The Best Playpens to Keep Your Baby Safe While Allowing Them Some Freedom

best playpens
The Best Playpens of 2024 to Keep Your Baby SafeTrevor Raab

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When your baby is teeny tiny, keeping them occupied in a swing or a bouncer is about as much as you need. However, once they're sitting up, rolling over, and (gasp!) crawling, you need a great play yard — also known as a playpen. These genius items are an easy, safe place for your little one to hang out, relax, and play, all while you can see them. And one of these best playpens is a registry must-have. And if you spot one on the registry of a mom-to-be, get it.

The Best Baby Playpens

What to Consider

Playpens are fairly simple devices without a ton of range. They’re definitely not the cheapest baby equipment you’ll buy, but they are arguably one of the best value. Choosing one can feel overwhelming, yet it’s pretty simple: The major factors to consider are style, use, features, price, and safety. All of the choices on our list meet or exceed CPSC guidelines for best practices regarding play yards. We contacted Casey Anthony and Melissa Wolf, Senior Directors of Brand Marketing and Product Development at Graco, and they gave us some insight into how Graco ensures the safety of the babies using their products. “Believe the safest product designs emerge when medical insight is combined with engineering,” they tell us, as well that they “reached out to the medical community for insight on product design including through surveys and third-party research.”


Some models of playpens, such as the Graco Pack ’n Play and 4moms Breeze Plus, are all-in-one devices. They have an attached bassinet and changing table, and the relative cushion on the actual play yard itself is a bit more dynamic and springy. Decide if you need a place just for your child to play or if you would like them to nap in it, too.

Consider indoor-outdoor use with your playpen, as some aren’t built for harsh weather. Models like the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light are also incredibly portable and made for travel.


Aspects like collapsibility, weight, and quality of the mattress are all important to consider when looking for a playpen. Memory foam options, sizing, and sheet compatibility all play a role when you’re considering what will be the most comfortable for your baby and the most convenient for you. Some playpens even come with zippered crawl-out doors, making it easy for your baby to get in and out.


A good play yard will generally start at around $100 and go upwards from there — to about $400. If you or whoever you’re buying for is planning on having more children, a higher-end, more luxurious option may be worth it. Our best overall, the Graco, is one of the more affordable playpens on the list. We chose each play yard for its versatility, durability, and performance.

Safety and Cleaning

One of the most important things to consider about playpens is how to keep them clean and healthy, and when to stop using them. With the recent outbreaks of RSV, COVID-19, and norovirus, the baby’s environment should be as clean as possible, from the toys and blankets baby loves to the playpen itself. Pediatrician Dr. Krupa Playforth tells us that, to keep baby’s playpen clean, “wash everything you can wash in the machine, with detergent,” and ideally, a fabric sanitizer like the one from Lysol. (As an aside and not a plug, I really love the smell of the Lysol Crisp Linen laundry sanitizer.)

Yes, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter because that ensures that you’re not affecting the safety of the product itself. But things do need to be cleaned. An antibacterial spray (again, like Lysol, or whichever one you like) will work for the hard parts, but then those also need rinsing with regular water.

As far as the playpen’s effective life, Playforth says that when kids can start climbing out of it, it’s time to put it away. She does note that it’s likely that a child will just demand to no longer be confined.

How We Tested

I’ve been reviewing playpens for over a decade, over 15 years if you go back to when I became a parent. The basics remain the same, but what has changed significantly is the durability of materials, the added conveniences such as changing tables, crawl-in doors, and bassinets, and the ease with which they fold up into a portable size. Surprisingly, one of the original makers, Graco, is still one of the best. But new contenders like 4moms, California Beach Company, and Guava Family are showing real innovation with their designs, making them attractive competitors.

Either I or a member of our staff here tested every single playpen on this list. We tested them in real life, with real babies and toddlers, assessing them for ease of opening and folding, ease of cleaning, how they store, and how well they hold up to the daily rigors of life and the supernatural strength of toddlers. We looked at weight limits, how much space they took up, and if the accessories they came with were useful or if they just added bulk and cost.

Check out our top picks for playpens below!

Pack ’n Play Travel Dome LX Playard

This playpen has been the gold standard for decades. It’s a solid option that comes with a bassinet basket for newborns, a changing pad, and a bassinet insert for infants who aren’t yet able to sit up. It also has a really handy wipe holder on the side.

