We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

The Best Playards for Your Baby or Toddler

A playard is very similar to a playpen, which is essentially a larger crib made for play. It gives your baby or toddler room to roll over, stand up, and even crawl around in. However, playards are slightly different from playpens because they can double as an impromptu bed, as most models come with a mattress for sleeping. Playpens, on the other hand, don’t always come with any sort of floor mat. Playards are an ideal way to create an enclosed, safe play space for your child if you have to step out of the room for a minute or are taking part in an activity (like cooking) where you can’t keep a sharp eye on them every second. They’re also a great option if you’re visiting friends or relatives who don’t have an entirely childproofed home or are traveling with your child. Traditional playards were made out of wood with vertical bars all around, not unlike a crib. Modern models tend to be made of a plastic and/or metal skeleton with mesh, nylon, or soft plastic sides. They may also have extra attachments like mobiles or music boxes. Here are a few playards we recommend.

What Should You Consider in Playards?

Here are a few things to think about before buying a playard:

  • Add-Ons: Do you want a basic playard or one with a lot of extra attachments that allow the playard to have more than one function. Some have a bassinet feature or a vibrating mattress for naptime as well as playtime. Others come with a removable changing table, which can be a very useful feature for traveling; make sure you check the weight limit on these, and never put your child in the playard while the changing table is in place. Some have a canopy, which may or may not have a mobile to shield your child from harsh light, or a lid to ensure they don’t climb out of the playard. Others have storage space for toys, whether as a zipper side pocket, fabric shelves, hook-on, or clip-on pouches or bags. These add ons might make the playard more expensive, but you may find the higher price tag a worthwhile trade-off for the convenience they offer.
  • Portability: Modern playards tend to be designed to accommodate parents on the go. Some have wheels or swivel casters to make them easier to move from room to room. (If you buy a model with wheels, be sure they’re lockable for safety purposes.) Others are collapsible or foldable to become more compact and easier to take on the road. These may even come with their own totes for maximum portability. Some collapsible models can be rolled when folded, which is great for traveling. Also keep in mind that a playard with extra attachments will be harder to fold up and transport than a more basic one.
  • Extra Toys: Plenty of modern playards have extra toys, music, and lights to make playtime a more enriching and interactive experience for your child. These extra attachments can run the gamut from suspended toys to electric mobiles or even to something like a detachable baby gym. There are others will electronic music centers or an input for MP3 players. Nightlights are an option as well. Again, these features will add weight and expense to the playard, so you may prefer extra attachments for a stay-at-home playard rather than one for traveling.

Most Color Options: Graco On-The-Go Playard

This playard has nine different color and pattern options from which to choose, as well as several extra features for your child’s enjoyment. This model comes with a bar of soft toys to entertain your baby. It also has a removable, full-sized bassinet so that your baby can play and nap in the same space without the hassle of moving them or setting up an extra crib. This is especially handy if you want to bring this playard on the road, as is the push-button fold that allows you to close the playard quickly and easily. The bassinet folds up with the rest of the playard as well, so you don’t have to carry or set it up separately. The feet and wheels also fold up for more compact storage and transportation. There are also small mesh storage bags on the end for your convenience. If you prefer, there is an even more portable model available and another that comes with a built-in diaper changer.

Most Color Options

Graco Pack 'N Play On The Go Playard, Kagen

A colorful, patterned playard with a built-in bassinet and bar of soft toys for your baby's enjoyment.

Most Features: Baby Trend Nursery Center

If you’re looking for an all-purpose playard with as many extra features and add-ons as possible, this is the model for you. It comes with a removable bassinet, a canopy, carrying handle, large built-in changing table, electronic music and nature sounds with volume control, a nightlight, two plush baby toys, and an organizer where you can store extra toys, diapers, wipes, and more. The plush fabric and mesh siding ensures that the playard is properly ventilated for your child’s safety, and the large wheels allow you to move it from room to room with ease. You can secure the playard in place with the brakes and a one-handed locking mechanism for extra stability while your child is playing inside. You also receive a complimentary tote bag with your purchase, which you can use for traveling or storage. Choose between three different color combinations to best match your nursery or personal preferences.

Most Features

Baby Trend Retreat Nursery Center

An all-purpose playard that comes with just about every extra feature or add on you could hope for.

Most Portable: BABYSEATER Portable Playard

If portability is the most important feature you want in a playard, this is the one for you. This model was designed specifically with your convenience in mind, as you’ll be able to open, operate, and set it up one-handed in almost no time at all. When fully set up, this 30-inch (2.5-foot) playard has a diameter of 54 inches (4.5 feet), and the metal folding frame can be compressed down into a mere 9 inches for easy and compact transportation. It also weighs less than 15 pounds, 5 to 15 pounds lighter than the average playard, and comes with a built-in carrying strap for increased portability. You’ll be able to bring it along out into the backyard, to the park, a friend or relative’s house, or anywhere else with ease. The sides are made of sturdy, transparent mesh so that you’ll be able to see your baby, and vice versa, at all times, while the two safety locks keep your child securely and safely inside. It’s also weather and moisture resistant for indoor and outdoor use. The machine-washable, padded mat lining comes in beige, pink, or turquoise and can be removed for cleaning at any time.

Most Portable

BABYSEATER Portable Playard Play Pen with Carrying Case for Infants and Babies, Pink

A highly portable playard that can be quickly opened and set up one-handed.

Best Value: Kidsry Portable Playard

Raising a child can be expensive, as any parent can tell you, and the various items you need to buy for a baby or toddler can add up quickly. If you want to invest in a playard for your child without paying an arm and a leg for it, this durable model is the one for you. And even though it’s most cost-effective than many other models, it still contains several extra features and add-ons so that you know you’re getting more bang for your buck. This playard has a built-in bassinet, changing table, and a miniature mobile of small, soft toy elephants. The changing table is covered in fabric for your baby’s comfort, and both it and the suspended bassinet can be removed at any time. The wheels make it easy to move the playard between rooms, and they can lock in to keep the playard securely in place when needed. The one-handed locking mechanism allows you to easily fold up the playard into the included travel pouch so that you can take it wherever and whenever you want.

Best Value

Pamo Babe Deluxe Nursery Center ,Portable Playard with Comfortable Mattress,Changing Table and Cute Toys

A durable playard with convenient add-ons and without a hefty price tag.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on a single goal: helping you make the most informed purchases possible. Want to know more?