Try Before You Buy
Because of safety concerns, play yards are one baby item you should buy yourself, instead of accepting as a hand-me-down or purchasing used. Many reputable companies, such as Graco, Baby Trend, Cosco, Evenflo, and Fisher-Price make portable cribs in a variety of styles. The play yards range in price from $60 to $200 depending on features. Some play yards have fabric that matches an accompanying infant carrier, swing, and other baby items so that you can coordinate.
Look for the CPSC seal which indicates that the product adheres to mandatory safety standards. Also check for the JPMA seal, proving the model meets voluntary safety standards from the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association. Don't buy a play yard if it has:
- rivets protruding 1/16 inch or more on the outside of the top rails
- mesh openings more than 1/4 inch or with tears or loose threads
- mesh that's come detatched from the top rail and floor plate
- tears or holes in the covering of the top rails
- staples, rivets, or screws used in construction that are loose or missing
- wooden play yards and portable wooden cribs with slats that are more than 2 3/8 inches apart, or ones with broken or missing parts
But before you buy, try out the portable crib. Make sure that you can easily set up and take down the play yard. Ask a salesperson to show you the model out of the box. Look at the features to figure out whether you'd like more options in your portable crib or if you don't really need an item, such as a canopy or wheels.
Most importantly, check the portable crib/play yard recall list to make sure that your play yard has not been recalled. And keep in mind that while you may do your homework to find the right play yard, many recalled play yards are still being used at hotels, daycares, and even friends' homes.
As the name implies, portable cribs are designed for travel. You can set your baby up comfortably at Grandma's house, at a camp-out, in the yard, or wherever you go. Have fun shopping!