“For anyone out there who has ever put together a pack and play with all their bazillion pieces: Putting together a portable crib should be easy. Nuna is! Push down on the middle to set it up and pull up to put it away. Oh, and the part where you fold it and need to fit it back in the bag? Still easy! It’s not like fitting a square peg in a round hole.” -Jenna O.
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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 playpen is made from a lightweight metal base with a durable fabric wrapped all around it. The hexagonal shape makes it a great place for your baby to play. The best part is that there is no assembly required and all you have to do is open the collapsible metal frame to have the playpen ready. The frame neatly folds and fits into a shoulder bag for easy movability.
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.
•MANUFACTURED 3/5/2018 Complete bedside care center features reversible bassinet and changer all-in-one • Extended use changer allows for more diaper changes, up to 30 lb • With two speeds of vibration to choose from, you can find just the right setting to soothe baby • With four locking wheels the bassinet can be effortlessly maneuvered throughout the home allowing baby to be wherever you are • The canopy offers shade from light while the two soft toys give baby a focal point for playtime
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 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).
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.
Regalo 4-In-1 192-inch Super Playpen comes with a wide adjustable gate that comes with 192-inches wide area and 28-inches tall. The play yard allows you to convert a wide gate into an eight-panel play area and each panel can be easily adjusted to fit any gap. The Regalo play yard is a perfect option and best for angled openings, doorways, wide spaces, the bottom of stairs, and hallways. Also, it is easy to assemble and no tools needed, easy to fold as well.
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.”)
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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!
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.
This versatile play space is one of the best-designed playpens that can be used for both outdoor and indoor play area. This flexible play space provides around 18.5sqft of enclosed area that allows your toddler to plays safely. Its unique reversible legs contain outdoor stake that makes the playpen stable even when you place in on the lawn. Also, it comes with anti-movement non-scratch pads that keep the play space stable on the floor.