a selection of the best playards for babiesShare on Pinterest

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Even if your home is fully babyproofed, there will be times you need to open an oven or use the bathroom without a little one underfoot.

In these situations, a playard can be a lifesaver! Formerly known as “playpens,” these enclosed structures are designed to keep your baby safely contained and give you peace of mind in a wide range of situations.

Playards are framed enclosures that have mesh or fabric walls and a floor. They are foldable and portable (although some more than others). Playards provide parents with a safe place for baby on trips or when their hands are full at home.

They’re intended for babies that are less than 35 inches tall and who cannot yet climb out of them. Babies shouldn’t be left unsupervised in their playard.

It’s certainly possible to survive without a playard (in fact, many essential baby item lists leave them off). But it’s a product many families choose to invest in. Especially for new parents, the freedom and peace of mind they can give you are priceless!

If you choose not to invest in a playard, you may be able to use a baby swing or high chair to keep your baby safely contained nearby while you accomplish necessary tasks.

You can also place your baby in their crib, but many parents prefer not to do this, worrying that it will send mixed signals about what their baby is supposed to do in their crib (ahem, sleep).

You can use a playard starting from the very first days after your baby is born. Many parents choose to wait until their child is a little older (i.e. rolling around or crawling), but it really is just a safe place to put your little one.

Whenever you choose to start using a playard, don’t forget it’s safest to keep a line of sight when your baby is inside. And, even if you’re occupied with cooking or emails, you always want to be within earshot.

Additional safety notes

It’s important to make sure that your baby’s playard passes safety standards of organizations like the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association.

Most playards have a weight or height limit. You’ll want to consider these when deciding if it’s a good fit for your baby.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, if your playard doesn’t include a mattress it’s not advised to add one unless it’s an exact fit from the manufacturer. Any gaps between the mattress and frame are a safety hazard to your baby.

Additionally, a playard is only as safe as what your child can get ahold of — it’s important to place it in an area that doesn’t allow your child to reach electrical sockets or stove knobs. You should also keep the playard free from blocks and toys that your baby could stand on to get out.

Trying to find the perfect playard? You’ll want to consider the following:

  • Buy new(ish). Recent hand-me-downs from friends and family are OK, but inspect the product carefully before use. Because of safety protocol changes and the chance that an older playpen has been recalled, it’s best to steer away from ancient garage sale finds or your personal childhood hangout.
  • Add-ons. Playards can include a variety of features ranging from a canopy to a built-in changing table. It’s important to think about how you intend to use your playard and what features your family might benefit from.
  • Price. Especially since a playard is not essential, it’s important that whatever one you choose fits in your budget!
  • Portability. If you plan to travel with your playard (or even just move it around your house frequently), you’ll want to make sure that it folds easily and doesn’t weigh a ton.

When choosing our favorite playards, we took into account safety features, add-ons, cost, and portability. We also heavily factored in reviews from parents like you.

Price guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = $200–$300
  • $$$$ = over $300

Best overall playard

Summer Pop ’n Play Portable Playard

Price: $

A simple playard, this option from Summer is lightweight and appropriate for indoor and outdoor use. It’s easy to set up and tear down, and its extra large shape allows for you to sit inside with baby or to accommodate multiple kiddos.

It doesn’t come with a canopy, but a few parents say they just flip theirs upside down and place a blanket on the ground.

One thing to note is that if you’re planning to have your child frequently sleep in their playard, this might not be the best fit as this it doesn’t include a mattress. It’s best used on carpet or grass as these provide a bit of natural cushioning under it.

Pros

  • The price is one of the cheapest on our list.
  • It offers lots of space for playing, and can fit several kids inside — even adults.
  • The playard includes a carrying bag that can go over your shoulder.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a mattress.
  • It doesn’t include a canopy.

Best playard for travel

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Price: $$$

A great option if you travel frequently, this roomy playard is lightweight, portable, and machine washable. One parent even claims in a review they’re able to set theirs up in 15 seconds!

