Many play yards, such as the Graco Silhouette discussed in Types, offer a bassinet that covers the entire length and width of the play yard. That is a good feature because it reduces the likelihood that your baby will fall into the play yard. But a baby could still fall outside of the play yard so stop using any bassinet attachment once your baby can push up on his hands and knees. The Safety 1st Travel Ease Elite Play Yard (about $112) also comes with this type of bassinet, and a changing table and removable toy bar. It measures 30 x 46 1/4 inches and has lockable wheels.
Play-yard frames are typically made of metal tubing. Mesh on three or, better yet, all four sides provides ventilation and allows you to see your baby. Most models have hinges and lock buttons in the center of the top rails. To set up a play yard, you'll need to pull the top rails up so that they're locked, then push the floor down and secure the play yard mattress or pad. To fold this design, you'll need to pull the floor up, and then raise the top rails slightly while pressing the release buttons to unlatch and collapse the top rails. Before assembling or using your play yard, read the owner's manual carefully and keep it handy for future reference.
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.
The Graco Pack N’ Play Playard Totbloc with Carry Bag is another large-size playpen that provides ample room for baby to roam around and explore her world. It has a clean, modern design with neutral colors to match just about any decor. This playpen is certified frustration-free and sets up in under a minute. It weighs in at around 25 pounds and comes with an easy-to-use carrying bag for travel and storage convenience. At $80, this playpen is right smack in the middle of the cost spectrum, and it comes with no extras such as a bassinet or changing station. Consumers report that the bottom of the playpen tends to slope inward, which can cause toys to pool in the middle; because of this, it is not ideal for baby napping. This product is not free of PVC and phthalates.
The playpen is made from a lightweight metal base with a durable fabric wrapped all around it. The hexagonal shape makes it a great place for your baby to play. The best part is that there is no assembly required and all you have to do is open the collapsible metal frame to have the playpen ready. The frame neatly folds and fits into a shoulder bag for easy movability.
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.
So, playpen, childproof room, fully free range, or something else? Are playpens cages of disregard or safe, useful accoutrements? How much time is too much time? Will a playpen keep my daughter out of the Ivy League? When I asked Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at University of California-Berkeley and author of the just-released book The Philosophical Baby, about any work on the negative consequences of playpens, her answer was instructive: “I don’t know of any systematic research on this,” she noted, adding, “Ironically these small kinds of parenting differences, which are just the things parents care about most, are just the areas where scientists wouldn’t expect to see many differences.”
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.