At some point in your parenting journey, you’re going to want to drink a cup of coffee. Or, dare to dream, use the bathroom. Alone. Without holding a squirmy infant. That’s why you need a play pen. As the name implies, it pens in your child, freeing you up to do other things. And now, with the advent of spring and summer, you’re going to want an outdoor play yard. The best play yards are lightweight, since you’ll be moving the thing around. They can be used indoors and out, and are easy to set up and take down, for obvious reasons (unless you’re a glutton for punishment). They provide protection against the sun and bugs, and they allow easy entry and exit, for when you’re ready to take your child indoors. And though it might be tempting to go inside and read a book (remember those?) while your kid is in her pen, remember that your child should be supervised at all times.
The Best Portable Play Yards for Summer 2021
The Veer Cruiser is the best-in-class stroller wagon. So of course, the brand hits another home run with this play yard. To open it, you just ... pop it open. And it folds down just as fast. It comes fully assembled, is made from water-resistant polyester with mesh sides and roof, and has a removable UPF 50 cover. It's roomy enough for three kids, and weighs just seven pounds, by far one of the lightest ones on the market. The height limit is 35 inches.
This handy play yard gives you 14 square feet of contained playing area. It has a full coverage removable canopy with two zip-open panels and mesh sides, but there's no door as such. The floor is padded, so this one is suitable for younger kids. Its pop and fold design lets you open and close it in seconds. It weighs 13.2 pounds, so this isn't something you're going to tote around from place to place. You can use this until your child is 35 inches tall.
If your yard is shaded and you don't need a canopy, this play yard from Graco is a solid choice. You set up or take it down in seconds with thanks to a one-step fold. The sides are mesh, so you can see your child. And the zippered activity door makes entry and exit easy. You can use this until your child is 35 inches tall; the product weight is 13 pounds.
At 16 pounds, this is one of the heaviest play yards on our list. This one has the same easy set up and fold as the model above, but it comes with a removable canopy. There's a padded floor for extra comfort, a zippered activity door, and mesh sides. The height limit is 35 inches.
This is a fantastic option for tiny babies. It's a 2-in-1 portable infant play space and nap spot, and can be used inside or outside. There's a canopy to block out the sun, and netting to keep bugs out. The toys are removable, and this folds flat for storage. It weighs 12 pounds, and can be used until your baby can push up on his hands and knees, sit up unassisted, or grasp the side and pull upward.
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