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Best Play Yards & Portable Playpens of 2019 (Guide & Reviews)

Based on Consumer Ratings & Reviews and Research of Baby Safe Play Spaces

Whether you are looking for the best play yards for babies or the best portable playpens, you have come to the right place!

Wouldn’t it be great to keep your baby or toddler happily playing in one spot, instead of wandering all over the house looking for fun?

This page is all about finding the perfect arena for keeping your little one safe and entertained. 

Towards the bottom of this guide, you will also find a Frequently Asked Questions section, as well as safety warnings, and more! 

Best Play Yards and Best Playpens

We want to be your “Go-To” source for all the information you need about play yards and playpens to keep your baby safe!


Wondering which play yard gates and playpens are the best on the market? Take a peek at this list to find out!

Our Top Pick for a Play Yard


Evenflo Versatile Play Space, Indoor & Outdoor Play Space, Easy & Quick Assembly, Portable, 18.5 Square Feet of Enclosed Space, Durable Construction, For Children 6 to 24 Months, Cool Gray

Evenflo Versatile Play Space


We chose the Evenflo as our #1 Pick for a standard play yard because we love how tall it stands, it has great versatility for inside or outside use (those yard stakes are awesome!), and the fact that any panel can be opened as a walk-thru door!

Our Top Pick for a Portable Playpen

Portable Playard Play Pen for Infants and Babies - Lightweight Mesh Baby Playpen with Carrying Case - Easily Opens with 1 Hand (Turquoise)

Portable Playard Play Pen for Infants and Babies


We picked the Babyseater as our favorite portable playpen because we love the padded floor, machine-washable fabric, easy, fast setup, and the really cool side zip door!



What is the difference between Play Yards and Playpens?

This is a great question!

Both Play Yards and Playpens are dedicated play spaces that do a great job of keeping children contained to one specific area, but since the terms commonly overlap each other, it can be a bit confusing when you are shopping.

For ease of discussion, in this article, we will be referring to play yards as structures that have separate panels that are connected to each other and that attaches to itself to form an enclosed space, similar to how super wide baby gates are capable of being used.

Evenflo Versatile Play Space, Indoor & Outdoor Play Space, Easy & Quick Assembly, Portable, 18.5 Square Feet of Enclosed Space, Durable Construction, For Children 6 to 24 Months, Cool Gray

In this article, you will see reviews for two different styles of play yards, both regular and chunky. They essentially perform the same function, but each has their own distinct look. The “chunky” types are more commonly a bit shorter and used most often for younger babies.

Portable Playard Play Pen for Infants and Babies - Lightweight Mesh Baby Playpen with Carrying Case - Easily Opens with 1 Hand (Turquoise)

For the word “playpen” we will be using this term to distinguish units that are fully contained in one piece, don’t come in panels, and generally have their own floors. Because these units are designed to fold for storage and travel, we will also refer to them as portable playpens.


Why Does Your Baby Need a Play Yard or Playpen?

Babies and toddlers are notorious for being great escape artists, finding trouble to get into, and slipping away quickly when you turn your head. For this reason, many parents love the idea of safely containing their little ones by creating a designated contained play space.

Lovingly called “baby jail” by many families, play yards or playpens can play an important role in keeping your child safe while you are busy nearby cooking, working, or even taking a much-needed shower or bathroom run. The idea is to keep your child entertained in a baby-safe area.

Baby Playpen Kids Activity Centre Safety Play Yard Home Indoor Outdoor New Pen (multicolour, Classic set 14 panel)

We here at Baby Gates Expert believe that play yards and playpens can be a great tool to use, oftentimes in place of or in conjunction with well-placed baby gates in your home. However, we also believe that greatly limiting the amount of play area for too long isn’t wise either.

For this reason, we encourage parents who choose and use a play yard or playpen for times when they need a safe play space for their child, but to not use it exclusively. Children also need time and space to explore and exercise also in larger areas, as well.

Also, children should never be left unattended in play yards or playpens and you should remain in the nearby area so as to monitor their safety at all times. These units are not fool-proof and are merely tools to make your job easier and do not eliminate the need for your watchful eye.

