Moneysaver Tip: Get the Graco brand; it’s the easiest to use and built to last. If you plan to use a full-sized crib or eventually transition to one, get the Pack n Play that is the biggest and has the least amount of frills and extras.
Try buying a gently used one instead of new. There are a ton of these out there. Craigslist, yard sales, secondhand kid-stuff stores and consignment sales are good places to start.
We got ours from my aunt as a baby shower gift. It came with a changing table and a net to allow the mattress to function as a “bassinet” or in other words, be on different height levels, so you don’t have to strain your back to place your young infant into the very bottom.
When Baby was first born, I actually used it as a storage area for all his diapers, wipes and burp cloths (Silly me) and we did use the changing table; however, it was only used for a short amount of time, maybe a month because the changing table wasn’t totally flat or sturdy for heavier babies. I never used the “mobile” which was basically a bunch of plush stars that roll on a wheel (lame) though it did have a wind-up music box in it.
I recommend getting the basic model for most babies.
The extra features (specifically the bassinet function, for picking up/putting down the baby to sleep with ease.) are nice and they might even be helpful if you plan to use the Pack ‘n’ Play from the start (with a newborn) and for long-term (military families, temporary home, small apartment, limited space, or older baby is still in his crib etc).
But the most use of the Pack ‘n’ Play will be used at its lowest setting, just like the standard model, for older babies for naps and traveling. The basic model at Wal-Mart or Amazon can be found on sale for about $40-45. The fancy model I have is $110. So do the math.
It is great for travel, mostly road trips, if you do that sort of thing. But honestly I haven’t traveled a lot with mine; hotels will have portable cribs for your use and both of Baby’s grandmothers have one at their house. If you plan to fly, I would recommend borrowing a portable crib instead of packing your own because you have to pay $25 to check the Pack ‘n’ Play in and haul it around with your car seat, stroller and luggage. It does weigh approx. 17 lbs. (Who knew one little person would need so much crap! Traveling with a baby is somehow battling with a huge caravan of baby gear!). You might as well buy a $50 one from the Wal-Mart at your destination and donate it before you leave.
In preparation for our twins due in January, I am really excited to finally get use out of the bassinet function of our old pack n play as we’ll need a second napping area for our two-story house with two babies.
I’ve debated on getting a second one, but since we will eventually need two cribs anyway, I’m holding off on getting a second one. If I did get one, I would get it second-hand if possible, since this is a product that is limited in size and weight limit.