Do not use the play yard once your baby has outgrown it: Stop using the play yard right from the day your baby outgrows the recommended age. You may be tempted to use it for some more days or weeks but this can be very dangerous since play yards are designed to meet the specific height and weight requirements of babies of certain age. The build materials may not be able to sustain the increased weight of a baby who has outgrown the recommended age of the playard thus posing a risk of injury.
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.
Most play yards are designed for portability—to fit through a door, be moved from one room to another, or folded up to fit in the trunk of your car. Many are rectangular, usually 28 by 40 inches. A basic model such as the Cosco Funsport Travel Play Yard (about $55) has mesh on all sides and comes with a travel bag. Another lightweight model, Graco's Pack ‘n Play Playard/Circle Time (about $57), weighs about 20 pounds.
The dimensions are great and hence offers enough capacity for your kids and yourself included. It measures 48 inches wide, 26 inches tall and 14 square feet. The foldable frame and lightweight materials of construction make it highly portable and easy to store. The floor boasts of weather-resistant canvas, and the sides are made of mesh for clear visibility.
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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.
Most of Graco’s models are major multi-taskers whose functions grow with your child. This style comes with a napper (a cozy bassinet elevated above the playpen structure) that when flipped over becomes a wipe-clean changing station. You can then transition your little one to the full-size bassinet (a cushy mat near the top of the playard) complete with a toy bar and plushies overhead. Once your baby starts to move around, remove the mattress and, voila, you have a playard that can be used as a safe play spot and for naps through toddlerhood. And all for a great price.
ATTENTION moms, grandparents, babysitters... I bought this for my one year old grandson, actually 2, 1 for my house and 1 for my daughter's house. She told me a week or so ago that he'd removed one of the suction cups (there are 2 on the bottom of each panel), I thought it must have been a fluke, but I'm either in there with him or very close by, didn't think it would happen again. Just tonight, while I was maybe 5 feet away, watching him play, he somehow got a suction cup off one of the panels and into his mouth. This could have been a tragedy!
For newborns, the Lullaby® Baby features a quilted, angled napper for use in the bassinet. The napper provides a cozy environment for baby’s first naps and folds easily for storage. The bassinet comfortably accommodates newborns and growing infants, and is easy to install or remove and fold in just seconds!. For the bassinet, the Lullaby® Baby includes a quilted mattress with a Zip & Wash cover and removable floorboards for machine washing. The mattress easily transitions to the floor of the playard for older babies and toddlers.
The baby trend deluxe nursery center comes with all the features that you expect from a modern play yard. The bassinet is removable and washable. The entire play yard fabric is held on a metal frame, which is attached to a pair of wheels for easy maneuvering. The wheels can be locked to a position for safety. There is also an electronic module to play different sounds and melodies to soothe the baby.
If you’re in need of a larger playpen, the Delta Children 36″ x 36″ Playard may be a great option for you. At three foot square, this playpen gives baby lots of room to play and explore. It also has fun animal designs that children love. This playpen comes with a mattress and carrying bag, and it folds compactly for storage and travel. This playpen is on the heavier side at 28 pounds, and some consumers report that setup and breakdown is more difficult than with other models. (Check out the video below to see how to break it down for storage.) This playpen is not recommended to use for sleeping as it does not come with a bassinet feature. Some consumers have reported issues with the bottom pad not lying flat.
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I have one that I've had for a year with zero issues and an extremely rough toddler. I have tried other gates and fences that were cheaper but just ordered two more of these because nothing compares to the sturdy quality and height of this one. I use it to fence off our computer area, to make him a safe place near our pool and another now around our entertainment center. I don't know what I would do without the versatility of this product.
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
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.
Nice to keep baby out of trouble at home. Once he became mobile we had to do an "upgrade" as we noticed he was starting to hit his head on the X shaped metal bars. We tried some alternatives but the best so far was wrapping the metal bars with pool noodles (see picture). You'll need 8 pool noodles and some cuts (buy some extra in case you mess up). Use 2/3 of a pool noodle to wrap the internal bars and the remaining 1/3 to wrap half of the external bar. The pieces will also need a longitudinal cut along the length to fit the bar in. You'll also need some small cuts in the middle of the longer piece to fit the center rivet, where the mesh is attached to the bars. We got the pool noodles at the dollar store nearby for less than $10 and since ... full review