DesignBeautiful stylesNot so pleasing designs

Below is more detailed info on the differences between a pack n play vs crib.

Differences Between Pack and Play vs Crib

Size

A standard crib measures 28″ x 52” (71 cm x 132 cm). 

While a pack n play or playards (depending on the brand and model) have sizes that range from 28″ to 41″ in length, 28.5″ to 39″ in width, and 29″ to 41″ in height.

In short, pack n plays are generally smaller and lighter than a standard-sized crib.

Keep in mind the average ranges of weight and height of kids below:

pic from stanfordchildrens.org

Types

Crib types

There’s actually a lot of crib types but the basic ones are the standard crib, convertible crib, mini crib, and combo crib.

A standard crib is just a simple, plain type, with little to no-frills. But they are cheaper – they can sometimes sell for $100 or lower.

A convertible crib can turn into a toddler bed, daybed, twin-sized, or even full-sized bed, depending on the model.

A mini crib is a smaller type of crib that can sometimes come with wheels.

While a combo crib has some extra features like drawers, storage areas, diaper changing tables, and more.

Pack N Play Types

Pack n plays or playards have so many various models and types. Some are cheap and plain enough that they can only be used for their most basic functions – as a crib, playpen, and travel crib.

While some come with the full monty of accessories and features – a toy mobile, a bassinet, diaper changing table, storage and organizers, and more.

Mattress and Sheets

Standard cribs have a more comfortable, firmer mattress, while pack n plays’ are thinner and less firm and also tend to get lumpy over time.

Both are still safe to use for newborns though, as long as safety regulations and requirements are consistently followed. Check out the safety requirements for the crib and pack n play.

When it comes to its size, a standard crib’s mattress doesn’t fit in a pack n play since it’s much larger. 

In general, it’s not recommended to use a different mattress that didn’t come with the crib or the pack n play. 

Sometimes the mattress isn’t included in the crib so its better to call up the manufacturer or the store for mattress recommendations.

I’d also recommend buying extra mattress sheets along with the crib or pack n play. So you don’t need to look around for one, which might not fit and can become a danger to your little one.

Longevity

Pack n plays can usually last until your kid weighs more than 30 lb (14 kg), reaches 35 in (89 cm) in height, or can climb out.

I know families who have used it for their 4-year-olds. Their kid was okay to sleep in it and would ask to be carried out and wouldn’t even try to climb out.

A standard-sized crib has a heavier weight limit than a pack and play. 

It can typically hold between 35 lbs (16kgs) to 50lbs (23kg) and can last until your child reaches 35″(89 cm) in height or is attempting to climb out.

Some families can use a standard crib until their kid is 4 years old.

Then there’s my kid who thinks her crib is freaking wall climbing equipment. She started getting out of it when she turned 1.

So it depends on the child. Just take note again of average ranges weight and height of kids below:

pic from stanfordchildrens.org

Durability

Cribs are sturdier and stronger than a pack n play as they can handle a heavier weight limit plus, their material is usually made of wood or metal.

Pack ‘N Plays are typically made of polyester, plastic, and some metal, making them lighter and easier to assemble and fold, than a standard-sized crib.

But pack n plays are still stable and safe enough for newborns. Some can even hold so many accessories and features such as a bassinet, shelves, and diaper changing table.

Portability

Simple types of pack n play, those with fewer accessories, are more portable and travel-friendly than a crib.

You can even bring it on a plane with you although it would count as regular baggage and can’t be checked in.

They are also easy to fold up and store. You can set them up at night beside your bedroom then collapse and assemble it when needed, especially when you need to work or do chores outside the bedroom while keeping your baby close.

Cribs, on the other hand, are obviously not portable. Some do come with wheels but they are generally cumbersome to move around. So it’s better to just let them stay in one area.

Setup

Assembling a crib can take some time as its parts are usually heavy and would require some tools such as a screwdriver, bolts, etc.

It would also be better if you have someone to help you assemble it, as you need to carry, lift and attach some parts. 

You would also need to set it up in a permanent place, as moving it out of the room can be difficult.

A pack n play also needs some assembly but it’s usually much faster and easier to set it up.

You generally don’t need a lot of tools and you can even assemble it on your own. 

Plus if you changed your mind on where to place it, you can easily just fold it up, move and assemble it in another place again.

Functionality

Cribs are only generally used for sleeping. Yes, some combo cribs come with a diaper changing table or dresser but in general, cribs don’t have much of a use for kids except for sleeping. 

A pack and play, on the other hand, has many uses, such as for daytime and nighttime sleeping, as a travel crib, playpen, or “baby jail.”

Depending also on the model, some come with their bassinet, vibrating seat, portable bouncer, etc.

