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With all the various baby or toddler products out there on the market, a playard or playpen probably isn’t your top priority—and it doesn’t have to be! However, having one handy could be the perfect solution to keep your kids safe—especially if it is portable enough to take with you when you’re on the road. Instead of the average playpen, the best playpen and playard will have amusing features to keep your young one entertained.
From mobiles to detachable toy bars, some play pens even have “entertainment” centers that will keep your baby or toddler busy. In this article, we’re going to break down the various features that we have considered in our review and go through why they are important for you to pay attention to. From the size, the height limit, the weight limit, and the weight of the playard, itself, taking all the various features into consideration will help you pick out the very best playpen and playard for your child or home.
Through countless hours of research, testing these babies out ourselves (the playpen, not the actual babies), we’ve set up this guide to help you choose the very best product. Please feel free to scan the comparison table, in-detail reviews of each product, and buying guide to help you choose. We hope that this article will help introduce you to some features you might not have considered before, thus helping you with your search.
More features: electronic module with music and vibration, built-in shelves, micro-fleece fabric
The Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard is a great product for your little one, no matter if they are a newborn, an infant or a toddler.
As stylish as they come, the Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard is covered with extra soft micro-fleece fabric that will cuddle and make your baby as comfortable as possible so you will never be afraid that they won’t sleep in this one.
Also highly functional, not only does this baby playard have a large changing table that can withstand weight up to 30 lbs, it also has an electronic module with music and vibration to keep your little one entertained.
The built-in shelves is also highly functional and useful for both baby’s things and mom or dad’s necessities like diapers, blankets, pajamas, and pillows. What really sets the Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard apart, however, from the other products out there on the market and really make it the best is that the infant bassinet is actually removable, becoming an extremely comfortable place to rest for your baby.
It grows with your child, with the transitioning comfortable, full-size bassinet and full-size playard. With a simple push-button fold, you can close and open the entire product with no-fuss. The design also has airy mesh on all sides so your children inside have maximum ventilation.
What are its best features?
Comes with overhead toy bar with detachable soft toys for visual stimulation
Very easy to put together
Convenient Carrying bag included
Vibration and enhanced electronics included
What could be improved?
Might be a bit out of price range for budget-seekers
The only other issue we had is the vibration and sounds only stay on for like 15 min
More features: two removable rock-a-bye bassinet converts, flip away changing table, parent organizer, one-hand locking mechanism, wheels with brackets, electronic music center
You’ve got two on the way—which means you have to normally get two of everything! Talk about a stress factor—especially on your wallet. However, with the Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center, you can easily get those two under control, strapped up, cuddled in, and sleepy with this product.
For the perfect solution for any parents with twins, the Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center has not one, but two removable Rock-a-Bye Bassinets side by side. Each twin will stay individualized—having their own canopy and carry handle, as well.
The bassinets are designed with plush fabric and mesh sides so that you never have to worry about your babies getting the proper ventilation for removability. Each of your twins can also enjoy the two toys included in each bassinet.
When it comes to features, the Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center also meets the mark and exceeds it. With a flip away changing table, a deluxe parent organizer, functioning with an easy one-hand locking mechanism, and coming with an included convenient travel and storage bag, this product knocks baby comfort and parent practicality out of the park. It is also highly mobile, when it’s standing, its stable, and when its moving, the Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center comes with large wheels and secured brakes to move it around.
On top of all that, it has an electronic music center with volume control, nightlight, and vibration to help keep your babies visually and audibly stimulated.
What stands out?
Has electronic music center for “entertainment”
Flips and moves easily—highly transportable
What cons did we manage to find?
Difficult to change out bassinets and changing station when both are needed simultaneously
More features: backpack carrying case, GreenGuard Gold non-toxic certification
As your child gets bigger, your playard will have to, as well. The Lotus Travel Crib is not only the perfect solution for your toddler, it also is easy to pack with a backpack carrying case and has a comfortable mattress included.
No longer will you have to worry about traveling on a plane with security since the playard rolls up quickly and sets up in 15 seconds into a light backpack carrying case.
You can also have access to your toddler through a quiet side zipper door to keep them safe but also have a quick and easy solution when you need to nurse or cuddle them to sleep. They will also have an amazing sleep since this product comes with an updated, padded, thick, soft foam so your newborn and infant up to three years old can sleep peacefully.
