Best Baby Playpens to Keep Little Explorers Safe
Baby playpens are a parental sanity-saver. These enclosed areas provide a safe space for little ones to crawl, play and explore while keeping them away from the potential hazards of the home or outdoors. Whether you’re visiting a non-childproofed place (like a hotel or relative’s house), hitting the park or beach or simply need a safe, designated play spot in your own home, baby playpens come in handy in a variety of situations—and allow parents and caregivers to keep a watchful eye from the sidelines, as opposed to playing constant defense.
But like all baby gear, there are lots of different models and features to consider when shopping for the best baby playpen for your family. Playpens range from super lightweight and portable to more sturdy and stationary, each with their own benefits (depending on your family’s needs). There are also plenty of accessories—like sun covers, padded play mats and carry bags—that can be particularly useful to parents. To help narrow down the choices and know what add-ons to look for, it’s important to first determine where, when and how you’ll use a baby playpen and what you’ll need from it: Will it be used outdoors or indoors (or both)? Does it need to be portable? Will it need to contain more than one child? How is it cleaned and cared for? How easily does it set up and fold down? Asking yourself these questions before selecting a playpen for babies will help you make a solid decision.
Besides accessories and features, safety is always an important factor to take into consideration. Be mindful of what kind of enclosure any baby playpen has and how easily it might be opened by tiny hands. Be sure to also check if the playpen has any height or weight limitations. Take note of how secure the playpen is once set up, and if it poses any risk of being pushed over (or climbed out of) by little escape artists. Any baby playpen you purchase should also meet the ASTM playard safety standards and be certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
With these factors in mind, read on for our top picks for the best baby playpens.
In this article:
Overall best baby playpen
Best outdoor baby playpen
Best large baby playpen
Best small baby playpen
Best baby playpen with mat
Best baby playpen with fence
Best pop-up baby playpen
Best portable baby playpen
Best foldable baby playpen
Best baby beach playpen
Overall Best Baby Playpen
If you’re looking for a playpen that’s superior in all areas, the Pop N’ Go Playpen from The California Beach Co. beats out the rest. This hexagonal-shaped playpen for babies is roomy enough to fit multiple children (and adults) with its near 5 feet of width. A large zipper enclosure makes it easy to get in, but it’s secure enough to prevent little ones from getting out. An included UPF 50 sun cover provides total coverage from the sun, and the mesh sides provide ample ventilation (and an easy view of the children inside). But the real standout feature is the patented pop-and-release technology, which makes this playpen one of the easiest to assemble and disassemble (this writer was able to do it with one hand while 8 months pregnant). Whether you need a safe space for your kiddos indoors or outdoors, at home or on the go, this playpen for babies is a winner all around.
- Super simple set up and break down
- Easily portable thanks to an included travel bag and a weight of just 7.2 pounds
- Material is easy to wipe clean
- Self-inflating mattress pad not included
Best Outdoor Baby Playpen
Whether it’s the beach, the park or even your own backyard, creating a safe space for babies and toddlers to play doesn’t have to be a challenge. Enter the Hiccapop PlayPod, a baby playpen ideal for the outdoors. Mesh sides let in the fresh air, while the padded floor will keep little ones comfy no matter what the surface is like underneath. A detachable dome canopy has sun shades that can protect the sun from any direction, and wind-proof safety locks hold it in place. There are two extra-large zippered openings for easy in and out when you want to let your toddlers explore beyond the playpen. When you want to keep them in, the luggage-grade zippers lock securely from the outside, and when it’s time to go home, the removable cover is machine-washable.
- Available in two sizes: 53 inches and 69 inches
- Padded floor, sun shade and carry bag are all included
- Top rails, corners and floor are all padded to prevent any accidental bumps
- No way to anchor it to the ground
Best Large Baby Playpen
Want to keep your little one contained while still giving them room to crawl, walk and play around? Enter the Babyjoy Baby Playpen, which provides more than 6 feet of space for your baby or toddler to explore. There’s so much free space, even the most cunning escape artists won’t notice the mesh walls (which stand at 27.5 inches high) and durable zippered entrances keeping them secure inside.