While the price tag is an expensive one, it’s built to last for many years. Its modern, sleek design fits well in many different types of rooms.

One negative, however, is that the included mattress isn’t a standard size so you’ll have to buy their specifically sized sheets (sold separately).

Pros

  • It’s machine washable.
  • The modern design fits in with many aesthetics.
  • It includes a mattress.

Cons

  • The mattress isn’t standard size, so you’ll have to buy their specifically sized sheets.
  • It’s not the most budget-friendly option.

Best playard with bassinet

Graco Pack ’n Play Travel Dome LX Playard

Price: $$$

This is a playard that will grow with your child!

The bassinet feature allows your infant to sleep in peace, but it can be removed to offer more space when your child is ready to roll and pull up. The diaper changer can be used on top of the playard or removed to be used anywhere else you’d like. It even offers space to store diapers, wipes, and creams.

This playard does have a bit more weight to it and can be trickier to fold up, but those may seem like small trade-offs for all the features it offers, especially for the price.

Pros

  • The infant bassinet included fits on top for easy viewing.
  • It includes a diaper changing pad that can fit on top or be removed for use in other places.
  • It includes a separate carrying bag for the bassinet when you want to take it on trips.

Cons

  • This playard is heavier than other options.
  • It can be a bit trickier to fold up and fit in its bag than some of the other options on our list.

Best playard for outdoor use

Evenflo Play-Away Portable Playard Deluxe

Price: $

Appropriate for indoor or outdoor play, this large playard offers plenty of space for playdates.

Its quick, easy assembly makes it great for traveling to various outdoor locations. It has a full canopy that can act as a full dome or half dome depending on weather and shade options.

Fans of this playard say it’s great for keeping their little one shaded and protected on trips to the park or beach. And one mom says she loves using the attached tablet sleeve to play music and cartoons for her kiddo.

Pros

  • It’s one of the more affordable playard options on our list.
  • This playard includes a cover that can be used as a full or half canopy.
  • It’s big enough for several children to play inside.

Cons

  • When dirty, it needs to be hand cleaned and air dried.
  • It doesn’t include a mattress or thick padding.

Best budget-friendly playard

Cosco Funsport Playard

Price: $

If you’re looking for a no-frills option at a good price, this is the playard for you. A very sturdy playard without a ton of bells and whistles, this option from Cosco does the job without breaking the bank.

The design does offer two wheels to help when moving from location to location and includes a bag.

A few parents complain that the fabric is not machine washable, but the overall consensus among reviewers is that this a solid, easy-to-use playard.

Pros

  • It’s an affordable option.
  • It’s simple to set up.
  • The playard has two wheels to help move it around the house.

Cons

  • The fabric is not machine washable.
  • Some users complain it doesn’t have as much padding on the bottom as other similar options.

Best luxury playard

Nuna Sena Aire Travel Crib

Price: $$$$

If top-of-the line features and comfort for your baby (and yourself) is a priority, this is a playard you’ll want to consider.

At over $300, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag that includes many bonus features. This lightweight playard is easy to set up and take down with one hand, and is Greenguard Gold certified.

Unlike many other playards, the included vented mesh mattress is easy to take apart for deep cleaning. The cover is machine washable and dryable. There’s also an upper cot attachment so you don’t have to strain your back placing your little one near the floor.

As a bonus, the simple, sleek design will fit well in most rooms.

Pros

  • It’s Greenguard Gold certified.
  • The mattress is easy to deep clean, and the cover is machine washable and dryable.
  • It includes an upper cot attachment and the organic sheet is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

Cons

  • It’s not the most budget-friendly option.
  • The changer accessory is sold separately.

Best playard for small spaces

Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib

Price: $$$

Whether you’re living in a small New York City apartment or need something to fit in the corner of your hotel room, this playard will offer your infant or toddler the space they need to sleep and play without taking up a ton of valuable floor real estate.

This playard is extremely light and designed for easy portability. (Though some parents say folding it back up isn’t as easy as setting it up!)

