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How To Choose A Play Yard Or Playpen

A woman opening the door of a gated mesh play yard, with two toddlers inside, who are playing with toys.

The Purpose of Play Yards: Child Safety

You’re a parent. You have two hands, one brain, and infinite demands on your time. When you can’t give your baby or toddler your full attention, containment is the smarter, safer option.

So, welcome to the world of play yards and confiners! It’s a big, wide world. How do you choose?

First Up: How Will You Use Your Play Yard? 

There are many types of confiners on the market, from basic and 3 in 1 play yards, to indoor/outdoor playpens, to baby saucers that let older infants sit or stand upright. Your choice should depend on your child’s age as well as how and where you’ll use it. Will you use your baby gear inside, outside, at home, for travel…or all of the above?

Basic Lightweight Play Yards: Great for Travel

If your greatest need is to confine your baby while you’re visiting or traveling, a basic, lightweight playyard may be your best bet. Instead of accessories, focus on portability. Look for a simple portable play yard that sets up easily, folds compactly, and perhaps includes a carry bag.

3 in 1 Play Yards Offer Greatest Versatility 

On the other hand, if you’ll be using your play yard as baby central, a multi-use playard can operate as several pieces of baby gear. You can find 3 in 1 play yards  with bassinets, changing tables, music, and more. (Tip: If you’ll be moving your play yard around, choose one with casters.)

Take It Outside: Indoor Outdoor Playpens

Does your life include gardening, chilling on the patio, or picnics and concerts in the park? You rarely get to focus when your toddler’s on the loose. A portable, indoor/outdoor play yard can let you get a few things done or (gasp!) sit down for a moment.

Watch Age and Weight Limits

For safety’s sake, always observe the weight and age maximums of your baby equipment. Did you know most conventional play yards max out when kids hit age 2? If you need a confiner that will last longer or hold more than one child, consider a larger, sturdier kid corral with a higher age max.  To enlarge the interior play space, look for kid corrals that offer additional play yard panels.

Stand By Me: Baby Saucers  

Baby saucers and stationary walkers may work better than your play yard in certain situations. Many babies are happier when they’re upright, and these allow older infants to sit up and even stand. For example, our portable Go Pod folds up for easy take along, allowing baby to be part of the action pretty much anywhere.

Related Article(s):

How to Buy the Best Car Seat for Your Toddler

How to Buy a Diaper Bag

Planning Your Family Vacation: Traveling with Kids

Top 10 Travel Safety Tips for Parents 

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