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.
An incredible selection of play yards and mats makes it easy to find the perfect environment for your child to crawl around, learn and explore within. All of these products are engineered for safety, so you can rest easy knowing that your little one is out of harm's way whenever they're playing in these. These baby play yards can be placed inside your home or outside on a sunny day, allowing you to kick back and relax while your child has safe fun in a controlled environment. Best of all, many of products are lightweight and portable, so you can take them anywhere.
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.
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.”

Pretty good. Fits into lots of our gear - glider, pack and play, rock and play. (I found a portable mobile to be better for the glider bc the span is a bit wide for this but I could have made do with this.) think that adds a little more life to these things. The rings allow you to add other toys. I do this a lot when I put on the pack and play bc mine is a cheaper model that doesn’t have the bassinet feature so little man is just all the way down in there. The hanging toys that come with it are ok. Baby doesn’t seem too interested but they are cute. The middle piece keeps falling which is annoying. Price is fair.
When you’re building your baby registry, you may not yet be thinking about a playpen. I know my motto was “worry about what I need right now—products will still be there later if I decide I need them.” But did you know that playpens aren’t just for squirmy toddlers? In fact, many playpens are versatile enough to take you from the early baby days through the wiggly toddler stage. For example, some playpens come equipped with removable bassinets and even changing tables! How convenient (not to mention money-saving) to have all of those features baked into one product. We made use of a basic version of the Graco Pack N’ Play for our firstborn to sleep in during his newborn days. The bassinet feature made it easy to pick him up for late-night nursing sessions. Then, as he got older and we started traveling, the playpen came in handy as a place for him to sleep on overnight trips. I can’t overstate how invaluable this product was during the first year of our son’s life, and on into the second.
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
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.
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.
Overall i love this product! Adjustable to the shape of your liking, lightweight but sturdy enough that it doesnt move as baby bangs and shakes it. Plastic so I feel safe if baby happens to fall or bump into it, and I love the locking door. The reason why i didnt give it 5 stars is of the rolling balls. I wish it were made out of sodyer material because if baby happens to fall on it, they could reall get hurt. And the stickers that came with it I didnt put it on because I read it can peel off and mine eats anything he gets in his hads so i thought it's best to leave it out for now. I also took out the phone receiver toy because the baby puts it in his mouth and could get hurt if he fell forward. The best part that I like is I can fit in it too! If the baby cries for me, ill just hop in and lay it out while he plays around.

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


My daughter enjoys this playpen. It's helping her learn how to walk and allows me to move around our home without being worried she's getting into something she's not supposed to. The packaging was done correctly, and was delivered on time. However, one of the pieces did not fit and no matter how many times I rearranged the pieces, they would not connect to the right side interior piece. I spent nearly an hour taking it apart and putting it back together trying to find a gate piece that would work, but none of them did. I ended up jamming one of the gate pieces into the door piece, which the directions specifically say not to do, and have the door piece facing a wall so my daughter can't open it. There was no option other than to go against what the directions said, and I haven't had any problems with the gate cracking or breaking from my improvising the door piece. It still seems very safe to me. I would much rather just pick her up out of the playpen than have her injure herself trying to open the door. Another problem I've had with the playpen is keeping it grounded. My daughter can easily move/shake the gate around and it slides all over the floor. The bottoms of the individual colored gates and white door/toy wall all have small suction cups attached. Those are supposed to keep the playpen grounded I suppose, but they don't work. I have tile in my home and there is nothing obstructing the suction cups, so there is no reason why they shouldn't work. My daughter is only 8 months old, and I'm constantly having to readjust and move the playpen back to it's original place because it's so easy for her to move. I still very much enjoy this product and would recommend it to anyone who has tile or wood flooring, as long as their children are able to be supervised nearby.

Some basic models may be easier to cart around because they don't have any extra parts. You can also look for bags that leave the play yard's wheels free, so the whole thing can be rolled once it's packed up. If you plan on taking frequent trips (especially by air), you might want to consider a heavy-duty bag that you can buy separately, such as the Rover Gear Easton Travel Yard Bag (about $34).
So, how do you go about changing tantrum central into Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? Dr. Marcie suggests using the playpen when it isn't necessary — and not just when you have to get dinner on the table or take that important call. "Sit on the outside and read them a book," she says. "Walk away for a minute, then come back, so they realize, oh, it's just a moment that you disappear." Build it up as a fun space, singing her songs and talking to her. When it comes to transforming a place, "it's not about the stuff, but about the level of engagement," says Dr. Marcie.

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.

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.


My daughter enjoys this playpen. It's helping her learn how to walk and allows me to move around our home without being worried she's getting into something she's not supposed to. The packaging was done correctly, and was delivered on time. However, one of the pieces did not fit and no matter how many times I rearranged the pieces, they would not connect to the right side interior piece. I spent nearly an hour taking it apart and putting it back together trying to find a gate piece that would work, but none of them did. I ended up jamming one of the gate pieces into the door piece, which the directions specifically say not to do, and have the door piece facing a wall so my daughter can't open it. There was no option other than to go against what the directions said, and I haven't had any problems with the gate cracking or breaking from my improvising the door piece. It still seems very safe to me. I would much rather just pick her up out of the playpen than have her injure herself trying to open the door. Another problem I've had with the playpen is keeping it grounded. My daughter can easily move/shake the gate around and it slides all over the floor. The bottoms of the individual colored gates and white door/toy wall all have small suction cups attached. Those are supposed to keep the playpen grounded I suppose, but they don't work. I have tile in my home and there is nothing obstructing the suction cups, so there is no reason why they shouldn't work. My daughter is only 8 months old, and I'm constantly having to readjust and move the playpen back to it's original place because it's so easy for her to move. I still very much enjoy this product and would recommend it to anyone who has tile or wood flooring, as long as their children are able to be supervised nearby.
Rohit Garoo took writing as a profession right after finishing his MBA in Marketing. Earlier he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Botany & Zoology from the autonomous St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Rohit has also done a Stanford University certification course on breastfeeding. This botanist-zoologist turned writer excels at life sciences, and at MomJunction he writes everything about pediatrics and maternal care. In between writing and being overly curious, he spends time cooking, reading, and playing video games. LinkedIn profile – linkedin.com/in/rohit-garoo-263115aa
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.
It is an enclosed area where your little ones can play safely. You can keep your baby in the enclosed area and give them their favorite toy so that they can have a play where they can safely play without disturbing you and also you don’t need to keep constant supervision when you are doing other important stuff. However, you should always keep an eye, and never leave your baby unattended for a longer period. A playpen is a perfect option and it allows you to take a small break or do your chores like cooking, bathing, etc, around the house.
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