Some can even fit in twins comfortably such as the Joovy Room²-Playard, Portable-Playard.

Accessories

Standard cribs are not as popular as convertible cribs because of their lack of accessories and features. Most parents would opt for a convertible or combo crib for its multifunctionality. 

On the other hand, most pack n plays come with so many features and accessories. Some can even come with a diaper organizer, diaper changing table, vibrating seat, rocking bassinet, and more!

Design

Let’s face it, cribs are more aesthetically pleasing than a pack n play. 

I didn’t even consider the design of the pack n play (except the color) when I bought one. I just considered its functionality and its durability.

But for a crib, I took my time to think if a white wood or brown one or maybe a metal crib would look better in our bedroom.

So this might seem not that of a big deal but I’d just like to bring this up, especially if you’d want something that would fit your kid’s bedroom interiors.

Crib vs Pack N Play: Pros and Cons

Here’s a general overview of the advantages and drawbacks of a crib vs pack n play.

Crib Pros

  • Durable and most are convertible
  • Thicker, firmer mattress
  • Beautiful styles to choose from

Crib Cons

  • Not portable
  • Takes up space
  • Can be more expensive

Pack ‘N Play Pros

  • Multifunctional – travel crib, playpen, crib
  • Space saver
  • Most are cheaper than a crib

Pack ‘N Play Cons

  • Thin and less firm mattress
  • Can’t convert to a toddler bed
  • Not as pretty as a crib

Pack and Play vs Crib FAQ

Are pack ‘n plays safe to use?

Yes, provided that you follow the safety guidelines and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Is it okay to use a pack and play as a crib?

lot of parents have used this as a crib alternative, given that it’s usually cheaper and smaller than a standard crib. And if you want to save more money and you have little space, then a pack and play is your best crib substitute.

Is a crib safer than a Pack ‘N Play?

Both a crib and pack and play are safe to use, even for newborns, as long as it’s being used properly and safety guidelines are met.

Some parents would prefer the durable material of a crib, given that it would less likely to get knocked down or pushed away, especially if you have other animated kids or unusually large pets in the house.

Should the baby sleep in a crib or pack n play?

They can sleep in both as long as safety standards are met and safety guidelines are consistently followed.

Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a pack and play every night?

Yes, it’s perfectly okay for even a newborn to sleep in a pack n play every night.

How long can baby sleep in a pack n play?

Pack n plays can last until your kid can start climbing out of it or until your child reaches 35 in (89 cm) in height or weighs more than 30 lb (14 kg).

Is a pack and play the same size as a crib?

No, pack and plays are usually smaller and lighter than a crib. 

Can I use a crib mattress in a Pack ‘ N Play?

It’s better to use a dedicated pack ‘n play mattress as it has a different size from a standard crib mattress.

It’s also not advisable to use a crib mattress in a pack ‘n play for safety reasons.

Which One Should You Get – Pack n Play or Crib?

If budget and space are not a problem, I would highly recommend getting both. 

Sure a crib can last long but it won’t be useful if your family needs to travel or you need to keep your baby close to you in another room, because you’re working, doing chores, etc.

For all the things that a standard crib cannot do, a pack n play will pick up the so-called slack or deficiencies.

However, if you’d rather pick one for now and assuming budget and space are still not an issue and you don’t travel that much, a convertible crib would be a better choice.

My Takeaway

I used both a convertible crib and pack n play for my baby’s first year.

The pack n play was super helpful, especially whenever I had to bathe my baby. I just dragged it near the dining table where I’d bathe my newborn then. 

We left the pack n play at my in-law’s place so every time we visited, our kid had her own playpen.

My kid hated being in it so it didn’t last and also because it wasn’t sturdy enough to stop her from trying to climb out of it.

The crib was useful and durable enough. My daughter would sometimes do some gymnastic movements in it (yup, she’s that kind of kid) and she would even move around her crib by pushing her leg against the wall. She would occasionally bite her crib and I’d still see her teeth marks on it.

A day after her 1-year-old birthday, my daughter decided she doesn’t want to sleep in her crib anymore. She just started hiking up one leg and started climbing out of her crib. I couldn’t think of any solution that would reign her in safely and comfortably so we had no choice but to co-sleep with her, on a floor mattress to make things safer.

We still saved her crib and tried to talk her into using it as a toddler bed when she got older but no luck. We had to eventually give it away as it was taking up a lot of space.

So in short – it doesn’t matter what you get, it will all depend on your kid’s preference and temperament.

So cross your fingers that your kid doesn’t turn out to be defiant (she listens most of the time though), feral, daredevil like me so you can fully use a crib or a pack n play, and get your money’s worth.