Last updated: August 4, 2021

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A playpen is designed to protect a baby who is becoming mobile - both from external risk factors and from the danger of hurting themselves. Playpens therefore provide a safe environment when a child wants to explore the environment. But what should you look for when buying one?

With our playpen test 2022 we want to advise you on which playpen suits you and your baby. The purchase may be a small step for you, but it is certainly a big step for your baby. In the truest sense of the word, when he or she starts to walk sooner or later. That's why we have compared the best models and compared their advantages and disadvantages.




Summary

  • A playpen provides a protected environment for your baby when you can't supervise him or her for a moment. Such a playpen is especially useful during the crawling phase.
  • The right model depends on your possibilities and wishes. There are playpens with a base, some of which are height-adjustable, playpens without a base and travel cots.
  • When buying, it is important to look for special quality seals. Above all, the playpen should be safe, stable and free of harmful substances.

The Best Playpen: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for playpens

Now that you've had a chance to look at a few playpens, we'll help you decide on a model. The following criteria will help you quickly determine which is the best option for you and your baby:

A few subsequent comments on these key points will make it clear what is important about each aspect.

Material

In terms of material, manufacturers distinguish between wood, plastic, textiles or metal.

  • Wood: This material is very robust, pleasant to the touch and is a natural raw material. Most wooden playpens are made of beech, spruce or pine. It is best to use untreated or oiled wood. Otherwise, the stain or varnish should be labelled as free of harmful substances. A small disadvantage of wooden playpens is the weight.
  • Plastic: Plastic, which is usually cheaper, contributes to the low weight of the playpen. It is also very durable and easy to clean. However, it lacks the supple feel that you probably know from touching wood.
  • Textile fabric: There are also playpens with net walls, which are very light and easy to transport. This variant is often offered as a travel cot. However, textile fabric does not offer the best stability among the material variants mentioned.
  • Metal: Models made of this material do not lack stability. If your child is very active, metal may be the best choice. It is almost impossible to knock it over or move it. However, metal is more expensive than plastic, for example, and it also weighs more.

Depending on the basic material, the price naturally also varies. Regardless of this, each type of production has its advantages and disadvantages, which may make your decision easier.

Design and colour

Each material comes in different designs, of course. In principle, you can choose a playpen that matches your interior. There are no limits to your imagination when it comes to design and colour.

Studies by the Sussex Baby Lab have shown that children can perceive the entire colour spectrum from the age of four months. Before that, however, they can already see small colour gradations, and of course the contrast between black and white.

A good tip is to choose a plain grid. This can then be spiced up with coloured accessories such as patterned inlays or mobiles, as you wish. This way you can fulfil your desire for stylish furnishings and your baby's urge to discover.

Size, shape and weight

You can also decide on size, shape and weight according to your preferences. Common playpens have an average size of 100 cm in width and length and 75 cm in height. If you have more space, you can offer your child more freedom of movement with a larger playpen.

These measurements refer to rectangular bars, which are probably the most common. They can be placed in a corner and are therefore space-saving. However, you can also consider round, hexagonal or octagonal playpens if appropriate.

The weight depends mainly on the material. If you want to move the playpen often or even take it with you on trips, you should keep the weight low. However, if it is only going to stand in a corner, you can neglect the weight factor.

Safety

Besides purely aesthetic aspects, safety plays a major role when buying a playpen. The Bavarian Trade Inspectorate has carried out a project on this. There is also a checklist of what to look for when buying.

The most important items on this list are the "GS" seal of approval, instructions for use and assembly, and making sure that the spacing of the bars is appropriate. This way you can prevent your child from crushing its fingers or even getting its head stuck between the bars.

In addition, you should bear in mind that active children can move playpens without a floor to dangerous places. Especially models with a low weight can be easily moved by your child towards stairs or a fireplace.

Simplicity of construction

Finally, it is important to be able to assemble the playpen easily. Because during the exciting time of pregnancy or getting to know your baby, you will certainly have other priorities. Especially if you want to dismantle and reassemble the playpen more often, you should consider this point.

Only the correct assembly guarantees the safety of the playpen.

Especially the door locking system and an intermediate floor with height adjustment cause difficulties during assembly. For models with these elements, you should always follow the assembly instructions in order to achieve a stable result.

It is also important that no open screw heads are visible. The instructions should therefore also include the protection of such metal parts. The last thing to mention is the padding. Especially the corners should be generously padded to avoid injuries.

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying a playpen

To get a comprehensive overview, we answer the most frequently asked questions about playpens below. In this guide, you will find everything you should consider when making your decision or after the purchase.

Who is a playpen suitable for and why?

First, we come to the basic question of what benefits a playpen brings with it. As already mentioned, it should serve as a shelter for your baby - in moments when you have to let him out of your sight for a moment. Be it that the postman rings or you have to go to the toilet.

