Want to make sure baby’s safe as houses in during playtime? We’ve got the 15 of the best baby’s playpens for you to choose from, tried and tested by our mamas of Peanut.
A baby playpen is essentially a blocked-off area for baby to play in, typically using plastic, metal (padded), or foam blocks.
There are lots of types of playpens for babies, so let’s dive in to see which is best for you and your baby, along with some key things to know about using baby’s playpens.
Every product on this list has been individually chosen by our editors. We may also collect a small commission if you choose to use our affiliate links on this page, at no extra cost to you.
In this article: 📝
- Best playpens for babies: tried and tested
- How do I choose a playpen?
- How to set up a playpen
- What age should a baby use a playpen?
- Why do you need a baby playpen?
- How long can a baby stay in a playpen?
Best playpens for babies: tried and tested
Every baby and every mama is different, with different needs and different circumstances.
So we’ve broken down the top baby’s playpens, as chosen by our mamas of Peanut, to help you find the best baby playpen for you and your little one.
Whether you’re an avid traveler or you’re after a foldable playpen you can easily store when baby’s not using it, a portable playpen is a perfect solution.
Here are our Peanut mamas’ favorite portable baby playpens:
1. Pamo Babe Portable Playard
While at 20lbs, it can weigh quite a bit, this foldable playpen is a great solution for smaller apartments or if you’re traveling by car with your little jet-setter.
2. Dream On Me Nest Portable Play Yard With Carry Bag And Shoulder Strap
If you’re after a travel playpen you can easily pack up and sling over your shoulder, this is the one for you!
Winner of the 2020 National Parenting Product Awards, this portable playpen is meant for younger babies when space is at a premium or if you’re on your travels.
3. Graco Pack ’n Play Travel Dome LX Playard
This 3-in-1 Graco playpen is beloved by our mamas of Peanut ‒ not only a portable playpen but also a bassinet and diaper-changing space.
Plus, with UV protection built into the bassinet canopy, it makes a great beach playpen for those sunshiny seaside holidays.
Playpen for toddlers
Now, onto the best playpens for toddlers ‒ if your little one isn’t quite so little anymore, these playpens for 1-year-olds and up could be what you’re after.
4. Toddleroo By North States Superyard Colorplay 8 Panel Baby Play Yard
With beautifully bright colors and panels you can resize to suit your space and baby’s needs, it’s no wonder this is one of the best playpens for toddlers as chosen by our mamas of Peanut.
It’s especially loved by moms who work from home, as a ‘baby cage’ or ‘baby jail’ to keep baby occupied, safe, and out of the way while you’re busy.
5. Bouncats Baby Playpen
We can all but guarantee your little one will love this toddler playpen!
It’s like their own little fort, complete with zip entrance, and, best of all… it doubles as a ball pit!
Your sporty little wonder can practice their hand-eye coordination and motor skills by scoring goals and slam dunks ‒ score!
6. UANLAUO Toddler Playpen with Mat
If your toddler has plenty of toys to keep them entertained and you just want a space for them to play in, this is the baby playpen for you.
With a padded mat so baby doesn’t bump their butt, non-toxic fabric around the frame, and suction cups to keep baby’s playpen securely in place, what more could you want?
Small playpens for babies
7. Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe 2 Nursery Center
This 4-in-1 baby playpen is also a baby-changing center, bassinet, and travel cot ‒ perfect if you’re looking for budget-friendly baby furniture.
8. GrowthPic Baby Playpen
If baby’s starting to get on the move, you’ll want the best playpen for crawling ‒ here it is!
While it’s a little smaller than playpens for toddlers, if your little one is new to crawling, this is the baby playpen for you.
9. POP ’N GO Baby Playpen
If the sun is shining and you’re keen for your little one to get some fresh air, you’ll love this portable playpen by POP ‘N GO.
It’s on the smaller side of outdoor baby playpens but has enough space for baby to explore while keeping safe from the sun with the UV shade cover.
If you have a spacious garden or you’re heading to the beach with your little sunseeker, you’re sure to find the perfect outdoor playpen here.
10. hiccapop 53” PlayPod Outdoor Baby Playpen with Canopy
Described by some mamas as “the best purchase”, the hiccapop baby playpen is padded and comes with a UV-safe canopy to keep baby safe in the shade.
Easy to set up, padded for safety, and with space for you to join in the fun, what more could you want from an outdoor playpen?
11. Graco Pack ’n Play LiteTraveler LX Playard
Another Graco playpen on our list, this one is made specially as an outdoor playpen but can be used indoors, too.
12. Milliard Playpen Portable Playard with Cushioning
Surprisingly light for its size, our Peanut mamas love how portable this outdoor playpen is!
It folds up super-small, too, so if you want an outdoor playpen to take to the beach or on vacation, this is it!
If you have lots of space but want to keep baby in a section for safety, these large playpens are just for you.
13. Ashtonbee - Kids Play Pen Activity Center
With 16 panels, you can size up or size down this baby’s playpen to suit your space.
Our Peanut mamas also love the bright colors ‒ great for engaging baby’s developing mind.
14. Fortella Cloud Castle Foldable Playpen
After a baby’s playpen with more pastel colors that you can scale up or down, depending on your space?
The Fortella Cloud Castle baby playpen is a unicorn-fairy-rainbow dream, and even has a whiteboard and sensory toys built in to get baby’s mind whirring.
15. Evenflo Versatile Play Space
If you want a large playpen to put inside or outside, with lots of space for baby to explore, without the bells and whistles, the Evenflo baby’s playpen is the one for you.
Now you’ve got baby’s playpen, how will you keep them amused?
While some playpens for babies come with toys and activities built-in, some may not.