Once your toddler is awake, the Lotus Travel Crib is the perfect play place that is transportable. When you get the crib, you’ll also have it backed with a safe certification from GreenGuard Gold, for non-toxic and safe. Not only that, but also the full-height mesh is highly breathable for your child.
Specifically sized items, like the Lotus Crib Cotton Fitted Sheet or American Baby Company sheet and Dream On Me 3″ Playard Mattress, are perfectly compatible with this playard.
The Lotus Travel Crib is the perfect solution for portability with its compact backpack traveling case.
What makes it stand out?
Comes with a convenient backpack traveling case
Comes with zipper door so you don’t have to pick your toddler up every time
Is highly airport-compatible for travel
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Zipper might not be so quiet and would snap the baby awake
The mattress is slow to install since it has 6 velcro tabs that you have to feed through little holes in the bottom of the crib
Special fitted mattress sheet is also difficult to add in
More features: integrated activity toys, rubber anti-skid pads on feet, BPA free
If you’ve got a crawler on your hands, the Gupamiga Baby Playpen is the perfect solution to keep them mobile, entertained, interactive, but also safe.
When you’re up doing errands around the house and getting things done, you’ll need the perfect space for your crawler to stay safe. Designed with rubber feet (the anti-skid pads= underneath the yard, the Gupamiga Baby Playpen is sturdy enough to keep from sliding around on the ground—which is possible with wooded flooring.
It also leaves a lot of room for your baby to learn to walk and crawl around. There is even enough space for you to cuddle and lie down, too!
Quick to snap in place, this easy-to-assemble playpen is the perfect lightweight solution for a quick errand run to go get the laundry or something from the garage without having to worry about your child wandering about. The entire product can be put together in 15 minutes.
You also don‘t have to worry about this playpen looking like a boring cage. The Gupamiga Baby Playpen has interactive toys and activity spots where your toddler can stay engaged. It is also designed with a bright and colorful fence to not only attract your child to interact but also to energize them and keep them in a happy mood.
Why are we impressed?
Easy to assemble in less than 15 minutes
Perfect for keeping your toddler entertained with activities
Enough room for crawlers and movers
What negatives must you be aware of?
Door is really hard to open—even for parents
Activity panel is not entertaining enough for toddlers
More features: 10 square feet of space, 2-year warranty, includes a 100% cotton fitted sheet, travel bag
The Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard is one of the most spacious playards on the market today. It is actually statistically measured out to be nearly 50 percent bigger than other traditional playards. This means that not only does your toddler have more space to crawl and walk around, you as a parent will also be able to take true advantage of the investment, since you can use it longer and play more.
With over 10 square feet of space, your baby will not only be able to stretch his or her legs, you can also be assured that they will be truly entertained. This is a perfect playard if you have twins or if you have multiple babies. It is not only durable and built for endurance, it is reliable, as well, with a 2-year warranty, which is twice as long as other guaranteed satisfactions on the market.
The Joovy New Room2 Portable Playard is fitted with a 100 percent cotton fitted sheet and comes with a travel bag, making it easy to pack up and move it with you as you move around. It also comes built with two wheels so moving it around the house is also quite easy.
With a low center of gravity and a heavy-duty padded mattress, you won’t have to worry about your baby being supported nor tipping over the playard.
What are its best features?
Low center of gravity and comfortable fitted sheet
10 square feet of space making it bigger than most other placards
More features: bassinet and changing table, side storage pockets, machine-washable fabrics, elevated changing table, travel bag included
The Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard is a must-must-have if you are always on the go. Since it comes equipped with being a DreamCentre™ for resting, a bassinet, changing table, and a playard, you’ll have every kind of “facility” you’ll ever need for your little one in just one product.
The Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard is not only functional, but also comfortable. With machine-washable fabrics and a mattress, the attached DreamCentre is the perfect nap time center, with breathable mesh for extra comfort.
The Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard also grows with your baby. You can easily discontinue the use of the bassinet once your baby can push up on their hands or knees but then still be able to use the other parts of the product.
In the meantime, the attached bassinet is loaded with entertainment for your baby, with mobile animals to keep your baby visually stimulated. For you, as a parent, the Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard is really practical. It has a changing table attached and an organizer for keeping all of your baby’s accessories and extra-needed items handy when you need them.
