Top 5 Best Portable Play Yards – Guide & Reviews
As a parent on the go, there is no lifesaver like the portable play yard. Every one of us has experienced moments with our little ones when we need our hands free, but we also need to stay close. We need to wash dishes, change the laundry, let the dogs out, make phone calls, or complete paperwork from our home office. But we can’t put the kids down on the floor because they will be into everything in the blink of an eye.
Popping my two kids in the playard was how work got done when my babies first started going mobile. Choosing the best portable play yard with all of the options available today can be tough, and just because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. After researching products and buying guides, I’ve got some recommendations for you that will help narrow down the options when choosing the best playard for you according to experts, industry standards, and customer feedback.
How To Choose Portable Play Yard
When choosing a playard for your infants and toddlers, there are a few questions that need to be taken into consideration. While a playard may seem like a minor purchase, you want to consider how you will make use of it over the course of the product’s lifetime.
It is important to know what questions to ask when you go out to shop, and equally important to know what information matters when presented with the onslaught of available options and features. Here are some example questions to get you started on your selection process.
- How long will my child need this playard?-Is my child nearing 30 lbs.or age 2?
- Will I reuse this playard with my other children?
- Is my choice of features practical for the length of time my baby will use the playard?
- What materials were used to construct the playard?
- Is the tubing metal or plastic?
- Are the fabrics and meshes durable?-Do the included accessories look comfortable?
- Do the materials appear to be sturdy enough for your child and their needs?
- Do I want higher end features like light panels and nature sound players?
- Do I just need the basic features for my child?
- What features do I know will make my child most comfortable?
- What are the differences and similarities between each model for each brand?
- Does the playard fold easily?-How does it fold up?
- Can you quickly and smoothly fold the playard and store it?
- Are three panel or four panel mesh sides best for your needs?
- Is a rectangle shape the best design for your needs, or would a square playard be better?
- Do all the accessories work well?-Are accessories easy to use and well placed?
Recommended Portable Play Yards – Reviewed and Recommended
As promised, I have researched and reviewed five of the most popular models on the market, and I have recommendations and reservations about each of them. Hopefully my impressions of these products makes your selection and purchasing process a stress-free, happy experience. Keep in mind that these models were selected based on their popularity, customer reviews, expert opinions, price point, value, and safety. Here are my top five choices in no particular order.
Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard
This value priced model sports a unique octagonal shape and durable metal frame. The overall design is attractive, and it comes with the option of several bright and lovely colors. Furthermore, the Pop N’ Play features detachable accessories sold separately to allow buyers to better customize their Pop N’ Play with features that meet their needs.I personally recommend the detachable canopy and the clip on toy carrier.
Additionally, the canvas floor and all mesh sides create a safe, well-ventilated, and comfortable playing environment for your child. While the no-frills design may cause some customers to question the price point, parents and experts agree that the quality of build and overall value is excellent. Finally, the Pop N’ Play folds easily for storage in the included carrying bag. In my opinion, this is definitely the choice for parents who want just the basics without sacrificing quality.
Graco Pack N’ Play Sport, Parkside
The Parkside from Graco is definitely the limousine of portable playards. With a built-in UV-shielded waterproof canopy, your child can enjoy the great outdoors rain or shine in comfort.
The Parkside also features a simple two-step latching setup and takedown procedure, and is lightweight enough to be easily carried. Another added value feature is the zippered mesh wall, which is what makes this model worth the slightly higher price.
One of the eight breathable mesh walls has an external zipper that allows you to open up one side of the playard. This means that when your child has outgrown the need for a playard, the Graco Pack N’ Play Sport converts into a portable playhouse and rest area.
All in all, with its superior ventilation, a waterproof base to protect from ground elements, and the built-in UV Resistant/Waterproof canopy, this Graco model is the all-around winner in terms of features and comfort.
The price point is slightly higher than similar models, however this model includes premium features that are typically not included for the same price.
Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard Portable Napper and Changer, Affinia
This model is the crib-away-from-crib offering from Graco. With its rectangular shape, included mobile, removable sleeper section, clip-in changing station, and built-in wheels and casters, this portable play yard is definitely the workhorse of Graco’s portable playard offerings.
All accessories and appointments on this napper are of the highest quality, and it is highly regarded both for its mobility and its durability.
The ability to convert this model from plush sleeping space, then into a safe and comfortable playard, then into an elegantly designed changing station makes it hands down one of the best values available on the market today.
I have to admit, in terms of infant use, this is my favorite portable play yard currently available. If you are looking for a playard that can do double and triple duty for years and children to come, the Pack N’ Play Playard Portable Napper and Changer the choice for you.
Dream On Me Zodiak Portable Playard, Grey
This is a no frills model that is valued for its portability and durability. An easy to set up rectangular playard, the Zodiak features four mesh sides for breezy ventilation and better visibility. The fabric lined railings and base are attractive, comfortable, and washable.
Additionally, the Zodiak also breaks down easily and can be stored or carried in its included storage bag. Best of all, it has two built-in wheels for easy portability around the house.
Finally, the Zodiak’s appearance and design are almost identical to the Graco Pack N’ Play Playard, Aspery, yet the cost is much lower. It may not have as many available or included features as some of the more expensive models, but it definitely offers the most features at the lowest cost.
Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard, Aspery
Graco’s elegant, streamlined Pack N Play definitely does not skimp on features. Its push-button setup and takedown allow for frustration free use, and its built-in two wheel design combined with the included carry bag make for easy portability and mobility.
It may lack certain finer appointments of Graco’s higher-end products, but the quality-of-build and long term durability are on par with even their flagship model.
In my opinion, despite the higher cost, the Aspery is a superior product to Dream On Me’s Zodiak or the Summer Infant Pop N’ Play. Parents who want a no frills playard with excellent value and quality should definitely consider Graco’s Pack N’ Play, Aspery.
I have two winners out of five for my final verdict, largely because the best choices depend on when you are purchasing your best portable play yard.
If I were shopping for an infant-friendly playard, I would purchase the Graco Pack N’ Play Playard Napper Portable Changer. Dollar for dollar it offers everything a parent could want in both a portable play yard and a crib, and the easy wheeling mobility makes it ideal for children from infancy to toddlerhood.
If my kids were still toddlers and growing, I would most likely choose the Graco Pack N’ Play Sport Parkside. It offers the best features for the money, and it can still be used as a playhouse once your kids are more mobile and able to do things on their own.
The other models are an excellent value for their price points, but I would prefer to spend a little extra on something of high quality with features I would use frequently. No one wants to make multiple purchases later on due to equipment wear and tear or failure.
Regardless of which model you choose, Graco products definitely offer the most value for the cost, and I believe their products are the best choice for my family and for yours.