The many features that make play yards different from play pens
Unlike standard wooden playpens, play yards are usually designed for portability, with a metal frame and mesh sides that easily fold up. Some models feature wheels, while others come with a carrying case or bag. A playard's mesh sides and removable sheets also make it easy to wash. The Graco Pack 'n Play is one of the most popular portable types.
Play Yard Features
If you simply need a safe, enclosed space in which your baby can play, then a play pen is probably a more cost-effective choice. Inexpensive portable playpens are also available for use outside the home.
The advantage of buying a baby play yard is that it can combine many different functions in one easily transported device. The cost is sometimes higher, but well worth it if you make frequent use of your playard's extras.
These are some of the most popular features you might want:
- A changing table that's attached to the top rail or hangs down from the side
- A built-in, removable bassinet that works as a portable crib
- A canopy that provides shade from the sun if/when you take the play yard outside
- Entertainment features such as music or toys
- A nightlight
- A vibration function that helps lull your baby to sleep
If lightness and portability are important to you, keep in mind that features such as a bassinet or changing table will add to the play yard's weight.
As for the enclosure-style play yards, you may wish to purchase an extension kit that allows the yard to expand as your child grows, or a gated design that makes it easier for you and other adults to come in and out.