So use them carefully and sparingly, on an as-needed basis, and always be in tune with your child’s need to escape the confines of their “baby jail.”


Best Play Yards for Babies in 2019

Here is our curated list of the best play yards! We use a strict criteria for including products on this list, including those that have received the best customer ratings and the most positive reviews.

We have eliminated any selections that have design flaws that may prove to be dangerous, such as ill-placed openings (holes) that could be used for footholds and climbing or that might allow a child to get an arm or leg stuck.

Keep in mind that we have included reviews of 2 distinct styles of play yards. You will first find standard play yards and, after that, the slightly shorter “chunky” type of play yards that are typically used for younger or smaller babies and toddlers.

OUR PICK

Evenflo Versatile Play Space, Indoor & Outdoor Play Space, Easy & Quick Assembly, Portable, 18.5 Square Feet of Enclosed Space, Durable Construction, For Children 6 to 24 Months, Cool Gray

The Best Play Yards for Babies

We have picked this as our Top Pick because it stands the tallest of the play yards, plus has the option to use any panel as an easy-access door and has built-in stakes to secure it when using on the lawn outdoors.

This fantastic indoor/outdoor standard play yard is tall and sturdy and perfect for keeping your child safe! We love that it has non-slip pads for firm surfaces indoors, but also has reversible feet with built-in stakes to secure it when using on your lawn outdoors!

Every panel on this unit is designed to be used a walk-thru door, so no matter which side you want to enter from it is as simple as “opening” the nearest panel with a one-handed motion.

We love the color options that range from neutral gray to creamy white to bright and colorful primary colors. Plus, you can pick from 2 sizes depending on whether you have a large or small space.

This gate comes fully assembled and can be folded for easy transportation or storage. It is lightweight, but well-made with UV weather-resistant plastic panels.

Specifications:

  • 6-Panel, with option to buy 2-Panel Extension for 8 Panels (Choose Versatile Option)
  • 28” Tall
  • 18.5 Square Feet of Space or add extension to nearly double your space
  • Every panel is hinged & can swing open as a walk-thru door
  • Foldable
  • Has 3 color options.
  • Indoor/Outdoor Design

PROS:

  • Extra-Tall, sturdy panels
  • Every panel is a Walk-thru Door
  • Foldable
  • Configurable with extra panel option
  • Reversible feet with stakes for outdoor use
  • Great color options
  • Inexpensive

CONS:

  • Not as sturdy as a metal play yard
  • Some kids may try to climb the honeycomb design & may need a metal play yard with vertical slats

The Bottom Line:

With a multitude of happy customers, this play yard comes highly-recommended. We love the various features and believe that for a standard plastic-molded play yard, this is the best one on the market. It rates the highest for sturdiness and is available for a fantastic price!


This classy play space is truly the “ultimate” standard play yard. It stands tall enough to securely keep your little one safe inside.

With 2 size options, you can either go big or stay small if necessary, if you only have a small area.

Our favorite feature is the walk-thru door that makes it easy to access and that can be opened with one hand. 

North States Superyard Ultimate Play Yd: Safe Play Area for Indoors or Outdoors - Folds Up with Carrying Strap for Easy Travel. Freestanding. 34.4 Sq.'. Enclosure (26" Tall, Ivory, 8-Panel)

There are skid-resistant pads on the bottom to keep it from sliding around on a firm surface. It can also be used inside or outside.

This molded plastic play yard comes fully assembled and ready to set up. It folds for easy transport and storage. Color choices include a neutral ivory which matches the decor of most homes and a brightly colored “kid-friendly” option.

Specifications:

  • 6-Panel or 8-Panel Options
  • 26” Tall
  • 18.5 Square Feet of Space (6-Panel Version) or 34.4 Square Feet of Space (8-Panel Version)
  • Configurable. Can add or remove panels.
  • Can purchase additional 2-panel extensions.
  • Foldable
  • Has Walk-thru Door
  • Has 3 color options
  • Indoor/Outdoor Design
  • Play Mat Sold Separately
  • Wall-Mount Hardware Unavailable

PROS:

  • Walk-thru Door
  • Foldable and easy to transport or store
  • Comes in a large size with additional panels available
  • Configurable
  • Lightweight & portable

CONS:

  • Plastic is not the most sturdy
  • Door can be difficult to open and close

The Bottom Line:

We love that this play yard provides plenty of space and stands tall enough to contain children very well. It is great for when you need something easy to move to a different location. It is not as sturdy as a metal play yard, but does the job well for its class.


