As Ann Hulbert documents in Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, this sort of confused and conflicted debate has long been a touchstone of the parental advice genre. In Anxious Parents, Peter Stearns notes that where parents once put children in playpens to safeguard them from dangerous household equipment, as that household equipment was made more accident-proof, the playpen itself soon began to be seen as the source of danger—both literally, as in a series of high-profile recalls of poorly designed playpens and playards, and figuratively, as a symbol of damaging neglect.
In search of insight, Romper spoke with Dr. Marcie Beigel, a behavior specialist with over 20 years of experience. For Dr. Marcie, it's all about being intentional. If your kid throws a tantrum every time she gets in the playpen, she associates the space with being upset. Likewise, it doesn't matter how well you've stocked your playpen with toys if every time she gets in it, mom disappears. If you want to change the pattern here, "you have to make the space really fun and delicious and enjoyable," says Dr. Marcie.

And with a total of 8 panels, it is designed in a way that you can make octagon, rectangular or square shapes. This feature is useful because it eliminates boredom to the kids because they can engage in various exercises differently every time they do so. It also features a swinging and hinged door that uses a safety lock to ensure maximum security for your kids. It measures just 35 lbs. And hence great for outdoor use since they are easy to transport.

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.)
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.
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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.


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.
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Bassinets and changing-table inserts can be useful. Just remember that you should never leave your child unattended within those devices in a play yard—no matter what type (or feature) you are using. Your infant may be content to sleep in her bassinet insert, but she's safest sleeping in a full-sized crib. That's because your child may begin moving around and could fall out of the bassinet, either onto the floor, or to the floor of the play yard, causing injury. You'll also need to remove the bassinet or changing station, (or flip the changing station to the outside of the yard, depending on the model) when your baby is in the main part of the play yard to avoid the possibility of the child getting trapped under those attachments.
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.
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.

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!


I absolutely love this! It's great for uses outdoors with a baby boy who likes to eat grass and dirt! Keeps him in one area and off of the grass with a blanket placed under it! :) it's also AWESOME for indoors when you're trying to clean, take a quick shower or keep the baby away from the things they aren't supposed to have! My son loves it because he can stand up while holding the panels and walk all around it! Just a heads up for new buyers and possibly old THE PANELS DO CLICK TOGETHER. I did not know they did but just pull up on them and they snap right together! I found this out on accident :) it was the only issue I had with it and well... it's no longer an issue!
•MANUFACTURED 3/5/2018 Complete bedside care center features reversible bassinet and changer all-in-one • Extended use changer allows for more diaper changes, up to 30 lb • With two speeds of vibration to choose from, you can find just the right setting to soothe baby • With four locking wheels the bassinet can be effortlessly maneuvered throughout the home allowing baby to be wherever you are • The canopy offers shade from light while the two soft toys give baby a focal point for playtime
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