6 Best Play Yards of 2018 (A Quick Parent Guide)

If you have a baby or toddler, the chances are you look back on the days when your hands were free all the time with misty eyes. Remember when grabbing a cup of coffee didn’t revolve around someone else’s nap time? And the only thing that kept you from cleaning the house was a good show on TV?

We know you adore your little one, and every second spent with them is another special memory that you can cherish. But, alas, life didn’t stop when that beautiful bundle of joy popped out into the world.

If you want a safe place for your child to be able to nap or play while you go about your daily chores or enjoy a little adult time, you might want to consider purchasing a play yard. These are great products that keep your baby secured in an area of your choosing, whether it’s in your home or at a travel destination.

Our Top Picks

Best Play Yards

If you’re looking for a play yard that’s just a play yard, we might have found just the products for you.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard

This Play Yard offers a great comfort of cozy napper babies.  Has all the play yard essentials and easy to use, all in one!

Most of the parents love its secure attachment that allows for a safe and easy switch between playard with napper and playard with changer. Cool thing about one of its features is the wipe clean fabrics that resist mess.

Maximum Weight Capacity: n/a
Maximum Height Capacity: 35 inches
Product Weight: 11.5 lbs

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Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Playard

Summer Infant Pop N' Play Playard

This is a basic play yard in that it doesn’t come with any bells or whistles. It does offer a spacious play area, has a water-resistant bottom, allows for plenty of ventilation, and is great for use both indoors and out.

It’s JPMA certified (see below) and lightweight, so it’s perfect for when you are traveling. For a bit of extra money, you can select the model that comes with a removable canopy, so your little one is protected from 98% of the sun’s dangerous rays when you have the play yard set up outside.

Maximum Weight Capacity: n/a
Maximum Height Capacity: 35 inches
Product Weight: 12 lbs

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Best Play Yards with Bassinets

Many play yards come with included and removable bassinets, so even your infants can get in on the play yard fun.

Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard

Another Graco product but, let’s face it; when your company’s trademark goes so far as to usurp the traditional name of a product, it’s for a reason.

This Pack ‘n Play comes loaded with features and will grow with your child from babyhood to toddlerhood. It has a removable rocking seat and bassinet. A changer is built-in, as is extra storage for your convenience.

It’s JPMA certified, so you know it’s safe, and is just an all-around inclusive product. It is on the heavy side, so you probably won’t want to be carting it around too much, but all of the included extras will certainly keep your little one comfortable and entertained.

Maximum Weight Capacity: Under 15 lbs (bassinet and rocking seat*), under 25 lbs (changing table)
Age: Up to 3 months (rocking seat)
Maximum Height Capacity: 35 inches
Product Weight: 32.5 lb

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4moms Breeze Play Yard

We’ll just go ahead and get the obvious con out of the way here and now; this play yard is expensive. If that didn’t immediately put this in your “no” column, then read on, because many moms are raving about this product.

It’s JPMA certified, spacious, easy to clean, and one of the most sturdy play yards on the market. Out of all the play yard products available, many parents say this one has the easiest setup. The sides are wall to wall mesh, so your baby gets plenty of ventilation, and you can easily see in to supervise play or nap time. If you have a particularly rowdy toddler, or just want a product that can withstand the test of time, this solidly built play yard is worth every penny.

The sides are wall to wall mesh, so your baby gets plenty of ventilation, and you can easily see in to supervise play or nap time. If you have a particularly rowdy toddler, or just want a product that can withstand the test of time, this solidly built play yard is worth every penny.

Maximum Weight Capacity: 18 lbs (bassinet*), 30 lbs (play yard)
Maximum Height Capacity: 29 inches
Product Weight: 30 lbs (without bassinet)
*if your baby can push himself up on his hands and knees, do not use the bassinet

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Best Affordable Play Yards

Sticking to a budget can be tricky when it comes to play yards. Nevertheless, we found a few products that provide a safe area for your baby without breaking your bank.

