A playard, otherwise known as a playpen, makes a great portable travel crib for your infant or toddler. Take naptime to go, whether it's at grandma's house or a caretaker facility, playards are easy to set-up and taken down when they're needed. Playards enclose play and nap spaces for baby for safety. A number of accessory options are available including bassinets, changing tables, music mobiles and storage options.
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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.”)
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.
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.
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
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.
This large playpen is PERFECT! Just what I was looking for. I wanted one large enough so my 10 month old son could play in it with toys while we went camping, but I didn't want to deal with traveling with gates. This one was super easy & light to transport. Wipes clean very easy. We set it up while camping on the cabin deck and would bring it to the pool during the day and I received complements over and over, worked out perfect with the water table set up inside too ♥️. Even the big kids would climb in to play with the baby.
Used this during our visit home. Our tot is too long for a pack n play so my hope was this would be a great solution. Turns out, it was the BEST!! My tot had no problems getting used to the cot style of sleeping. It is super light weight and easy to pack away. We, unfortunately, had an incident with the fitted sheet tearing. We threw on one of her crib sheets and it worked out just fine. It is also easy to clean and sterilize. Tot was a happy camper and so was I.
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.
Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. We make it easy to buy the right product from a variety of retailers. Clicking a retailer link will take you to that retailer’s website to shop. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our mission. Learn more. Our service is unbiased: retailers can’t influence placement. All prices are subject to change.
I have one that I've had for a year with zero issues and an extremely rough toddler. I have tried other gates and fences that were cheaper but just ordered two more of these because nothing compares to the sturdy quality and height of this one. I use it to fence off our computer area, to make him a safe place near our pool and another now around our entertainment center. I don't know what I would do without the versatility of this product.
My 17 month old granddaughter was only in the play area about 5-10 minutes watching sesame street one morning and got her leg stuck in the space between the rails. The Fire Department had to come and cut the post the free her leg out! I wanted to alert the manufacture directly but I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page. The spaces between the rails need to be closer! We loved this play area until we felt a safe zone became an unsafe zone.
We have a new puppy. We got one of those wire pens for him. Unfortunately, he almost immediately figured out he could climb the cross wires! He was out in a flash. SO we got this pen. It is almost perfect. It will be perfect when we get done. The bars are in general about two inches wide. Those he cannot get through. But the gate is a different matter. The bars around the hinge and latch areas are about a half inch wider--probably to accommodate the mechanics of the gate latch and hinge. But that is just enough wider that our puppy can get his shoulders through. Maybe the rest of his body, but we intervened.
This play-pen features a picture house, ball spinners, play telephone, and a swinging hinged door with safety lock. The size of this playpen can increase or decrease by removing or adding panels. It also may create interest and encourage mobility for your child. Makes a great holiday gift. FEATURES: Good quality; Perfect for children up to 4 yrs of age; 8 Panels; Activity board: picture house, play phone; Swinging hinged doors, and safety lock on doors; Assembled dimensions: 63'' in diameter, panels: 31" W x 23.5" H
“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.

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.


Graco makes many different versions of the Pack ‘n Play, and this is one of the most popular with the most consistent high ratings. It’s inexpensive at just $63, and it ships quickly via Amazon Prime. This particular Pack ‘n Play, known as the On the Go Playard, comes with a full-size bassinet, which is perfect for newborn napping at home and while traveling. Once baby is older, it converts into a full-size playpen that should last until baby reaches 35 inches tall. The Signature Graco push-button fold eliminates any frustration and makes folding the model up easy and quick. As a bonus, it folds up to 20% smaller than the average playpen, making it a great option for travel. This playpen comes equipped with a mattress that is fairly thin and firm; some consumers do not like this about it, but it is recommended for infants to sleep on a very firm surface to reduce the risk of SIDS. The bassinet feature maxes out once baby reaches 15 pounds or is able to push up on her hands and knees, at which point you can still use the playpen feature. Some consumers have complained of the product having a mildew smell when they first open the box. (I would recommend contacting Graco directly if you encounter this problem.)
The 4moms Breeze Play Yard is a high quality, large and durable playpen. It also contains a bassinet and changer for three products in one. This playpen is literally a breeze to set up (see the video below for details). The mattresses (yes, it comes with a separate mattress for the playpen portion and the bassinet portion) each come equipped with Velcro to attach directly and securely to the playpen unit. This product comes with a carrying bag, so technically you can use it for travel, though it is on the heavy side at 25 pounds. Some consumers say that they have a difficult time getting all of the pieces back into the bag for storage or transport. The 4moms Breeze Play Yard will set you back $299.99, but you are getting a high quality product that will last a long time, through multiple kids.
My 17 month old granddaughter was only in the play area about 5-10 minutes watching sesame street one morning and got her leg stuck in the space between the rails. The Fire Department had to come and cut the post the free her leg out! I wanted to alert the manufacture directly but I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page. The spaces between the rails need to be closer! We loved this play area until we felt a safe zone became an unsafe zone.
This is a simple and colorful playpen that you can place at any spot of your choice to make a quick, safe playing enclosure for your baby. The six panels of the playpen latch firmly to one another. They can also be extended to increase the play area with two additional panels sold separately. The base pads do not slip, thus grounding the playpen firmly.
The Graco Pack ‘n Play with Reversible Napper and Changer Playard is an upgraded version of the basic Pack ‘n Play; it comes with a cozy newborn napping station that flips around, becoming a changing station that easily wipes clean after use to save your back during diaper changes. It is perfect for tight spaces because you’re combining at least two products in one. However, some users have reported that it is somewhat difficult to flip the napper/changer back and forth. This Pack ‘n Play also comes with a storage pocket to stash your extra diapers and wipes, and it has beautiful colors and a stylish design. At $88.90, this product is a good value for all the features it comes with, but it is more expensive than your basic Pack ‘n Play model. This product is not eligible for Prime shipping, and it typically takes one to two months to ship. It’s on the heavy side at 28.3 pounds, so it may not work as great as other playpens for travel. Luckily, this product grows with your baby, becoming a full-fledged playpen when your baby grows out of the napper.

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.

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