Reviewers note you’ll want to be careful with the straps when it’s folded up in its backpack shape, since they’ve been known to rip off.

Pros

  • It’s Greenguard Gold certified.
  • It has a side zipper door.
  • It includes a 2-year warranty.

Cons

  • Some users say that it was hard to fold back into the carrying case.
  • The mattress is thinner than some similar playard options.

Best playard with a mobile

Chicco Lullaby Zip All-in-One Portable Playard

Price: $$$

Looking for a way to keep your baby entertained while they’re in their playard? This one includes a toy bar that can play soothing melodies and nature sounds. It also has detachable toys that hang from it.

This playard is made of machine washable fabrics. It also comes with a removable changer and parent organizer to make diaper changes more convenient.

While it’s a heavier playard, it has two wheels to help with moving it around the house.

Pros

  • The toy bar with detachable toys can play soothing melodies and nature sounds.
  • It’s made with machine washable fabrics.
  • It includes a removable changer and parent organizer.

Cons

  • It’s one of the heavier playards and it’s not as suitable for travel as some of the other options.
  • There are cheaper playards.

Best playard with adjustable height mattress

Bugaboo Stardust Playard

Price: $$$$

This playard comes with a zip-in adjustable height mattress. While it took some of the users a try or two to get used to it, the process was fairly quick after that.

Parents appreciate that it can be folded up with the mattress inside as long as the infant insert isn’t being used.

Users rave about how easy this playard is to set up and fold up to put away. This playard folds flat enough to slide under many couches and beds, and fits inside a travel bag (included with your purchase).

Keep in mind that this playard is an expensive one, and you’ll still need to buy sheets for it.

Pros

  • It includes a zip-in adjustable height mattress.
  • It folds flat and fits easily inside the included travel bag.
  • The fabrics are machine washable.

Cons

  • It’s an expensive option, and you’ll need to purchase the sheets separately.
  • It doesn’t include a canopy, diaper changing pad, or storage sleeve for diapers.

Best playard for multiples

Graco Pack ’N Play Playard with Twins Bassinet

Price: $$$

Double the babies, love, and bassinets!

When you’ve got two little ones, floor space can seem even more scarce. Instead of having to buy multiple pack ’n plays, this Graco playard is specially designed to include two bassinets with canopies.

When your little ones are awake (or if they’re heavier than 15 pounds), the bassinets can be removed to convert it into a portable playard.

While some users find getting sheets on and off a bit tricky, many enjoy that the mattress pad was quilted unlike a lot of other pack ‘n plays.

Pros

  • It includes two bassinets with canopies.
  • It has wheels to help with moving it around the house.
  • The mattress pad is quilted.

Cons

  • Some users complain that the bassinet sheet was a little hard to place and remove.
  • The bassinets can only be used until babies are 15 pounds or when they are able to push up on hands and knees.

