Mini Crib vs Pack n Play – Which Is Better? (Differences, Pros, Cons)


The Mini Crib vs Pack n Play has tons of differences and not a lot of similarities. Read on to find out which you should get for your baby.

Cribs can cost a lot and sometimes, they’re not a practical choice, especially if you have a small space and a tight budget. Fortunately, there are other cheaper, smaller yet safe crib alternatives such as a mini crib or a pack n play, that can work out for your family.

It might seem overwhelming to choose between a pack n play or a mini crib, especially if you’re a new parent. So in this article, I’ve researched and explained their differences, advantages, and drawbacks.

I hope this would be useful for you to finally decide which one is right for you. (It can be both! But I digress.)

But let me explain first what exactly are these 2 crib alternatives and how other families have used them.

I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

In a hurry? We highly recommend a Pack N Play. It has many uses (play area, travel crib, etc.), it’s stable, and can last long (depending on your kid).

What is a Mini Crib?

Just as its name suggests, it’s basically a crib that’s smaller than a standard-sized crib. A standard crib usually measures 52″ long and 28″ wide while a mini crib’s average size is 38″ long and 24″ wide. Some can even go as narrow as 19″ depending on the model.

That also means that a mini crib has a smaller mattress. 

A mini crib can also be called a portable crib if it comes with wheels. Below is a sample combo crib and a convertible crib.

Mini Crib with Drawer-Dresser

Convertible Mini Crib

Uses of Mini Crib

Mini cribs are exceptionally useful for households with/ that:

  • Small spaces
  • Separate crib for twins sharing a room
  • Needs a dedicated sleeping area in another room or house eg. for regular weekend visits to in-laws
  • Can be moved around the house if needed to keep newborn in the same room with you, eg. work from home setup

What is a Pack n Play?

A pack n play is multifunctional and portable sleep and play area for a baby or a toddler.

Depending on its brand and model, it can be used as a crib, sleeper/ bassinet, travel crib, play area. It also comes with a variety of features and accessories such as a diaper changing table, and even a vibrating seat, etc.

Some can even accommodate twins!

A pack n play is also called a playard.

Spacious Pack n Play/ Playard for Twins

Portable Pack N Play with Bassinet and Changing Table

Uses of Pack n Play

They have a multitude of use such as:

  • For sleeping obviously
  • “Baby jail” 
  • As a playpen, to keep your baby contained yet safe and comfy
  • Dry moveable area – giving baby a bath
  • For traveling, as a travel crib
  • For changing diapers (if it comes with its diaper changing station)
  • Extra storage for diapers, wet wipes, etc. (if it comes with shelves, organizers
  • Some models can accommodate twins like the Joovy Room²-Playard, Portable-Playard
  • A secondary dedicated crib to be placed in another room or house

Now let’s dive in and compare the features of the Mini Crib vs Pack and Play

Mini Crib vs Pack n Play Comparison Table

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

FeaturesMini CribPack ‘N Play
SizeRanges from 37in to 54in L x 19in to 35in W x 33in to 42in HRanges from 28in to 41in L x 28.5in to 39in W x 29in to 41in H
MattressThick and firmThin and less firm
DurabilityUsually made from wood and metalUsually made of mesh, aluminium and plastic
LongevityCan last 1 to 2 yearsCan last 1 to 3 years
PortabilitySome models come with wheelsMost are travel-friendly and can be folded for storing
SetupAssembly is same as that of standard cribCan be assembled and disassembled for traveling or storing
AccessoriesLimitedVarious

Below is more detailed info on the differences between mini crib vs pack and play.

Differences Between Mini-Crib vs Pack ‘n Play

Size

Mini crib measurement varies, depending on the model. Some can be as long as 37″ to 54″, as narrow or as wide – from 19″ to 35″ in width and can be as high as 33″ to 42″.

Pack n play or playards on the other hand, have sizes ranging from 28″ to 41″ in length, 28.5″ to 39″ in width, and 29″ to 41″ in height.

Keep in mind that on average, a standard crib measures 52″ long and 28″ wide.

Take note of the average ranges of weight and height of kids below:

pic from stanfordchildrens.org

Mattress and Sheets

The two have different mattress sizes and are not interchangeable with one another. Neither can you use a standard-size crib mattress in these two.

Pack n play’s mattresses are generally thinner and less firm, compared to a mini crib.

Popular pack n play or playard makers wouldn’t recommend replacing or stacking mattresses as it’s not safe for your baby and might cause suffocation.

If you do need to replace a pack ‘n play’s mattress, you need to contact the manufacturer. 

Same also with the mini crib. You can only use the mattress that comes with it. Or manufacturers can recommend suitable mattresses which I think you should just purchase.

