Bassinet vs Pack ‘n Play: Which is Best for Baby?

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Is it better to have a bassinet or a pack ‘n play? After all, it would be nice to have less baby products in your home. Babies need so much stuff!

If you’re soon-to-be new parents, you may be planning on having your newborn baby sleep in your room. If you plan on eventually moving your baby to a full-size crib in their nursery, there are a number of different options you can use for those first few months of baby’s life.

Either a pack ‘n play or a bassinet is a great choice for a newborn to sleep in, but each one has its pros and cons.

With each of my two kids, I used both a bassinet and a pack ‘n play. I used them frequently and can tell you pretty confidently what I loved and wasn’t so crazy about for each of them.

Before you replace one for the other, let me give you an easy and quick guide to help you make the right decision for your baby!

For more helpful resources, make sure to check out:

What is the difference between a Bassinet vs Pack ‘n Play?

Baby laying in a bassinet

Both bassinets and pack ‘n plays are similar in that they are both equally safe places for your baby to sleep. They have firm, flat surfaces with breathable mesh sides, and are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a safe option to prevent the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

However, they can serve different purposes.

Bassinets, also known as a “Moses basket”, are like mini cribs. They are small beds designed for babies to sleep in from newborn up to four months. It’s typically used as a bedside sleeper so you can quickly attend to your new baby for those frequent wakings and midnight feedings.

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A pack ‘n play (which got its popular name from the Graco Pack ‘n Play but its generic name is “playard”) is more than just a place for your baby to sleep. It’s a portable crib as well as a safe play area for your baby. Many playards also come with a changing table, a bassinet attachment, and cute mobiles for your baby to play with.

Pros and Cons of Bassinets

Here is everything you need to know about the pros and cons of bassinets:

Pros of Bassinets

Here are some of the pros of a bassinet:

  • Height. Because bassinets are generally about the same height as your bed, they are perfect to have bedside for quick midnight feedings. Many of them are also adjustable, so you can change the height position to be eye-level to your baby.
  • Compact size. Although mini playards exist, virtually all bassinets are small enough to fit comfortably in your bedroom.
  • Narrow, confined space. Newborns love to feel snug while they’re sleeping (like in the womb) and may prefer a narrow bassinet over a larger, wider space in a standard crib.
  • Variety of colors and styles. There are so many different options these days for bassinets. You can find them in a variety of colors and styles to match your tastes; from a classic, vintage look to a modern, contemporary style. Many also include a storage basket underneath for diapers, wipes, etc.
  • New features. The newest bassinets have ALL the bells and whistles. Some include nightlights and wheels to move the bassinet around your home. The Halo Bassinest swivels 360 degrees so you can bring your baby close without leaving your bed. The Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet is responsive and has a bassinet feature that rocks, swaddles, and plays white noise to help your baby sleep longer!! They are not cheap, the Snoo retails at $1595, but honestly I would’ve gladly paid that on some nights I was running on NO sleep. For more information on how these “smart” bassinets can help your baby sleep longer, check out my post on top 10 Effective Baby Sleep Products to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.
  • Inexpensive. Sure, there are expensive sleep options like the ones I just mentioned that come with all the frills, but you can find great options that are just as safe for around $50. Even the cheap ones do the job, and since the baby will only be sleeping there for a few months, you don’t need anything pricey.

Cons of Bassinets

  • Not always portable. Unlike a portable playard, most bassinets aren’t really designed to fold up and travel with. If that’s an important thing to you, you may want to supplement with a pack ‘n play or look for a good portable bassinet like this awesome one that compactly folds into a travel bag:
  • Hard to store. For the same reasons, it’s hard to store away a bassinet because most don’t fold like a pack ‘n play does.
  • Only useful for a few months. Once your baby is cramped in the bassinet or starts rolling over or sitting up, it’s time to transition them into a crib. Most babies are ready to transition out of the bassinet by 3 or 4 months old. Make sure you check the height limit and weight limit in your bassinet’s manual. On average a bassinet’s weight limit is 20-25 lbs and the height limit is 35 inches.

Pros and Cons of Pack ‘n Play

Now that we covered what’s great and not so great about bassinets, let’s talk about the pros and cons of pack ‘n plays.

Pros of Pack ‘n Play

Here are the pros of using a pack ‘n play:

  • Conveniently portable. They make the perfect travel crib because they are easy to fold and put away in the handy travel bag it comes with. I have taken my pack ‘n play on all our family vacations and sometimes to family members’ homes as well. This way my baby always has a place to sleep.
  • Easy to store. Because a pack ‘n play can easily fold and fit into a storage bag, it’s easy to store and pack away.
  • Versatility. Pack ‘n plays are not just great for nighttime sleep. It also serves as a multifunctional piece of furniture. You can keep it in your living room where your baby can play in and then take a nap. You can also change your baby’s diaper in the changing station it comes with. And if you have a newborn, many pack ‘n plays also feature a removable bassinet attachment or level. For one of the best pack ‘n plays with bassinet check out this one from Graco.
  • Range in price. Like a bassinet, you can find options for playards in different price ranges. Some playards will run you over $200 (like the 4moms Breeze), but you can find a play yard with a bassinet for as low as $80 like this one:
  • Longer use. Unlike a bassinet, your child can sleep in a pack ‘n play well into their toddler years (about 2-3 years old). That’s because pack ‘n plays tend to be roomier and have a weight limit of about 30 to 35 pounds. So even if you do buy a more expensive one, you’ll get way more use out of a pack ‘n play than a bassinet.

Cons of Pack ‘n Play

  • Lack of additional features. Pack ‘n plays don’t usually come with bonus features such as nightlights, sounds, or motion like some of the newer bassinets do.
  • Can be bulky and heavy. Some pack ‘n plays are heavy so make sure you find one that you like that is lightweight if you plan on traveling with it often.
  • Can take up more space. Most pack ‘n plays take up a little bit more space than a bassinet does. However, there are smaller and more compact pack ‘n play options now, so if you have a small apartment or bedroom, you may want to look into something like this:

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a pack ‘n play is a safe place for your baby to sleep and play. They must meet rigid safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). Make sure the pack ‘n play you’re buying is in good condition and isn’t recalled. Also, avoid adding anything deemed a suffocation hazard by the AAP. That includes items that carry a risk of SIDS like stuffed toys, loose blankets and sheets, and pillows, or changing the mattress to a more “comfortable” one. The safest place for your baby to sleep is on a firm, flat mattress.

Yes! The bottom of a pack n’ play is just as safe for a newborn as a bassinet attachment or level. However, an attachment or level makes it easier for you to carry your small baby in and out of the pack ‘n play. Your newborn may also prefer a bassinet attachment since it’s more snug.

Definitely not. But if you only have to choose one, I recommend getting a pack ‘n play as it will last longer, is portable, and has multiple uses. For small spaces, a great option is a mini pack ‘n play.

Bassinet vs Pack ‘n Play: Winner

While both a pack ‘n play and a bassinet offer great features, determining which is right for you and your baby is based on many factors. For example, if you’re a breastfeeding mom that will prefer a bedside sleeper for quick nighttime feedings, then a bassinet may be a better option. If your baby has trouble sleeping, a bassinet with some extra sounds or motions can help your baby sleep better.

However, if you plan on traveling with your baby, even if it’s just to and from grandma’s house, a pack ‘n play is ideal. I also prefer it because of its longevity and versatility. It’s like having a small crib, toddler bed, changing table, and play pen in one! For that reason alone, I find the Pack ‘n Play to be a clear winner.

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