Best Playards of 2017

Best Playards of 2017

Last Updated: January 1, 2017
On-the-go or at home, these picks will give your little one a safe place to rest and play.Best Playards of 2017

Formerly known as “playpens,” playards provide a safe space for your baby or toddler to play when you need kid-free time to cook dinner, get ready for work, or take a bathroom break. Generally rectangular and made from mesh, they sit directly on or slightly elevated off the floor and are typically designed for easy transport.

Do you need a playard?

While you don’t need a playard - an activity mat can entertain a pre-crawler and a childproof area enclosed by baby gates can rein in a toddler - playards do offer a bevy of benefits. Depending on what model you choose, playards can double as a diaper changing station (especially great if your home has multiple stories!), a bassinet, a portable crib and a worry-free play spot. Of course, bouncers and swings are great worry-free play spots as well, but playards offer a bit more freedom of motion. Playards are definitely great for day trips to grandma’s house, where uncovered electrical outlets and delicate knick knacks could be within your toddler’s reach, and for overnight vacations, since your little one can use it as both a playspace and a portable crib.

When do you need a playard?

Most playards can be used from the newborn stage up until three years old. Once your child reaches 35 inches tall or can climb out, consider your playard’s tour of duty done.

Which playard is best?

Determine what you want most out of a playard before adding one to your registry. If you plan on needing it for travel - whether day trips or weekenders - you’ll want to look for one that is lightweight and easy to fold up. If you’d prefer to use a playard as a bassinet and diaper changing station too, look for souped up models that are not only practical but attractive too (you’ll be looking at it for a few years!).

How we chose our best picks

We asked thousands of real BabyList families about the baby products they love the most. We took the top playards they shared with us and added our own research and insight. We think you and your little one will love at least one of these items, too.

NOTE: If you get a hand-me-down or purchase a used playard, make sure it’s safe and solid. Check on the government recall lists.

Babylist Best Picks

THE VERSATILE, VALUE YARD

Graco Pack 'n Play Reversible Napper and Changer
WHY WE LOVE IT

Most of Graco’s models are major multi-taskers whose functions grow with your child. This style comes with a napper (a cozy bassinet elevated above the playpen structure) that when flipped over becomes a wipe-clean changing station. You can then transition your little one to the full-size bassinet (a cushy mat near the top of the playard) complete with a toy bar and plushies overhead. Once your baby starts to move around, remove the mattress and, voila, you have a playard that can be used as a safe play spot and for naps through toddlerhood. And all for a great price.

KEEP IN MIND

With it’s many functional accessories, the Pack ‘n Play is heavier and more difficult to set up and break down compared to other models.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“The bassinet was a great place for our little guy to nap during the day when we first brought him home, and I still use the changing table as a quick place to change him in the living room.” -K.G.

“It is so nice having a safe place to put our son down when I need to run to the bathroom or wash a bottle! I don’t have to worry about him rolling off the couch or our dog coming to cover him in kisses.” -Lauren W.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Under 15 lbs (for changing table); under 3 months and unable to roll over (for napper); under 35” tall and unable to climb out (for playard).

Product Weight 28 lbs.

THE EASY TO USE YARDS

4moms breeze Playard - $299.00
WHY WE LOVE IT

If you’re all about your playard being easy to setup and breakdown, 4moms breeze has you covered. Just push down on the center and the four legs spread and pop out. When it’s time to put it away, pull up on the center and everything folds back into place to pack back into a travel bag. It also comes with a removable bassinet mattress and a portable changing pad.

KEEP IN MIND

While opening up this playard is simple, carrying it around can be tiresome. At 30 lbs, it’s the heaviest playard among our top picks.

“…by far the absolute easiest to assemble…”

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“I will admit that while this is very heavy to tote around, we wouldn’t use anything else for our little guy when traveling. It’s sturdy, easy to setup and takedown, and the only portable play yard that he actually sleeps in! The bassinet was perfect when he was a newborn and the bottom section has plenty of room for rolling around.” -Becky M.

