When my sons were younger, making sure they were safe, while also getting to have fun, was one of my top priorities. After all, they don’t stay babies forever. So a playpen was a total lifesaver for us, because it eased some of the stress and anxiety that I felt once they started exploring and becoming more curious. Besides, fueling their imagination and encouraging exercise is so incredibly healthy for our children.
As babies grow, they love to play and explore. Allowing them the opportunity to do those things is a crucial part of their development. If you’re like other parents, you’re concerned about the safety of your children. Letting them roam around in your house can seem a little bit scary at first. Luckily there’s a product out there for that, which can help your mind feel more at ease.
Playpens are a great way to give your child more freedom, without sacrificing their safety. They are an enclosed structure that keeps them contained while giving them space to play at the same time. It’s the perfect way to provide your baby with a good environment for harnessing their imagination and growth.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
Table of Contents
- What Should I Look For in a Playpen?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Playpens
- Our Top Picks for the Best Playpens of 2021
- #1: Graco Pack n Play Playard Reversible Seat and Changer LX (Best Value and Best Overall)
- #2: Baby Care Fun Zone Playpen (Best for Large Areas)
- #3: Evenflo Versatile Play Space (Best Expandable)
- #4: GrowthPic Baby Playpen (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Babyseater Portable Playard Playpen (Best for Travel)
- #6: Fortella Cloud Castle Foldable Playpen (Best Portable)
- What Is the Difference between Playpens and Play Yards?
- Verdict: Your Best Playpen
What Should I Look For in a Playpen?
Before you take the leap and purchase a playpen for your little one, there are certain features that it should have. Take a look at this list that we put together to further help you with your decision. You will notice a lot of important things you should have on your list.
Not everyone has unlimited space, so having a playpen that collapses for easy storage is a great feature to have. If you are planning to keep it in your living room, I would recommend choosing one with this capability. This way you can get your space back when it’s not in use.
It’s simple really. More panels mean it can cover more space. You can adjust the size of the playing pen by adding or removing panels. So, consider this before your purchase, if you want to have the option to customize.
Playpens come in a variety of different materials including plastic, wood, mesh, and steel. Typically the mesh panel playpen will have a metal frame for durability. Keep in mind what you prefer when looking at these, especially if it’s going to be indoors, outdoors, or both. Plastic will be easier to wipe down overall, but some mesh walled playpens and play yards have removable fabrics that can be washed.
Ease of Use
No one wants to spend a lot of time taking apart a playpen and putting it back together. Make sure to choose something that will be easy for you to assemble and fold up when needed. Saving time is so important as a parent.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Playpens
Kids love running around and being active. Playpens allow for them to do that without them wandering where they shouldn’t be. After extensive research and reading about the experiences of other parents, I figured out which ones were the best of the best. I compared that to my personal experience with my own children and then compiled this list of 6 playpens that are useful for different types of lifestyles.
Our Top Picks for the Best Playpens of 2021
Let’s dive right into our list!
#1: Graco Pack n Play Playard Reversible Seat and Changer LX (Best Value and Best Overall)
You will notice that this playpen is called a “playard”. This is because of all of the extra features that it has. I absolutely loved ours so much that I bought two. We kept one at Grandma’s house and one at home. They are so well made that they survived both kids, and we were able to give one away to a family member because it was still in such good shape. So why choose this playpen? Let’s talk about what makes this our top pick.
It’s Not Just a Playpen
Having the extra diaper station in our house was a game-changer. This is compact enough that we had plenty of space and never had to put it away. We kept ours in the living room, and it worked perfectly for quick emergency diaper changes, instead of bringing our little one back into the bedroom to be changed on the table. Just change, and throw the dirty diaper in the diaper pail.
The extra pieces are so easy to remove so you can place your baby in there for some playtime. What’s also great is there is a pad at the bottom, and you can add a sheet if you want. It’s safe enough for your child to sleep in there. Kids that age get tired so easily, so it was nice to just let our son rest in there without worry.
Best Baby Playpens
The Graco Playard is so lightweight that moving it is virtually effortless. It folds down easily if needed. Plus, it has wheels, so you can move it around the room without folding it up. You can always have it where it needs to be. I loved that ours had wheels. When our child was using it, we put his toys in there and put it into the corner of the room so it was out of the way. That was one of my favorite things.
What other features does this baby play yard offer?
- Great for transitioning from newborn to baby, and from baby to toddler
- Storage pockets
- Newborn seat for tiniest babies to play (also machine washable)
- Carry bag for travel
- Toy bar
- Mesh sides for air circulation
- Easy to wipe down
This is a great choice for a play area for your little one. It falls in the middle of the price range for playpens. Not only does it provide a safe environment for your baby to play in, but it is also so much more. As parents, baby products that serve more than one purpose are always fantastic.
