The differences between Crib and Pack ‘N Play


Crib vs. Pack 'N Play


Crib vs. Pack ‘N Play

Choosing the right baby crib is one of the first important decisions parents have to make! And picking the right one between hundreds of different standard cribs, mini cribs, and Pack ‘N Plays is not an easy job at all.

For various reasons, parents sometimes think of using Playard rather than a crib. But, can a Pack ‘N Play be used as a crib every day? Is it as safe as the crib? Comparing crib vs. Pack ‘N Play gave us all the answers, and I hope it will help you with your decision too!

First of all! Both a quality crib or Pack ‘N Play are safe choices for your baby’s sleeping arrangement. But there are differences amongst them. And only when you know them all, you can decide which type suits your needs the most!


Crib vs. Pack ‘N Play at a glance

  1. Cribs’ size is not the same as Pack ‘N Plays’ dimensions. There is a misconception that mini cribs have the same dimensions as Pack ‘N Plays.
  2. Cribs and Pack ‘N Plays are made of different materials!
  3. Most mini cribs are portable. But, while Playards are suitable for travel, is the portability of mini cribs limited mostly to your house.
  4. Because of the materials they are made of, cribs are heavier, stronger, and more stable from Pack ‘N Plays.
  5. Don’t use a mini crib mattress in a Pack ‘N Play! It is not safe! Not only, that it doesn’t fit perfectly, but it is also too thick for a Pack ‘N Play.
  6. Crib mattresses are more comfortable and firm than those in Pack ‘N Plays.
  7. Cribs, especially full-size models, are more expensive. But they are also far more decorative and fit better with the furniture in your home.



Can a Pack ‘N Play be used as a crib?

Pack ‘N Play is a safe sleeping area for your baby, but I would pick a crib as an everyday sleeping arrangement! And I did! My baby is sleeping in a Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 convertible crib, and I couldn’t be more pleased with this crib!

Of course, we have a Pack ‘N Play too. It is a great choice for occasional sleepovers in grandparents’ house, weekends away, etc. And when my baby was smaller, I have used it at home too. It is a safe place to play, so I was reassured that my daughter was safe if I had to go into another room.

I have decided on a Graco Pack ‘N Play On the Go Playard. It is a classic Pack ‘N Play, which features a full-sized, removable bassinet, and an arch with soft toys. And the best part? It is one of the cheapest Pack ‘N Plays on the market, which is as safe and quality as those with a higher price.


Is Pack ‘N Play a safe place for a newborn?

If using correctly, a Pack ‘N Play can be a safe alternative for the crib. Research had even shown that cribs and Pack ‘N Plays are in fact the safest sleeping places for your baby. They are more stable from bassinets, and the risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the lowest.

However, as I already said, in my opinion, the crib is the best sleeping arrangement for your baby, especially for a newborn. If you need a baby bed that would stand newt to yours, thinks about a mini crib. Take a closer look into Babyletto Origami, which is portable and even foldable mini crib. Yes, it is not the cheapest mini crib, but it is not the only one in the market. For instance, you can get a beautiful Delta Children mini crib, which has the same features, and it is more than a half-price cheaper.

So, as you see … even if you are on tight with a budget, you have different options. And don’t get me wrong, I am not against Pack ‘N Plays. In fact, I love them, just not for every day!

Oh, I almost forget. There are affordable standard full-size cribs too. For example, while offering the same features as high budget cribs, Union 3-in-1 convertible crib costs only a little more than $100.


Why my baby doesn’t use Pack ‘N Play as a crib all the time?

Yes, a Pack ‘N Play is safe for sleeping, but only with a proper mattress. And that is the biggest reason why my baby doesn’t use it every day.

First of all, safe Pack ‘N Play’ mattresses are no more than 3″ thick, so they couldn’t be as firm as crib mattresses. Crib mattresses, particularly those for newborns and young babies, must be extra firm! A firm crib mattress helps to prevent suffocation, and as such, lowers the risk for SIDS.

And second, if I compare a Pack ‘N Play mattress in the Playard with a crib mattress in my daughter’s crib, I can’t say it is as comfortable as a crib mattress.

By the way, my daughter has a Babyletto Pure core crib mattress in her crib, and a Dream On Me 3″ Playard mattress in the Pack ‘N Play. 


Standard Crib vs. Mini Crib vs. Pack ‘N Play


Mini crib vs. Pack 'n Play vs. Standard crib - Differences in size


Crib vs. Pack ‘N Play SIZE = NOT the same

Standard cribs:

Dimensions of standard, full-size cribs are regulated by the government. Following U.S. regulations, a standard size baby crib’s interior dimensions must be 52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 inches in length and 28 ± 5⁄8 inches in width.

Mini cribs and Pack ‘n Plays:

Mini cribs and Pack ‘N Plays are not only smaller, but their dimensions are also not regulated by the law.

  1. Any crib which is smaller than a regular crib is a mini crib, but in most of them measure around 38″ by 24″.
  2. The size of Pack ‘N Plays is smaller from standard cribs, and bigger from mini cribs. Pack ‘N Plays are on average, about 40″ long and around 28″ width.