Simple to maintain and clean, all of the fabrics on the product zip off in a matter of minutes and can be slipped into the washing machine. The changing table is also highly functional, when not in use, it can pivot and fold away in one motion. You’ll also love the wheels and the travel bag, as well as the easy-to-assemble design.
What makes it stand out?
Easy to assemble and highly practically designed
Breathable mesh and machine-washable fabrics
Comes with storage, travel bag, and wheels
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The included “mattress” is too thin for some parents
The toy bar doesn't stay in an upright position very well
More features: removable full bassinet and canopy, flip away changing table, one hand-locking mechanism, electronic music center
The Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center is the perfect solution for a baby center if you’re on a budget (or have already broke your budget on all the other baby accessories out there). With its removable full bassinet and canopy, you’ll be able to store all your baby’s accessories in an easy-to-access manner.
The Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center comes with a flip away changing table and an easy, one hand-locking mechanism to make parenting much easier on you.
To keep your baby entertained and stimulated, your baby will enjoy the music center, which has not one but two different styles of music and nature sounds to keep your baby audibly stimulated. It also has a nightlight to turn on when it‘s dark and you are going to check on your baby.
With large wheels, brakes, a travel bag, and an easy compact folding design, the Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center is highly transportable.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean quality has to suffer. The Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center is truly a deluxe product at an affordable price.
What are our favorite features?
Comes with music center with two different styles of music and nature sounds
Easy, hand-locking mechanism and flip away changing table
Large wheels and brakes for transportability
What could be better?
Has a specific odor upon arrival
Users struggle to fold it
Things to Consider
Choosing any type of product for your baby can be a highly stressful process, which is why we’ve written this buying guide. Read on to help familiarize yourself with certain important features that you need to consider when going to get the best playpen or playard for your baby.
A private playing nest for your child – benefits of a playard
Whether you are traveling or moving about in the home, a playard can help keep your child safe. Since they are normally designed using metal tubing and have breathable mesh, the playard is highly safe for your child—and you will be able to see them at all times (even when sitting).
You won’t have to get all the extra features and accessories, especially if you’re on a budget. A playard can be a simple solution for a safe play space for your baby. You’ll want something that is lightweight, has lockable wheels, and when traveling—you’ll want one with a carrying case.
The playard can come with bassinets and changing table inserts, which make for a very practical buy.
Deluxe options of a playpen
The playpen may have some limitations when it comes to extra features. However, when you’re just looking for a simple solution to have your baby stay in a safe space while you’re working around the house, the playpen works perfectly.
Some playpens have deluxe options with extra features that help keep your child entertained, like the Gupamiga Baby Playpen, with integrative toys and bright colors to keep your child engaged.
Shopping made easy – general advice
When you are choosing the best playpen or playard, you’re going to have to take a look at past reviews and do your own research. Most parents know what other parents want, so head to the comments section and check out what you’re about to buy, from parents to parents.
If you’re purchasing one in the store, ask to disassemble and assemble it for yourself and see how it rolls or moves on floors.
The assembly process can really be a huge deciding factor.
If you’re going to be signing up with a gift registry for your upcoming baby shower, pick the perfect one for you. Don’t let others pick it for you or else it might not have features you like or fit into your home or lifestyle.
The floor pad on these products cannot be more than 1-inch thick, so that your baby or toddler won’t lift the mattress and get trapped underneath it.
The design can also be a huge contributing factor. You’ll be able to choose between neutral colors, high contrast colors that might keep your baby entertained or fabrics for a baby zone look.
When it comes to babies—especially if you have more—try to follow these safety tips to help keep them safe while playing.
If you’ve got a baby playpen for one, don’t try and fit two or more babies inside.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended weight, size, and age limit when it comes to the bassinet, changing table, and even the playard itself.
Even though they might think it’s funny and you might think it’s practical—do not move the playard while your child is in it.
Avoid tying “choking hazards” as across the top or corner of the playard. Don’t hang toys or have anything to do with strings.
Never in any circumstances should you leave your baby unattended in a playard—however, in your attempt to keep him or her in view, do not place the playard near sources of heat or close to heavy furniture.
If there is a defect in the product, return and buy a new one—don’t try to fix it!
Features to consider while buying the best playard
Before you buy, take a look at these important features that are described with each product. Make sure the details of the feature are specifically tailored to your baby and your situation.