These are the things that set this apart from our #2 pick. Although, that one is also a great choice if you’re looking to splurge. Read on to see why we chose the Baby Care Fun Zone as our runner up.
#2: Baby Care Fun Zone Playpen (Best for Large Areas)
This baby play pen covers the most space out of all of the other playpens that we mention, at over 30 square feet. If you have a separate play area or playroom for your kids, this is a great option. It may look simple, but children crave being able to roam freely. So go for it, if you can. It may not have other functions like the Graco Playard, but it still provides a lot of fun for your baby. What makes this the best overall? Let’s break it down.
The last thing you want is your baby or your small toddler running around in the playpen and then getting hurt. This enclosure has nonslip pads and place holders to keep it from moving in case any of the panels are accidentally bumped. The design also includes a double lock door to keep your curious child from trying to escape.
Extra-Large, Safe Panels
The panels of this playpen are extra large and sturdy. The slats are small enough that your child can’t get their arm or leg stuck. We know our babies, they will try to do this regardless of what we say. So you can put your mind at ease knowing that they won’t get stuck or be able to get traction to climb over the panels.
Here are some more features that are worth mentioning.
- Can purchase a play mat or gym mat that fit perfectly
- Comes in 4 different colors
- Made of safe and 100% chemical-free materials
- No-tool assembly and disassembly
- Easy to clean
- Square shape
Even though this playpen is at the highest price point out of all of our other picks on this list, it is so worth the money if you have room in your budget. You can get a lot of use out of it, and it is great if you have multiple kids in your household that like to run around and play. They will be safe and secure, and you won’t have to worry about any injuries.
#3: Evenflo Versatile Play Space (Best Expandable)
This indoor and outdoor playpen comes in at #3 because of some of its unique capabilities. Evenflo designed this play space to be used inside on a rainy day or outside if you want to take your baby out to enjoy some sunshine. It may not offer as much space as the Baby Care Fun Zone with only 18.5 square feet, but it is a much more affordable option and more ideal for smaller play areas.
You Can Add Extra Panels
Included with purchase are a couple of extra panels to expand the space. This makes the playpen very versatile as it allows you to control its size. Of course, this can be helpful if your outdoor area is larger than the indoor or vice versa. It gives you the option to change it to fit the space. What could be better?
Secure Indoor/Outdoor Setup
Not only is this easy to put together because of its hinge design, but there are important extra parts that make it unique when you are setting it up. It includes lawn stakes, so it can be secured to the ground when your kids are playing in the backyard. You won’t have to worry about it moving around. If you set it up inside your home, there are pads you can put at the bottom to protect your floor and to also keep the panels from sliding around.
Take a look at some of the other great features of the Evenflo Versatile Play Space.
- 28″ tall panels
- For children ages 6-24 months
- Foldable with a molded handle
- No-tool assembly
- UV weather resistant
- Rounded, hexagon-like shape
This would be a great choice for both indoor and outdoor use. Being able to add and remove panels to change the size of the play area is a unique feature. Out of all of the other playpens on this list, you will notice that the Evenflo is the only one that you can expand. Since it is portable and easy to take apart and put back together, moving in and out of your home is very quick and easy.
#4: GrowthPic Baby Playpen (Best Low Cost)
Coming in at the lowest price point compared to all of the other top picks, this playpen is the best for a tight budget. It’s fairly small too, at 49 inches long and 25.5 inches wide. Though it still has plenty of space for your baby to play. You will want to consider this for your little one if you are searching for a play space that is compact and affordable. Let’s go over the most important reasons to choose this product.
Inward Leaning Panels
Something unique that you will notice about the design of the GrowthPic Playpen is that the panels lean inward at a slight angle. This is to prevent any chance of tipping. Babies will push and lean on the walls of the play space and that is normal. It is made this way to make sure your child is safe without sacrificing any space.
The product weight of the GrowthPic is only 6 lbs., making it the lightest on our list. It also comes with a travel bag, so you can use it on the go as well if you choose to. If you need to move it from room to room in your house or even outside, it will be a breeze.
Why else did we put this on our list?
- External zipper to keep your child from trying to escape
- 12-month guarantee
- Rounded corners that won’t scratch your floor
- Great for indoors or outdoors
- Mesh walls
- Water-resistant fabric
If you are looking for a playpen that is under $60, compact, and usable both inside and outside, then this one would work best for you. The main difference between this product and our #5 top pick is the price. The GrowthPic is a little more wallet-friendly. Even though it is less expensive, it is still high quality and provides a safe play space for your child.
#5: Babyseater Portable Playard Playpen (Best for Travel)
Babyseater made this portable play yard with the intention of it being used virtually anywhere. It has a lightweight design that makes packing it up and transporting it really easy. Whether you’re visiting family or going outside in the back yard, it takes almost no effort to relocate. Let’s go over some of the significant features that this play yard has to offer.