The crib mattress is the standard size and incredibly comfortable. It is our best overall pick because it’s one of the most durable, has the most options available, the sheets are standard size and inexpensive, and it is simply the best value overall.

Having used this play yard through two kids and knowing it lived through two more, I can attest that this is an absolute beast in the durability department. My kids are jumpers, and they did not destroy it. Plus, the fabric comes clean very easily with just a few quick wipes.

The changing table is convenient, as is the bassinet function that lifts in and out easily. The dome piece of the bassinet feels superfluous to me, but a few parents told me that they liked it when they were outside with their newborn.

However, this playpen is also the heaviest (at nearly 40 pounds) and one of the hardest to collapse.

More: The Best Crib Mattresses for Baby

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Pack ’n Play Travel Dome LX Playard</p><p></p><p>$199.99</p><span class="copyright">Trevor Raab</span>

My Portable Play Yard

The coolest thing about this playpen is the fact that the bottom is waterproof and can be hosed off. The second coolest thing is the price. It’s an affordable option that can be kept at Grandma’s or Auntie's house. It’s the perfect secondary playpen.

It’s a lightweight, easy-to-open travel crib designed to be taken through rough conditions. It doesn’t sun-bleach easily, and there’s more than enough room for a few toddlers.

You’ll frequently see this playpen at nurseries, churches, and daycares because it’s huge and hard to kill. It’s a dream to clean, and honestly? If you have the space, it’s a fab option.

It’s a basic option that’s incredibly affordable and durable for the price. Also, we have heard from more than a few people that they’ve used this playpen as storage later on because it’s just that durable.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>My Portable Play Yard </p><p></p><p>$49.99</p>

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My Portable Play Yard


Lotus Travel Crib

That zippered opening on this option is a game changer since you can easily place your child in and out of the playpen with ease. Guava is a newer parenting brand and its focus is on high-quality, innovative baby products. So far, they’re doing a tremendous job. They have an additional bassinet kit that utilizes the base of the playpen, expanding the value even more.

The whole thing is only 11 pounds, and it fits into a backpack that they give you. It opens in seconds, and the crib sheet is the same size as the Björn. It’s super steady and low to the ground. I have never assembled a playpen faster than I did the Guava, and baby goods assembly is a big part of my job. When I say it’s the easiest initial assembly, I mean it.

I love how easy this is to put together, and the crawl-out side, but because it doesn’t come with the bassinet standard and lacks some of the additional extras the Graco has, it’s the runner-up. However, it is easier to assemble, packs smaller, and it’s lighter than the Graco.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Lotus Travel Crib</p><p></p><p>$229.95</p><span class="copyright">Cat Bowen</span>

Slumber Travel Crib

I could write sonnets about this travel crib/playpen. It’s so simple to set up and the fabric feels so luxurious. Neither of those is the reason it’s my favorite travel crib and playpen combination. The reason I love it so much is that it has an expandable mattress that doesn’t get compacted like other entrants in this category. The cushion lasts no matter how many times you fold it up to take on the go, or how often you switch from bassinet to playard.

Anne Pridie, the head of brand marketing at Silver Cross, tells Best Products that the quality of the conversion is the point, saying, “It’s not just a travel crib,” so everything about it needs to be considered. Adding that it’s “suitable for newborns and toddlers up to 50 pounds.” Babies also have the option of crawling out on their own through the zippered door at the end of the playpen.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it has a shake-out design that can be opened in seconds and closed almost as easily, folding up into a very compact package for traveling. It is a little heavier than the Lotus at a bit over 15 pounds, but that has to do with the mattress and the amount of fabric and padding covering the frame.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Slumber Travel Crib </p><p></p><p>$229.99</p>

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Slumber Travel Crib


Premium Indoor and Outdoor Baby Playpen

Hanging out at the park a lot, or perhaps going to the beach? The California Beach Company’s Pop ’n Go playpen will have your baby made in the shade thanks to the UPF 50+ rated canopy that comes with the pop-up playpen.

If you’ve ever put together a beach tent, you know how to open this one. It’s a pull operation, and it takes all of a minute to set up. Just like the other octagonal outdoor playpen, this one is a breeze to hose out and clean. I have noticed that this playpen tends to get a bit more sun-bleached, but only in the dark gray colorway.

It’s a big playpen that is really not made for the indoors — it’s just too big — but any family that values outdoor time, and wants their children to be protected from the sun will love this.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Premium Indoor and Outdoor Baby Playpen </p><p></p><p>$149.99</p>

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Premium Indoor and Outdoor Baby Playpen


Breeze Plus Portable Playard

One of the first play yards to fold with one hand, the 4Moms Breeze should be on your radar.

