A playard is the new term for the original play pen (also known as Pack n Play but that is the licensed term Graco uses specifically for their product). They are great because they are fully enclosed, with mesh sides, (except from the top) travel cribs that your baby can play and sleep in. They range from basic to high-tech play yards that come with an attached changing station, music, storage, bassinet, rocking mode, mobiles etc. Most play yards come with their own carrying case so you can take it on the go – they are not super small or light but they are portable.

Many people use the play yards as either a sleeping place for the baby while they are in the parent’s room and then once they move to their nursery then they go into a crib. Or they can be used as an alternate sleeping, changing and playing space in the house instead of always putting the baby in their crib for naps. In addition, many parents use them for travelling because it is a familiar sleeping environment for the baby.

Basic Playard

Higher End Playard

When buying a play yard keep these points in mind:

  • Look for one that is JPMA certified.
  • Do not buy used.
  • Make sure the floor pad is more than 1 inch thick and padded.
  • Keep in mind that all play yards have a weight and height limit (30 lbs and 35 inches on average).
  • Stop using the bassinet and changing table attachment when your baby  the manufacturers recommended weight limit.
  • Think about how you will use the playard because the basic models run from as little as $45 up to a few hundred for fully featured models.
  • You do not really need a mattress cover because the mattress can be cleaned but if you do get one, make sure it is tight fitting.
  • Playards come in many different colors and patterns so you have many options to choose from beyond just features.
  • Before you buy it, try it – make sure you can open and fold it easily and check out the features.