While working on your baby registry, or as you begin to set up a safe sleep space for baby in your own room, you might be aware that there are a few different options for your newborn.

Deciding between a Pack n Play or bassinet to use for your newborn during their first few months of life depends on a number of factors.

You need to pick an option that will best suit your family?s lifestyle, the amount of space in your nursery or bedroom, consider cost, and look for the safest option.

With a newborn coming soon, the amount of baby products out there starts to feel seriously overwhelming!

How do you know which ones you actually need?

Today, we?re going to make things a little bit easier with a full discussion to help you decide, Pack n Play or Bassinet?

What is a Bassinet?

A bassinet, or Moses basket, is a sleep space designed for newborns and infants.

Bassinets are usually around waist-height and have a small sleep area, perfect for a baby that is 0-3 months old.

Most bassinets have a weight limit between 15-20 lbs, and do not provide enough space for use with a baby that is rolling (source).

Bassinets have a small footprint and are about even with the height of your bed, making them a perfect, and safe, bedside sleep space for your baby. Getting them in and out for nighttime feedings is a breeze.

What is a Pack n Play?

A Pack and Play, or playard, is a larger, portable crib-like product.

They fold up easily for travel, and have a footprint of about 30×40 inches. Pack n Plays have a weight limit of 28+ lbs (depending on the model) and a height limit of 35 inches (source). .

Pack n Plays have tall walls that are around 30 inches high, and a firm, flat sleep space at the bottom. For this reason, Pack n Plays can be used for babies that are rolling, pulling up, and even walking, just like a regular crib.

Some Pack n Play models come with accessories that convert the top of the product into a bassinet or changing table for use when you baby is very young, but they do take up a far bigger footprint than bassinets do.

We will discuss accessories more in details below.

Pack n Play Vs Bassinet: Which one do you need?

When choosing between a Pack n Play vs. bassinet, there isn?t one correct answer.

That?s why we?ve broken it down into six factors to help you decide. One isn?t better than the other.

It?s more important to consider what will work best for your family, in your home.

6 Factors to Consider Bassinet or a Playard

1. Age of your baby

If you are researching sleep options while pregnant, then you should consider yourself shopping for a newborn.

However, if you are deciding which will work better and you already have a 6 month old, the choice for you will be very different.

Age of your baby is a very important factor. This is because bassinets can only be used for 4-6 months.

Bassinets are perfect sleep spaces for infants, but once your baby starts rolling, or goes over the 15-20 lbs weight limit, it will be important to transition them to a different sleep space.

On the other hand, Pack n Plays can be used from birth until your little one is 2-3 years old depending on their height and weight.
When deciding, it?s helpful to keep safe sleep recommendations in mind.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby sleep in your room, in their own sleep space, for the first 6-12 months of life. If your Pack n Play or bassinet will be used in your room for baby?s nighttime sleep, this may factor into your final choice.

2. Space in your nursery or bedroom

The safe sleep recommendation of rooming in for the first 6-12 months is the perfect segue into the next factor to consider: space.

Depending on where you are planning to set up your bassinet or Pack n Play, you should think about size and footprint.

The Pack n Play has a far larger footprint than a bassinet does. This can make it harder to fit into your bedroom that may already be full of furniture, or into the nursery if it?s especially small and you want to set up a crib as well.

3. Portability

Pack n Plays fold up for easy storage and travel. Most models come with a travel bag, and the mattress becomes a sort of casing for the product?s frame.

They are really quite compact. This makes Pack n Plays a great choice for families that plan to travel a lot, because baby will be used to sleeping in their Pack n Play at home and on the go.

Some bassinets do have a removable sleep space, like this one from Pottery Barn, which makes it easy to have baby nap or sleep in other places around the house in their familiar environment.

Additionally, you can look for bassinets that are on locking wheels, which makes them easy to move around your room for accessibility.

