5 Best Playpens and Playards of 2021
Best Playards of 2021
January 5, 2021

Best Playards of 2021

On-the-go or at home, these picks will give your little one a safe place to rest and play.Best Playards of 2021

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?

Playards aren’t the only way to create safe play zones for little ones. You can also use playmats for non-crawling babies, and jumpers, activity centers and baby gates to keep little ones contained for a little bit of time.

However, playards have a couple of distinct advantages. Unlike being strapped into a seat, playards allow babies room to move around. They can also do double duty as:

  • Diaper-changing stations
  • Bassinets
  • Portable cribs

Playards are definitely great for day trips to grandma’s house, where uncovered electrical outlets and delicate knick-knacks could be within your child’s reach. And, they provide a secure place for your little one to play and sleep when traveling.

How Long Can You Use 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.

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

For All Stages

Why We Love It

This multi-tasking playard has a “napper” for newborns that can be flipped over and used as a diaper-changing station too. Once your baby outgrows the napper, you can transition your kiddo to the main playpen area. An elevated, cushy mat keeps little ones higher to the top for naps or to eye and swat at the toy bar overhead. When your baby becomes more active, simply lower the mat and, voila, you have a playard that works as a safe play and sleep spot through toddlerhood.

Keep in Mind

With its many functional accessories, the Pack ‘n Play is heavier and more difficult to set up and break down than others.

What Babylist Parents Say

“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); unable to climb out (for playard)
Product Weight 29.5 lbs.

No-Sweat Setup

Why We Love It

Setting up and breaking down this simple playard is a cinch. You just need one hand: push down on the center to make the legs spread and the playard will pop up. Later, pull a ring in the center and the whole thing collapses into itself. Quickly stuff it in the travel bag and you’re ready to go.

Keep in Mind

The Breeze GO doesn’t have a bassinet or diaper-changing area, but Breeze Plus does.

“…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 playard 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 From birth until 30 lbs
Product Weight 23 lbs

All-Mesh Airflow

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 and the all-mesh construction (even the quilted mat) maximizes airflow so your baby won’t get sweaty. The mat can be placed at two levels—halfway up the playpen to use as a bassinet and at the bottom for playing or napping toddlers and older babies. It comes with an organic cotton sheet too.

Keep in Mind

At 25 lbs, the Sena is a heavier option 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.

Also Check Out

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

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines From birth until 30 lbs or 35” tall
Product Weight 25.4 lbs (weight does not include bassinet)

Easy Clean

Why We Love It

You won’t suffer muscle fatigue carting around this super-practical playard that can be opened with one sweeping movement. It’s easy to keep it clean too. Both the mat and crib fabric can be thrown in the wash (just unzip the top to remove the frame fabric). The playard rests directly on the floor, and its mat 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.

And while this dark green is a Babylist exclusive, there also are other colors available.

“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 From birth until able to climb out (around 3 years old)
Product Weight 13 lbs

Super Light Space Saver

Why We Love It

This ultra-light playard folds up into a backpack case so your arms are still free to hold your little one and a diaper bag when you’re traveling from place to place. 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 them to sleep and then sneak away once they’re 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.

Also Check Out:

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

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Under 3 years old
Product Weight 11 lbs (13 lbs with mattress and backpack)

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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