The 8 Best Kids Playpens

Updated November 06, 2017 by Sam Kraft

8 Best Kids Playpens
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. We're not saying you should leave your baby or toddler in one of these kids playpens and then go off for a night out, but you can feel confident in their safety while they’re playing inside. They are designed to keep your little one securely contained and entertained, so you don't have to watch them constantly while you’re cooking dinner or catching up on some chores. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best kids playpen on Amazon.

8. KidZone Play Center

The KidZone Play Center provides reliable entertainment for your little ones, as it features ball spinners, a picture house, and a play telephone. It’s a dependable, sturdy model thanks to the bottom suction cups that prevent it from tipping over.
  • easy to assemble and disassemble
  • gate locks securely for safety
  • kids may peel the stickers off
Brand Kidzone
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Dream On Me Playard

Due to its circular shape, the Dream On Me Playard ensures a high degree of safety with no sharp corners or edges. It is made from a durable plastic that can withstand daily use and wipes down clean with warm soapy water when needed.
  • included mat fits securely
  • bright engaging colors
  • padding is very thin
Brand Dream On Me
Model 424
Weight 18.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Lil’ Jumbl Baby Yard

Constructed with six colorful panels that form a safe barrier around active children, the Lil’ Jumbl Baby Yard is a compact option that’s ideal for one toddler. It comes with a user guide to simplify assembly and can be used indoors or outdoors.
  • features a steering wheel
  • generates lights and sounds
  • too small for multiple children
Brand Lil' Jumbl
Model pending
Weight 25 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. FDW Play Center

With enough features to keep children up to four years of age engaged and entertained, the FDW Play Center includes interchangeable panels that allow you to alter the size and shape of your playpen to match the environment it’s set up in.
  • activity board with spinning balls
  • made with nontoxic materials
  • suction cups are not reliable
Brand FDW
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Primo Cabana

The Primo Cabana is large enough to hold two children up to three years old. It comes equipped with a padded waterproof floor mat that offers comfort for playing kids, and it’s easy to clean in the event of any spills or accidents.
  • see-through mesh for visibility
  • travel case with a shoulder strap
  • weather-resistant polyester fabric
Brand Primo
Model PRI-930Navy
Weight 13.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Kiddygem Fun Baby

The versatile Kiddygem Fun Baby features puzzles, beep buttons, gears and rollers that encourage kids to explore in a natural way. Best of all, it can be used as a safety gate, a fence, a play yard, or a ball pit depending on your needs.
  • handle cutouts for easy maneuvering
  • strong hinged safety lock on door
  • rearranges easily to fit your space
Brand KiddyGem
Model PZBL2008
Weight 25.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Kaplan Magic

The extra-large Kaplan Magic is a versatile play zone with 32 individual panels that snap together easily and allow it to take on a variety of shapes. It offers enough space for multiple children to play within the confines of its fun, bright colors.
  • suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • comes with clear instructions
  • simple to wipe clean
Brand Kaplan
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Baby Care FunZone

Designed with a resilient smooth plastic that won’t scrape a baby’s skin, the Baby Care FunZone will keep very young children sheltered and protected. It’s a spacious option, as it encloses nearly 32 square feet, and it’s as sturdy as they come.
  • bpa-free and lead-free
  • no tools required for assembly
  • available in 2 colors
Brand Baby Care
Model pending
Weight 40.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Prison For Babies

There’s a scene in the first Back To The Future film in which Marty McFly (played by the inimitable Michael J. Fox), travels back to the time when his parents were in high school. While there, he meets the baby version of one of his uncles who, in his future time, ends up in prison. The child sits in a playpen, and Marty says to him, “You’d better get used to these bars, kid.”

It might be a stretch to imply that a child’s exposure to low-level incarceration in their earliest years can lead to a life that eventually lands them in the real slammer, but getting your hands on a high-quality playpen can give your children a leg up in their cognitive development and overall happiness. At the very least, it can keep them safe and distracted while you get on with your important daily tasks.

