A playard (or pack n play) is a wonderfully versatile product that can be used indoors or out and is often used for travel. They are lightweight and portable and come with their own carrying bag. Some of them, such as, fold and unfold effortlessly with one push. A playard is useful as a place to nap at Grandma’s house and a safe place for a baby to play while you take a little time out. Play yards and playpens will have all or some of these features in common:
Mesh sides: Provides ventilation and allows you to keep an eye on your baby easily.
Storage pouch: Useful for storing blankets, toys, and clothing. Wheels: Usually, only two wheels on one end that lock for safety and allow you to move the playpen from place to place easily. Bassinet: Rests on the play yard’s top rails, is removable and is nice for when Mom has just come home from the hospital and bending over is difficult. The bassinets are designed to hold newborns until your baby reaches 15 pounds.
Changing area: The changing table is like the bassinet because it is removable and rests on the top rails.
Canopy: If you plan to use your playard outside frequently, look for one that has a canopy. The canopy protects your baby from the sun’s UV rays and provides shade to keep him a little cooler.
Toy Bar/mobile: A mobile is usually an extra item sold separately, but some playpens will come with them.
Parent organizer: A handy storage area for wipes, diapers, etc.
Fitted sheet: Sold separately, a fitted sheet will help keep the floor of the play yard clean. Floor padding: You’ll want it at least an inch thick. Padded top rails: Make sure it has durable fabric that can resist a teething youngster.
If you buy a playard with a bassinet, you can begin using the bassinet from birth. The bassinet will hold your baby until he is about 15 pounds. Otherwise, you will probably begin using your play yard as your child crawls around the age of six months. You’ll continue to use it until your baby is about two years old, or 30 pounds.
- NEVER leave your baby unattended in the play yard.
- Do not add padding or other objects that your baby can use to climb out.
- Do not leave sheets or bedding in the playard as it could pose a suffocation risk.
- Avoid tying any items across the playpen’s top or corner; they can be a strangulation hazard.
- Always test to make sure the rails are locked before putting your baby in your play yard to prevent collapse.
- Check often for tears in the fabric and mesh.
- The mesh holes in your playard should be no larger than 1/4 inch. Anything larger can allow fingers and buttons to become caught.
- Examine the mesh and its attachment to the top rail and floor frequently for loose threads. There have been reports of entanglements in threads (stitching) that unraveled.
- Your playard should have padding around the top rails and corners.
Safety is the most important feature in anything you’ll buy for your baby. Only place your infant in a play yard that is sturdy and has no defects. A danger in buying used is that you may not detect any problems it might have or know if it has been recalled. You’ll want a playard easy to set up, and takedown but is also sturdy enough so it won’t collapse on its own. Another enormous concern for parents is how easy it is to clean. Mesh netting will be easier to clean that fabric and cost you a lot less hassle. Think about what you’ll use your playard for, whether at home, travel, or outdoors, then choose one that best fits your needs.