It is an enclosed area where your little ones can play safely. You can keep your baby in the enclosed area and give them their favorite toy so that they can have a play where they can safely play without disturbing you and also you don’t need to keep constant supervision when you are doing other important stuff. However, you should always keep an eye, and never leave your baby unattended for a longer period. A playpen is a perfect option and it allows you to take a small break or do your chores like cooking, bathing, etc, around the house.
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.”

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."


A division of Dorel Juvenile Products, Safety 1st entered the juvenile market in 1984 with its now classic and internationally recognized "Baby on Board" sign. Fueled by the immediate success of the sign, the company claimed a market niche in child safety and became the first brand to develop a comprehensive line of "childproofing" products. Available everywhere juvenile products are sold, and online.
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.
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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).

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.
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!
When you’re building your baby registry, you may not yet be thinking about a playpen. I know my motto was “worry about what I need right now—products will still be there later if I decide I need them.” But did you know that playpens aren’t just for squirmy toddlers? In fact, many playpens are versatile enough to take you from the early baby days through the wiggly toddler stage. For example, some playpens come equipped with removable bassinets and even changing tables! How convenient (not to mention money-saving) to have all of those features baked into one product. We made use of a basic version of the Graco Pack N’ Play for our firstborn to sleep in during his newborn days. The bassinet feature made it easy to pick him up for late-night nursing sessions. Then, as he got older and we started traveling, the playpen came in handy as a place for him to sleep on overnight trips. I can’t overstate how invaluable this product was during the first year of our son’s life, and on into the second.

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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.

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The reversible napper and changer is a great way to save a bit of space and even money. All you need to do is turn the napper by 360 degrees and it turns into a changer. There is a secure switch that can be only controlled by an adult, which facilitates this movement. There is also a toy bar, which is also completely detachable, to hang your baby’s toys.
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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.
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.
Check the production date and packaging. Buy the play yard with the most recent date of manufacture. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certifies that some brands meet current voluntary safety standards for play yards. This certification is not required by law and is not supervised by any government agency. Still, we feel a JPMA certification sticker offers some assurance that a product meets the safety standard. The play yard standard addresses design problems of earlier models, such as inadequate locking devices or protrusions that can snag clothing and create a strangulation hazard.
We were dissappointed with this product. We dissagree with previous review about the easy setup. The set we received had bad fit. Some of the hinge holes are smaller than the hinge, and some of the hinge holes were too big so there was a problem with the fit. The panels with the hinge holes that are too big for the hinges comes apart easily and it's unsafe for our 12 mos old to hold against the panel. Also the door hardware came apart after just a few uses. Lastly, the suction cups is a hazard. Our baby was able to remove one of the suction cup and play with it.
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.
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.
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We purchased 4 sets of these to setup an outdoor play pen for our 1 1/2 year old triplets. Makes for a reasonably sized play area, and so far they haven't though to really try to scale them. Not really many places they could grab a foot hold which is nice. I love the flexibility of how they attach, makes it easy to arrange the space however you want. Very lightweight too, which makes for easy moving when we have the lawn mowed. Can just drag it out of the way.
No matter whether you would prefer to call them baby play yard or playpen, these are an essential accessory for any home with a baby. These are portable structures that allow the babies to play in a secure environment. Though if you have been careful, there are some slight differences between play yards and play pens for babies. But they play an equal role. They are great for indoor and outdoor ensuring that a baby doesn’t constrain your freedom of movement. What we do is evaluate the features of different brands and models to ensure you buy the best. In this case, we showcase the top 10 best baby playpens in 2018 reviews.
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