- Space is 75 inches long and 59 inches across
- Neutral colors make this large playpen seamlessly blend into any decor
- Four non-slip suction cups keep the playpen securely in place
- Set up can be difficult, according to some users
- Floor is not padded
Best Small Baby Playpen
Those tight on space will appreciate the small footprint of the Century Play On 2-in-1 Playard and Activity Center. But fear not: The 38 inch square space will still keep your little one entertained, thanks to a playscape wall with two removable soft toys and a zippered doorway for when you want to expand their play horizons. And when you want to free up even more room, the cube-shaped playpen for babies folds up and tucks away easily.
- Playscape wall offers built-in entertainment
- Produced with soft fabrics from recycled materials, making it good for the planet and your baby
- Included mattress is machine washable
- Weight limit of 30 pounds restricts use for larger babies and toddlers
- Difficult to open, according to some users
Best Baby Playpen With Mat
Getting your child to be content in a playpen is half the battle, but keeping them comfy helps. The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light comes with a soft mattress that’s cozy enough for hours of play and is sleep-safe too. Plus, it sets up swiftly in just one motion, making it as simple to use as it is comfortable.
- No upper weight limit since the base sits on the floor
- Lightweight and easily moveable at just 13 pounds
- Protective sheet for the mattress is not included
- No zippered exit, meaning you’ll have to reach over the edges and lift your child out
Best Baby Playpen Fence
If your baby or toddler craves more freedom and space than a traditional playpen can offer, consider a playpen fence. The playpen fence from Baby Care will turn any space in your home into a safe “fun zone,” thanks to a double-lock door, stabilizing holders that reinforce the panels and non-slip suction pads that keep it in place. The large panels connect easily and set-up takes just a few minutes—plus, you can customize the size based on how many panels you use. Wanting an extra-large play space? Simply buy two of these playpen fences and connect them together.
- No tools needed to assemble; the pieces simply lock together
- Creates an expansive area for play
- Easy to wipe clean due to lack of fabric parts
- Doesn’t come with a mat
- Sides can shift on carpet
Best Pop-Up Baby Playpen
Setting up a safe space for baby takes just seconds with this pop-up baby playpen from Graco. The LiteTraveler LX Playard goes from a super-compact fold to a spacious (and secure!) play area in one swift step, and comes with a carry bag for easy portability. Babies and toddlers will love the airiness of the mesh sides and comfort of the padded floor, while parents will appreciate the machine-washable fabrics and lightweight design.
- Sun canopy provides UV 50 protection and can be removed for indoor use
- Ideal for travel thanks to an included travel bag, compact fold and 11 pound design
- Sun canopy doesn’t provide complete coverage
Best Portable Baby Playpen
If you’re looking for a baby playpen you can take with you on the go, look no further than the Guava Lotus Travel Crib. The included travel bag converts to a backpack with padded straps, saving your shoulders and allowing you to carry it comfortably. It also weighs just 13 pounds and has a 3D fold that makes it small enough to travel easily by car, train or plane. When you’ve reached your destination, the Lotus doubles as a play and sleep space, thanks to a zippered side panel and a thick, comfortable mattress.
- GreenGuard Gold certified and contains no harsh materials
- Mesh cover and sides zip off and are machine washable
- Metal reinforced hinges will stand up to baby and toddler play
- Smaller area for play
Best Foldable Baby Playpen
Unfolded, the Fortella Cloud Castle Foldable Playpen has 25 square feet of play space, a white board panel for drawing and a play panel with five different sensory toys. Folded up, this baby playpen can easily be tucked away for storage or travel. We call that a baby gear win-win.
- Strong hinge connectors (that can be tightened) and anti-slip pads keep this playpen in place
- Built-in toys and entertainment
- Expandable with the purchase of additional panels
- Play mat not included
Best Beach Baby Playpen
Whether your little one despises sand, needs shade from the sun or a safe place for play away from the ocean, the Veer Basecamp checks all the boxes for the best beach baby playpen. Setup is simple, thanks to a pop-open design, and the six stakes and four sandbags that are included will keep it in place against even the strongest beach winds. A UPF 50 sun cover provides shade and sun protection, while the tight-knit mesh keeps any insects and pests out. While inside, the Basecamp can fit multiple children comfortably for play and rest. The space is so ideal, adults might just be tempted to crawl inside too.
- Pockets inside the tent allow for storage of toys, snacks or bottles
- Sun cover reflects sunlight and remains cool to the touch in even the most intense heat
- Weighs only 7 pounds
- Floor is not padded and a mat is not included
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