So here are some of the best playpen toys, as chosen by our mamas of Peanut:
- Baby Soft Stacking Building Blocks & Sensory Ball ‒ Ideal for developing baby’s hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, perfect for babies from 6 months and up.
- Baby Pull-up Rings ‒ Some baby’s playpens come with pull-up rings built-in, but if not, and you’re keen to give baby a helping hand with standing up for the first time, these could be just what you’re looking for.
- Baby Textured Multi-Sensory Toys ‒ As baby’s mind is developing, exploring different textures is a great way to grow their motor skills. Plus they’re BPA-free, too!
- iPlay, iLearn 10pcs Baby Rattles Toys Set ‒ Sure, noisy toys may be the bane of every mama’s life, but they’re brilliant for a growing baby. These early development toys go great with a newborn playpen.
- The First Years Stack Up Baby Cups ‒ Stacking cups are a baby toy essential, ideal for baby’s playpen or baby’s bathtub.
- Step2 Lift and Hide Bookcase Toy Box Storage Chest for Kids ‒ Now, where to put all these baby playpen toys? Well, our Peanut mamas love this toy chest/bookshelf combo.
How do I choose a playpen?
How do you know which baby playpen is the right one for you?
Well, there are some things to consider and some fundamentals to look out for:
- How much space do you have? Will you need a smaller playpen, large playpen, or a foldable playpen for easy storage?
- How big is baby? If baby’s quite tall, they may be able to climb out of some baby playpens. Also, smaller playpens made for newborns may not be able to support a bigger toddler.
- Is baby safe? Be on the lookout for baby’s playpens with padding and covered hinges or joints ‒ babies’ fingers can get into all sorts of tiny spaces. It’s also worth making sure baby can’t easily tip the playpen over.
- Can you set it up? Some baby playpens are trickier to put together than others.
- How much budget do you have? A simple baby playpen may be more affordable than a large playpen with lots of toys built-in.
What’s the difference between a pack and play and a playpen?
A Pack ‘n’ Play is a Graco playpen ‒ a type of baby playpen that can be used indoors or outside ‒ it’s portable for easy transporting.
What are the safest playpens?
Well, it depends. What’s safe in a baby playpen for one baby may not be safe for another.
For example, a newborn baby won’t be moving about or exploring as much as a 12-month-old baby, and they won’t be as heavy.
So while a newborn baby may need less space and something with shorter sides, a toddler may need something larger and more durable ‒ they’re going to be exploring as much as they can!
How tall should playpens be?
Usually, baby playpens tend to stand at about 36 inches tall, so younger babies can’t crawl out.
However, some playpens for babies (particularly those made especially for newborns) may have shorter sides, as baby won’t be crawling for a little while.
How to set up a playpen
There isn’t one single way to set up a baby playpen ‒ it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidance, as they may each have different instructions.
Allow some extra time the first time you’re setting up baby’s playpen ‒ before long, you’ll be a pro and it’ll take you mere minutes!
What age should a baby use a playpen?
It depends on the baby playpen.
Some baby playpens can be used from birth ‒ these are usually combo newborn playpens and cots.
However, most standard playpens for babies can be used when baby can hold up their own head or when they are learning to crawl ‒ from about 6 months old.
Do newborns need a playpen?
Generally speaking, no ‒ as a newborn, baby’s not moving about much, so wouldn’t need a baby playpen to explore and play in.
The best stimulation for newborns is up close and personal.
How long do babies use playpens?
Baby’s age doesn’t usually indicate whether they’re too big for a baby playpen ‒ instead, their weight and height are more important.
It’s best to check what the maximum height and weight are for each individual baby playpen.
It’s also worth checking whether your little one wants to be in a baby playpen beyond about 12 months ‒ some may be happy to play, but others may benefit from a little more mental stimulation by exploring other areas (with supervision, of course).
Why do you need a baby playpen?
Baby playpens aren’t fundamental pieces of baby furniture, but a lot of our mamas of Peanut find them indispensable.
Playpens for babies are particularly useful if you’re working from home or otherwise busy, but in the same room as baby ‒ after all, supervision is key.
🧒 You might also like: 21 Fun and Creative Things to Do With Toddlers
Are playpens a good idea for babies?
It depends on the baby ‒ some babies love playing in their own space, while others are clamoring to get out.
Ultimately, if baby is happy, healthy, and supervised while they’re in their baby playpen, then playpens are good for babies.
Are playpens cruel?
No, baby playpens aren’t necessarily cruel for babies, although some babies might not like feeling ‘trapped’ in one space for long.
If your little one doesn’t like being in a baby playpen, don’t feel like you have to use one.
Some mamas prefer using baby stairgates and child locks to keep baby safe while in the home, instead of using playpens for babies.
Can babies sleep in playpen?
No, it’s not recommended for babies to sleep in their playpens.
This is mainly for younger babies under 12 months old ‒ they may not have the support or be in the right position and it could increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleeping guidelines.
Keep an eye out if baby is looking or acting drowsy in their baby playpen.
If they’re sleepy and they’ve just woken up, try sitting them on your lap and playing, or some tummy time.
How long can a baby stay in a playpen?
As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to how long to leave baby in playpen, the maximum is about 2 hours per baby playpen session.
However, this is usually for babies around 4-6 months old and up, rather than for newborn babies.
Younger babies may only briefly be awake for feedings and a little playtime, but not usually for 2-hour-long sessions in a baby playpen.
So that’s our Peanut mamas’ top choices for the best baby’s playpens on the market!
Which baby playpens are on your shortlist? Got any questions for our Peanut mamas?
Why not join us on Peanut ‒ we think you’ll fit right in.
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