When your baby is teeny tiny, keeping them occupied in a swing or a bouncer is about as much as you need. However, once they’re sitting up, rolling over, and (gasp!) crawling, you really need a great play yard — also known as a playpen. These genius items are an easy, safe place for your little on to hang out, relax and play, all while you can see them.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
Playpens are actually fairly simple devices, without a ton of range. They’re definitely not the cheapest investment, but arguably one of the best values. Choosing one can feel overwhelming, but it’s actually pretty simple: The major factors you need to consider are style, use, features, price, and safety. All of the choices on our list meet or exceed CPSC guidelines for best practices regarding play yards.
Some models of playpens, like the Graco and the 4Moms, are all-in-one devices. They have an attached bassinet and changing table, and the relative cushion on the actual play yard itself is a bit more dynamic and springy. Decide if you need a place just for your child to play, or if you would like them to nap in it, too.
Consider indoor-outdoor use with your playpen, as some models aren’t built for harsh weather. Models like the Björn are also incredibly portable and made for travel.
Features like collapsibility, weight, and quality of the mattress are all important factors to consider when looking for a playpen. Memory-foam options, sizing, and sheet compatibility all play a role when you’re considering what will be the most comfortable for your baby, and the most convenient for you. Some playpens even come with zippered ends, making it easy for your baby to get in and out.
A good play yard will generally start at around $100, and go upwards from there — up to about $400. If you’re planning on having more children, a higher-end, more durable option may be worth it to you.
Each play yard on this list has been chosen for its versatility, durability, and performance. See the best ones.
That zippered opening on this option is a game-changer, since you can easily place your child in and out of the playpen with ease. Guava is a newer parenting brand, and their focus is on high-quality, innovative baby products. So far, they’re doing a tremendous job.
The whole thing is only 11 pounds, and it fits into a backpack that they give you. It opens in seconds, and the crib sheet is the same size as the Björn. It’s super steady and low to the ground.
There is no bassinet position, unfortunately, but this option is Greenguard-certified.
The coolest thing about this playpen is the fact that the bottom is waterproof and can be hosed off.
It’s a lightweight, easy to open travel crib that’s designed to be taken through rough conditions. It doesn’t sun-bleach easily, and there’s more than enough room for a few toddlers.
It’s a basic option that’s incredibly affordable and durable for the price.
I have no idea why Century was the first play yard to include an activity wall, I’m just glad that they did. Not only that, but they also offer a zip-down side, a washable mattress, and easy folding.
Did I mention it’s made partially from recycled materials and that it’s under $150? The travel bag is included as well.
Your little one can play, rest, or just chill out with this innovative and inexpensive play yard.
Parents love products that do double duty, and this play yard from Skip Hop does just that. During the day, it’s a pretty big play yard with plenty of room for activities. At night, it’s a cozy portable crib, ready to lull your baby into slumber with its cushy but firm mattress.
It’s made of airy mesh all around, and the durable, wipe-clean fabric isn’t scratchy at all. You should know, though, that this isn’t the easiest option to put together: Expanding it does take a little practice. But it’s well worth the effort for the amount of space that you get.