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Best Large Baby Play Yards and Playpens 2015

Updated on May 5, 2015
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Travel Playard
Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Travel Playard

Anyone that is familiar with young children understands that to keep them safe during playtime that they often need to be contained.

A playpen is a completely enclosed pen to let your child sleep or play in.

The Graco Pack 'n Play on the Go is a great option because it's very sturdy and your can use it on the go.

One of the biggest advantages is how lightweight and durable it actually is.

Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Bassinet
Graco Pack 'N Play Playard with Bassinet

Advantages of Using a Playpen and Play Yard

When your child is safely contained, you can easily have time to do what you need to do. This might be taking a shower, answering the phone, or doing household chores.

You can rest assured that your child will not run off while you are not watching them.

When you are entertaining guests, your child can have a safe place out of the way so you can be free to keep your company.

Depending on how big your playpen is, you can easily put other children inside of it as well. This way, all children are safe.

However, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on multiple children while locked up in the same playpen.

These are also great for nap time. For instance, if you have your child in a playpen in your office while you work, they are often comfortable enough for your child to fall asleep in and there is no need to get up and leave the room to check on them.

Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Newborn Napper Station DLX
Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Newborn Napper Station DLX

Types of Playpens and Play Yards

Basic pens are designed for portability, and are often made to be slim enough to fit through a door. These often don’t come with many features, but most have wheels and carrying cases.

Deluxe playpens are the ones that come with removable changing tables or the bassinet type feature. These often come with extra features like music, night lights, and others.

Are play pens and play yards worth it?

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Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat
Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat

Features to Look for in the Best Baby Play Yard and Playpen

Playpens of vs. play yards, often come with a separate bassinet and changing type table. If you travel with your playpen, these extras can be very convenient to have.

Playpens also often feature hanging toys, some movements, mobiles, and there are even some on the market that feature would sound, music, and a night light.

I suggest finding a playpen that has wheels on the bottom for easier transporting from room to room. Make sure though that they come with wheels that can lock for extra safety.

Material that is easy to clean will also be convenient for you. Your baby will most likely be napping and eating snacks, so any messes should be easy to wipe down. Many playpens are made with mesh for vinyl.

I suggest finding a specially designed fitted sheet that is made to cover the floor of your playpen. This makes cleaning up messes much easier, as well as making it softer for your child.

Any mesh sides should be at least a quarter of an inch in diameter or less. This will keep your child from getting their fingers caught.

The rails and corner posts of playpens should be covered with some kind of soft padding. Other safety features should include hidden hinges. This will help keep your child from getting his fingers pinched.

The folding mechanism of a playpen is also something you want to be easy and user friendly. Many on the market today are made to be done with one hand.

For those that like extra storage, there are some that come with storage pockets, bags, or even some shelving. There are many parents who use this type of device in place of a standard crib.

Higher ended playpens that come with bassinets often feature a canopy. If you will be using your playpen outside, I recommend finding a canopy that is large enough to adequately shade your child from the sun.

You can expect to pay anywhere around $50 - $200 for a decent playpen. However, you can find others that are cheaper, and more expensive. It simply depends on your preferences.

The mattresses in play yards should be no more than about 1 inch thick. This mat should fit very snugly in the bottom so there is no room between the walls and the floor where your baby could get stuck.

For extra padding, I simply fold a blanket down when I expect my baby to be napping. The safest kinds of floor mats are those that have Velcro that are threaded through the bottom or sides of the play yard and actually attach on the outside. This makes it impossible for your baby to get to them.

Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard
Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard

Things to Keep in Mind

If you will be traveling with your playpen, consider the full weight of the playpen, plus if it comes with any kind of carrying case.

There are also often maximum weight limits that you should heed.

Putting a larger child into a playpen could cause injury if the child plays too rough in it, or tries to climb out.

5 stars for Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Travel Playard
Lotus Travel Crib - Backpack Portable, Lightweight, Easy to Pack Play-Yard with Comfortable Mattress - Certified Baby Safe
Lotus Travel Crib - Backpack Portable, Lightweight, Easy to Pack Play-Yard with Comfortable Mattress - Certified Baby Safe
For older children, this Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard comes with mesh sides say you can see your baby at all times. I really like that one side can be completely unzipped so you can get your baby out through the side instead of the top. I also really love that this device only takes 15 seconds to set up. This is definitely one of the more convenient playards you can purchase.

© 2013 Brandon Hart


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