Don’t necessarily want a Walk-thru Door?

Here is the North States regular play yard option. If you change your mind, it even has the option to add extra space with a 2-panel extension with a walk-thru door!

Same specifications as the Ultimate Superyard listed above.
Differences include the following:

North States Superyard Colorplay 8-Panel Play Yard: Safe play area anywhere - Folds with carrying strap for easy travel. Freestanding. 34.4 sq. ft. enclosure (26" tall, Multicolor)

If you are looking for a metal play yard:

If you are looking for a full-size metal play yard that be configured in various ways or used as an extra-wide baby gate across large areas, please see our page: Best Baby Gates for Multiple Configurations. 

There you will find some unique options for sturdy metal baby gates that can be either attached to the wall or used as larger play yards that attach to themselves.

Toddleroo by North States 3-in-1 Metal Superyard: 144" long extra-wide gate, barrier or play yard. Hardware or freestanding. 6 panels, 10 sq.ft. enclosure (30" tall, Beige)

POTBY Foldable Baby Playpen 16 Panel Activity Center Safety Playard with Lock Door,Kid's Fence Indoor Outdoor,Free Installation,Double Layer Clasp and Anti-Slip Base for Children 10 months~6 Years Old

Why we choose this chunky play yard as our #1 Favorite:


We love the ability to choose more space with this play yard and the fact that it is so wonderfully versatile! Plus, the fact that it can be folded for transport or storage makes it a real winner!

This foldable play yard comes pre-assembled in your choice of two different sizes. It comes in a soft pastel color scheme of grey, pink, and blue. The activity panel with beads, turning knobs, and a cute little play phone. It is super attractive for children and has a nice design.

The hinge system allows you to lock the panels at any angle, giving you the freedom to make many configurations of different shapes and sizes. You can also remove any panels to make it smaller, if necessary. Plus there are non-slip “feet” on the bottom to secure it to the floor.

The panels have vertical openings allowing baby to peek out. The walk-thru door has a nice latch system to keep baby from opening the door and wandering out. If you need to transport it, just loosen the hinges, and fold into a bundle for easier transportation or storage.

Specifications:

  • 25.2” Tall
  • 23-29 Square Feet of Space, depending on the size you choose
  • 14 or 16 Panels
  • Very versatile and configurable to many different shapes. Can add or remove panels
  • Walk-thru Door
  • 32.27 Pounds, Foldable
  • Activity Wall with Integrated Toys
  • Comes in Pastel/Grey

PROS:

  • Foldable
  • Nice Activity Wall with Toys
  • Comes in 2 different sizes
  • Comes fully assembled
  • Configurable to many shapes and sizes
  • Great price

CONS:

  • Limited to just one color scheme

The Bottom Line:

This is our favorite chunky play yard based on the fact that it comes in a large size and so infinitely configurable. We also love the toy wall and the simple, safe design. Plus, the fact that it is the best price for a foldable unit makes it an easy choice for our #1 spot!


Foldable Baby Playpen Kids Activity Centre Grey

Why do we choose this as our #2 favorite chunky play yard?


This play yard is beautifully made with one of the safest profiles on the market. It has great features and is wonderfully configurable. We only wish the company had extra panels available to make it larger and will update this listing when these come available.

This chunky play yard come pre-assembled. It has a simple neutral design that will integrate nicely in your home. The color options are pleasant and the activity wall has movable beads and toys to turn. It is attractive to children and parents alike and has plenty of space.

There are vertical openings in the panels so that your baby can see out, but they are positioned in such a way that they will not allow your child to use them to climb out. Each panel has a built-in handle, so they are easy to grasp and move into position.

The hinge mechanism is easy to use and lock into place, which adds sturdiness and strength. There are anti-slip rubber pads to help keep it secure when placed on a hard floor. When you need to store or transport the unit, just unlock and fold the panels together.

