Bassinet inserts can provide a nice place for newborns to nap. Look for a bassinet that securely fastens to the play yard in a way that prevents older children from dislodging or tamper with it, especially if you have other kids in the home or plan to use the bassinet for your next baby. Some of the models we tested in the past had bassinets that attached to the play yard with easily disengaged bars or exposed plastic clips. Older children could easily undo those fasteners, and that could cause the bassinet to fall to the play-yard floor. But one play yard we tested had bassinet clips that are covered by fabric flaps that are locked into place with a button, hiding the clips from view and protecting them from curious fingers. That's a safety plus.
I had been using the colorful 8-panel North States baby gate from the time by babies were 6 months-one year. But once they were learning to climb the gate with their toes in the little holes (and use their baby muscles to pull the entire gate down), I knew it was time for a more sturdy option. This fit the ticket, it's not as large as the North States - but plenty large enough for toddler twins (with more than enough room for mom and/or dad to play in with them as well). It's also a few inches shorter in height to our old play pen, but it's not an issue with our 28 & 29 inch boys because the openings/holes on the play pen are low enough that when they step on them, it's more than tall enough to make them unable to climb over. ... full review
Even those who embraced the playpen, however, did so somewhat reluctantly (“a necessary evil,” ran one headline), and when I reached for the parenting bookshelf, it seemed the anti-playpen voices began to dominate. In Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach, I was told that “babies who spend hours confined in cribs or playpens, with few toys and minimal adult attention, are very slow in learning to reach out and get hold of things and that means they are also slow in discovering what can be done with things.” In a book called Smart-Wiring Your Baby’s Brain, we are advised to “minimize the time she is confined to a crib or a playpen during waking hours.” Mavis Klein, in The Psychodynamic Counseling Primer, writes that “it has actually been shown that children of about seven or eight years of age who were, as infants, regularly confined in playpens, are less competent at reading and writing than those who were not so imprisoned”; while John Rosemond’s New Parent Power! warns that “there is evidence suggesting that children who spend lots of time confined in cribs or playpens suffered delayed speed and are less coordinated.”
When your baby is a newborn putting them low to floor can cause major strain on your back so you'll want to shop for a playard that has two levels so you can have them higher when they are younger and then move them lower when they learn to roll over. This model from the popular Graco line does all of this at a reasonable price and has some added features like a mobile and pockets on the side to store, diaper, wipes and such.
LOVE this as much as I thought I would!!! I use them to close my baby in or give her freedom while blocking her from other rooms. Have even just used 2 to block her from getting out of a room while I’m doing stuff. For me it’s common sense but as for the suction cups at the bottom, they work best when you clean them and the surface you’re going to stick it to. I haven’t even needed to use all of the panels all together yet but I know I will eventually.
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).
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