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.
The super-light playard folds up into a backpack case so your arms are still free to hold your little one and a diaper bag. Unlike the other playards in our top picks, this one features a zippered side door so you can lay down with your baby to nurse or cuddle him to sleep and then draw away once he’s in dreamland. The open side door also lets babies and toddlers go in and out of their special place, when you want them to, which makes the playard more like a play fort. Once you get the hang of it, the Lotus Everywhere Crib sets up in 15 seconds and the extra-long mattress lays flat on the floor.
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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?

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. 

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.


Bassinet inserts can provide a nice place for newborns to nap. Look for a bassinet that securely fastens to the play yard in a way that prevents older children from dislodging or tamper with it, especially if you have other kids in the home or plan to use the bassinet for your next baby. Some of the models we tested in the past had bassinets that attached to the play yard with easily disengaged bars or exposed plastic clips. Older children could easily undo those fasteners, and that could cause the bassinet to fall to the play-yard floor. But one play yard we tested had bassinet clips that are covered by fabric flaps that are locked into place with a button, hiding the clips from view and protecting them from curious fingers. That's a safety plus.


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.
I cannot stress this enough with regards to any type of baby equipment. The number one priority is that it should be safe! Be sure to read reviews from parents and experts and keep an eye on product recalls. I would strongly recommend never buying a used playpen or playard; baby items are recalled all the time, and you’re much better off getting a new model that is proven to be safe.
The Graco Pack ‘n Play with Reversible Napper and Changer Playard is an upgraded version of the basic Pack ‘n Play; it comes with a cozy newborn napping station that flips around, becoming a changing station that easily wipes clean after use to save your back during diaper changes. It is perfect for tight spaces because you’re combining at least two products in one. However, some users have reported that it is somewhat difficult to flip the napper/changer back and forth. This Pack ‘n Play also comes with a storage pocket to stash your extra diapers and wipes, and it has beautiful colors and a stylish design. At $88.90, this product is a good value for all the features it comes with, but it is more expensive than your basic Pack ‘n Play model. This product is not eligible for Prime shipping, and it typically takes one to two months to ship. It’s on the heavy side at 28.3 pounds, so it may not work as great as other playpens for travel. Luckily, this product grows with your baby, becoming a full-fledged playpen when your baby grows out of the napper.
The Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Portable Playard is a playpen designed for indoor/outdoor use. It weighs in at just 12.2 pounds, so this ultra-light playpen can be folded up and moved around with ease. There’s an optional full-coverage canopy that you can purchase for an additional $37—it works great for blocking sunlight so baby can enjoy the outdoors safely and comfortably. The floor is made from weather-resistant canvas, making it a no-brainer for outdoor use. However, some parents don’t like that the bottom of the playpen is so flimsy. It is definitely not intended for napping. This playpen folds up compactly and has a travel bag with a strap for ease of transport. Some consumers do not like the metal bars of the playpen; they make it easier for baby to pull up and climb out, and they can also cause babies to knock their heads. Overall, the general consensus seems to be that this playpen is not super durable, so it is not recommended for extended use. But for the price, this is a great option for parents who like to spend a lot of time outdoors with their kiddos.
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
If your play yard is going to function mostly as a play space for your baby, or you're on a tight budget, you can probably go with a basic model and skip the accessories such as mobiles and bassinet insert. A pair of lockable wheels or swivel casters on one end of the yard will make it easier to move from room to room. If you'll use it for travel, you'll want a play yard that's lightweight, folds quickly and compactly, and has a carrying case. You may even want to be able to roll the packed unit. A carrying bag that allows the play yard's wheels to roll when it's packed is ideal.
Think about the ‘look'. Some play yards feature understated and neutral color combinations that could seemingly blend into the décor of any home. Others offer contrasting colors that make the play yard a standout. Still others come in boy- or girl-specific color selections, such as pink polka dots. Your baby won't care what the play yard looks like, but you might, so decide which way you want to go: neutral, high contrast, or with fabrics that signify "baby zone."
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.
• Remove mobiles and toy bars when your child can roll over or push up on hands and knees so he can't reach them and pull them down, due to the hazard of strangulation. If your child uses a play yard at a day-care center or someone else's home, be sure it's a recent model, preferably manufactured in 2008 or later. Also check its condition as your would any item your child might use. Visit Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that model has never been recalled.

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.


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.


At the higher end of the price spectrum, you'll see a lot of add-on features. For example, the Graco Silhouette Pack ‘n Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, about $170, has a removable changing table (with an "organizer" to hold diapers, wipes, etc.) and a bassinet feature. The bassinet has a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds and the changing table has a weight capacity of 25 pounds. This model also comes with a vibrating mattress, electronic mobile, canopy, console with music, and night light. The manufacturer says you should only use the play yard with children under 35 inches tall.
This playpen was exactly what we needed! We purchased it 2 months ago when our 10 month old was becoming very mobile, and it has become a great play area where I know we can leave her while we do things around the house and not have to worry. The colors are SO much nicer than many of these on the market. It's really cheerful and the quality is good. I do wish the suction cups worked better on our hardwood floors - when i first placed it down it stuck nicely, but then I rearranged them and they no longer stick well. I put foam puzzle tiles inside and trimmed them to fit within the perimeter of the playpen walls. Happy baby and happy parents :)
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.
Regalo 4-In-1 192-inch Super Playpen comes with a wide adjustable gate that comes with 192-inches wide area and 28-inches tall. The play yard allows you to convert a wide gate into an eight-panel play area and each panel can be easily adjusted to fit any gap. The Regalo play yard is a perfect option and best for angled openings, doorways, wide spaces, the bottom of stairs, and hallways. Also, it is easy to assemble and no tools needed, easy to fold as well.
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