Specifications:

  • 23.2” Tall
  • 25 Square Feet of Space
  • 14 Panels
  • Extra Panels Currently Unavailable
  • Configurable to different shapes and sizes. Can add or remove panels.
  • Walk-thru Door
  • 29.6 Pounds, Foldable
  • Has 3 Color Options, Neutral & Bright Pastels
  • Activity Wall with Integrated Toys

PROS:

  • Built with safety in mind
  • Upgraded hinge system
  • Configurable to different shapes and sizes
  • Foldable
  • Has multiple color options
  • Has an activity wall with toys
  • No assembly required

CONS:

The Bottom Line:

We really like the neutral look and function of this chunky play yard. It is priced well and gives an adequate play space for little ones. Our favorite part is the way the hinge system works. The only drawback is the lack of availability of extensions panels at this time.


JAXPETY Baby Playpen Kids 8 Panel Safety Play Center Yard Home Indoor Outdoor New Pen (Blue and Yellow)

Why we choose this Playpen as our budget option:


This is one of least expensive chunky play yards on the market and with the great design and options for additional extensions, it really stands out. It isn’t the easiest to use and only comes in one color option, but if you don’t mind those factors, this is very affordable.

This budget-option chunky play yard is brightly colored with a teddy-bear sticker motif on each panel. There is a fun activity panel with a toy phone and other little toys. The walk-thru door has an easy to use lever on the outside that baby can’t open.

The panels snap together easily and can be added or removed as needed. If you need more, you can buy extra 2-panel extensions or even “corner” pieces to extend your play area. Configure this play yard in whatever shape you need.

The panels are not foldable, but they do detach and can be stored neatly in a bundle. Also, the bottoms of the panels have rubber suction cups to secure it to a hard floor. 

Specifications:

PROS:

  • Fun activity toy panel
  • Extra flat panel and corner extensions available for purchase
  • Very configurable to any shape or size
  • Fun, bright design attractive to children
  • Safe with vertical openings that are not climb-able
  • Inexpensive

CONS:

  • Not foldable
  • This design doesn’t come in a neutral color design

The Bottom Line:

This is a great budget unit if you need a chunky play yard with lots of options! We love that it’s built safely with vertical openings that baby can peek through but that don’t create footholds. The versatility of this play space is awesome, but unfortunately it is not foldable.


Best Portable Playpens for Babies in 2019

OUR PICK

Portable Playard Play Pen for Infants and Babies - Lightweight Mesh Baby Playpen with Carrying Case - Easily Opens with 1 Hand (Turquoise)

The Best Portable Playpens

We chose this as our #1 Top Pick for a Portable Playpen due to its large size, padded floor, and awesome side zip doorway!

The Babyseater Portable Playpen is quite large at nearly 5-feet across. It is super easy to set up and has a quick locking mechanism on each side. It has mesh sides for great visibility and air flow. It comes with a carrying case with a handle which makes it very portable.

The floor is padded and the fabric is removable and machine-washable, making this both comfortable for baby and easy to keep clean. There is also a side zip “door” which is perfect when you want to climb in with baby or let older siblings enter and exit with ease.

PROS:

  • Great size
  • Foldable and portable
  • Simple to setup
  • Removable and washable fabric
  • Padded floor
  • Great quality
  • Side zip door
  • 3 color options

CONS:

  • No canopy

The Bottom Line:

We love this playpen and are very impressed with the quality and its ease of use! If you are looking for an easy-to-use play space with super cool features, we highly recommend this one so much that it is our #1 Top Pick!


This portable playpen gives your baby 14 square feet of play space. It measures 48” across and stands 26” tall.

The mesh sides provide plenty of air circulation and great visibility. The canvas floor is water-resistant.

It compactly folds and can be carried in its own travel bag with a shoulder strap, plus it only weighs 12 lbs. Set up is fast and easy! Great for indoor or outdoor use!

There is an option to purchase a canopy separately, or if you want to upgrade and buy it WITH a canopy, see the link below for deluxe model.

