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.
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!
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.
I ordered this for my 8 month old daughter who is starting pull herself up. Compared to the rest of the playpens out there (and I've researched alot!), this was the best bang for my buck. It is sturdy enough that it gives my daughter enough support to hang onto (with supervision of course). It is easy to clean. The height is comparable to bending over a pack 'n play to put your child in if that helps give you an idea of what its like. There is enough room in there for 2 adults and a baby to sit comfortably. It keeps me sane when I have to do chores around the house, but have to keep the baby safe and contained in one area. The slats are small enough to where my dogs are not able to get through and bother her. I did have some issues with some missing parts, but this was taken care of and replaced by customer service. The package altogether was lighter than I expected. It is possible to travel with but it is bulky. Easy to take apart, and put back together. Extremely happy with my purchase, and their costumer service!
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.
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.
It's helped us out tremendously. It provides a way for us to cordon off a safe space for our son while allowing him an area to freely move. The fact that it breaks apart and can be arranged in various patterns allowed us to expand that space with some creative use of furniture. Sadly though like all young raptors, he's testing the gates, looking for weaknesses that he'll eventually use to escape and terrorize the local populace of cats.