Determine what you want most out of a playard before adding one to your registry. If you plan on needing it for travel - whether day trips or weekenders - you’ll want to look for one that is lightweight and easy to fold up. If you’d prefer to use a playard as a bassinet and diaper changing station too, look for souped up models that are not only practical but attractive too (you’ll be looking at it for a few years!).
Entertaining a baby can be a lot harder than you think. The fact of the matter is, we've come a long way from when jingling your keys was going to cut it. Still, as you pick out various playpens and other areas for your child to play in, it's important that you keep a few key factors in mind. Obviously, safety is at the top of the list, along with comfort, price and style. Luckily, shopping this extensive variety of products will mean that you never need to compromise on any of these.
Bassinet inserts can provide a nice place for newborns to nap. Look for a bassinet that securely fastens to the play yard in a way that prevents older children from dislodging or tamper with it, especially if you have other kids in the home or plan to use the bassinet for your next baby. Some of the models we tested in the past had bassinets that attached to the play yard with easily disengaged bars or exposed plastic clips. Older children could easily undo those fasteners, and that could cause the bassinet to fall to the play-yard floor. But one play yard we tested had bassinet clips that are covered by fabric flaps that are locked into place with a button, hiding the clips from view and protecting them from curious fingers. That's a safety plus.
• It's best to remove the bassinet and the changing station entirely, or if you have a hinged changing station, at least be sure to flip it to the outside when your baby is playing in the play yard. A baby's neck can become trapped between the side rail and the bassinet or changing station and children have died in play yards when that has happened. Be aware that another child can flip a hinged bassinet back onto the play yard while your baby is inside—another hazard.
Truth is, the parenting culture has had mixed feelings about the playpen seemingly since it was invented. An ad in a 1925 newspaper, for example, for a device called the “Kiddie Koop” (reputedly designed by Buckminster Fuller), encapsulated the tension: “There is no thrill like that of holding and caring for a baby in your arms,” it began. “Yet the modern mother with her manifold duties must—simply MUST—forego such maternal joys at times, or the ‘regulation of household affairs’ will suffer.” Playpens would continue to be debated, not in the pages of scientific journals but in the mothering advice columns of newspapers. In a 1943 edition of the Spokane Daily Herald, Myrtle Meyer Eldred touted the benefits of playpens: “Not only is the child free of possible physical injury but his behavior is not subjected to constant punishment, since what he does in his guarded play-place does not annoy the parent.” In a 1957 article in the Chicago Tribune, the writer, after first asking the reader to remember “the great hue and cry raised against the play pen a few years back,” then goes on to cite a report by Dr. E. Robbins Kimball noting various advantages of the playpen (including the fact that it “gives nervous mothers relief.”) In 1966, a columnist was asked in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette if mothers used playpens “as a lazy excuse to keep their babies out of the way”; while in an article in that same paper a decade later, a reader of the “Parents Ask” column wondered about “some psychologists who are against playpens.” The column’s author, Louis B. Ames, noted the reader was probably referring to Burton White’s The First Three Years of Life (“there is no way of keeping most children from being bored in a playpen for longer than a very brief period of time”), and then went on to advise that “the ordinarily lively and intelligent baby does not have be entertained by others during all his waking hours.”
We purchased 4 sets of these to setup an outdoor play pen for our 1 1/2 year old triplets. Makes for a reasonably sized play area, and so far they haven't though to really try to scale them. Not really many places they could grab a foot hold which is nice. I love the flexibility of how they attach, makes it easy to arrange the space however you want. Very lightweight too, which makes for easy moving when we have the lawn mowed. Can just drag it out of the way.
Don't buy used. For safety's sake, don't use a hand-me-down or garage-sale play yard. Older models may have a top-rail hinge that can collapse, forming a steep, V-shaped angle that puts children at risk of being trapped or strangled. They may also have changing-table restraint straps that can form a loop beneath the changing table, posing a strangulation hazard to a child in the play yard. For example, in 2007 the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of 425,000 Kolcraft play yards for that reason. And in January 2009, the CPSC announced a recall of 200,000 Fisher-Price Rainforest Portable Play Yards manufactured by Simplicity Inc. and SFCA Inc. after 1,350 reports of side-rail collapse; injuries included cuts, bruises, and broken bones. In the past, incidents of side-rail collapse have resulted in more serious injuries and some deaths. Even if you plan to buy new, protect yourself by signing up for e-mail recall notices at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. And send in the registration card to the manufacturer to ensure that you'll be informed of any recalls. Play yards are one of the 18 types of juvenile products that must, by law, include pre-addressed, postage-paid product registration cards and an easy way to register your product online. Manufacturers are forbidden from using or sharing the information you put on those cards for marketing purposes.

• You don't need a sheet. Most play yard mattresses, which are thin, can be cleaned, and the bassinet is safer without this extra piece of material, in which a baby could become entrapped. But if you do use one, make sure it is tight-fitting and specifically made for the mattress or bassinet insert on your model. Never use a sheet made for a crib mattress or twin or other size bed.


Most manufacturers make play yards that are designed to move. Many roll on wheels and fold easily and compactly into their own totes, which resemble short golf bags (although less rugged), making them ideal for trips or jaunts to Grandma's. As we've said, basic play yards tend to be smaller (about 28 inches wide) and lighter (about 20 pounds) because they're not loaded with extras. If you can find a model that fits into its travel bag with its wheels exposed, it can make moving through a busy place such as an airport easier. The Chicco Lullaby LX mentioned above does that.
The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yard gets the vote for the most portable playpen. Weighing in at just 15 pounds, it is half the weight of some other playpen models. This playpen comes loaded with extras: an inclined sleeper/bassinet for infants, as well as a changing station and pocket to store diapers and wipes. The fabric on the changer is machine washable, making it easy and convenient to clean. This product is easy to assemble and fold up for storage or travel. At around $80, this product is firmly in the mid-range of prices for playpens. Some consumers do not like that the bottom of the playpen sits on the ground and that the mattress for the playpen is very thin and flimsy. Because the bottom is low to the ground, it can be difficult for some caregivers to lay their baby in the bottom portion for naps.
Bought this for my 9 month old who is crawling and cruising around his pack and play but needed something bigger. Very happy with this purchase except the suction cups don’t work well on my hard wood floor which was mentioned on the paper instructions but wish it was mentioned on here. That’s pretty much why I bought this one. Still sturdy though when my baby pulls himself up and stands holding on to it. Overall, baby loves it and I highly recommend it!
The quality is certainly there. The mesh seems very strong and its very easy to collapse and put away. The same goes for putting it together. It just folds in or out. The reason for not giving it 4 stars is the padding on the floor. We had to put additional patting as its too hard. So keep that in mind when buying this play pen. I would recommend for its portability and the zipper at front.
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