Play yards, which also are called playpens, have evolved. Our parents and grandparents used giant pieces of furniture with wooden bars to literally “pen” children in. Their bases were hard wood or particle board which they covered with blankets. It was not the most welcoming place for a baby to be, but at least their caregivers knew they were safe, as long as they didn’t gnaw on the wooden bars or tangle up the in the blankets and pillows.
Now, we have the luxury of portable, mesh-sided, fully padded play yards. Made of durable plastic and covered tubing, these play yards can be colorful, exciting worlds of wonder that invite your baby to play and explore, or soothing nap-time paradises, lulling them into soft dreams. The padding is usually affixed, making sure your infant won’t tangle herself up, and is either wipe-able or machine washable for great ease of use.
Deluxe play yard models even feature padded changing table-top options, and colorful mobiles to entrance even the smallest child to use her imagination. Many feature “newborn nappers:” bassinette-like fully padded beds that are on top of the play yard, allowing caregivers to be hands-free but immediately see the baby.
The portability of play yards is truly amazing. In most cases, the sturdy bottom pad lifts out, and by pulling the single loop at the center of the play yard floor you can fold the whole thing up so that it slides into the folded bottom pad and closes with Velcro tabs. The folded and collapsed play yard becomes as portable as a summer lawn chair, and just as easy to use. When open, some play yards feature one or two sets of sturdy lockable wheels, allowing you to move your baby with you, but keep her secure.
A play yard is a key piece of any newborn’s world, and should be the safest possible.