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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Think about the ‘look'. Some play yards feature understated and neutral color combinations that could seemingly blend into the décor of any home. Others offer contrasting colors that make the play yard a standout. Still others come in boy- or girl-specific color selections, such as pink polka dots. Your baby won't care what the play yard looks like, but you might, so decide which way you want to go: neutral, high contrast, or with fabrics that signify "baby zone."