“This is sturdy and by far the absolute easiest to assemble. A must-have, especially for someone with active pets. I love it and it’s easy to move from room to room.” -Michelle B.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Under 18 lbs (for bassinet); under 30 lbs (for playard)

Product Weight 30 lbs.

ELEGANT TRAVEL SOLUTION

Nuna SENA Travel Crib - $249.95
WHY WE LOVE IT

This sleek, Dutch-designed playard will fit right into a modern home. It’s one-hand folding system makes for an easy setup, especially since the upper cot folds with the frame. The cushy quilted mattress turns the playard into a bassinet for your baby and then later into a dreamy napping spot for your toddler. And it comes in grown-up colors, too: red, black, gray, navy and khaki.

KEEP IN MIND

At 25 lbs, the Sena is one of the heavier options for a portable crib.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“For anyone out there who has ever put together a pack and play with all their bazillion pieces: Putting together a portable crib should be easy. Nuna is! Push down on the middle to set it up and pull up to put it away. Oh, and the part where you fold it and need to fit it back in the bag? Still easy! It’s not like fitting a square peg in a round hole.” -Jenna O.

“Worked wonderful as a bassinet in our room for the first couple weeks, and we love it for taking bean on outings to friends’ and families’ homes. The size and design are easy enough for grandparents and babysitters to setup and takedown on their own. It’s the perfect portable slice of home for our sweetpea.” R.M.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Under 15 lbs (for bassinet); under 30 lbs or 35” (for playard)

Product Weight 25 lbs

ALSO CHECK OUT

Nuna Sena Mini ($179.95, 20lbs): If you want an even smaller playard, the 20- by 30-inch mattress of the Sena Mini is a great option for kids up to 18 months old.

THE EASY TRAVEL YARDS

BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light - $239.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

You won’t suffer muscle fatigue carting around this super-practical yard that can be opened with one sweeping movement. All the materials are easily removable and washable-just unzip the top to remove and wash it. The playard rests directly on the floor, and its mattress has a built-in base plate that keeps the lightweight playard firmly planted.

KEEP IN MIND

Unlike many of the other playards included in our top picks, the BABYBJORN does not include a bassinet option.

“Light and easy to carry.”

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“My baby slept in this from three to six months of age in our room after he outgrew the bassinet. We’ve also taken it along in our suitcase on two trips and he has no problem falling asleep despite being in a new environment. Now that he’s on the move, I use it to contain him so I can pee without worrying he’s going to assault the cat.” -Starlee R.

“So much easier to open and close than other portable cribs. Light and easy to carry. It is small, so some babies may outgrow it quickly.” -Michelle S.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Under 30 lbs or 35” (around 3 years old)

Product Weight 13 lbs

SUPER LIGHT SPACE SAVER

Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib - $198.00
WHY WE LOVE IT

The super-light playard folds up into a backpack case so your arms are still free to hold your little one and a diaper bag. Unlike the other playards in our top picks, this one features a zippered side door so you can lay down with your baby to nurse or cuddle him to sleep and then draw away once he’s in dreamland. The open side door also lets babies and toddlers go in and out of their special place, when you want them to, which makes the playard more like a play fort. Once you get the hang of it, the Lotus Everywhere Crib sets up in 15 seconds and the extra-long mattress lays flat on the floor.

KEEP IN MIND

The Lotus Everywhere Crib can be coverted into a bassinet, but this requires an additional kit. Some parents also find the mattress to be quite thin.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“It’s really light and packs up small. It’s so easy to travel with, and it’s a well made crib.” -Adrienne B.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Under 3 years old

Product Weight 11 lbs (13 lbs with mattress and backpack)

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Lotus Crib Fun Shade ($36.95): This optional sun shade for the Lotus Crib blocks out UV rays, bright lights and, distractions - perfect for helping your little one rest.


Choosing what’s right for you

There’s no right or wrong pick for a playard here. If you only need a portable play space for when your baby or toddler is on the move, choose a basic model. If you’d rather have one that can sub in as a diaper changing station or bassinet, select a playard with more bells and whistles. If you do decide a playard will make your life as a parent easier, be sure to add one to your registry today!

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