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The word, on the face of it, is rather contradictory, combining play—a word with inherent jouissance—with a suffix that suggests confinement. Given that even pens for livestock have fallen under scrutiny—battery cages for chickens, for example, are critiqued because in them, hens “endure high levels of stress and frustration”—it’s not surprising to find parental discomfort with a product that seems so, well, penitential. Of course, the word yard itself has prison overtones, and when examining a product like the “North States Superyard XT Gate Play Yard” it’s not hard to get some serious Gitmo vibes. (Such misgivings about the playpen are exemplified in sculptor Robert Gober’s X Playpen, a bifurcated enclosure that, as one critic put it, “emphasizes this domestic space’s claustrotraumatic quality.”)
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.
Don't buy used. For safety's sake, don't use a hand-me-down or garage-sale play yard. Older models may have a top-rail hinge that can collapse, forming a steep, V-shaped angle that puts children at risk of being trapped or strangled. They may also have changing-table restraint straps that can form a loop beneath the changing table, posing a strangulation hazard to a child in the play yard. For example, in 2007 the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of 425,000 Kolcraft play yards for that reason. And in January 2009, the CPSC announced a recall of 200,000 Fisher-Price Rainforest Portable Play Yards manufactured by Simplicity Inc. and SFCA Inc. after 1,350 reports of side-rail collapse; injuries included cuts, bruises, and broken bones. In the past, incidents of side-rail collapse have resulted in more serious injuries and some deaths. Even if you plan to buy new, protect yourself by signing up for e-mail recall notices at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. And send in the registration card to the manufacturer to ensure that you'll be informed of any recalls. Play yards are one of the 18 types of juvenile products that must, by law, include pre-addressed, postage-paid product registration cards and an easy way to register your product online. Manufacturers are forbidden from using or sharing the information you put on those cards for marketing purposes.
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).
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.

Overall i love this product! Adjustable to the shape of your liking, lightweight but sturdy enough that it doesnt move as baby bangs and shakes it. Plastic so I feel safe if baby happens to fall or bump into it, and I love the locking door. The reason why i didnt give it 5 stars is of the rolling balls. I wish it were made out of sodyer material because if baby happens to fall on it, they could reall get hurt. And the stickers that came with it I didnt put it on because I read it can peel off and mine eats anything he gets in his hads so i thought it's best to leave it out for now. I also took out the phone receiver toy because the baby puts it in his mouth and could get hurt if he fell forward. The best part that I like is I can fit in it too! If the baby cries for me, ill just hop in and lay it out while he plays around.


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.
• On some models, the safety straps on the changing-station insert can also be a strangulation hazard if they form a loop beneath the changing table, which is another reason to remove a changing table when your baby is in the playpen portion of a play yard. Check to see that your baby can't push down on the bassinet or changing table insert because of the danger of strangulation and entrapment. Changing-table straps should be sewn down or otherwise securely fastened to the changing-table surface, so that they cannot form a loop that extends into the occupant area of the ply yard.
Having a young child around the house means having a host of new expenses to take care of. With that in mind, you want to ensure that whatever you buy for your child is going to last as long as possible. Luckily, all of the playpens, mats, yards and bouncers come from trusted brands, so you can breathe easy knowing that you're getting a good value. Choose from great manufacturers like Graco, Summer Infant and Prince Lionheart to find the perfect option for your son or daughter!
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