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."
As Ann Hulbert documents in Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, this sort of confused and conflicted debate has long been a touchstone of the parental advice genre. In Anxious Parents, Peter Stearns notes that where parents once put children in playpens to safeguard them from dangerous household equipment, as that household equipment was made more accident-proof, the playpen itself soon began to be seen as the source of danger—both literally, as in a series of high-profile recalls of poorly designed playpens and playards, and figuratively, as a symbol of damaging neglect.

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She continued: “It’s as if you asked a climate-change scientist whether the fact that you bought a Prius would make a hurricane less likely in New Orleans this summer. Carbon makes a big difference and so does care-giving, but not at that scale. Of course if you kept a baby confined in a playpen and never took him out that would probably make a difference, but nobody actually would do that.” While science does suggest crawling strongly influences the way babies think and learn, she points out “babies in playpens are crawling and exploring too, of course.” Her last bit of advice? “Parents should try to think not ‘How will this affect my baby in the long run?’—who knows?—but ‘Is this helping my baby and me to thrive right now?’ ” That, she says, depends on what you and your situation are like—and only you know that.
Bassinets and changing-table inserts can be useful. Just remember that you should never leave your child unattended within those devices in a play yard—no matter what type (or feature) you are using. Your infant may be content to sleep in her bassinet insert, but she's safest sleeping in a full-sized crib. That's because your child may begin moving around and could fall out of the bassinet, either onto the floor, or to the floor of the play yard, causing injury. You'll also need to remove the bassinet or changing station, (or flip the changing station to the outside of the yard, depending on the model) when your baby is in the main part of the play yard to avoid the possibility of the child getting trapped under those attachments.

The super-light playard folds up into a backpack case so your arms are still free to hold your little one and a diaper bag. Unlike the other playards in our top picks, this one features a zippered side door so you can lay down with your baby to nurse or cuddle him to sleep and then draw away once he’s in dreamland. The open side door also lets babies and toddlers go in and out of their special place, when you want them to, which makes the playard more like a play fort. Once you get the hang of it, the Lotus Everywhere Crib sets up in 15 seconds and the extra-long mattress lays flat on the floor.

Roll with it. Some manufacturers claim that their play yards fold compactly and easily, which is especially important if you'll be traveling with it or assembling and disassembling it often. See for yourself how easy it is by practicing on floor models in the store before you buy. Some parents find that while they can collapse their play yard in a jiffy, fitting the whole thing into its travel bag is almost impossible. If traveling with the play yard is important to you, look at the travel bags when you are shopping.
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.
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.”
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.
I absolutely love this! It's great for uses outdoors with a baby boy who likes to eat grass and dirt! Keeps him in one area and off of the grass with a blanket placed under it! :) it's also AWESOME for indoors when you're trying to clean, take a quick shower or keep the baby away from the things they aren't supposed to have! My son loves it because he can stand up while holding the panels and walk all around it! Just a heads up for new buyers and possibly old THE PANELS DO CLICK TOGETHER. I did not know they did but just pull up on them and they snap right together! I found this out on accident :) it was the only issue I had with it and well... it's no longer an issue!
Roll with it. Some manufacturers claim that their play yards fold compactly and easily, which is especially important if you'll be traveling with it or assembling and disassembling it often. See for yourself how easy it is by practicing on floor models in the store before you buy. Some parents find that while they can collapse their play yard in a jiffy, fitting the whole thing into its travel bag is almost impossible. If traveling with the play yard is important to you, look at the travel bags when you are shopping.

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 ... full review
Only had a little while, but really not worth the money. Very flimsy can’t even lean against it when sitting in it. I bought it so I could let my son play while I did things near by; however I can not leave him unattended bc the way it’s made has perfect slots for them to be able to put feet in and climb up. Material is hollow plastic so it squishes also if pressed hard.
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.

Love this playpen! Sturdy, bright and fun. Has a few toys inside that even bigger kids (3yr olds) want to play in it. Big enough for multiple children to play in it at one time. it has suction cups under each panel that I'm hoping will work good on our tile floors when they get installed in a few weeks. I found a mat (patchwork toddler play mat) that is 1.5 inches thick and fits perfectly inside that will vision little ones falls.
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
As your baby gets older they will love to unzip the side and climb inside like their very own little play tent. With the included convertible backpack straps this play yard is easy to carry especially as it only weighs 11 pounds. The manufacturers boast of a 15-second setup, which really is hard to beat, and makes this the easiest pack ‘n play to assemble.

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.


“My baby slept in this from three to six months of age in our room after he outgrew the bassinet. We’ve also taken it along in our suitcase on two trips and he has no problem falling asleep despite being in a new environment. Now that he’s on the move, I use it to contain him so I can pee without worrying he’s going to assault the cat.” -Starlee R.
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.
Some attach to the longer top rail—you have to remove them to get them out of the way. Others simply rest on the long rails and are hinged at one shorter side rail so the changing station can be flipped over the rail to hang at the outer side of the play yard. We think it's safer to remove the changing table when not in use so it is out of reach of your baby and any other children. In addition, it is always better to have an active means of attachment to the frame—that is you have to click, snap, button, or strap a changing table or bassinet into place rather than just have it resting on a frame.
Select the play yard yourself. Play yards are popular shower gifts; if you're planning to include one on your registry list, consider the features you'll need and select the model yourself. If you'll be using the play yard as a changing station, for example, go with a model with a changing table and multiple storage compartments. Make sure any storage fastens to the outside and is positioned out of your baby's reach. When it comes to changing table attachments, we prefer changing stations that don't flip to the outside, as we believe that those that simply but securely attach to the top rails are safer. If you choose a model with a bassinet, make sure it fastens securely and covers most of the top.
Do not use the play yard once your baby has outgrown it: Stop using the play yard right from the day your baby outgrows the recommended age. You may be tempted to use it for some more days or weeks but this can be very dangerous since play yards are designed to meet the specific height and weight requirements of babies of certain age. The build materials may not be able to sustain the increased weight of a baby who has outgrown the recommended age of the playard thus posing a risk of injury.
Some play yards feature a mobile with suspended toys or a detachable baby gym that can also be used with the bassinet mattress on the floor as a separate play mat for tummy time. These are a bonus, as are entertainment centers with music, soothing sounds, and lights. But all will contribute to the price and weight of the yard, and will make it more difficult to pack up the play yard for storage or travel. They usually require C or AA batteries (not included). Toys may not be necessary if you intend to use your play yard as just a portable nursery. But if you use a play yard as a mobile activity center, toys and sound effects can be helpful.

Many parents feel that a playpen is a best and convenient way to allow their baby to play in one place where they are safe and also the parents can keep an eye on them while attending other chores at home. Currently, you can find various types of playpens and they can be folded easily and place it in any room. It is also useful when you want to leave your baby unsupervised for short time like when you have to take bath, etc. Also, some consider that it is a suitable place for an irregular nap but don’t make it a regular place for a nap.
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