The bassinet and the changer are so easy to take in and take out, and the mattress is soft, breathable, and standard size. The 4Moms Breeze has a wider base than a top, which provides an additional level of stability you’ll appreciate when your little one starts dancing.

The entire frame is covered with a wipe-clean fabric, and the top bars are well-cushioned for baby safety. You can position the mattress/base either in the middle of the playpen or at the bottom, depending on the age and size of your child.

The 4Moms Breeze has extremely high-quality engineering and high-end fabrics and design — without the high-end price tag.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Breeze Plus Portable Playard</p><p></p><p>$299.99</p>

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Breeze Plus Portable Playard


Travel Crib Light

The fabric of this play yard by Baby Björn is machine-washable in cold water. It’s only 8 pounds, and all the materials that come into contact with your baby are OEKO-TEX Standard.

This playpen comes with the mattress and carrying bag, but unfortunately not the sheets, which are not standard size. It also does not have an option for bassinet height. The materials on this playpen are hard to kill, and our testers (11-month-old twins) have done their level best. This playpen survived babies learning to walk, and their first stomach bug (you can guess the horrors it saw).

It also has a one-handed fold and a super compact bag. If you’re planning on schlepping your playpen to a bunch of different places, this is just the thing for it.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Travel Crib Light </p><p></p><p>$237.99</p>

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Travel Crib Light


Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center

I have no idea why Century was the first play yard to include an activity wall; I’m just glad that they did. Not only that, but they also offer a zip-down side, a washable mattress, and easy folding. It's a simple design that works well and doesn't cost a fortune. I

Did I mention it’s made partially from recycled materials and that it’s under $150? The travel bag is included as well.

Your little one can play, rest, or just chill out with this easy-to-operate and inexpensive play yard. She's not a glamor addition to your home, but she's a solid worker and performs exactly how she's supposed to.

Grandparents, this is a delightful addition to your own homes as well at this price point.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center </p><p></p><p>$84.33</p>

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Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center


Stardust Portable Indoor and Outdoor Playpen

This playpen is exactly what you need if you are limited on space. It has a smaller footprint than most, but it’s every bit as useful and sturdy as larger playpens. And yes, the bottom can be raised to bassinet height. And here’s the thing: It’s under 15 pounds, and when folded, is only 5 inches wide. It’ll fit in practically anywhere.

I have folded this up and hidden it under a regular armchair with no one the wiser. To anyone living in a smaller space, you may want to seriously consider this as an option. It is a bit pricier, but this is an ultra-premium product.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Stardust Portable Indoor and Outdoor Playpen</p><p>Pottery Barn Kids</p><p>$339.00</p>

SENA Aire Travel Crib

Let’s be real: Your baby is most likely going to be licking this play yard. The Nuna Sena Aire accounts for that and has ensured that this model is Greenguard Gold-certified, which means that it meets rigorous guidelines that limit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as other potentially dangerous chemicals.

It also has a mesh-weave mattress and 360-degree airflow, thanks to the completely mesh enclosure, AKA this play yard is extremely breathable and safe. The base can be elevated to the middle of the playpen as a bassinet or placed in the bottom for a traditional take.

What we love specifically about this playpen is how stable it feels. The eight-leg design dissipates weight evenly throughout the unit, and the nonskid bottoms grip the ground. And it fits in a bag that’s way smaller than a set of golf clubs.

If you’re looking for the luxe option, the Nuna is it. It’s a bit of a tank, but everything is premium quality and ready to go right from the box.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>SENA Aire Travel Crib</p><p></p><p>$350.00</p>

Naos Premium Travel Playard

The BabyMoov Naos takes the concept of a lightweight, machine-washable playpen and makes it affordable.

It’s 8.8 pounds, machine-washable on the gentle cycle, and has mesh all around. The crib mattress is pretty great too, featuring both memory foam and a bouncy base.

While it is a one-handed fold, it has fewer points of connection, making it a bit rockier than others. But if you need a great nap or overnight location, and don't need a bassinet? You can’t do beat the portability. It's a bit more on the finicky side when you're removing the fabrics, but so few models of playpen allow you to do that, that it becomes a minor point of contention for parents who like to just throw the whole thing in the wash.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Naos Premium Travel Playard</p><p></p><p>$199.99</p>

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Naos Premium Travel Playard


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