Material, Structure, and Strength of Cribs and Pack ‘N Plays

Yes, I know the difference in the material is obvious. But it is the material that affects the crib’s and Pack ‘N Play’s weight, durability, portability, etc. That’s why we should say a few words about it too.

Most cribs are made of wood, but you can get a metal or acrylic crib too. These materials make cribs heavier and stronger than Pack ‘N Plays. Because of their weight, cribs are usually sturdier and more stable, but less portable than Pack ‘N Plays.
Yes, a wooden crib can get scratches or teeth marks, but I would say it is more durable from Pack ‘N Plays too.

Pack ‘N Play’s construction is made of plastic and light-weight aluminum. Pack ‘N Play is also not surrounded by slats or spindles, but by mesh. The mesh must be breathable because this lowers the risk of suffocation and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Because of these materials, Pack ‘N Plays are lighter and more portable than cribs. But their lightweight makes them a little less stable comparing to cribs.

Crib’s vs. Playard’ features

While cribs are meant only for sleep, Pack ‘N Plays can double as a convenient Playpen too. Though small, this is a safe, portable play and sleep area for your baby or young toddler.

To see their differences, you have to know what each type can offer to you and your baby …


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Pack 'N Play types




Care station Playards’ interior dimensions are the same as the inner measurements od traditional Pack ‘N Plays. But, because of all the accessories, they take more space in the room.

These models may possess accessories such as portable napper, which can double as a rocker, changing table, storage organizers, soothing devices, crib mobiles, etc.

Care Station Playards can fold up easily. You get a convenient carrying bag too. But because of bigger weight and all the accessories, they are the least portable models amongst Pack’ N Plays.


Our Care station Playard Reviews:



These models have the same inner dimensions as care stations. But they are lighter and, of course, without accessories. Well, most of them have a removable full-size bassinet that provides an elevated sleeping area for younger babies. 

You can fold them quick and easy, and store them in the included carrying beg.

We think that Graco’s traditional Pack ‘N Plays are the best. They are affordable, with everything that such a model must-have.



These are ultra-light travel cribs intended primarily for travel. While the first two stands on legs or wheels, is the sleeping area of lightweight travel cribs usually placed on the floor.

Everything is adapted for easy travel. The sleeping and playing area of these models is usually smaller. They also fold-up really small. 

It depends on the model, but you can store them into a travel bag, suitcase, or convenient backpack.


Our lightweight travel crib reviews with the best results:


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Obviously, you know what a crib is, but are you familiar with all its types? The choice of different crib types and models is impressive.

I will list all types and give you a brief description. If you want a detailed description of a particular crib model, you can click on the provided links and find out more!

First of all, cribs are available in standard (normal, regular, full-size) or mini size. And even if you heard otherwise, both dimensions are available in all types. Yes, comparing mini vs. full-size crib, there are certain differences in features, but I won’t go into details here.

READ ALSO: Mini crib vs. standard crib


1. Classic, non-convertible baby crib: That is a basic model, which doesn’t convert into bigger beds.

2. Convertible crib: Convertible cribs converts into one or more different beds. A safety guardrail for a toddler bed is sometimes included in the price, but usually, you have to buy additional parts for the conversions. There are more types:

3. Combo crib: Combo crib is a convertible crib with an attached changing table. You can find it under different names, where the most common are a combo or multifunctional crib.

4. Portable crib: Portable crib is a crib on wheels, that can or can not fold up as well. 


Special models:

  1. Convertible cribs with a storage drawer under the crib
  2. Combo crib with an under crib storage drawer
  3. Oval cribs
  4. Acrylic crib


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

No! You shouldn’t use a crib mattress in the Pack ‘ N Play, because it is not safe! Although it is more comfortable, using in a Pack ‘N Play, crib mattress poses a risk of suffocation. It is particularly dangerous for young babies and newborns who are not able to roll over or push up by themselves.

Crib mattresses are too thick for a Pack ‘N Play! Why? Because Pack ‘N Plays are surrounded by a mesh. A baby could rollover from a thicker mattress and get stuck between the mattress and mesh. That can lead to injuries and in the worst case, even into suffocation.

A compatible Pack ‘N Play mattress is sometimes already included with a Pack ‘N Play. If not, buy a special one that is no more than 3 inches thick!

Why should I decide on a mini crib or Pack ‘N Play, not a standard full-size crib?

  1. Standard crib, especially convertible models, will last the longest. But sometimes, we don’t have enough space for a full-size crib. In such a case is choosing a mini crib or Pack ‘N Play the best and the safest alternative for your baby!
  2. Although you can get a portable full-size crib, parents tend to think of something smaller and lighter when looking for a portable crib.
  3. Mini cribs and Pack ‘N Plays are also perfect for an occasion sleepovers in grandparent’s house. First of all, they occupy less space! And second, all Pack ‘N Plays and lots of mini cribs can also fold away until another use.
  4. Last but not least, mini cribs and Pack ‘N Plays are usually cheaper as regular cribs!




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