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Baby Sleep Options: Pack-N-Play vs. a Crib

Pack-n-play’s, also often called travel yards, are becoming very popular with new parents as an option for their baby when it comes to bedtime. This is not only true for newborns, but also as your baby gets older. How do pack-n-plays measure up for long term use and would it be a good idea for your family?

baby-sleep-options-pack-n-play-vs-crib.jpgMost pack-n-plays come with a bassinet option and several come with a changing table, making the pack-n-play a good multi-functional piece of baby gear to go in mom and dad’s room before a baby is moved to his crib in his room that might have a changing table in it. It is nice because at night diapers, wipes and a place to change baby is right there and at hand at 3am. However, the use of pack-n-plays for naps and bedtime doesn’t have to end with your baby outgrowing the bassinet or learning how to sit up.

Many people have chosen to skip over the whole idea of a crib, and use a pack-n-play as their child’s bed for the first year and beyond. This is an idea with many benefits included.

Firm/Small Sleep Area
Pack-n-play’s have a smaller sleeping area than a crib. For some babies who may be over stimulated easily, being more confined may actually be a comfort to them. The pad in a pack-n-play is also very firm and there are no “bumpers” to it that a baby could get pressed up against. There are also no bars that a baby can get their foot, arm or head through, possibly leading to injury like a crib has.

Pack Up and Go
Cribs can not be taken with you when you go to a friends’ for the afternoon or out of town for a weekend. Pack-n-plays however can be easily broken down and put back up, fitting into a small bag that can be put in the trunk or on a plane with no problem. This allows parents to literally take their baby’s bed with them if they are going to be gone for an extended amount of time. This is helpful for some babies who get used to “their space” and may have a hard time falling asleep in strange surroundings. If you have your baby’s bed with you, when he gets over stimulated, needs a nap, or it is bedtime, you can put him in his bed and let him feel safe and comfortable.

Doubles as a Play Pen
Many times while at home or on the road you need a safe place to put your baby for a few minutes while you have to do something that puts you in a position where you can not keep your eyes on him. The pack-n-play can easily double as a play pen for your baby or a time-out area for you. Your baby can’t get out and can easily be entertained for a while with a few of his favorite toys.

If you buy a crib new, including the mattress and bedding you are likely to spend $300-$400 or more on this place for your baby to sleep. You can buy a pack-n-play for as little as $59.00 or up to $170.00. You can find sheets for pack-n-plays for about $11.00 or three packs of sheets at an even better savings of $27.00.

Con: Will Out Grow Faster
One of the main cons in the debate of a pack-n-play vs. a crib is that because of the size of a pack-n-play your baby will probably outgrow the pack-n-play faster than he will his crib, or be able to crawl out of it faster. Some people will leave their babies in a crib till they are three years old, or can climb out of the crib on their own. Depending on the size of your baby and his curiosity you may only get a year or two of use from your pack-n-play when using it as a permanent sleep area for your baby. The plus side of this is when your baby does try to climb out of his crib, he has a shorter distance to fall and less chance to get hurt.

In a situation where there is no right or wrong choice regarding what your baby sleeps in, the choice is really a personal one that you need to make dependent upon what is best for your family. Look at the pros and cons, your budget and all your options before you make a decision that will be with you for the first few years of your new baby’s life.

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