- By Miranda Lightstone -
While there seem to be a million different things to get for newborns and toddlers these days, not all of them seem entirely necessary. However, one that might seem a little superfluous is actually one of the most essential items you’ll own as a new parent: the playard, or playpen.
Now, there are a few different versions of playards and playpens and I will break them down for you in a bit. But first, I will clarify the difference between these two terms as most parents use them interchangeably. Both playards and playpens provide a safe space for you to place your baby for play or some tummy time. Playards usually come with a soft mattress, but it is not always the case with every playpen. Therefore, while you can have your baby sleep on the mattress in a playard, it is not possible for them to sleep in a playpen unless you add a suitable mattress to it.
Standard playard (no attachments)
I remember this being one of the most treasured items I would bring with me when I would visit friends and family with my newborn son. These are great for keeping baby safe while also giving them a space to move around while contained.
Of note: Most playards, like cribs, offer two height settings for the floor. So, when baby is newborn the playard floor is at its highest setting near the top, and as baby grows and starts to crawl and stand up, the floor gets lowered down so that baby stays safely inside the playpen at all times.
Pack n Play Sets
These. Are. Golden. An easily portable playard will let your baby not only be stimulated but also be out in the world and in the room with you wherever you are, while remaining safe without you have to be 100% focused on them. These are also great for travel and a MUST if you are planning on staying in a hotel with a newborn or toddler. Of course, the hotel has playpens to loan, but it’s always nice to bring your own. These are also great for family visits and nap times
(no need to build a pillow fort in the middle of a double bed to stop baby rolling out!). You can check out Babybjorn’s Play Yard Easy Go: this playard can be set up and folded down in just one easy move, it comes with a soft mattress and the fabrics are removable and machine washable!
So, not only are playards great for nap time or even just a safe place for your baby to play, they can also pull double-duty as a change pad. Most models now come with a detachable change pad that clips to the top – or when the playard is at its higher setting you can use that space as a change pad, as well. The 4moms Breeze Plus Playard includes a flip changer that gives you a space for quick diapering and clothing changes. It is very convenient and functional, and can be set up in seconds! It also comes with a removable bassinet that allows your baby to comfortably rest.
Most playards are the same dimension/size which means you can be sure you’ll be able to find sheets that will fit over the mattress pad properly. It is worth investing in a few of these as they will get dirty, and you’ll want to be able to change them out easily. Check out these great playard sheets that provide soft and plush support for your baby. They are also waterproof and very convenient for cleaning.
Test drive it at the store
Just like the stroller, you’re going to want to try out your playard of choice at the store and make sure that putting it up and taking it down isn’t terribly difficult. Especially if you know you are going to be moving around with it often.
Playard are more than just playards these days and they can come with a host of features such as bassinets (not just a change table!), storage cases on the sides, toys with music and lights that attach to the side that plays soothing music and stimulating sounds. These might seem like a bit too much, but what you need to remember is that you are then condensing 3-4 different baby items into one and that will make travelling with your items that much easier as you will packing
up one thing instead of 5.
Choosing the Right Playard
There are so many playards out there – so many. So, choosing the right one may just come down to design/size preference for you as a mother.
When we were choosing ours, we had a very specific criteria that needed to be met: We had cats, and I wanted to be able to cover the top without just draping a blanket over the top (to keep air flowing through). So, we found a playpen that had a detachable tent on top. It kept the air flowing while also ensuring the cats wouldn’t jump inside with the new baby. I don’t think there are playards that exist that don’t have mesh sides to air and breathability. However, there are some that have extra attachments like change pads, tents on top, covers for the side to keep air out, and even attachable mobiles or crossbars for dangly toys. Make sure you check out our collection of playards, and even come to our store to test them for yourselves!
If you have any questions about playards, leave us a comment below and we will be happy to help!