As the baby starts to crawl and walk, they’ll want to, metaphorically speaking, run free. (They’ll want to literally run a little later, once they’ve got better coordination and control of movement.) Parents know that while little ones need some space to explore on their own, boundaries are important safety measures. That’s why playpens and play yards are such a useful tool while raising a child.
Most playpens are foldable, commutable areas you can set up to provide your little wanderer a controlled, secure environment in which they can play, observe, and learn. Some playpens include flooring, others are gate-like pieces that are easy to dismantle and sit atop whatever surface you place them over. Consider whether you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor set, and how mobile you need it to be. Also factor in how much your child likes to move, and where they’ll be spending most of their time. Will this piece live in the living room? Nursery? The backyard?
Whatever your needs, we’ve got some high-quality options from the most popular and well-loved baby gear companies around. Below you’ll find our top 10 picks for creating the perfect little place for your sweet pea to play.
Best Playpens and Play Yards for Babies Reviewed in 2018
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Playpens and Play Yards
In order to properly assess the most worthwhile play space investments for families, we took into account three needs all infants and toddlers have. Those needs are the need to play, to rest, and to be safe during both. All playpens listed above have adequately met those needs plus some. The features of each product as well as the age range for each product, is also detailed. The need for play is integral to development. Children learn through play, with the only variation being the type of play they enact, and that type of play is normally correlated with age and developmental stage.
These were some of the parameters that were used to judge the aforementioned products because we were seeking spaces that encouraged play. Some of the factors for the encouragement of play were spaciousness, colors, and lack of a bottom/flooring to the area–making it easier for toddlers to run, or play with messy things, such as play dough or other sensory objects. All varieties of play contribute to intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development so we value them all equally. Making the proper space to do these things encourages the child naturally to observe and experiment with what is in their space and what they’re observing outside of it. We favored in this list, playpens that infants and toddlers could see out of, so they can see you, observe tasks being completed, or be in the outdoors in a risk-free environment.
Secondly, the need to rest is not a commonly discussed need but is present inside every single person big or small. Being able to stimulate a child’s mind is an incredible thing for a play space to offer, but we also wanted to be considerate of the fact that some spaces children will not just play and learn in, but also rest in.
We sought out those spaces that would be comfortable for their bodies, gentle if they were to fall, but sturdy enough to handle a restless little one. We confidently offer all of those powerful attributes in several of the above products because we know that the little one in your life deserves more than just a spot to crash.
Safety is always a key priority because with infants and toddlers there are already plenty of fears that keep parents up at night. That’s why in our research we sought out the steadiest, sturdiest, and sometimes even securable playpens around. Offering family years of fun and freedom isn’t anything without some ensured peace of mind. We wanted to showcase products that are not only safe for any of your little one’s experimentation, but also for any accidents or mishaps.
How can you let yourself do the dishes or take a shower if you can’t be sure that your little one won’t be hurt if they fall, or could get their hand or foot stuck somewhere? We considered things of this nature very carefully to make sure that a solid selection was available for any loved one of an infant or toddler, who is having a hard time knowing just what they want or need, and what’s available to them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it ok to bring a playpen for a baby to sleep in on vacation?
A: Yes, though a crib is recommended for long-term use, there is nothing wrong with using a playpen for short-term use so long as it is built with some padded flooring. Additionally, playpens are much easier to travel with than a full-sized crib.
Q: Is a playpen really necessary?
A: Though some people consider them a luxury, they are totally worth it. If space is a concern, you can get one that folds up and fits in a closet or under a bed or crib. They are excellent for travel and some outings, and even just to keep baby in a safe place while you get a few things done around the house.
Q: My baby doesn’t want me to leave her sight; is there anything I can do?
A: Excellent question! It is so crucial to be sensitive to your child’s needs and cries, and this is a scenario where a playpen can help as long as you select one with transparent (or mostly see-through) sides. That may help you put a little space between you and your little one for short periods of time so that you can get things done, but they can still see you and be comforted.
Q: I’m planning to use this outside, will that ruin it?
A: It is highly dependent on the product that you choose, but there are many waterproof, easy-to-clean, weather-resistant options available above.
Q: Will this attach to the wall?
A: None of these attach to walls specifically, but many are shapable to fit various rooms, or corners in rooms so there is much flexibility still in functionality.
Q: Will this still stand if my 8-month-old pulls himself up with it?
A: Although most of these products have additional safety mechanisms for stability to hold up to such force, check products individually for what will best suit your needs.