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.
I cannot stress this enough with regards to any type of baby equipment. The number one priority is that it should be safe! Be sure to read reviews from parents and experts and keep an eye on product recalls. I would strongly recommend never buying a used playpen or playard; baby items are recalled all the time, and you’re much better off getting a new model that is proven to be safe.
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.
• It's best to remove the bassinet and the changing station entirely, or if you have a hinged changing station, at least be sure to flip it to the outside when your baby is playing in the play yard. A baby's neck can become trapped between the side rail and the bassinet or changing station and children have died in play yards when that has happened. Be aware that another child can flip a hinged bassinet back onto the play yard while your baby is inside—another hazard.
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.
Be sure to check the floor pad. It should also be no more than 1-inch thick, snug-fitting, and firm enough to protect your baby from falling or rolling into the loose mesh pocket that can form between the edge of the floor panel and side of the play yard (a suffocation hazard). We think it's safer when models have slots on the floor that allow the mattress's Velcro strips to be inserted and secured on the outside of the play yard, making it difficult for a baby or toddler to lift the mattress and possibly become trapped under it. Avoid models with a mattress that fastens to the bottom of a play yard only with Velcro pads that a child can access from the inside. Use only the mattress or pad that comes with your play yard.
To avoid potentially fatal entrapment between the station and the yard's top rail, never put your baby in a play yard that has the changing table in place. Removing the table also eliminates the possibility of entrapment by any loop from the changing-table restraint strap, although no loops should be present in a play yard that is said to meet safety standards set by ASTM International.
The reversible napper and changer is a great way to save a bit of space and even money. All you need to do is turn the napper by 360 degrees and it turns into a changer. There is a secure switch that can be only controlled by an adult, which facilitates this movement. There is also a toy bar, which is also completely detachable, to hang your baby’s toys.
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.
 So, like many other people on here, I was very hesitant about spending $150 on a playpen. However, it is more then worth it. I had gone back and fourth, and finally pulled the trigger. My 6month old is crawling everywhere, already trying to pull herself up on things, and getting into everything! This play pen allowed minimal safety proofing for my apt, since she is only out when i can keep my eyes completely on her. The play pen is sturdy when pulling on the panels, doesn’t tip, and takes quick a bit of effort to move the walls out (she hasn’t been able to get them to budge). She is able to pull herself up, teeth on the edges, and it is safe (especially if i need to clean, do chores etc). Also, my husband and I fit in it with her. The activity wall is also an added plus. She enjoys playing with it.
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!
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.
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.”)
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!
Stop using the bassinet when your baby reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight limit (typically 15 pounds) or can sit up, pull up, or roll over. "For the first month or two they are not going to go anywhere," Gary Smith, M.D., Dr. P.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said of infants. "But when they start to develop, they do it really quickly, and all of the sudden they are rolling over and sitting up." If you don't take precautions, Smith said, "Parents who don't take precautions may end up taking their child to the emergency department from a fall."
• On some models, the safety straps on the changing-station insert can also be a strangulation hazard if they form a loop beneath the changing table, which is another reason to remove a changing table when your baby is in the playpen portion of a play yard. Check to see that your baby can't push down on the bassinet or changing table insert because of the danger of strangulation and entrapment. Changing-table straps should be sewn down or otherwise securely fastened to the changing-table surface, so that they cannot form a loop that extends into the occupant area of the ply yard.
If you want to use your play yard as a changing station, many come with a changing-table insert or an attachment that flips into position from the side. Some play yards with changing tables also have organizers or built-in storage shelves for diapers and baby wipes. Many play yards also come with a bassinet attachment for babies weighing 15 pounds or less. While those two features can be useful, keep in mind that your baby will outgrow them pretty quickly. Most play yards can be used (without attachments) until your child weighs about 30 pounds—around 2 years old.
Stop using the bassinet when your baby reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight limit (typically 15 pounds) or can sit up, pull up, or roll over. "For the first month or two they are not going to go anywhere," Gary Smith, M.D., Dr. P.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said of infants. "But when they start to develop, they do it really quickly, and all of the sudden they are rolling over and sitting up." If you don't take precautions, Smith said, "Parents who don't take precautions may end up taking their child to the emergency department from a fall."

Having a young child around the house means having a host of new expenses to take care of. With that in mind, you want to ensure that whatever you buy for your child is going to last as long as possible. Luckily, all of the playpens, mats, yards and bouncers come from trusted brands, so you can breathe easy knowing that you're getting a good value. Choose from great manufacturers like Graco, Summer Infant and Prince Lionheart to find the perfect option for your son or daughter!
×