Choosing a Playard

A playard has two important functions. First, it helps to keep Mom and Dad sane when they need a few minutes with baby playing safely out of harm's way. Second, it is an ideal place for your baby to sleep where you can keep an eye on him. There are two basic kinds of playards, each with a variety of features, such as bassinets, canopies, and wheels. As with anything else, how you plan to use your playard will determine which model will work best for you and your baby.

How Playards Are Used

Play In certain circumstances, a playard can be used to let baby sleep near you.  

A playard is great for keeping your baby from getting into dangerous household items, such as electrical outlets and cords. It also can be used to keep pets away from your baby and to keep your baby's toys within reach.While you should never leave your baby alone anywhere but in a crib, a playard can make your life much easier and keep your hands free for things like dressing and eating.

Sleep When you want your baby near you, a playard can provide a great place to sleep. Evenflo playards can be purchased with a detachable bassinet designed for babies weighing up to 15 pounds who cannot roll over or pull themselves up. A playard is not normally intended to be used as a crib, however, and manufacturers caution against leaving an unattended child in the playard.

Types of Playards

Traditional/Drop-Side Playard

The drop-side playard is the traditional "playpen" that you likely were placed in as a child. It has a hard floor with a vinyl pad and mesh around the sides. The top rail folds in half (drops) on each side, and the folded product is quite large. While the drop-side playard is a good value for stationary use, it's not very portable. Direct supervision is required at all times.

Portable Playard

Portable playards are typically designed to fold more compactly. Set up, they're usually about 28" by 40", but other sizes are available. More than 75 percent of the playards sold today are portable, and the number of available features continues to grow. Available features include bassinet and changer attachments for small infants, variety of toys for baby's entertainment, wheels for moving around the house, and wheels for portability. Direct supervision is required at all times.

Travel Crib

Some playards are marketed as "travel cribs." This type of playard includes separate warnings and instructions for using the playard as a crib and meets two sets of industry safety standards. Travel cribs allow you to leave your baby in another room while he's sleeping. Playards that do not satisfy the above criteria should not be used as a travel crib.

Playard Features

  • Mesh sides: These allow you to easily keep an eye on your little one and provide ventilation.
  • Storage pouch: It's a handy place to store toys, clothes or blankets. 
  • Wheels: For easy portability.
  • Bassinet: This is a removable insert that creates a raised sleeping surface for infants - an indisputable benefit when Mom has just come home from the hospital and finds bending over difficult.
  • Changing area: This is a removable changing table that provides a safe place to change baby quick and easily.
  • Toy Bar/mobile: A removable piece holds soft toys over the playard that visually stimulates and entertains baby.
  • Parent organizer: These are very handy storage compartments for wipes, lotions, etc.
  • Fitted sheet: Most play yards do not include a fitted sheet. Extra sheets also can be important; you can buy these separately.
  • Floor padding: Toddlers will tumble and therefore need a soft landing place. We recommend foam floor padding at least ¾ inch thick.
  • Padded top rails: Because this is a favorite target of teething toddlers, you'll want to be sure the fabric is durable.