Buying Guide to Baby's Playard

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Looking for a secure play space or a safe place for your baby to rest and nap—at home or on the road? Take a look at today’s playards! Once known as play pens, playards have evolved to Basic and Deluxe models. Playards are designed with a wide variety of features that offer lots of flexibility, portability, convenience and ease of use. Here’s what you need to know to find the playard that best meets your—and your baby’s—needs and lifestyle.

Baby's Playard

What key features do you want in a playard?

Basic or Deluxe: which model offers the exact features you need?

Feature Basic Models Deluxe Models
1. Bassinet Attachment Item Does Not Have This Option
2. Changing Station Attachment Item Does Not Have This Option
3. Canopy Item Does Not Have This Option
4. Mesh sides Item Does Not Have This Option Item Does Not Have This Option
5. Wheels/Casters Item Does Not Have This Option Item Does Not Have This Option
6. Electronic Accessories, Toys, Lights, Music, More Item Does Not Have This Option
7. Portability Item Does Not Have This Option Item Does Not Have This Option
8. Foldability Item Does Not Have This Option Item Does Not Have This Option
9. Storage Item Does Not Have This Option
10. Lightweight Item Does Not Have This Option

Playards have a wide variety of features that offer lots of flexibility and portability to meet your lifestyle.

Here are some of the key features you should look for:

1. Bassinet Attachment (for your napping newborn baby):

  • A Bassinet Attachment secures high in the playard, which makes it easier for you to lift your infant without reaching down.
  • Should only be used until your child reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight limit (around 15 pounds) or when baby can sit up, pull up or roll over.

Helpful hint: As soon as your baby outgrows the bassinet, remove it and use the play yard underneath.

Helpful hint: Never leave your child unattended within the Bassinet.

2. Changing Station Attachment (for additional convenience):

  • A Changing Station Attachment or Insert secures to the top or is suspended inside the rails of your Playard.
  • Is easily removed when not in use.
  • Must be removed when using the Bassinet or Playard, to avoid strangulation and entrapment hazards.
  • Should be used with restraining straps at all times.

Helpful Hint: You should always keep your hands on the baby and never leave your child unattended when using the Changing Station Attachment.

Did You Know: You must stop using the Changing Station Attachment when your child reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight and height limit (around 15 to 25 pounds, about 25 inches in height, or 4 months old, whichever comes first).

3. Canopy:

  • The canopy will shade your baby from bright light, indoors and out.
  • Some Canopy models offer attached toys to entertain your baby.

Helpful Hint: Make sure to only use the toys that are part of the canopy and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Helpful Hint: Remove the Canopy when you are no longer using the Bassinet Attachment.

4. Mesh Sides:

  • Mesh Sides provide better ventilation for your baby.
  • Keep your child visible while in the playard.
  • Allow for easy cleanup.

Did You Know: For your child's safety, the mesh must be tightly woven (no larger than 1/4 inch) to avoid fingers, toes or clothing from getting caught.

5. Wheels/Casters:

  • Wheels or castors make it easier to move the playard from one location to another. Simply roll the unit, there's no lifting!

Helpful hint: Wheels or castors must be on one side only, and must lock for stability and safety.

Did you know: Some playard models can be rolled when folded for additional convenience.

6. Electronic Accessories, Toys, Lights, Music, More (some models offer one or a combination of these):

  • Electronic Accessories offer versatility and are ideal if you are using your playard as a mobile activity center. A mobile or baby gym can often be used with the bassinet mattress on the floor for tummy time. Check the manufacturer's listing.
  • Electronic Accessories will add to the cost and weight of the playard.

Helpful hint: Electronic Accessories will help you-and baby-in many different meaningful ways. For instance, a nightlight lets you check in on your baby. Vibration will gently soothe your baby to sleep. Music or soothing sounds will calm and pacify.

Did you know: A Remote Controlled Electronic Accessory will allow you to turn on, off, or adjust from across the room. Talk about ease! Perfect for light sleepers.

7. Portability:

  • Portability is one of the main features and benefits of a playard, whether you use it in place of a crib, on vacation, at your parent's house, for play or nap time in your house, or even in the backyard.
  • Most models fold small and fit in their own carry case and can be stored in a closet or trunk of a car. Look for a model that folds and assembles quickly and easily, especially if you are on the go a lot.
  • Basic playard models tend to be smaller (about 28 inches wide) and lighter (about 20 pounds), as they do not have all the bells and whistles.
  • Almost all playard roll on wheels, and fold compactly and easily into their separate travel bags.
  • Some deluxe models have a new born Rocking Seat which includes carry handles to help easily move baby.

Helpful hint: Travel Bags that feature holes to accommodate a playard's exposed wheels allow for easier rolling and portability. Something to consider if you will be moving your playard through an airport!

8. Foldability:

  • If you plan on traveling often with you baby, foldability is key. You'll want a playard that easily folds and reassembles.

Did you know: Many Basic Models have folding feet and wheels.

9. Storage:

  • Attached Storage Compartments or those built-into the outside of a playard offer useful room for toys and baby items.

Helpful hint: All Storage Compartments should be out of your baby's reach.

10. Lightweight:

  • When it comes to weight, the more basic and pared down a playard is, the lighter it is and the easier it will be for you to move and transport it. Something to consider for your family vacation getaways or baby's frequent trips to Grandma's house!
  • Never leave large stuffed animals in the playard with your child. Little ones can use them to climb up and potentially fall out.
  • Always use the mattress or pad that is specifically made for your model playard. A pad that is too thick or does not fit snugly can be a suffocation hazard. Always read and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for proper placement and use.
  • Always secure the mattress with the provided Velcro straps, to keep the mattress tightly in place.
  • Never move the playard with your child in it.
  • Your baby's playard should have easy-to-use locking joints for safely setting up or taking down in seconds. When in use, always make sure all four drop sides are securely locked in the upright position before placing your child inside.
  • How will you know when your child has outgrown his or her playard? The general rules are: when your child reaches 30 pounds, 35 inches in height or can physically climb out of the playard. However, it's best to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer's guidelines.