The product is suitable for all mums and dads who want to protect their child from danger. When your baby starts to crawl, a playpen is almost indispensable. But it is also useful in the first few months to be able to keep your curious dog away in short moments, for example.

laufstall-test

Many dogs are very affectionate in the first time with the baby. However, they can be a danger even if they don't mean to be. (Image source: pixabay / 3194556)

Even though those around you may advise you against buying a playpen, it is worth considering. Many critics see such a playpen as a prison that hinders the child's development. However, a playpen is not intended for permanent residence - as the critics assume.

What types of playpens are there?

There are many different models of playpens on the baby market with different features and additional options. We have divided them into playpens without a floor, playpens with a floor and travel cots.

Below you can see the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Playpen without floor Fast assembly and disassembly, Possibility of extending, Possibility of folding Risk of slipping if too light
Playpen with floor High stability, High safety, Possibility of height adjustment High weight, Complicated assembly and disassembly
Travel cot Fast assembly and disassembly, Low weight, Practical when travelling, Possibility of folding Low stability

Many brands already offer combination models so that you can use your playpen in different situations. For example, there are playpens with an integrated changing mat.

What does a playpen cost?

Since there are many different types of playpens, the price range is correspondingly large. Generally, robust models made of wood or metal are more expensive than travel cots made of fabric, for example.

The shape also plays a role, with the price being significantly higher for round and oval playpens. Height-adjustable versions also cost a little more on average.

Type Price range
Playpen / Playpen 80-200 €
Travel cot 50-80 €

The prices range between 50 and 200 €. You should decide which price is reasonable for you based on how often you will use the playpen. If you are only looking for a temporary solution, you can also choose second-hand models. The prices often start at 25 €.

As a rule, however, you should pay attention to the quality. Keep in mind that you can also use the playpen for other children or pass it on to relatives or friends. As with any purchase, the motto is: the higher the quality, the more durable and sustainable your product will be.

When and up to what age does my baby need a playpen?

Many parents-to-be also ask themselves at what point it makes sense to buy a playpen. It is not absolutely necessary in the first few weeks, but with a mattress it can be used from birth. The actual purpose of a playpen is when your baby starts to become mobile.

Between the ages of three and seven months, your baby turns for the first time. Between seven and ten months, most babies start to crawl. Between nine and 15 months, they pull themselves up on furniture and try to walk freely.

Once your baby can walk safely, he or she will feel confined in a playpen. (Picture source: 123rf / Irina Schmidt)

It should be noted that every baby has its own rhythm of development. Sooner or later, however, it will start to move around. The time at which your baby's movements are purposeful and safe is just as different.

The playpen is no longer needed when your baby's movements are mostly safe. If they are already very strong, it can quickly become dangerous in the playpen.

What are the alternatives to a playpen?

We have designed our article so that the term playpen is broad and already includes the playpen and the travel cot. According to our research, there are very few alternatives:

Type Description
Barrier gates With barrier gates you can specifically keep your baby away from dangerous places. There are versions for the stairs, the fireplace or the balcony.
Constant supervision If your baby is constantly supervised, you obviously don't need a playpen.

The alternative of a playpen has the advantage that the child can move freely. However, safety is not completely guaranteed. In addition, many parents report that such gates are impractical in everyday life. Every time the child crosses the gate, it has to be opened and closed again.

Another alternative is only constant observation. However, without the help of other people in the household, most parents cannot manage this. Don't forget that dangers can lurk everywhere.

What accessories are available for a playpen?

Once you have found the perfect playpen for you and your child, it's time to consider the right accessories.

Kleinkind mit gelangweiltem Gesichtsausdruck in einem Laufstall

To ensure that your child feels comfortable and that you can leave him or her alone for a short time with a clear conscience, you should equip the playpen with the right accessories. (Image source: unsplash / Helena Lopes)

Some playpens are already fully equipped. But if you want to buy the accessories separately, you should consider the following points.

  • Fabric insert: For protection, a cosy insert should be placed in every playpen. A blanket can also be used for this purpose. However, many shops offer inserts to match your playpen. These are often padded on the sides so that you can prevent injuries to the corners or bars.
  • Mattress: In playpens with a floor, a mattress can also be inserted. This is useful if the cage is also used as a bed. In this way, your baby can also lie down in the playpen for a nap in optimal comfort.
  • Toys: To make sure your child doesn't get bored in the playpen, you should also think about mobiles or play arches, for example. Your favourite cuddly toys should not be missing from the playpen's inventory either.

You can also find the accessories at the online shops mentioned above.

Conclusion

There is a lot to consider when buying a playpen. Whether dotted, plain or garish - square, hexagonal or oval - there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to design. However, more attention should be paid to safety and construction. The stability, the distance between the bars and the padding are particularly critical factors.

In addition, there are playpens with height-adjustable bases and castors, which promise less strain on the parents' backs. Expandable playpens can be optimally adapted to the space available and offer freedom of movement for your child. Travel cots are ideal for transport because they can be folded up and stored in a space-saving way.

Picture source: 123rf / 134194237

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