Select the play yard yourself. Play yards are popular shower gifts; if you're planning to include one on your registry list, consider the features you'll need and select the model yourself. If you'll be using the play yard as a changing station, for example, go with a model with a changing table and multiple storage compartments. Make sure any storage fastens to the outside and is positioned out of your baby's reach. When it comes to changing table attachments, we prefer changing stations that don't flip to the outside, as we believe that those that simply but securely attach to the top rails are safer. If you choose a model with a bassinet, make sure it fastens securely and covers most of the top.
Stop using the bassinet when your baby reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight limit (typically 15 pounds) or can sit up, pull up, or roll over. "For the first month or two they are not going to go anywhere," Gary Smith, M.D., Dr. P.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said of infants. "But when they start to develop, they do it really quickly, and all of the sudden they are rolling over and sitting up." If you don't take precautions, Smith said, "Parents who don't take precautions may end up taking their child to the emergency department from a fall."
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).
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.
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.
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.
Some attach to the longer top rail—you have to remove them to get them out of the way. Others simply rest on the long rails and are hinged at one shorter side rail so the changing station can be flipped over the rail to hang at the outer side of the play yard. We think it's safer to remove the changing table when not in use so it is out of reach of your baby and any other children. In addition, it is always better to have an active means of attachment to the frame—that is you have to click, snap, button, or strap a changing table or bassinet into place rather than just have it resting on a frame.
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.
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.
LOVE this as much as I thought I would!!! I use them to close my baby in or give her freedom while blocking her from other rooms. Have even just used 2 to block her from getting out of a room while I’m doing stuff. For me it’s common sense but as for the suction cups at the bottom, they work best when you clean them and the surface you’re going to stick it to. I haven’t even needed to use all of the panels all together yet but I know I will eventually.
“For anyone out there who has ever put together a pack and play with all their bazillion pieces: Putting together a portable crib should be easy. Nuna is! Push down on the middle to set it up and pull up to put it away. Oh, and the part where you fold it and need to fit it back in the bag? Still easy! It’s not like fitting a square peg in a round hole.” -Jenna O.