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If you're wondering just what a play yard is, its meaning doesn't stray far from the word itself. Essentially, play yards are cozy, portable enclosures for indoor or outdoor use, with a multitude of features to make your life easier and keep baby safe. And whether you're on the move from room-to-room or home-to-home, you're sure to find a play yard to fit your lifestyle, decor and budget. Here are some tips to follow as you shop for this popular "mother's helper."
Some play yards cater to napping newborns, like those with a bassinet attachment, while others serve as a gated space for your playful little one. Either way, most models come with lots of bells and whistles to keep baby happy and comfortable while you're up and about.
A play yard with a bassinet attachment can accommodate your growing child. You can use as a portable crib when baby is small, and convert to a play/nap area once your child is a bit older. Some models have a secure-fitting changing station for convenient diaper changes, and a canopy to shade baby outdoors. Most play yards are easy to fold up for storage and portability, and may feature a carry-all to make it easier to transport wherever you go. Look for other embellishments such as mobiles, detachable toy bars, and entertainment centers to add to your child's enjoyment, as well as lockable wheels or swivel casters for safer mobility. You can also find coordinated play yards that are available in prints that match baby's car seat, stroller, swing, or high chair.
Before you purchase a play yard, consider what you'll be using it for so you get the perfect one for baby's needs, and yours!
features to look for
lockable wheels/swivel casters
safety tips: play areas
Make sure all four drop-sides are locked in the upright position whenever your baby is inside.
Check mesh sides and railing for holes or tears.
If you use a sheet for the mattress or cover for the bassinet, make sure it is tight-fitting and specifically made for your play yard to prevent entrapment.
Do not place large toys, bumper pads or boxes inside the play yard. A child can use them to climb out.
Do not place string toys in or across the top of the unit.
Never leave your child unattended in a play yard.
Keep your play yard away from sources of heat and wind, as well as a safe distance away from heavy furniture and windows.
Follow manufacturer guidelines on baby's height and weight requirements for all features (bassinet, changing station, etc.) of the play yard.