To give young kids a safe and cozy lounging and nap area, a play yard is your best bet. Portable play yards take convenience to the next level by doubling as travel cribs or including features that promote outdoor fun, like removable covers for protection from sun and insects. Best of all, it’s easier to set them up and fold them away than it is to figure out whether to call them a playard, play yard or playpen. Read on for some great indoor and outdoor play yards.
Chicco Alfa Lite Lightweight Travel Playard
At only 13 pounds, the Chicco Alfa Lite travel playard is a breeze to bring with you. It comes with a zippered carry bag and features an easy, snap-open set up so it's at the ready when sleepiness strikes. Once snapped open, your child can rest or play on a full-size, padded area, and crawl in and out via a zippered side panel. The mattress cover zips off and is machine-washable, and the frame fabrics can be removed and washed as well. Designed for kids up to 30 pounds and 35 inches tall.
Available at chiccousa.com, $159.99.
Ready to head to the beach, a park or just out to the backyard? Then you need the Veer Basecamp. This play yard is delivered fully assembled and opens (and folds) in one easy step. It comes with anchors for beach or grass, a UPF50 cover for sun and rain, and a moisture-resistant bottom. Kids will love the large play area (56" wide x 43" deep x 35" high), and parents will appreciate the built-in insect protection, external zipper for safety, and the storage bag. If you have the Veer Cruiser wagon, the Basecamp's storage bag attaches to it in a stroke of brilliance. Pick up the brand's roomy, waterproof tote, and you're ready for every adventure.
Available at goveer.com, $179.
born free nisa
The nisa playard from born free has a pop-open design for a quick setup and comes with a removable, oversize six-panel canopy with three mesh panels for ventilation and three covered panels to protect kids from the elements. One panel zippers down for easy access to the inside. Bonus: You can fold up the play yard with the canopy still attached, making it a snap to reassemble next time. The play yard floor is padded and covered with machine-washable fabric. When it's time to pack up, just fold it up and tuck it into its carrying bag.
Available at shopbornfree.com, $199.99.
Guava Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
This lightweight (13 pounds!) combination travel crib and play yard fits in the included backpack and can be brought on an airplane as a carry-on bag. It's certified free of harmful chemicals and features an ingenious zippered side door for crawl-friendly playtime. When using it as a travel crib, there's an insulated foam mattress pad with waterproof cover so your child will be comfortable on any surface, indoors or out. When you're heading outside, bring along the separately sold mosquito net ($26.95) and UPF50+ fun shade ($36.95), which blocks the sun's rays, darkens baby's sleeping area and makes for an awesome fort.
Available at guavafamily.com, $199.95.
Regalo Eight Panel My Play Deluxe Portable Play Yard
Designed for kids between 6 and 24 months, this water-resistant play yard with removable canopy (there's also a smaller, six-panel version) can be set up or folded down in one step. The canopy, made from half mesh and half UV-protected nylon, also opens with one step. The edges of the play yard have reinforced stitching to keep kids from ripping through it, and the bottom is made of a durable nylon. There's a zippered door that lets kids in or out, and a carrying bag is included.
Available at regalo-baby.com, $119.99.
phil & ted's Traveller Travel Crib
Based on its name and ultra light weight (6 pounds), you know the Traveller is designed to make it easier to get away with your baby. It's compact enough to fit in a small car trunk and unpacks into a cozy sleep spot and play area. It assembles easily and features a zippered side so parents can slide in for sleepy snuggles and kids can crawl out while playing. Pop on the mesh top accessory ($19.99) that attaches to the crib with toggles to keep baby protected from bugs and sun.
Available at philandteds.com, $149.99.
Summer Pop 'N Play Deluxe Ultimate Playard
True to the Pop 'N Play name, this lightweight (12 pounds) metal play structure can be set up in seconds. When playtime is over, it folds compactly into a storage bag with shoulder strap. It has mesh sides for visibility, a full-coverage, removable canopy with zippered sections for added airflow and easy access to kids, and a padded floor. You get 14 square feet of safe, comfortable play space and, if kids need extra entertainment, you can slip a tablet, smart phone or other toy into the clip-on entertainment pouch that attaches to the side.
Available at summerinfant.com, $89.99.
—Eva Ingvarson Cerise
featured photo: Chicco