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.”)

Entertaining a baby can be a lot harder than you think. The fact of the matter is, we've come a long way from when jingling your keys was going to cut it. Still, as you pick out various playpens and other areas for your child to play in, it's important that you keep a few key factors in mind. Obviously, safety is at the top of the list, along with comfort, price and style. Luckily, shopping this extensive variety of products will mean that you never need to compromise on any of these.


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.
Many parents feel that a playpen is a best and convenient way to allow their baby to play in one place where they are safe and also the parents can keep an eye on them while attending other chores at home. Currently, you can find various types of playpens and they can be folded easily and place it in any room. It is also useful when you want to leave your baby unsupervised for short time like when you have to take bath, etc. Also, some consider that it is a suitable place for an irregular nap but don’t make it a regular place for a nap.
Just like previous posters have stated the only thing that I ever really had a problem with are the stickers! I ripped a few of the bears putting them on. And when my daughter learned how to pinch things she pulled off any sticker that was on the inside. However, the shiny stickers held up and stick better than the others! Also the ramps at the gate came off due to the constant in and out of the trunk. They did not break just popped off and I never put them back on.
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).

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So, how do you go about changing tantrum central into Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? Dr. Marcie suggests using the playpen when it isn't necessary — and not just when you have to get dinner on the table or take that important call. "Sit on the outside and read them a book," she says. "Walk away for a minute, then come back, so they realize, oh, it's just a moment that you disappear." Build it up as a fun space, singing her songs and talking to her. When it comes to transforming a place, "it's not about the stuff, but about the level of engagement," says Dr. Marcie.
Those looking for a pack 'n play that can go from newborn to toddler should shop for an option that comes with features like a changing attachment and a napper for the baby since it is one purchase for three items. This favorite from Graco gives you all of these and it can be customized as time goes on. Use the removable vibrating seat when baby watches you clean the dishes, while the changing pad can act as your everyday diaper station if this pack 'n play is the main fixture in your house. This is not the lightest of option on this list coming in at 32 pounds with all of the attachments, but it can fold up nicely and be moved. So, those looking to take something on an airplane might be better suited with our travel pick. 
I used this playpen at work for a year. Purchased when my daughter was almost a year old. I had to take it in and out of my car everyday at work and I was worried that it wouldn't hold up due to it being hollow plastic. I was pleasantly surprised! It held up so well that I will be able to use it again for the next baby. My daughter is now two and knows how to stack things so she can climb out and she's tall. However she has never been able to figure out how to unlock the gate. All the toys on the toy panel still work and have held up despite my daughter being rough with them. None of the connector pegs have come off during transport. I really worried they would pop off since they weren't solid and were jostled in my car all the time!
Fits perfectly with ProSource kids puzzle alphabet. Brought to our parent’s house for thanksgiving- Took less than 60 seconds to pack and secure. Same time to set up. My kiddo loves to cruise (walk while holding onto the fence). If it was possible to tear down, he would have done it already. Makes a great babyjail in our living room that we can tear down with 5 minutes notice if needed. Portable, rugged. Well worth it. Only complaint is that when placed in the shape of a square, the middle sections are prone to flex more and are not 100% rigid like corners are. However, placed into a hexagonal or octagonal shape (as product was intended), it’s completely study.
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