You need to get dinner on the table, but your baby's in her playpen, wailing like a banshee. All her favorite toys are inside the walls of the jungle-themed hexagon you bought at Babies 'R Us, but those toys are dead to her. She wants out, and she wants out now. You're probably wondering, why does my baby hate their playpen? As noted in Slate, the playpen debate is endless, but this is a no-judgment zone. Dinner's got to get done somehow.
The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yard gets the vote for the most portable playpen. Weighing in at just 15 pounds, it is half the weight of some other playpen models. This playpen comes loaded with extras: an inclined sleeper/bassinet for infants, as well as a changing station and pocket to store diapers and wipes. The fabric on the changer is machine washable, making it easy and convenient to clean. This product is easy to assemble and fold up for storage or travel. At around $80, this product is firmly in the mid-range of prices for playpens. Some consumers do not like that the bottom of the playpen sits on the ground and that the mattress for the playpen is very thin and flimsy. Because the bottom is low to the ground, it can be difficult for some caregivers to lay their baby in the bottom portion for naps.

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.”
We were dissappointed with this product. We dissagree with previous review about the easy setup. The set we received had bad fit. Some of the hinge holes are smaller than the hinge, and some of the hinge holes were too big so there was a problem with the fit. The panels with the hinge holes that are too big for the hinges comes apart easily and it's unsafe for our 12 mos old to hold against the panel. Also the door hardware came apart after just a few uses. Lastly, the suction cups is a hazard. Our baby was able to remove one of the suction cup and play with it.
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.)
Play-yard frames are typically made of metal tubing. Mesh on three or, better yet, all four sides provides ventilation and allows you to see your baby. Most models have hinges and lock buttons in the center of the top rails. To set up a play yard, you'll need to pull the top rails up so that they're locked, then push the floor down and secure the play yard mattress or pad. To fold this design, you'll need to pull the floor up, and then raise the top rails slightly while pressing the release buttons to unlatch and collapse the top rails. Before assembling or using your play yard, read the owner's manual carefully and keep it handy for future reference.
We live in a house filled with breakable art and treasures, so we bought a total of 5 sets, connecting all of them together to create a space within our great big museum of a house, virtually toddler proofing the ground floor but giving the grand kid the run of the place (sort of). These set up and break down quickly. Carpeting leaves some wiggle room but it's still quite functional. The topping pieces that secure the sections are not really necessary and could be improved by providing left angles in addition to the rights and straights. We just left them off and in that way we were able to construct odd angles. This really is the best choice among all on the market, in my opinion. I did my research....believe me....before spending nearly $600 on 5 sets. We did have one get lost by UPS but the seller eventually delivered the replacement. Overall: Totally Happy.
If you are looking for something that is lightweight and can be set up easily in your living room or on the go the Lotus Travel crib from Guava is just the thing. The Lotus play yard has a fully zippered side panel allowing parents to lie down with their children and help them go to sleep or encourage tummy time and beyond. The mattress is thicker than other travel pack 'n play competitors, ensuring your little one gets a comfortable nights' sleep. It also has a wide opening at the top which makes it great for playing on the go since your little one won't feel smushed in. 

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
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.
In search of insight, Romper spoke with Dr. Marcie Beigel, a behavior specialist with over 20 years of experience. For Dr. Marcie, it's all about being intentional. If your kid throws a tantrum every time she gets in the playpen, she associates the space with being upset. Likewise, it doesn't matter how well you've stocked your playpen with toys if every time she gets in it, mom disappears. If you want to change the pattern here, "you have to make the space really fun and delicious and enjoyable," says Dr. Marcie.
While it might seem like a nice gesture to hand down a playpen that’s been in the family for years, I would strongly recommend not using an older or used model. The idea of picking up a lower-priced playpen from a garage sale or Craigslist might seem appealing at first, but this is never a good idea. Baby equipment, including playpens and playards, are recalled all the time, and older models might have safety hazards.
The pieces were super easy to assemble. Just slide the rods on one piece into the holes on the next piece to connect them. I was a little disappointed that the rods/holes were not hexagonal like the instructions state. That would have locked them into position either straight or at an angle. Instead, the rods/holes are round, so the panels move around (accordion style) and won't stay in a straight line. There are suction cups on the bottom of the panels that might help if you're using it on a hard floor or smooth mat, but they're useless on carpet or textured mat.
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!
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

Play-yard frames are typically made of metal tubing. Mesh on three or, better yet, all four sides provides ventilation and allows you to see your baby. Most models have hinges and lock buttons in the center of the top rails. To set up a play yard, you'll need to pull the top rails up so that they're locked, then push the floor down and secure the play yard mattress or pad. To fold this design, you'll need to pull the floor up, and then raise the top rails slightly while pressing the release buttons to unlatch and collapse the top rails. Before assembling or using your play yard, read the owner's manual carefully and keep it handy for future reference.