4. Additional features

Many more ?deluxe? Pack n Play models come with a variety of features. For example, Graco?s line of care station playards come with a flat bassinet attachment for the top, a vibrating, inclined napper/lounger, a diaper caddy and a mobile.

Once baby start rolling, easily transition them into the Pack n Play for a regular crib-like sleep space.

Bassinets also come with a range of features. More traditional, basket-like bassinets don?t have any frills. However, you can find options that offer music, vibrations, and electronic mobile attachments.

5. Cost

Both bassinets and Pack n Plays are available at a variety of price points.

On Amazon, you can find bassinets for as low as $52, in the $100-$300 range, or over $1000 for the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. In other words, there?s a bassinet for every budget!

Just remember that you won?t be using it much beyond 4-6 months.

Pack n Plays range in price from about $60 for the most basic models to the $150-$250 for the more deluxe choices. A Pack n Play will certainly last your family longer than a bassinet.

6. Safety

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own space, on a flat firm surface with a tightly fitted sheet.

It?s recommended that they sleep in your room for the first 6 months, and ideally the entire first year because new research shows that room sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50% (source)..

Keeping these recommendations in mind, both a bassinet and a Pack n Play fit the bill. Both offer a flat, firm surface and tightly fitted sheets designed for the product.

The question to ask yourself is which of these will fit best in your room for at least 6 months, or beyond?

Pros and Cons of Bassinet

Pros of a Bassinet

  • Smaller footprint that is ideal for room sharing
  • Easily sits at your bed side for middle of the night feedings
  • Most are very mobile thanks to wheeled feet making it easy to use and move between rooms in your home
  • Perfectly sized for infants who usually like to sleep in more confined spaces

Cons of a Bassinet

  • Cannot use once your baby is rolling or sitting up
  • Do not store easily or travel well

Pros and Cons of Pack n Play

Pros of a Pack n Play

  • Grows with your baby from when they are a newborn until they are 2+ years old
  • The multi-functions make this very convenient as your baby grows, and as a care station for your newborn
  • Packs up easily for travel or storage
  • Most cost-effective/budget conscious option

Cons of a Pack n Play

  • Not portable around the house
  • Have a larger footprint making them tricky to use bedside in most homes

Do I need a Bassinet and a Pack and play?

In short, you certainly don?t need both. However, if your budget (or baby registry!) allows, I do think it?s worth having a bassinet and a Pack n Play.

Even though you will only use the bassinet for the first 4-6 months, the convenience of having baby at your bedside for middle of the night feedings when they are newborns is invaluable.

I have LOVED this bassinet for both of my babes, and consider it a must have for the early weeks and months.

But if you can only get one, definitely go with the Pack n Play.

A Pack n Play gives you the most value for your money. If you invest in a deluxe version, it will include a bassinet and changing area, and convert to a travel crib as they get bigger.

They are also more versatile and can be used as a safe play area for baby in your home in moments that you can?t let them roam free once they?re crawling. Pack n Plays are also travel-musts for most families.

How to use a Playard instead of a bassinet?

If you decide to go with a playard instead of a bassinet, it is very easy to use it in the same way. 

If you opt for a pack and play with removable bassinet, make sure the bassinet sleep space has a firm flat surface before allowing your baby to sleep there during the night.

The inclined nap/loungers that come with some playards are not meant for nighttime sleep.

If you get a more basic playard, simply place your newborn to sleep on their back in the center of the playard?s mattress.

It?s certainly fine to use a pack and play for newborns to sleep as long as you are following safe sleep guidelines.

Because the AAP recommends room sharing, you should set the playard up in your room for nighttime sleep. This will also make nighttime feedings easier because you won?t have to go far.

Which is right for you, mama?

Now that you know all about bassinets and Pack n Plays, you are ready to make a decision. Pack n Plays are definitely more of an all-in-one option, but nothing beats the convenience and perfection of a bassinet during the first few months.


Sharing is caring!