Playpen, Playard, and Pack N’ Play: What’s the Difference?

The baby market is always progressing, and evolving. Some of the products presented and advertised today aren’t guaranteed to show up tomorrow. The fast pace and technology advancement propels the consumer market to new heights in both quality and quantity. The buyers have access to more information in various forms, making themselves more educated and ready for the market’s everyday situations.

The perfect example for the evolving market is the progression of the baby playpen. The recent improvements and technological advancements in engineering and design improved the variables offered to young mothers and fathers. On the other hand, the improvement is great thing. On the other – not so much. The changes come rapidly and often confuse the buyers who get the idea of which product they would need, and then get introduced to new, unexplored possibilities.

​So now on the baby market you have playpens, playards, Pack N’ Play, and Pack N’ Play playards as well, each offering something different from the competition’s line of products.

​Today, we’ll help you distinguish the terms, and ease the decision-making process. With these terms properly understood, you’ll know which product will fit your family and house the best and won’t make a mistake.

First of all, there’s the playpen.

This item was used for small children to keep them in limited, non-harmful place while the parents aren’t there. Mostly utilized for safety, playpens restrict the baby’s movement while providing a comfortable area for the baby. They were mostly basic, without any additional equipment or features, such as bassinets, changing tables, larger area for movement, or slots for additional stuff.

Notice the past tense used? That’s because playpens are outdated and aren’t used anymore.

The base was usually sized around 40 x 40 inch, with +/- 10-inch variables in size and they went up to around 30 inches.

​Playpens were usually lightweight, portable, and easy to assemble, due to lightweight materials and portability. The ease of assembly (or re-assembly) is there because playpens usually include mesh sides and not bars.

​Playpens were usually used for the smallest babies, babies who are still crawling and aren’t capable of grabbing stuff by their own. They were usually the cheapest option compared to the other two things on today’s topic, due to the simplicity and lack of features.

The second term is the playard.


A playard came as a bigger, more durable and robust play area for your toddler, usually used for bigger kids, who are able to stand and move on their own. They can accommodate two babies easily, and provide a sturdy and reliable protection for your youngsters while you prepare lunch or chill out a bit.

Also, playards come with additional features such as bassinets, changing tables, organizers or shelves for all baby stuff, and even spare parts. They are usually made of sturdier materials, and they go from 50 x 50 inch and above, all depending on the manufacturers’ description.

The playard is usually made from sturdy materials such as metal, harder plastics, and wood; they can utilize bars and mesh combination of materials on the sides, or bars solo, but not just the mesh. The bottom of the playard can be empty or have a changeable mesh or fabric cover.

Playards usually cost more, but they cover more area and can be utilized in many parts of the home, making it safe for your toddler. Some playards can't be packed and have to be re-assembled by first disassembling them completely, which can be a lengthy process.

They are usable for outdoors as well, even for camping and holidays. This is achievable by the ease of assembly or re-assembly. Still, don’t expect you’ll assemble and re-assemble a standard playard as like you’d do that with a playpen.

And now, we’ve come to Pack N’ Play.

This is the most recent device on the market, incorporating several things in one package; depending on the model you buy, you can get a bassinet, a changing table, a removable napping station, or diaper station alongside the basic playpen. So to distinct it from the before mentioned terms – Pack N’ Play contains a playpen with additional features.

They come in various sizes and with many variants of additional equipment, all depending on the manufacturer’s specification. They are suitable for infants and small toddlers. One of the most distinctive features is the design; you can find a lot of different styles out on the market, and even customize your playpen.

The detachable equipment and multi-functionality are the essence of the original Pack N’ Play, making it ideal for young moms, and moms-to-be. They tend to be a bit larger than standard playpens because of the additional equipment. They are more expensive for the same reason.

But, the situation gets complicated when we add Pack N’ Play Playards into options you can get on the market.

Many manufacturers confuse the customers with a product labeled both as Pack N’ Play and “Playard”.

In this situation, the product that gets you confused is basically an original Pack N’ Play for babies, but assembled in a bit larger playpen, therefore labeled as playard. These products usually contain the most features and are larger, sturdier, and more expensive than all three mentioned from today.


With distinctive features and details between the terms (and products that stand behind those terms) used in the current baby market today explained, you’ll be much more competent buyer. Knowing the differences is the first step in smart decision making alongside budgeting and requirements inspection.

Knowing the exact needs and purposes the product has to fulfil you’ll know the exact features you’ll look for. Factors like baby’s age, ability to move and reach for things, and the products features all influence the buying decision the same way. With the knowledge you gained from the today’s article, you’ll definitely find the best product.

We hope we helped you pick the best choice for your baby and your family. We wish you all the best!


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Playpen, Playard, and Pack N’ Play: What’s the Difference?