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.
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
So, like many other people on here, I was very hesitant about spending $150 on a playpen. However, it is more then worth it. I had gone back and fourth, and finally pulled the trigger. My 6month old is crawling everywhere, already trying to pull herself up on things, and getting into everything! This play pen allowed minimal safety proofing for my apt, since she is only out when i can keep my eyes completely on her. The play pen is sturdy when pulling on the panels, doesn’t tip, and takes quick a bit of effort to move the walls out (she hasn’t been able to get them to budge). She is able to pull herself up, teeth on the edges, and it is safe (especially if i need to clean, do chores etc). Also, my husband and I fit in it with her. The activity wall is also an added plus. She enjoys playing with it.
I love this pen. It's bright, bulky enough so it's sturdy, but not extremely heavy so it's not hard to handle. Easy to put together and take apart. I bought 2 sets to make this pen twice as large. There is so much space to play and I still have so much room for more toys. I actually need more toys for it! I also love the handle on each gate. It allows me to hang crib toys and dangly toys from it. No toxic odors. Only thing I wasn't happy about was that 2 of the plastic feet to hold up the gate, came damaged. It wasn't packaged right, these 2 feet were cracked right down the middle so I took off a star. Also, the activity panel is pretty boring for my 1 and 2 year old. They found it interesting the first couple if days But it doesn't do much and they quickly lost interest. But my babies do love their baby jail.
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.
Roll with it. Some manufacturers claim that their play yards fold compactly and easily, which is especially important if you'll be traveling with it or assembling and disassembling it often. See for yourself how easy it is by practicing on floor models in the store before you buy. Some parents find that while they can collapse their play yard in a jiffy, fitting the whole thing into its travel bag is almost impossible. If traveling with the play yard is important to you, look at the travel bags when you are shopping.
It's helped us out tremendously. It provides a way for us to cordon off a safe space for our son while allowing him an area to freely move. The fact that it breaks apart and can be arranged in various patterns allowed us to expand that space with some creative use of furniture. Sadly though like all young raptors, he's testing the gates, looking for weaknesses that he'll eventually use to escape and terrorize the local populace of cats.