Quick TipTo ensure that the play yard is tested for safety and quality, check for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification.
A play yard, also known as playpen, is an enclosed space that provides the baby a safe place to sleep and play. While the old playpens were basically metal enclosed spaces without any additional bells and whistles, the modern incarnation of a play yard has a host of attractive and useful features. From simple and basic play and nap spaces to full-featured styles with bassinets, changing tables, and storage options, the play yards of today are a truly versatile baby equipment.
Parents prefer these over the traditional cribs as these lightweight play yards are easy to move from one room to another, thanks to the lockable wheels. Moreover, they are easier to fold and can be taken on trips where it provides children a safe and familiar place to sleep and play. As the child grows older, the play yard keeps him/her from wandering into danger. It provides a safe spot for the child to play while you go around doing your daily work. With the types of play yards in the market, choosing the right one that meets your baby's needs can be overwhelming. To help you in your search, this Buzzle article provides some simple and useful tips for choosing a play yard.
Choose the Right Type of Play Yard
There are many types of play yards in the market, from simple ones to deluxe play yards with loads of features. The type of play yard you choose will depend on your intended use. If you want a simple space to keep the baby safe while playing and sleeping, then a basic play yard will suffice. The basic play yard is a mesh-enclosed space with no other features. However, if you want to use the play yard extensively, and supplement it with a crib and changing table, then look for a deluxe version with features like attached bassinets, organizers, and changing tables. Since there are whole lot of options, the key to choosing the right one is to start by fully understanding how you intend to use it.
Consider the Height and Weight of the Child
Most play yards are suitable for children weighing around 30 to 35 lbs. with a height of around 34" to 38". The bassinet attachment on the play yard can only be used for babies weighing less than 15 lbs. If your child's head is higher than the sides of the play yard while he/she is standing in it, that may pose a risk of the child climbing or toppling out of it. Every unit comes with its own set of instructions. Do read these instructions to ensure that you do not buy an under-sized play yard for your child.
Portability is one of the most important features that parents look for when buying a play yard. While wooden playpens may be sturdy, they do not offer the convenience of a portable and lightweight mesh play yard that can be folded completely and carried in a bag. This is especially important for people who travel often. The easy folding mechanism ensures that you can assemble and dissemble a play yard as and when required. Most easy-folding play yards have their own totes, which resemble short golf bags, making them ideal for trips or jaunts. Some of these play yards also have lockable wheels that allow you to roll them from one room to the other.
Check Storage Facility
While the basic models do not offer any storage facility, deluxe play yards provide storage space for toys and other baby items in zippered side pockets, fabric shelves, storage pouches, and organizer bags. While they may not really be a necessity for most mothers, these storage pockets can be handy for tucking away diapers, wipes, blankets, and extra clothes The storage spaces should be attached to the play yard, yet remain out of the baby's reach.
Look for Music, Toys, and Lights
There are play yards that offer a host of extra features such as a mobile with hanging toys, lights, and soothing sounds, which include electronic lullabies or your child's favorite songs. If you are using the play yard as a mobile activity center, then these features can be really helpful. Remember that these features require extra batteries, and can quickly add to the cost of the play yard. So, get them only if you really need them.
Should Be Easy to Clean
Babies can be messy, especially while playing. Choose a play yard that is easy to clean and maintain. Look for ones made with a wipe-clean surface. It is a great idea to opt for ones that have attached washable sheets, so you can detach it easily for washing.
Consider the Budget
A simple play yard can cost you as little as USD 50, while an expensive, deluxe, full featured play yard can set you back by as much as USD 500. Before you buy an all-expensive one for your child, assess your needs and pay for the bells and whistles only if you think you need them.
Some good play yard choices in the market are:
Chicco Lullaby LX Playard Adventure
Aprica Haven OpenAir Play Yard
Joovy Room2 Ultralight
InGenuity Washable Playard with Dream Centre
Safety 1st Disney Care Center Play Yard - Alice in Wonderland
Along with a good play yard, you would need a snug-fitting mattress that is firm and no more than one inch (2.2 cm) thick. Before buying, inspect the portable play yard for safety, and make an informed choice based on your needs.