Each playard or playpen will have some sort of size regulation. The Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard, for example, has a size restriction of a height limit of 35’’ and a weight limit of 30 lbs. As we mentioned before, don’t keep using the product if your baby is over the limit. Growing babies need different products.
Especially if you are moving from room to room—or even traveling, you can benefit highly from a portable baby playpen or playard.
The playard will normally be the most portable, coming with backpack compatibility, like the Lotus Travel Crib. Not only will they fold easily, but they will also often come with wheels with brakes to make moving from one room to the next simple.
Is it easy-to-clean?
Unfortunately, your cute little baby will eventually be a complete mess. So, having baby products that are virtually baby-proof will help your cleaning tasks become much, much easier. Some playards, like the Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard has machine-washable sheets that can easily be zipped off and thrown in to clean. You’ll also have to pay attention to which sheets are compatible with which products for size.
How it can be stored?
Folding a playard or a playpen can be a hassle. Especially if it has extra features like a changing table or a bassinet. Make sure that you’re making your life easier by checking out these features first. You’ll either need to find storage space for these extra attachments or try a different product. You’ll also need to know if you it can fit through doorways throughout your home when fully assembled—or else, what’s the point in getting a wheel-playpen when it can’t even fit through the hallway?
Toy and sound attachments
When your baby is extremely young, you can benefit from some features like the ones in the Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard, which has music and vibrations to stimulate your baby. However, as they get older, they might need some activating and integrating toys, like the ones in the Gupamiga Baby Playpen.
Especially if you are in places like the airport or a medical office, you’ll want to shield your baby from harsh lighting. If you’re planning on going outside, a canopy can also help shield your baby from the sun. A canopy can act as a mobile and also protect your baby.
Baby essentials storage
The last thing you need to have with you while you’re carrying around your baby and your playard is extra bags for baby essentials. Some models, like the Ingenuity Smart and Simple Playard have extra areas for storage, including zippered side pockets, fabric shelves, hook-on fabric storage pouches, and small clip-on parent-organizer bags.
Products that really have it all, like the Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center are perfect for multi-functioning capabilities. If you need sleeping and changing options to really be a part of your baby center, this is a feature you definitely want included.
When it comes to “used” playards, we wouldn’t recommend it. Not only does it make it possible for the playard to be highly unstable for your baby because of the manufacturer’s warranty, but it also is not exactly highly hygienic. Babies are normally prone to easily catching sickness. So, using a used playard might not be your best option. If it’s because of the price, check out the budget-pick choices.
Normally, these baby playards come with manufacturer’s instructions for assembly and use. You’ll want to not only check that latching features and hinges are secure and safe, but also that you have all the parts in place that need to be. You’ll need to look out for straps or strings that can be a choking hazard and make sure you are keeping with the age and size limit of the manufacturer’s instructions. When you are using the bassinet, keep the baby on his or her back.
When you are using the changing table, it is a common safety rule to keep your hand on your baby at all times—you can even use the safety harness. Once your baby can stand, try and keep large toys and other objects out of the playard or play pen, or else they might use it as a step up to climb—on that note, if your baby is a climber, it’s suggested to stop even using the playard.
Every playard is different. Normally, by the age of three, (which is the average limit on these products), your toddler will either be big enough or smart enough to find his or her way out, which is something very worrisome if your child is left unattended.
If you want to skip all the reading, here are our best three products from the list:
The Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard is our Editor’s Choice for best playard. Not only does it come with stimulating features for your baby, like the overhead toy bar with detachable soft toys and the electronic module with music and vibration, it also comes with built-in shelves, micro-fleece fabric, is easy to assemble and has a convenient carrying bag for transporting.
The Baby Trend Twin Nursery Center is the perfect choice for parents of twins, since it has two removable rock-a-bye bassinet converts, a flip away changing table, a parent organizer to keep everything in place and handy, a one-hand locking mechanism (because you might not even have one hand), wheels with brakes for easy transportability, and an electronic music center to keep your twins entertained.
As we mentioned before, getting a used playard might not be your best idea. So, if it’s affordability you want, our budget pick, Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center, is really the best. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability, since it comes with a music center with two different styles of music and nature sounds, an easy, hand-locking mechanism and flip away changing table, and large wheels and brakes for transportability.
We hope that this guide and article has helped you pick out the best playpen and playard for your baby or babies.