Summer Infant Pop N' Play Portable Playard

PROS:

  • Mesh sides for air circulation and visibility
  • Water-resistant floor
  • Super-lightweight and easy to carry

CONS:

  • Not easy to clean
  • Floor is not padded
  • Mesh may tear with repeated use

The Bottom Line:

This is a great budget-option playpen. It has all the basics and gets the job done. Plus it is easy-to-use and fast to set up. Plus, you have options to upgrade it with a canopy, if needed.


Like the Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play, but want a deluxe version? Read on!

The Sweetlife Edition gives you the same basic profile, but also comes with a removable, washable ½” thick floor pad to make baby’s life more comfortable and your job easier!

Plus it comes with a full-coverage canopy with 2 zip-open panels for easy access. Great for keeping baby protected from the sun on a hot day!

With this link, you will also find an option to purchase the regular Pop ‘n Play with an included full-coverage zip-open canopy for a bit cheaper than purchasing it separately.

Summer Infant Pop 'n Play SE Hex Playard (Sweetlife Edition), Aqua Sugar, 6-Sided

This lightweight (13 lbs) portable playpen is built with a heavy-duty steel frame and reinforced stitching. It has 14 square feet of play space, measures 48” across and stands 26” tall.

The floor is made of an easy-to-wipe nylon and side are mesh for air circulation and great visibility.

It has a double-locking mechanism that is easy to operate with your feet for a fast set up. It folds easily in a few seconds and comes with a travel carry bag with a handle. It has 6-panels, but see below for a larger version.

PROS:

  • Lightweight & foldable
  • Portable with carry bag
  • Easy locking mechanism for a fast setup
  • Mesh Sides
  • Water-resistant floor
  • Easy to clean

CONS:

  • Floor is not padded and sags to the ground
  • No canopy

The Bottom Line:

This is a very adequate portable playpen with a great locking feature that makes set up and take down very simple and fast. It’s a decent price for a basic model and is well-liked by the majority of families that use it.

This is a larger version with 8-panels. It works the same way as the 6-panel, but is 62” across, giving your child (or children) even more room to play!


Are you looking for a portable playpen that has extra padding?

Not only is the floor portion lightly padded, but there are even cushions on all the side support bars and padding on the mesh in front of all the joints.

It is constructed with steel bars for stability and mesh sides for visibility and air flow. It is 48” across and 27.5” high. It folds easily and can be stored and carried in its travel bag. It is lightweight and only weighs 12.5 pounds. 

Milliard Playpen Portable Playard with Cushioning for Safety, for Travel, Indoor and Outdoor Play Yard Pen (Large)

Setup includes connecting the 5 safety buckles around the leg joints. It is simple and only takes a few minutes to put up and take down. The fabric is also removable and machine-washable.

PROS:

  • Lightly cushioned floor
  • Padded bars and joints
  • Mesh sides
  • Foldable and portable
  • Machine-washable fabric
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • No canopy

The Bottom Line:

We love the extra-padding on this playpen, as that is a hard-to-find feature. The floor is only lightly cushioned, so don’t expect a heavily-padded floor. It doesn’t have the fastest setup and breakdown, but it is still very easy. We highly recommend this playpen overall, especially for the price.


This portable playpen comes standard with a canopy. It is 28” tall and spans 49” across.

The sides are mesh allowing for air circulation and visibility. The floor is made of durable nylon and is easy to wipe clean. Plus the fabric is all removable and machine-washable.

It is foldable and portable with a carrying case that has a handle. Setup is easy and only takes a few seconds with 2 locking mechanisms. It only weighs 12 pounds, so it is lightweight and great for traveling.

Baby Delight Go with Me Eclipse Portable Playard (Canopy Included)

If you don’t want or need the canopy, there is also a cheaper option to purchase without it. 

Great for babies 6-24 months who are up to 35” tall.

PROS:

  • Foldable and portable
  • Comes with a canopy
  • Fabric is removable and machine-washable
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • No padding on floor
  • Expensive

The Bottom Line:

This is a nice well-made playpen with great features. It isn’t the cheapest option, but with the machine-washable fabric and canopy, it may be worth the extra money! The only downside is that it doesn’t have any padding on the floor.