Cosco Funsport Play Yard

Cosco Funsport Play Yard

At under $50, this play yard is a great buy. It’s JPMA certified, easy to set up, and has two wheels for increased mobility in the home.

Unfortunately, it does not include a bassinet, and the mattress that comes with the product is a bit on the thin side. However, it’s an affordable play yard that provides plenty of ventilation for your little one while they play or rest, and is easy to take along when you travel.

Maximum Weight Capacity: n/a
Maximum Height Capacity: 35 inches
Product Weight: 21.4 lbs

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Baby Trend Nursery Center Playard

Baby Trend Nursery Center Playard

While a little more expensive than the above play yard, this product comes with a removable bassinet, so it’s worth the few extra bucks. It also features wheel for easier in home mobility, a one-hand locking mechanism, and a cute mobile that features three plush toys.

Unfortunately, the mobile does not move on its own, so some parents find it a bit superfluous. However, this play yard sets up quickly and will keep your little one out of trouble for a fraction of the price of other models.

Maximum Weight Capacity: 15 lbs (bassinet) 30 lbs (play yard)
Maximum Height Capacity: 35 inches
Product Weight: 24.4 lbs

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What to Look for in a Great Play Yard

There are certainly plenty of play yards to choose from, with an array of styles and price ranges. Let’s break down some basics to help you decide on the best play yard for your family.

Play Yard vs. Travel Crib vs. Pack’n’Play®

The whole name thing can get a little messy when it comes to baby products. Luckily, it’s nothing compared to cleaning up a diaper blowout, so we know you can handle it.

A play yard provides a safe place for your child to nap or play. They are portable – some even have wheels so you can roll them from room to room and are perfect for when you are going on vacation to a place that has not necessarily been baby proofed. You can get them in a wide array of designs. Some come with mobiles, bassinets, changing tables, and vibration options, while others provide only the basics but come with an affordable price tag. If you’re thinking to yourself that that description sounds an awful lot like a Pack’n’Play, you are technically not wrong.

You see, Pack’n’Play® is actually a registered trademark of the company, Graco. Much like Bandaids or Kleenex, the Pack’n’Play® became so popular that its name became synonymous with all similar products, regardless of the company putting them on the market.

To further muddy the waters, the term ‘travel crib’ is also thrown into the mix and sometimes used interchangeably with the term play yard. Travel cribs, however, tend to be slightly smaller and lighter than play yards.

Sleeping

A majority of pediatricians say that play yards are safe for sleeping, provided you take certain precautions. If you purchase a play yard with a bassinet, pay attention to its weight limits. Never put in extra blankets, toys, or pillows, and do not put a soft mattress in the play yard. Remember, just as firm crib mattresses lower suffocation risks, the same is true for play yard mattresses. Also, remove any mobiles or other hanging toys that are in reach to prevent your baby or toddler grabbing them. Do not forget to read the safety instructions included with any product you purchase.

Read more: ‘Baby Monitors: the ultimate guide’ »

Buy New or Used?

We are going to have to recommend buying a new product, or at least a product that you know has a manufacturing date of 2013 or later. Unfortunately, before 2013, adhering to the accepted safety standards was voluntary. Nowadays federal guidelines ensure that things like wall height minimums, structural integrity, and stability meet acceptable safety standards.

Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association

While we’re on the topic of safety, if you see that a play yard is JPMA certified, it means that, after independent testing, the product has met a high safety standard. While all play yards must adhere to federal guidelines, the JPMA certification is certainly an extra plus to see on a product.

Wrapping up

Whether you plan on taking your play yard on vacations with you or want it to be a permanent fixture in your home, we hope that one of the above products is a perfect fit for your family. A good play yard, after all, can mean the difference between enjoying that cup of coffee in the morning and having to leave it on the counter while you chase a rambunctious child around the house.

Personally, we take being able to drink our coffee any day of the week. Here’s to a safe nap time, a happy play time, and even a little bit of you time.

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