Which playpen is best?
Every parent knows about the dreaded silence that falls when children get into things they shouldn’t be while you aren’t looking. You can avoid this by using a playpen. Playpens can also help keep toys from being scattered to the four winds by containing everything to a designated play area in addition to occasionally doubling as barriers and fences to make an entire room a playpen.
The best playpen for many occasions and needs is the Baby Care Funzone Play Pen. This highly durable and incredibly safe playpen has effortless setup and takedown. It’s pretty expensive but well worth it.
What to know before you buy a playpen
Standard: Standard playpens have no floor and generally come in adjustable sizes, with four to 14 individual panels. They typically include gates for easy entrance and exit and are often secured to the floor using suction cups or balanced on feet.
Portable: Portable playpens are meant for when you’re on the go. They have a floor to protect your child from the uncomfortable ground and are typically collapsible or at the very least have a carrying case to store panels and the floor.
Plastic: Plastic playpens are generally thick though lightweight. They’re durable, very easy to clean and often come in a wide range of bright colors. They’re less likely to scratch hardwood flooring and they sometimes come with activity panels to help entertain your child. They don’t last very long in the sun as sunlight will bleach out the color and weaken the plastic.
Wood: Wood playpens are thinner than plastic but also heavier. They generally don’t have any activity panels and last even shorter outside, thanks to absorbing moisture. This also means they don’t hold up to chewing. They sometimes have feet to add to stability and limit scratching of hardwood floors. They tend to have a more refined look over plastic that some might desire.
Where you plan on using your playpen and how often affect how many panels you typically need. You might want to have extras in case of damage or for adjusting play space as required. Certain configurations of panels are also sturdier.
What to look for in a quality playpen
Playpens generally have a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certification label, which shows compliance with all safety standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. If your prospective playpen doesn’t have this, look for a different playpen.
Playpens are generally 20 inches tall at a minimum, so children can’t climb out, but many playpens are taller than this. If you want your playpen to last as long as possible, choose one that has a lot of extra height so your child won’t be able to grow and escape for a long time.
Some playpens include a gate for easy entrance and exit. These are often usable with one hand to make using the gate and holding your child easy. A playpen without a gate means you’ll have to lift your child in and out when in use.
How much you can expect to spend on a playpen
Playpens can be quite expensive with higher quality and a larger play area space. You can find most average playpens for $100 or a bit less, but some can be well over $150.
Can you buy extra panels if you need to without buying an entire extra playpen?
A. Many playpen, but not all, manufacturers sell extra panels in extension packs. If you think you’ll need more later, check before purchasing if there are extension packs available. Otherwise, you might find yourself needing to repurchase the full playpen.
Do standard playpen types fold up for storage?
A. No, standard playpens don’t fold up for storage. The panels can be taken apart and stacked out of the way to take up less space when not needed, but if easy storage is high on your list of what to look for, purchase a portable playpen.
What’s the best playpen to buy?
What you need to know: Although this playpen is expensive, the easy setup and takedown and large play area make this the top playpen pick.
What you’ll love: Rounded edges and durable construction make this an incredibly safe playpen for children inside and outside.
What you should consider: There are some reports of rare instances of the door not closing or opening easily, plus it isn’t very portable.
Top playpen for the money
What you need to know: This dual-purpose mesh playpen can function as a fence or barrier when needed.
What you’ll love: The mesh provides excellent visibility and folds down very easily for maximum storage capability.
What you should consider: It has a smaller play area and corners that seem a bit weak, which doesn’t match up to the slightly high cost.
Where to buy: Sold by Target
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This might be a rather pricey option, but the high quality and additional features make it worth the investment.
What you’ll love: The interlocking panels make setup and takedown incredibly easy, and there’s a swinging door for accessible entrance and exit.
What you should consider: There are gaps in the panels a child can use to climb out of the playpen.
Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.