A playard, otherwise known as a playpen, makes a great portable travel crib for your infant or toddler. Take naptime to go, whether it's at grandma's house or a caretaker facility, playards are easy to set-up and taken down when they're needed. Playards enclose play and nap spaces for baby for safety. A number of accessory options are available including bassinets, changing tables, music mobiles and storage options.
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.”
If you expect to frequently move your play yard from room to room, check its dimensions before you buy. Many interior doorways are only 30 inches wide—no problem for the 28-inch width of most basic models. But many deluxe models are wider—the Graco mentioned above, for example, would be a tight squeeze at 28.8 inches wide. Just be aware that you might find yourself folding a deluxe model to move it around inside the house.
Some models provide storage for toys and other baby items in zippered side pockets, fabric shelves, hook-on fabric storage pouches, and small clip-on parent-organizer bags. Of course those features aren't necessary, but if you want to use them, look for storage that is big enough to actually hold something. Storage compartments should attach, or be built into the outside of the play yard, so they're out of your baby's reach. One deluxe example is the S1 by Safety 1st Satellite Premier Playard - Pegasus (about $128), which comes with attached shelves and a small laundry hamper.
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.
The Evenflo Versatile is easy to fold and easy to set up as it designed with unique hinge-design. This 28-inch tall play space offers plenty play area and safe for the baby to play. It is easy to assemble the playpen as you don’t need any tools. Also, it offers 2-piece expansion panel packs that you can get separately so whenever you want to expand the playpen you can use the panels.
It is a play yard that is made for the various developmental stages of a baby. This means you can use this playard for three subsequent life phases of your baby’s life viz. newborn stage, infant stage, and toddler stage. This is quite evident by the features of the playard. The small napper works great for young babies while the bigger bassinet is made for older infants. The diaper changer snaps out easily, which means you can remove it when it is not being used. You can attach the changer to the side of the play yard, which takes away your worry of having to store it.
Whatever its name, the concept of the playpen reveals yet another fault line in the politics of anxious parenting, as I found via a simple inquiry—whether the playpen was in or out of vogue—at Urbanbaby.com, a site that combines the neurotic firepower of Woody Allen’s 1970s oeuvre with the conviviality-tinged-with-hostility of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars. Reading through the various replies (including a few from parents-to-be who shared my curiosity), the opinions seemed to fall roughly into two camps: Against were those who said playpens are overly confining, that it is better to child-proof one’s home instead, that playpens are “the first compromise to good parenting” (inevitably followed by television, etc.); on the other side were those who averred that playpens are safe and necessary spaces to park toddlers while getting things done, that it is folly to suggest that one’s parental eyes can always be trained on the child, that far from restricting creativity playpens enhance a sense of independence, etc.
I received all 8 panels as promised in the description from this seller (I noticed some people said they didn't). High quality (he doesn't hurt his mouth of this when he tries to chew on it), it's smooth and easy to assemble. Even if he bangs his head against one of the gates, he isn't screaming as if it was wood - we still watch him in this because he's not old enough to not watch him but he easily moves around without problems. Colors are great, gate works really well, and its a perfect size for us - gives our 9 month old Baby enough room to play with different items but is not so huge its cumbersome in our place. Suction cups work well too (we have wood floors) and even with the ABC mat underneath, there are points where we can still suction it to the floor so it continues to not move. Overall, its awesome.
“My baby slept in this from three to six months of age in our room after he outgrew the bassinet. We’ve also taken it along in our suitcase on two trips and he has no problem falling asleep despite being in a new environment. Now that he’s on the move, I use it to contain him so I can pee without worrying he’s going to assault the cat.” -Starlee R.
There’s no right or wrong pick for a playard here. If you only need a portable play space for when your baby or toddler is on the move, choose a basic model. If you’d rather have one that can sub in as a diaper changing station or bassinet, select a playard with more bells and whistles. If you do decide a playard will make your life as a parent easier, be sure to add one to your registry today!
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.
Graco makes many different versions of the Pack ‘n Play, and this is one of the most popular with the most consistent high ratings. It’s inexpensive at just $63, and it ships quickly via Amazon Prime. This particular Pack ‘n Play, known as the On the Go Playard, comes with a full-size bassinet, which is perfect for newborn napping at home and while traveling. Once baby is older, it converts into a full-size playpen that should last until baby reaches 35 inches tall. The Signature Graco push-button fold eliminates any frustration and makes folding the model up easy and quick. As a bonus, it folds up to 20% smaller than the average playpen, making it a great option for travel. This playpen comes equipped with a mattress that is fairly thin and firm; some consumers do not like this about it, but it is recommended for infants to sleep on a very firm surface to reduce the risk of SIDS. The bassinet feature maxes out once baby reaches 15 pounds or is able to push up on her hands and knees, at which point you can still use the playpen feature. Some consumers have complained of the product having a mildew smell when they first open the box. (I would recommend contacting Graco directly if you encounter this problem.)