That latter point is the primary reason that most people invest in playpens. Many offer features that can help engage and occupy a child’s imagination, but all of them effectively create a space in which your child will be safe. So long as you situate the playpen away from anything dangerous the child can reach from within, you can feel free to leave the room for a few minutes without worrying too much about your kid’s safety.

With those extra few minutes here and there, you can get work done around the house, like laundry or cleaning, or even some professional work if your job allows you to operate from home. If your tasks run the risk of taking you away from your child for too long a period of time, make sure you invest in a high-quality baby monitor. That way, you can leave your child in his or her playpen for much longer periods, and still be able to check in on them whenever you like.

What To Look For In A Child’s Playpen

When selecting a playpen for your child, there are a few key variables to consider. Keeping these things in mind will help you take our list and whittle it down even further to just those options that suit your lifestyle the most effectively. Before you know it, you’ll have your little ones safely behind bars.

That humorous notion actually leads us to our first feature worthy of consideration, and that’s the material out of which your playpen is made and the configuration thereof. Most playpens these days are made from durable ABS plastics that are generally free of dangerous chemicals like phthalates and BPA. Kids tend to put their mouths on everything, after all, so surrounding them with safe materials is vital. If this is important to you, double-check the materials of a given model to be sure.

Whether or not that material is shaped into bars may or may not have a psychological effect on the child, but it’s doubtful that bars would actually create an association with imprisonment. Children don’t have much of an understanding of adult correctional methods. They also spend a lot of time in cribs, most of which also feature bars. If anything, this familiar pattern, combined with a barred playpen’s ability to let in more light than a solid-sided model, should actually provide children with a brighter, more peaceful play space.

Beyond these considerations, it’s worth investigating how a given playpen can be deployed. A few options out there can only stand in a single configuration with a set number of sides. This type of model takes up a specific amount of space. If there’s enough room in your den to house it, but not in another area of the home, your options may begin to feel rather limited. Other models can reduce the number of sides you put up without sacrificing their stability, allowing you to set up a playpen to fit the space or to accommodate more or fewer children.

Depending on the attitudes and behaviors of those children, you’ll also want to pay close attention to the way in which a given playpen locks. Most have been designed to keep children from meddling with them enough to accidentally open them, but only you know your child’s specific level of motor skills, ingenuity, and mischievousness.

The last thing to look for when selecting a playpen for your child is additional built-in entertainment. Some playpens are nothing more than geometric shapes that contain children. Others, however, come with entertaining designs, or even toys and games built into the walls. If you have curious kids that needs a lot of stimulation, this is a great way to distract them without just popping on the television.

A Safer Alternative To The Cage

It’s particularly difficult to pinpoint the arrival of the playpen on the childcare scene, specifically because any enclosure into which a child could be placed for their safety and distraction could be considered a playpen. There are, however, two particular milestones worth looking at, if not for their historical specificity then for their strange insight into the ever-evolving nature of parenting.

The more recent development was in 1902, when the Oxford English dictionary first utilized the word playpen. It’s reasonable to assume that the devices we now call playpens had increased in use in the years preceding this development, as the dictionary world usually takes a little time to incorporate language from the zeitgeist.

The earlier development must seem like a nightmarish torture method to today’s helicopter parents, but it was all the rage for a moment in the late 19th century. We’re talking about airing, a process in which parents would put their children in a contraption known as a baby cage, and hang it just outside their window. A book called The Care And Feeding Of Children popularized the practice in 1894.

It’s author, Dr. Luther Emmett Holt argued that the combination of fresh air and exposure to cold temperatures would both purify a child’s blood and make them more resilient against the common cold. Presumably, the feeding portion of the book contained recipes that build your child’s resistance to various poisons by steadily incorporating them into the infant’s diet.

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Last updated on November 06, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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