So a different mattress size also means that its sheets are not a standard size. So remember to buy extra mattress sheets together with the pack n play or mini crib, as it might be hard to find sheets that will fit well, especially for the mini crib.

Don’t buy sheets are too loose or too tight as it might be dangerous for your baby. If the sheets are accidentally removed from the mattress, it can cover up your baby’s face so always buy the right kind of sheets.

Durability

Mini cribs can be sturdier than a pack n play, mainly because of their material. Most are usually made of wood (or metal) making them heavier and stronger.

But there are a few complaints of wobbliness, mainly because of its wheels.

Pack ‘N Plays are usually made of mesh, aluminum, and plastic but that doesn’t mean they’re not stable.

Some can even hold so many accessories. While some can even accommodate features such as a diaper changing table, shelves, and such and can even be used by toddlers.

Longevity

Both can be used for a few years, depending on the model and the size and mobility of your child.

If your kid is on the higher percentile, then they might easily outgrow both, most especially the mini crib.

A mini crib can last 1 to 2 years while a pack n play, given its many uses, can last you until 3 years old. I personally know some families who only have a pack n play and used it until their kid was 4 years old.

On the other hand, some convertible mini cribs can last longer as they can turn into a mini toddler bed, daybed, or even twin-size bed!

But again, this all depends on your kid, if they’re willing to stay in it and if it’s still high and safe enough for them not to climb out of it.

Portability

A pack n play is more portable than a mini crib. It can be folded up and kept for storage and usually comes with wheels.

On the other hand, some mini crib models do come with wheels and can also be folded up when not in use. 

But generally, most mini cribs are pretty heavy and are not portable at all.

Setup

Mini cribs are set up the same way you’d assemble a standard size crib. Most mini crib models can’t be folded for storing so you pretty much just leave them alone in a room until your kid outgrows them.

Pack n Plays, on the other hand, can be assembled and disassembled for traveling or storing.

It does take some time to set them up. The collapsing and folding for storing can be a little bit tedious, especially if you’re not used to it.

Accessories

Pack n Play packs (no pun intended) a punch when it comes to features and accessories, compared to a mini crib.

All can be used for sleeping, or as a travel crib, play area, or “baby jail”. While some models come with a sleeper/ bassinet, shelves, organizer, diaper changing table, toy mobile, and even baby rockers, swings, etc.

Mini cribs have limited accessories. Some models do come with their own shelves or drawers. Others can have a toy mobile which can be purchased separately.

However, some mini crib models can be turned into toddler beds, giving up a little bit of an advantage over the pack n play.

Mini Pack n Play vs Regular Pack n Play: Similarities

Depending on the model, the only similarity between these two is that they are generally smaller than a standard-size crib.

That’s it. Other than that, they are so different from each other.

Mini Crib vs Pack n Play: Pros and Cons

In a nutshell, here are the pros and cons between the mini crib vs pack and play.

Mini Crib Pros

  • Space saver
  • Gorgeous designs
  • Has convertible models

Mini Crib Cons

  • Can only be used for sleeping
  • Hard to buy a mattress and sheet
  • Fewer accessories

Pack n Play Pros

  • Multifunctional
  • Portable and travel-friendly
  • Has lots of accessories

Pack n Play Cons

  • Thin, lumpy mattress
  • Not convertible to a large bed
  • Not as pretty as a mini crib

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

For practicality’s sake, a pack n play is hands down the better choice. You can get more bang for your buck with the pack n play as it’s more than a place for sleeping. 

It can be used as a travel crib, playpen, “baby jail” etc. And a lot of models has so many accessories such as a diaper changing table, organizer, baby rocker, swings, etc.

Other parents opted for a mini crib as it’s more comfortable for their baby, with its thicker, firmer mattress.

A mini crib is also more aesthetically pleasing, plus some models can be converted into a toddler bed, allowing you to use it longer. But again, longevity of either the pack n play or mini crib will depend on your kid’s personality, as some are absolutely fine to sleep and stay in it while some will start climbing out of it by age 1 or younger.

Takeaway

Personally, I’ve used a pack n play. We stayed with my in-laws for 1.5 months so they can help me take care of my baby and left the pack n play there for weekend visits. 

We had a dedicated standard crib at home and the pack n play was basically used as a “baby jail” whenever we visited my in-laws.

My kid outgrew it pretty quickly and hated staying there, but it was quite useful for the first few months, especially when I had to give my baby a bath or change her diaper, cut her nails, etc.

If you’re still a little bit overwhelmed about choosing between the pack n play vs mini crib, I would consider the price, multifunctionality and longevity of the pack n play. You’d get more out of it plus it’s still safe and comfortable enough for your baby to sleep in.