ProductPriceProsConsBest for
Summer Pop ’n Play Portable Playard$• budget-friendly option
• can fit several kids and even adults
• includes an over-the-shoulder carrying bag
doesn’t include a mattress or canopyplaying inside or outdoors
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light$$$• machine washable
• modern design fits with many aesthetics
• includes a mattress
not the most budget-friendly; specially sized mattress requires specific sheetstraveling
Graco Pack ’n Play Travel Dome LX Playard$$$• included infant bassinet attaches to the top, making it easier to see if a baby is sleeping
• includes a detachable changing pad
• separate bassinet carrying bag included
a heavier option that’s a little harder to fold up and fit into its carrying case infants
Evenflo Play-Away Portable Playard Deluxe$• affordable
• top can act as a full or half canopy
• big enough for several children to play in it
needs to be washed by hand and air dried when dirty; doesn’t include a mattress or thick padding on the bottomthe sidelines at older siblings’ sporting events
Cosco Funsport Play Yard$• affordable
• simple to set up
• includes two wheels for moving around the house
fabric isn’t machine washable; some users complain the bottom didn’t have much paddingthose wanting something simple and affordable
Nuna Sena Aire Travel Crib$$$$• Greenguard Gold certified
• mattress is easy to deep clean and the cover is machine washable and dryable
• includes an upper cot attachment and GOTS-certified organic sheet
not the most budget-friendly; the changer accessory is sold separatelythose willing to spend a bit more for extra comfort
Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib$$$• Greenguard Gold certified
• has a side zipper door
• includes a 2-year warranty
hard to fit back into the carrying case; mattress is thinner than that on some other playardssmall spaces
Chicco Lullaby Zip All-in-One Portable Playard$$$• toy bar with detachable toys can play soothing melodies and nature sounds
• machine washable fabrics
• removable changer and parent organizer included
a heavy option less suitable for travel; not the cheapest of optionsthose who want a mobile
Bugaboo Stardust Playard$$$$• includes a zip-in adjustable height mattress
• folds flat and fits easily inside the included travel bag
• machine washable fabrics
expensive and you’ll need to purchase sheets separately; doesn’t include a canopy, diaper changing pad, or storage sleeve for diapersadjustable height mattress
Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard with Twins Bassinet$$$• includes two bassinets with canopies
• has wheels to help move it around the house
• mattress pad is quilted
some users complain the bassinet sheet was a little hard to place/remove; bassinets can only be used until babies are 15 poundstwins

Wondering how to choose the perfect playard for your little one? You’ll want to think about:

  • The size. Playards come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You’ll want to find one that allows your child enough room to move around and sleep.
  • Ease of setup and fold-up. Do you need a playard that can be set up one-handed? Do you want one that folds up with the click of a button? Perhaps you’re only planning on using it inside your home, so wheels to scoot it around are more important.
  • Special features. Does it come with a canopy to shield your baby from the sun when you’re outside? Does it include a bassinet or changing pad? Do you want a side door zipper so your little one can crawl in and out?
  • Weight. If you’re planning on only using it inside your home this may not matter, but if you plan on doing a lot of traveling, you may want something a little more lightweight and portable.
  • Price. Playards can cost from less than $100 to over $300. You’ll want to consider how much your budget allows and if this is an item you intend to use a lot. If you’re trying to keep the cost down, don’t forget to monitor sales and other deals that might make your dream playard more budget-friendly.

Before using any playard with your child (even one right out of the box), you should check for holes, rough edges, and that any mattresses fit properly.

What is the difference between a pack ’n play and a playard?

There really isn’t a difference between a pack ’n play and a playard. One of the most popular playards is Graco’s Pack ‘n Play. Similar to the way “Kleenex” is now used to refer to all tissues, this brand name has become a mainstream way to refer to any enclosed space where a baby may be placed to play or sleep.

Are playards dangerous at all?

Playards can pose suffocation risks, especially if a mattress not designed for the playard is used inside it. Any large holes poked in the mesh can trap children, and wear that leaves sharp edges can injure children.

Older babies and toddlers able to sit or stand up can get entangled and injured in mobiles and other hanging objects. They can also fall and hurt themselves trying to climb out.

Remember that if a baby is sleeping in a playard, it should be otherwise empty of all toys, pillows, blankets, etc. This is particularly important if the baby is younger than about 4 months, or not yet able to roll over by themselves.

What do I do if my child is fussy in a playard?

Depending on the situation and age of your child, you may be able to offer your child a toy or some food to help calm them down in the playard.

You can also distract them with music, mobiles, and other forms of entertainment.

If your child doesn’t calm down, tries to climb out of the playard, or engages in unsafe behaviors, you may need to remove them from the playard, calm and soothe them, and return them to it later.

How long can you use a playard?

You’ll want to check your specific playard’s maximum recommended height and weight limits to make sure that it’s safe for your child to be in it.

In general, even large playards aren’t designed for those above 30 pounds or 35 inches. They should also not be used with a child who can climb out of them.

Whether you need a safe place for your baby to play while you cook or a comfy place for them to sleep on vacation, a playard can be a handy item to invest in!

With various add-ons and price points, there really is a perfect one out there for every family.