Ben is one energetic crawler, who is making his first crawling attempts around the house. He crawls over anything and everything that lies in his path. This invariably left Ben’s mom quite perturbed and nervous: – what if he dangles into a wire? Then one day she heard of play yards, also called playpens. You can safely place your baby in a foldable play yard and not worry about his crawling into something dangerous. Now that seems neat but how do you select one?
The debate over the playpen, in the end, seems less about the thing itself than one of the eternal conditions of parental pathos: the fact that children demand so much of our attention and that we cannot always give it to the extent we (and they) would wish. As I’ve been writing this I—a modern father with “manifold duties”—have had to occasionally give time to the nearby girl I’ve stashed in the Fisher-Price “Cradle ‘n’ Swing” (some bylaw must require that children’s product names use ’n’ in place of and), which for all I know may simply be the infant forerunner to the playpen. (My friends nervously and jokingly call it the “Neglect-o-Meter.”) Yes, my lack of attention may be stunting her development—shaving a notch off that IQ—but my failure to write portends more sweeping consequences, like the lack of a roof over our heads.
The Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Portable Playard is a playpen designed for indoor/outdoor use. It weighs in at just 12.2 pounds, so this ultra-light playpen can be folded up and moved around with ease. There’s an optional full-coverage canopy that you can purchase for an additional $37—it works great for blocking sunlight so baby can enjoy the outdoors safely and comfortably. The floor is made from weather-resistant canvas, making it a no-brainer for outdoor use. However, some parents don’t like that the bottom of the playpen is so flimsy. It is definitely not intended for napping. This playpen folds up compactly and has a travel bag with a strap for ease of transport. Some consumers do not like the metal bars of the playpen; they make it easier for baby to pull up and climb out, and they can also cause babies to knock their heads. Overall, the general consensus seems to be that this playpen is not super durable, so it is not recommended for extended use. But for the price, this is a great option for parents who like to spend a lot of time outdoors with their kiddos.
• It's best to remove the bassinet and the changing station entirely, or if you have a hinged changing station, at least be sure to flip it to the outside when your baby is playing in the play yard. A baby's neck can become trapped between the side rail and the bassinet or changing station and children have died in play yards when that has happened. Be aware that another child can flip a hinged bassinet back onto the play yard while your baby is inside—another hazard.

The Babybjorn Travel Crib Light is another great playpen for travel, weighing in at just 13 pounds! It comes with a soft and comfortable mattress and has breathable mesh sides, making it safe for baby to play and sleep. The crib material is removable and washable, which is a nice feature to have. This playpen is simple to set up and fold. It is one of the more expensive playpens on this list, but its super modern style and small footprint might just make it worth it for you. Some parents think the playpen is a bit too tall, making it difficult to get a sleeping child onto the mattress. The play area itself is not as roomy as some other options. Finally, the Babybjorn fitted sheets that are recommended for use with the mattress are on the expensive side as well.
If you’re all about your playard being easy to setup and breakdown, 4moms breeze has you covered. Just push down on the center and the four legs spread and pop out. When it’s time to put it away, pull up on the center and everything folds back into place to pack back into a travel bag. It also comes with a removable bassinet mattress and a portable changing pad.
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.
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Love this pen, it's the best. Easy to assemble, colorful, has a nice open feel so our baby isn't in prison and cut off from the family activity. BUT BE WARNED this playpen has a design flaw that creates a choking hazzard. The play panel has some busy gears and a button baby can push to squeak. This button can be easily pulled off by baby and will be in two small parts, the button and the plastic squeaker. Both parts are small enough to cause a choking hazzard, our 11mo had the whole button cap in her mouth. So before you think about turning your back on your baby in this pen for a second, I'd recommend removing these parts yourself. Great play pen in every other way.
• Remove mobiles and toy bars when your child can roll over or push up on hands and knees so he can't reach them and pull them down, due to the hazard of strangulation. If your child uses a play yard at a day-care center or someone else's home, be sure it's a recent model, preferably manufactured in 2008 or later. Also check its condition as your would any item your child might use. Visit Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that model has never been recalled.
Fits perfectly with ProSource kids puzzle alphabet. Brought to our parent’s house for thanksgiving- Took less than 60 seconds to pack and secure. Same time to set up. My kiddo loves to cruise (walk while holding onto the fence). If it was possible to tear down, he would have done it already. Makes a great babyjail in our living room that we can tear down with 5 minutes notice if needed. Portable, rugged. Well worth it. Only complaint is that when placed in the shape of a square, the middle sections are prone to flex more and are not 100% rigid like corners are. However, placed into a hexagonal or octagonal shape (as product was intended), it’s completely study.
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