While you don’t need a playard - an activity mat can entertain a pre-crawler and a childproof area enclosed by baby gates can rein in a toddler - playards do offer a bevy of benefits. Depending on what model you choose, playards can double as a diaper changing station (especially great if your home has multiple stories!), a bassinet, a portable crib and a worry-free play spot. Of course, bouncers and swings are great worry-free play spots as well, but playards offer a bit more freedom of motion. Playards are definitely great for day trips to grandma’s house, where uncovered electrical outlets and delicate knick knacks could be within your toddler’s reach, and for overnight vacations, since your little one can use it as both a playspace and a portable crib.
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.
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.
I have hard wood floors and needed a playpen for my 8 month old daughter who likes to climb everything. I am so happy with the item I purchased and wish I had purchased in sooner. The ease of mind of being able to leave the room with my baby peacefully playing in her pen is amazing. It's large enough that it takes up the good majority of my living room, but not too large. However, it would be easy to remove panels to adjust the size. We never use the gate as it is low enough to step over, but tall enough where she cannot climb over the railing. The gate does move around and can be adjusted to fit whatever shape you need. I have not fussed with the suction cups to get them all to stick down, however, it is sturdy enough without doing so.
As these books tend to be short on footnotes, I couldn’t actually track down any such study. And what a study it would have to be: large-scale, “longitudinal,” intensely observational, randomized. Otherwise, how would we really know how much time children had spent in playpens (self-reports tend to be biased), what sort of households the children lived in, not to mention what might have occurred in the years between the time spent in playpens and the time of the reading and writing tests at age 7 or 8? Which left me wondering: Is the fear of playpens all hype? Just a hysterical outcropping of our anxious style of modern parenting?
“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.
If you are looking for something that is lightweight and can be set up easily in your living room or on the go the Lotus Travel crib from Guava is just the thing. The Lotus play yard has a fully zippered side panel allowing parents to lie down with their children and help them go to sleep or encourage tummy time and beyond. The mattress is thicker than other travel pack 'n play competitors, ensuring your little one gets a comfortable nights' sleep. It also has a wide opening at the top which makes it great for playing on the go since your little one won't feel smushed in. 
This versatile play space is one of the best-designed playpens that can be used for both outdoor and indoor play area. This flexible play space provides around 18.5sqft of enclosed area that allows your toddler to plays safely. Its unique reversible legs contain outdoor stake that makes the playpen stable even when you place in on the lawn. Also, it comes with anti-movement non-scratch pads that keep the play space stable on the floor.
My 17 month old granddaughter was only in the play area about 5-10 minutes watching sesame street one morning and got her leg stuck in the space between the rails. The Fire Department had to come and cut the post the free her leg out! I wanted to alert the manufacture directly but I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page. The spaces between the rails need to be closer! We loved this play area until we felt a safe zone became an unsafe zone.
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.
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Truth is, the parenting culture has had mixed feelings about the playpen seemingly since it was invented. An ad in a 1925 newspaper, for example, for a device called the “Kiddie Koop” (reputedly designed by Buckminster Fuller), encapsulated the tension: “There is no thrill like that of holding and caring for a baby in your arms,” it began. “Yet the modern mother with her manifold duties must—simply MUST—forego such maternal joys at times, or the ‘regulation of household affairs’ will suffer.” Playpens would continue to be debated, not in the pages of scientific journals but in the mothering advice columns of newspapers. In a 1943 edition of the Spokane Daily Herald, Myrtle Meyer Eldred touted the benefits of playpens: “Not only is the child free of possible physical injury but his behavior is not subjected to constant punishment, since what he does in his guarded play-place does not annoy the parent.” In a 1957 article in the Chicago Tribune, the writer, after first asking the reader to remember “the great hue and cry raised against the play pen a few years back,” then goes on to cite a report by Dr. E. Robbins Kimball noting various advantages of the playpen (including the fact that it “gives nervous mothers relief.”) In 1966, a columnist was asked in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette if mothers used playpens “as a lazy excuse to keep their babies out of the way”; while in an article in that same paper a decade later, a reader of the “Parents Ask” column wondered about “some psychologists who are against playpens.” The column’s author, Louis B. Ames, noted the reader was probably referring to Burton White’s The First Three Years of Life (“there is no way of keeping most children from being bored in a playpen for longer than a very brief period of time”), and then went on to advise that “the ordinarily lively and intelligent baby does not have be entertained by others during all his waking hours.”
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.)

The Evenflo Versatile is easy to fold and easy to set up as it designed with unique hinge-design. This 28-inch tall play space offers plenty play area and safe for the baby to play. It is easy to assemble the playpen as you don’t need any tools. Also, it offers 2-piece expansion panel packs that you can get separately so whenever you want to expand the playpen you can use the panels.


Rohit Garoo took writing as a profession right after finishing his MBA in Marketing. Earlier he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Botany & Zoology from the autonomous St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Rohit has also done a Stanford University certification course on breastfeeding. This botanist-zoologist turned writer excels at life sciences, and at MomJunction he writes everything about pediatrics and maternal care. In between writing and being overly curious, he spends time cooking, reading, and playing video games. LinkedIn profile – linkedin.com/in/rohit-garoo-263115aa
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.
The North States is one of the best play yards that comes with a high-quality 8-panel-colorplay. This play yard offers the enclosed area up to 34.45sqft and 26-inches height. It is an outstanding solution as it offers a safe play area for babies and you can use it for indoor or outdoor. It comes with non-slip pads so that you can place it on any surface even on hardwood floors as it will not scratch the floor. The play yard can withstand any kind of weather as it is designed for outdoor safe as well.
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