Feeling lost in a sea of Graco Pack ‘n Plays? Do you think you want to get one but are confused by the huge range out there? Wondering what the difference is between a napper and a bassinet, or if the Travel Lite is actually the same thing as the ‘On the Go’? (Sounds like they should be doesn’t it?)
There are literally hundreds of models, some with Deluxe or Elite versions with extra add-ons, but they all have the same basic construction.
What’s standard with a Graco Pack ‘n Play
Graco playards are all rectangular in shape and constructed of a metal frame with mesh sides. Its key functions are for baby to sleep in, play in and that you can easily pack it away. Here’s how:
All Graco Pack ‘n Plays have a quilted mattress pad at the base plus a removable full-size bassinet that sits at a higher level for newborns and babies up to 15 pounds. The point of the bassinet is to provide a convenient and safe place for your newborn to nap without you having to lean in to the bottom of the cot, which is hard on your back plus there’s more chance of a sleeping baby waking up. The bassinet should only be used until your baby can roll over. It clicks in to place easily and can be folded down with the rest of the cot.
A sturdy rectangular metal frame with airy mesh on four sides for maximum ventilation makes for a safe spot for your baby to play in where you can also keep an eye on him. Specifications vary a little but they are generally recommended for children unable to climb out, under 35″ tall or up to 30 pounds in weight.
A push button on the top bar and automatically folding feet and wheels make the Pack ‘n Play pretty easy to break down once you get the hang of it. You then wrap the mattress pad around the cot and the whole thing slips in to a carry bag.
All Graco playards have a one-year limited warranty against defects in material and workmanship.
Graco Pack ‘n Play add-ons
Here are the main extra features you can choose from depending on your needs
A separate padded napping station that clips onto the top of the cot. It is suitable for babies under 3 months or those unable to roll over. The napper is designed to replicate the snug sensation of the womb – it’s shaped like a little nest, the fabric is really soft and there’s a newborn headrest insert so baby really feels warm and cuddled.
It comes with the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Newborn Napper
A separate padded changing table that either clips on top or flips out to the side. The newer versions are raised so changing baby is easier on your back. It is wipe-clean and can be removed at the push of a button.
It comes with the Graco Pack ‘n Play Element Playard
You can combine both of the above add-ons in one piece with a reversible napper/changer. One side is a fabric napper; flip it over and it’s a wipe-clean changer. It is good for space-saving, if you don’t want to have too many extra bits and pieces with your playard.
Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer
Overhead hanging toys which entertain baby while lying in the bassinet can be removed along with the play mat so you can create a little baby gym directly on the floor.
This feature comes only with the Graco Pack ‘n Play Modern Playard with Play Mat, Shout
Cuddle Cove rocker
The Cuddle Cove rocking seat is like the basic newborn napper with rocker legs and carrying handles so it can sit on top of the cot or can be taken around the house with you. It also features gentle vibrations. A canopy shields bright light, fabrics are soft and machine-washable. With the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Cuddle Cove Rocker
There are a range of storage solutions from: cubby holes that sit flush with the top of the cot, handy for quick access to diapers, wipes, lotions etc; diaper stackers that hang from the side of the cot; to this deluxe deep storage pocket that comes with the Elite version of the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Newborn Napper, useful if you want your cot to work as a complete care station for your baby.
Separate cozy quilted clip-on bassinets plus twin slumber dome canopies to shield babies from bright light. Comes with the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Twins Bassinet Vance
Soft toys suspended on a mobile or stretched on a bar across the top of the cot will keep your baby stimulated and entertained. Almost every Graco playard has either a toy bar or a mobile.
Fabric canopy to dampen noise levels and shield baby from harsh light. The half dome canopy on the Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette can be fully folded back.
Featuring classical music, nature sounds, some with MP3 player speaker system, nightlight, vibration controls for napper and/or bassinet. Comes with the Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette amongst others
The 4 main types of Graco Pack ‘n Play playard
Like I said there are literally hundreds of different Graco playards, but they all break down into 4 main categories
- Newborn cribs
- Baby stations
- Cots for twins
- On the Go
These playards are 20% smaller than standard Pack’n Plays so they’re ideal for a newborn baby, or to fit in a small room. They’re also lighter than the standard, weighing only 20lbs, so work well as travel cots also. They all have canopies to shield baby from light and noise. The Deluxe has suspended soft toys, quilted side panels and a frilly skirt at the bottom (like you have on beds, don’t know what that’s called) so they are more decorative if you want to use it as the main crib in your nursery for example.
Graco Travel Lite Crib
Extras: Canopy, quilted side panels, toy bar, frilly skirts at base
Graco Travel Lite Crib with Stages, Peyton
Extras:Two level bassinet, canopy, toy bar
This is the biggest and most diverse category of Pack ‘n Plays. Their main feature is their multi-functionality. They make ideal secondary cots to use downstairs or to leave at grandmas or other non-baby proofed environment.
Graco Pack ‘n Play playard with Cuddle Cove rocking seat
Extras: Napper, larger changer, canopy, cubby storage, songs, sounds and vibrations, quilted bassinet pad, removable vibrating rocking seat with carrying handles
Graco Pack ‘n Play playard with Newborn Napper Elite
Extras: Napper in soft velour, canopy, deluxe deep storage hamper, songs, sounds and vibrations with MP3 docking station
Graco Pack ‘n Play playard with Newborn Napper Deluxe
Extras: Napper, sturdier changer (up to 30lbs), built-in shelves, songs, sounds and vibrations, toy bar
Graco Pack ‘n Play Modern Playard with Play Mat, Shout
Extras: Changer (up to 25 lbs), canopy, removable storage, songs, sounds and vibrations, toy gym with hanging toys converts to on-the-floor play mat
Graco Pack ‘n Play Silhouette playard
Extras: Pivoting changer (up to 25 lbs) with integrated organizer, canopy, quilted oval bassinet, songs, sounds and vibrations, squeeze latch
Graco Pack ‘n Play Day2Night Sleep System
Extras: Portable bassinet plus folding stand with storage, playard bassinet, changer with removable storage, canopy, songs, sounds and vibrations with MP3 docking station
You’ve guessed it…this category is for twins. There’s just one.
Pack ‘n Play Playard with Twin Bassinet
Extras: Twin quilted nappers and dome canopies, quilted side panels, squeeze latch
On the Go
These Pack ‘n Plays sometimes referred to as “On The Go” Pack ‘n Plays are supposedly geared more towards actual traveling than the others, though to be honest I fail to see why. They are not exactly light – the basic Graco Pack ‘n Play at $75.79 weighs in at 23lb! Or if you can handle another 5lbs in weight and don’t mind paying an extra $70, go for the Graco Pack ‘n Play Element which has all the extra bits and bobs that would come in handy when away from home.
Graco Pack ‘n Play Element
Extras: Larger changer, cubby storage, toy bar, sounds and songs, quilted bassinet pad
Graco Pack ‘n Play
Extras: Toy bar, storage bag