Many play yards, such as the Graco Silhouette discussed in Types, offer a bassinet that covers the entire length and width of the play yard. That is a good feature because it reduces the likelihood that your baby will fall into the play yard. But a baby could still fall outside of the play yard so stop using any bassinet attachment once your baby can push up on his hands and knees. The Safety 1st Travel Ease Elite Play Yard (about $112) also comes with this type of bassinet, and a changing table and removable toy bar. It measures 30 x 46 1/4 inches and has lockable wheels.
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So, playpen, childproof room, fully free range, or something else? Are playpens cages of disregard or safe, useful accoutrements? How much time is too much time? Will a playpen keep my daughter out of the Ivy League? When I asked Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at University of California-Berkeley and author of the just-released book The Philosophical Baby, about any work on the negative consequences of playpens, her answer was instructive: “I don’t know of any systematic research on this,” she noted, adding, “Ironically these small kinds of parenting differences, which are just the things parents care about most, are just the areas where scientists wouldn’t expect to see many differences.”
• Remove mobiles and toy bars when your child can roll over or push up on hands and knees so he can't reach them and pull them down, due to the hazard of strangulation. If your child uses a play yard at a day-care center or someone else's home, be sure it's a recent model, preferably manufactured in 2008 or later. Also check its condition as your would any item your child might use. Visit Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that model has never been recalled.
Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Playard - This is the benchmark for comparison. When I had my first child, he was only in our house so this served as his napper and playard in the family room when we didn't want to trek to the bedroom. My first loved it. Napped easily in the bassinet, changed his diapers in the bassinet, easy to clean, set up, take apart, and the mobile was awesome - ran on batteries and had good songs. This was THE ultimate playard. In fact, we brought this back out ... full review
A division of Dorel Juvenile Products, Safety 1st entered the juvenile market in 1984 with its now classic and internationally recognized "Baby on Board" sign. Fueled by the immediate success of the sign, the company claimed a market niche in child safety and became the first brand to develop a comprehensive line of "childproofing" products. Available everywhere juvenile products are sold, and online.
Cost: Don’t go for the most expensive products thinking that it is full of adorable qualities. Also, don’t go for cheaply made products just because they cost low. Go for moderate prices and start your selection there. This balance of equation will ensure that you don’t waste your hard earned money and that you don’t take your kids safety for granted.
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.
If your play yard is going to function mostly as a play space for your baby, or you're on a tight budget, you can probably go with a basic model and skip the accessories such as mobiles and bassinet insert. A pair of lockable wheels or swivel casters on one end of the yard will make it easier to move from room to room. If you'll use it for travel, you'll want a play yard that's lightweight, folds quickly and compactly, and has a carrying case. You may even want to be able to roll the packed unit. A carrying bag that allows the play yard's wheels to roll when it's packed is ideal.