I used this playpen at work for a year. Purchased when my daughter was almost a year old. I had to take it in and out of my car everyday at work and I was worried that it wouldn't hold up due to it being hollow plastic. I was pleasantly surprised! It held up so well that I will be able to use it again for the next baby. My daughter is now two and knows how to stack things so she can climb out and she's tall. However she has never been able to figure out how to unlock the gate. All the toys on the toy panel still work and have held up despite my daughter being rough with them. None of the connector pegs have come off during transport. I really worried they would pop off since they weren't solid and were jostled in my car all the time!
I have had this playpen set up for couple weeks. And my 7-months old baby girl loves having her alone time in it away from our two crazy puppies. Even my 8-year old daughter and 9-year old son love to spend some special time with their baby sister in there. And the most fun part was on the day when we set the playpen up, my 8-year old daughter gathered all the baby toys she saw all around the house, and arranged them nicely in the playpen, and she even took a nap(or pretended she did) with the baby in it. Lol.... Must be the girl thing;)
Play-yard frames are typically made of metal tubing. Mesh on three or, better yet, all four sides provides ventilation and allows you to see your baby. Most models have hinges and lock buttons in the center of the top rails. To set up a play yard, you'll need to pull the top rails up so that they're locked, then push the floor down and secure the play yard mattress or pad. To fold this design, you'll need to pull the floor up, and then raise the top rails slightly while pressing the release buttons to unlatch and collapse the top rails. Before assembling or using your play yard, read the owner's manual carefully and keep it handy for future reference.
Now, a simple visit to a site like Babies ‘R’ Us will confirm that, yes, playpens do still exist. But they seem to have been rebranded, for these devices are no longer called playpens. Instead, searching for the term on Babies ‘R’ Us will yield a range of “Pack n’ Plays” (a trademark of the kid-product manufacturer Graco, and which purists insist is less a playpen in the traditional sense than a traveling crib), and various takes on the “playard” (a word that seems vaguely French but is actually a contraction of “Play Yard”). Rather tellingly, a Google search for playpen seems to yield as many entries for contraptions to corral  pets as children.

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.
Rule two? "Do more, because actions count." If you tell your kid you're going to do something, be like Nike and just do it. Parents give a lot of direction when they're unprepared — which is why you have to ask your kid to sit down for a snack like 37 times. Instead, what if you waited until their ants-on-a-log was already on the table, grabbed your little one, and sat them down yourself? According to Dr. Marcie, that helps them learn what it means to listen.
At the higher end of the price spectrum, you'll see a lot of add-on features. For example, the Graco Silhouette Pack ‘n Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, about $170, has a removable changing table (with an "organizer" to hold diapers, wipes, etc.) and a bassinet feature. The bassinet has a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds and the changing table has a weight capacity of 25 pounds. This model also comes with a vibrating mattress, electronic mobile, canopy, console with music, and night light. The manufacturer says you should only use the play yard with children under 35 inches tall.
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.
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.
My son and I found this playpen to be very enjoyable. The set up was very easy and was done in several minutes. The sides slid into one another. My almost 2 year old son was not able to get the sides apart and break out. The plastic sides were good quality. They were thick enough plastic without being overly heavy. There is a door with a lock. My son was unable to get out of the door when he tried. When I opened the door to let him out, he wanted to get his sister or me and bring us into the play pen. There is a basketball hoop in the playpen that you screw on by a twist of a cap. It is on pretty sturdy although the hoop itself is bendable. This was a very enjoyable activity for my son. The sides do not have to be installed at a right angle. They hold in place a couple of different angle in between. There are suction cups on the bottom of the fencing to stick to laminate or hardwood floors. I had it on carpet, so I am unsure if that works. Overall this is a good product. When it got put away in order to vacuum the floor, my son cried.
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.
My son and I found this playpen to be very enjoyable. The set up was very easy and was done in several minutes. The sides slid into one another. My almost 2 year old son was not able to get the sides apart and break out. The plastic sides were good quality. They were thick enough plastic without being overly heavy. There is a door with a lock. My son was unable to get out of the door when he tried. When I opened the door to let him out, he wanted to get his sister or me and bring us into the play pen. There is a basketball hoop in the playpen that you screw on by a twist of a cap. It is on pretty sturdy although the hoop itself is bendable. This was a very enjoyable activity for my son. The sides do not have to be installed at a right angle. They hold in place a couple of different angle in between. There are suction cups on the bottom of the fencing to stick to laminate or hardwood floors. I had it on carpet, so I am unsure if that works. Overall this is a good product. When it got put away in order to vacuum the floor, my son cried.
Fits perfectly with ProSource kids puzzle alphabet. Brought to our parent’s house for thanksgiving- Took less than 60 seconds to pack and secure. Same time to set up. My kiddo loves to cruise (walk while holding onto the fence). If it was possible to tear down, he would have done it already. Makes a great babyjail in our living room that we can tear down with 5 minutes notice if needed. Portable, rugged. Well worth it. Only complaint is that when placed in the shape of a square, the middle sections are prone to flex more and are not 100% rigid like corners are. However, placed into a hexagonal or octagonal shape (as product was intended), it’s completely study.
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