How To Choose A Baby Playpen (Step by Step Guide)

September 3, 2023

Whether you’re a first-time parent or already have a flock of kids, we know that finding the right playpen can be overwhelming with so many options out there. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! From safety features to size and versatility, we’ll cover it all. So, get ready to make an informed decision and provide a secure and fun space for your baby to play and explore. Let’s get started!

Discover the best baby playmats and play gyms.

Important factors to consider

When choosing a baby playpen, there are several important factors that you should consider to ensure the safety and convenience of your child. These factors include safety features, size and shape, portability, material, ease of assembly, height adjustments, door locking mechanism, ventilation, and other features. By carefully considering these factors, you can find the perfect playpen for your child’s needs.

Safety features

The safety of your child should always be the number one priority when choosing a baby playpen. Look for playpens that have sturdy construction to prevent tipping over or collapsing. It’s also important to choose playpens made from non-toxic materials to ensure that your child won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals. Additionally, check if the playpen has any safety certifications to guarantee that it meets the required safety standards. Smooth edges and slip-resistant feet are also essential safety features to consider.

Size and shape

The size and shape of the playpen will depend on your specific needs and the available space in your home. Rectangular playpens are the most common and versatile option, providing ample space for your child to play and move around. Hexagonal playpens offer a unique shape that can fit well in corners or irregular spaces. Square playpens are compact and great for smaller areas. Circular playpens provide a cozy environment and can be a stylish choice for your nursery.


If you plan to travel or move the playpen from room to room frequently, portability is a crucial factor to consider. Look for playpens with a foldable design and a compact size that can easily fit in your car or be stored when not in use. Carrying handles make it easier to transport the playpen, while wheels allow for even greater convenience. These features can make a significant difference in your ability to use the playpen wherever you go.


Playpens are made from various materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Plastic playpens are lightweight, easy to clean, and often more affordable. Wooden playpens provide a natural and aesthetically pleasing look, but they may be heavier and require more maintenance. Metal playpens are durable and sturdy, but they can be heavier and potentially cause injuries if not properly padded. Fabric playpens are soft and comfortable, but they may not be as durable or easy to clean as other materials.

Ease of assembly

Nobody wants to spend hours struggling to assemble a playpen, especially when you have a restless baby waiting to play. Look for playpens that require no tools for assembly and come with clear instructions. A user-friendly design will make the entire process much smoother and less frustrating. Consider reading reviews or watching videos to get an idea of how easy or complicated the assembly process is for a particular playpen.

Height adjustments

Having a playpen with height adjustments can be a valuable feature as your child grows. Some playpens only have a single height setting, which may not be suitable for older or taller children. On the other hand, playpens with adjustable height settings allow you to raise or lower the sides according to your child’s height and developmental stage. This flexibility ensures that the playpen remains a safe and comfortable space for your child as they continue to grow.

Door locking mechanism

The door locking mechanism is an important consideration for both the safety of your child and the convenience of accessing the playpen. Look for playpens with a safety latch design that requires a deliberate action to unlock, ensuring that your child won’t be able to open the door on their own. One-handed operation is also a useful feature that allows you to open and close the door while holding your child. Some playpens even come with an automatic lock feature that securely locks the door once it’s closed.


Playpens should provide adequate ventilation to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for your child. Look for playpens with breathable sides or mesh panels that allow for proper airflow. This will help prevent overheating and allow you to keep an eye on your child at all times while they are inside the playpen. Good ventilation is especially important if you plan to use the playpen outdoors or in warmer climates.

Other features

Apart from the essential factors mentioned above, there are other features that you might consider depending on your specific needs. For example, some playpens come with built-in storage pockets to keep toys and other essentials organized. Others may have a removable bassinet or a changing station attachment, which can be convenient for younger babies. Some playpens even offer interactive toys or activity panels that can keep your child entertained and stimulated while inside the playpen. Consider which additional features would be most beneficial for you and your child.

Determining your specific needs

Before diving into the world of baby playpens, it’s important to determine your specific needs. Start by considering whether you will primarily use the playpen indoors or outdoors. While most playpens are suitable for indoor use, not all are designed to withstand outdoor elements. Additionally, consider the available space in your home and measure the area where you plan to set up the playpen. This will help you decide on the appropriate size and shape.

Another crucial factor to consider is the age and development stage of your child. For younger babies, a playpen with higher sides and additional safety features may be necessary. If you have multiple children, it’s important to ensure that the playpen is large enough to accommodate them comfortably. Finally, don’t forget to consider your budget. There are playpens available in a wide range of prices, so determining your budget beforehand can help narrow down your options and prevent overspending.

Choosing the right baby playpen requires careful consideration of several important factors. By prioritizing safety features, evaluating the size and shape, considering portability, selecting the appropriate material, ensuring ease of assembly, exploring height adjustments, analyzing the door locking mechanism, valuing ventilation, and considering any additional features, you can find the perfect playpen for your child.

By determining your specific needs, such as indoor or outdoor use, space availability, the age and development stage of your child, having multiple children, and your budget, you can make an informed decision that will provide a safe and enjoyable play area for your little one. Remember, a well-chosen playpen will provide peace of mind for you as a parent, knowing that your child is safe and secure while having fun.

Sandra McNeil, PhD.
Sandra McNeil, PhD.

Sandra has over 13 years of experience as a child psychologist, both as a practitioner and researcher. She has a Bachelor's in child psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and then she did her master's in Psychology in Education (focused on Children & Families) at Columbia University, NY. She has been writing for health and child-related publications for over 5 years now.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Baby Cribs Central