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!
Portability: Are you going to be taking your playpen to other houses? Perhaps you might want to spend a day at the park, where a playpen would be a handy way to keep your baby safe and let them play alone while you read a book? If you think you might be taking your playpen outside of the home, be sure to choose one that can fold up for easy transport.
The word, on the face of it, is rather contradictory, combining play—a word with inherent jouissance—with a suffix that suggests confinement. Given that even pens for livestock have fallen under scrutiny—battery cages for chickens, for example, are critiqued because in them, hens “endure high levels of stress and frustration”—it’s not surprising to find parental discomfort with a product that seems so, well, penitential. Of course, the word yard itself has prison overtones, and when examining a product like the “North States Superyard XT Gate Play Yard” it’s not hard to get some serious Gitmo vibes. (Such misgivings about the playpen are exemplified in sculptor Robert Gober’s X Playpen, a bifurcated enclosure that, as one critic put it, “emphasizes this domestic space’s claustrotraumatic quality.”)
The Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard is a highly portable and lightweight playpen at just 11 pounds. This playpen is so easy to set up—it takes just 15 seconds! Breakdown is somewhat more difficult, but see the video below for instructions. The Lotus folds up into a backpack, which you can transport easily on all your family adventures. The sides of the playpen are made from soft, see-through mesh so you can watch baby play; the side even has a fun door that zips and unzips so baby can crawl in and out while supervised. More than just a playpen, the Lotus comes with a soft mattress, making it a safe and comfy place for baby to nap. Some consumers do not like that the mattress rests directly on the ground. Additionally, you will need to buy the Guava Family quilted sheets, because the mattress is not a standard size. This playpen is more expensive than average, at $198.
It's easy to put together and take a part. The stickers were hard to place but that's not a big deal to me. My son, now almost 10 months, hates being confined. The play pen was very sturdy but he wouldn't stay in there without crying. I ended up buying another one and using sections of the pen to block off areas of the house. It's not as sturdy when not put together in a closed shape, but it works for us.
Some play yards feature a mobile with suspended toys or a detachable baby gym that can also be used with the bassinet mattress on the floor as a separate play mat for tummy time. These are a bonus, as are entertainment centers with music, soothing sounds, and lights. But all will contribute to the price and weight of the yard, and will make it more difficult to pack up the play yard for storage or travel. They usually require C or AA batteries (not included). Toys may not be necessary if you intend to use your play yard as just a portable nursery. But if you use a play yard as a mobile activity center, toys and sound effects can be helpful.
Love this pen, it's the best. Easy to assemble, colorful, has a nice open feel so our baby isn't in prison and cut off from the family activity. BUT BE WARNED this playpen has a design flaw that creates a choking hazzard. The play panel has some busy gears and a button baby can push to squeak. This button can be easily pulled off by baby and will be in two small parts, the button and the plastic squeaker. Both parts are small enough to cause a choking hazzard, our 11mo had the whole button cap in her mouth. So before you think about turning your back on your baby in this pen for a second, I'd recommend removing these parts yourself. Great play pen in every other way.
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Many play yards with bassinets have a canopy to shade your baby from harsh light. Some canopies have attached toys that act as a mobile. Remove the canopy when you are no longer using the bassinet. In our opinion, canopies are an unnecessary expense. You should never put your play yard in direct sunlight anyway because babies can easily burn or become overheated.
We have our 9 month old grandbaby visiting, and needed a secure place for him to play. This play area gives him room to play without him feeling confined, and I love the handles on top of each section, as he is pulling up and doing his best to walk while hanging on. We also purchased interlocking floor pieces to go in the floor, making this a clean,fun, safe,and colorful place for baby to play. Love it!
It's helped us out tremendously. It provides a way for us to cordon off a safe space for our son while allowing him an area to freely move. The fact that it breaks apart and can be arranged in various patterns allowed us to expand that space with some creative use of furniture. Sadly though like all young raptors, he's testing the gates, looking for weaknesses that he'll eventually use to escape and terrorize the local populace of cats.