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.
Bassinets and changing-table inserts can be useful. Just remember that you should never leave your child unattended within those devices in a play yard—no matter what type (or feature) you are using. Your infant may be content to sleep in her bassinet insert, but she's safest sleeping in a full-sized crib. That's because your child may begin moving around and could fall out of the bassinet, either onto the floor, or to the floor of the play yard, causing injury. You'll also need to remove the bassinet or changing station, (or flip the changing station to the outside of the yard, depending on the model) when your baby is in the main part of the play yard to avoid the possibility of the child getting trapped under those attachments.
For Dr. Marcie, you can't start practicing too early. While your baby's in the womb, you can begin building habits that will work not only when things are fine and lovely, but also when you're facing an epic potty-training crisis. Building a solid foundation for interacting with your kids can make life a lot more fun, because you know what to expect — and so do they.
Cost: Don’t go for the most expensive products thinking that it is full of adorable qualities. Also, don’t go for cheaply made products just because they cost low. Go for moderate prices and start your selection there. This balance of equation will ensure that you don’t waste your hard earned money and that you don’t take your kids safety for granted.
Some models provide storage for toys and other baby items in zippered side pockets, fabric shelves, hook-on fabric storage pouches, and small clip-on parent-organizer bags. Of course those features aren't necessary, but if you want to use them, look for storage that is big enough to actually hold something. Storage compartments should attach, or be built into the outside of the play yard, so they're out of your baby's reach. One deluxe example is the S1 by Safety 1st Satellite Premier Playard - Pegasus (about $128), which comes with attached shelves and a small laundry hamper.
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The pieces were super easy to assemble. Just slide the rods on one piece into the holes on the next piece to connect them. I was a little disappointed that the rods/holes were not hexagonal like the instructions state. That would have locked them into position either straight or at an angle. Instead, the rods/holes are round, so the panels move around (accordion style) and won't stay in a straight line. There are suction cups on the bottom of the panels that might help if you're using it on a hard floor or smooth mat, but they're useless on carpet or textured mat.
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.
Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Playard - This is the benchmark for comparison. When I had my first child, he was only in our house so this served as his napper and playard in the family room when we didn't want to trek to the bedroom. My first loved it. Napped easily in the bassinet, changed his diapers in the bassinet, easy to clean, set up, take apart, and the mobile was awesome - ran on batteries and had good songs. This was THE ultimate playard. In fact, we brought this back out ... full review
Nice to keep baby out of trouble at home. Once he became mobile we had to do an "upgrade" as we noticed he was starting to hit his head on the X shaped metal bars. We tried some alternatives but the best so far was wrapping the metal bars with pool noodles (see picture). You'll need 8 pool noodles and some cuts (buy some extra in case you mess up). Use 2/3 of a pool noodle to wrap the internal bars and the remaining 1/3 to wrap half of the external bar. The pieces will also need a longitudinal cut along the length to fit the bar in. You'll also need some small cuts in the middle of the longer piece to fit the center rivet, where the mesh is attached to the bars. We got the pool noodles at the dollar store nearby for less than $10 and since ... full review