Except for the Graco, this is the only playpen on our list that has its own integrated floor. The rest of them are open at the bottom. The padding offers a soft buffer between your baby and the ground or hard floor. This is great for the tiniest babies who are still learning to stand and walk. It is a nice added safety feature for worried parents. Plus, it is also water-resistant.
Another reason to purchase this play yard is the lining. You can remove it easily, which you won’t see with any of our other top choices. It is also machine washable. Babies have accidents sometimes, and they also drool a lot. The age range for these baby products is for little ones who are typically still teething. You won’t ever have to worry about their play yard not being clean and sanitized.
Here are some other notable features of this play yard.
- Clear mesh so you can see your child
- 2 safety latches
- One-handed folding
- Travel bag included
- Product weight under 15 lbs.
If you like to go on trips or spend a lot of time outside of your home, then this play yard would be a great choice for you. it will give you a designated and safe area for your little one to play and explore. Giving them freedom wherever you are is essential for their growth and development. Its hexagon shape makes it easy to fit in most size spaces. Your baby will get a lot of use out of the play yard, and you will feel relieved to know that they are protected from harm and possible injury.
#6: Fortella Cloud Castle Foldable Playpen (Best Portable)
This made our list because of just how easy it is to assemble. It comes ready to go right out of the box. That alone draws parents to it. Anything that saves time and energy takes a lot of stress off your shoulders. If you’re like me, sitting there and reading instructions and putting together any sort of furniture with lots of tools and materials is exhausting. I like to avoid all that extra work wherever I can. Read on and see why this is our top choice in the portable category.
It’s Easy to Store
When folded, it is only 11 inches wide, allowing it to fit almost anywhere for storage. This makes life so easy because you have the option to put it away when it’s not in use, giving you some space back. The product weight is about 36 pounds, so it is still can be lifted and moved once folded without issues.
Indoor or Outdoor Use
It is designed with anti-slip pads at the bottom that work both inside and outside your home. Since you can easily fold it up and move it around, this is a great feature to have. It will make sure that your child is safe no matter where you decide to set it up. Plus, the bottom won’t cause any damage to your floor.
What makes something easy to move around? Handles. The panels of the Fortella Cloud Castle include small handles to make it easier for parents to carry. This way you can effortlessly lift it and store under a bed, on a shelf, or even pack it up in the trunk of the car and take it somewhere.
What else does this play structure have to offer?
- Whiteboard and activity wall
- No footholds to allow babies to climb over
- Simple and secure safety gate
- Made of food-grade, non-toxic, BPA-free material
- No sharp edges
- Customizable shape
- Covers 25 square feet
- Small slats to prevent trapped arms
Compared to some of our other choices such as the Babyseater or the Growthpic, this has a higher price point. It’s the second most expensive behind our #2 pick. However, it is worth it because of its versatility and the extra features that we mentioned above. You can change the shape to fit the area you are looking to put it in. The activity wall and whiteboard that are included help to harness your child’s creativity and motor development. Of course, this is crucial at a young age.
What Is the Difference between Playpens and Play Yards?
You’ll notice that some of our picks are referred to as a play yard rather than a playpen. This is because a lot of people use these names interchangeably. The only real difference between them is that some play yards offer the capability of sleeping or changing a diaper. Standard playpens do not. Also, play yards typically have an integrated floor while a playpen doesn’t. This is why you will see no weight limits when you are shopping for a playpen.
Verdict: Your Best Playpen
So this is the takeaway…
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Graco Pack n Play Playard Reversible Seat and Changer LX. This play yard has so much to offer you and your child with all of its extra capabilities that it feels like a splurge.
For larger areas, pick the Baby Care Fun Zone Playpen. It is the largest in this group and is perfect if you have space and an appropriate budget.
If you are looking for the option to expand, pick the Evenflo Versatile Play Space. You can add extra panels to enlarge the space, and it’s great for indoor or outdoor use.
If you want to keep the spend under $60, pick the GrowthPic Baby Playpen. The design includes waterproof fabric and mesh, and it is the most lightweight.
If you want the one that’s best for travel use and if you’re often on the go, pick the Babyseater Portable Playard Playpen . It is the easiest of the play yards to transport to different places.
For the one that’s best for portability, pick the Fortella Cloud Castle Foldable Playpen. It is the easiest to fold and store when it’s not in use and when relocating to other parts of your home or outdoors.
Choosing the best playpen for your child can seem like a difficult task. This guide was put together to help you make the best decision possible for you and your family. Whether you are looking for something like the Graco Play yard, which includes a few extra purposes, or the Babyseater Play yard which is ideal for travel, you really can’t go wrong. Plus, there is something listed for every type of budget. Most parents will first look at cost before anything else. Pinpoint what is most important to you and use that information to your advantage. You got this!