All You Need to Know About Play Yards and Playpens

If you are new to the world of play yards and playpens, it might seem overwhelming at first. In this section, we will address any concerns or questions you may have about these products. We want you to feel confident in your use of them and know their benefits and risks.

What do I need to look for or avoid in a Play Yard or Playpen?

Always make sure that you choose products that are designed with safety in mind. Not all baby products are necessarily well-thought-out, so make sure that any play yard or playpen that you use doesn’t have sharp areas, pinching parts, or improperly sized openings.

Plus, you will need to make sure that your choice fits the size and age of your child. If your child is older or taller, you will need to measure to make sure that they are not too big for the play yard or playpen or that the unit is sturdy enough to accommodate them.

You will also want to consider the size (surface area) that you need, as well as ease of set-up, portability, or other factors that will assure you pick a play yard or playpen that adequately meets your needs and that of your child.

Safety Warnings for Play Yards and Playpens

To prevent accidents, always ensure that:

  1. Baby is not left unattended when using a play yard or playpen.
  2. There are no tears, holes, sharp or broken areas that baby could hurt themselves with or get caught in.
  3. If baby can stand or climb, remove any large objects or toys that baby could use to attempt to climb over the sides.
  4. Do not tie any toys to the top rail, as baby could get entangled and they are a suffocation hazard.
  5. Make sure there are no openings that baby could slip through or low sides that baby can get over.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1. What age is a playpen or play yard suitable for?

This depends largely on the size and mobility of your child. Generally speaking, playpens are recommended when your child begins to roll around, scoot, or crawl. This may be about 6 months for the average baby.

Many children can continue to use their playpen until they are anywhere from 1-2 years of age, depending on how tall they are and whether they have learned how to climb out of it. It also depends on how high the walls of your playpen or play yard is.

If your child outgrows their playpen or one of the shorter chunky play yards, you may success keeping them contained safely in a taller standard play yard, either a plastic option as reviewed on this page or upgrading a metal play yard with vertical slats, as can be found elsewhere on this website.

The important thing to remember is that if your child’s chest comes above the top rail of your play space or has learned to climb out, then it is no longer safe to use for that child, due to risk of them falling out headfirst.


2. Are playpens or play yards a good idea for babies?

Yes, for many parents, these wonderful inventions can help keep baby contained and entertained, keeping them safe and happy while you are busy.

Since most young children who are mobile are super fast and love to wander, a play yard or playpen may be the perfect answer for helping you keep an eye on them by keeping them in one general area.

On the other hand, never leave a small child unattended in a playpen, nor should you over-use a playpen that has limited space. Children do need the opportunity to stretch out, move freely, run & toddle, which is nearly impossible to accomplish in a playpen.

For this reason, use these items, but use them wisely and with good judgment, considering always that a child “penned up” for too long will likely be restless and bored.

3. Can I use a playpen instead of a crib as my baby’s bed?

Only allow your baby to sleep in a playpen if it has a firm surface with no additional mattresses, soft bedding, toys, or other objects in it.

Many playpens on the market are advertised as being an alternative to a crib, but when used for sleep, they must also resemble a proper crib without anything that could potentially become a suffocation or entrapment hazard.

4. Is it okay to leave baby in a playpen?

Only if you are nearby and are monitoring them. Babies should not be left alone or with another child in a playpen without proper supervision.

Plus, they should not be left for extended periods of time in a playpen, as they may lack proper exercise by doing so or begin to feel bored or overwhelmed with being in such a small space.

Watch your child for clues that they need a break from the playpen. Are they fussy, crying, or attempting to climb out? Those are signs that may indicate that they need more space to play or a change of pace outside of the playpen.


Wrapping Up

We hope this page has been helpful to you on your quest for the best play yards and best playpens for babies as you make your decision for what will work best for your little one. We wish you great success as you seek to provide a fun and safe environment for your child!

About Our Review Process

We are committed to bringing you the best and top-rated products that are currently on the market. We do this by spending hours researching and studying reviews by actual real-world customers. This helps us to narrow down the choices to those that are the best, based on features, performance, and value.

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