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.
We live in a house filled with breakable art and treasures, so we bought a total of 5 sets, connecting all of them together to create a space within our great big museum of a house, virtually toddler proofing the ground floor but giving the grand kid the run of the place (sort of). These set up and break down quickly. Carpeting leaves some wiggle room but it's still quite functional. The topping pieces that secure the sections are not really necessary and could be improved by providing left angles in addition to the rights and straights. We just left them off and in that way we were able to construct odd angles. This really is the best choice among all on the market, in my opinion. I did my research....believe me....before spending nearly $600 on 5 sets. We did have one get lost by UPS but the seller eventually delivered the replacement. Overall: Totally Happy.
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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.
At the higher end of the price spectrum, you'll see a lot of add-on features. For example, the Graco Silhouette Pack ‘n Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, about $170, has a removable changing table (with an "organizer" to hold diapers, wipes, etc.) and a bassinet feature. The bassinet has a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds and the changing table has a weight capacity of 25 pounds. This model also comes with a vibrating mattress, electronic mobile, canopy, console with music, and night light. The manufacturer says you should only use the play yard with children under 35 inches tall.
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.
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).
Perfect for a variety of different uses. Having 3 kids under 5, I've used my fair share of baby gates and play yards. The Evenflo play space is very portable, lightweight and easy to fold down and take on the go. You can add and remove sections with a simple push of a button. I'm currently using this gate to block off my fireplace from my one year old who's fascinated with climbing on it. Also, I will be using it during the holidays to wrap around and block my kids from getting into the Christmas tree. I would recommend this gate.