Sometimes there just isn’t enough space in your home to dedicate a full nursery to your new addition. However, they do need a place to call their own where they can sleep, play, and possibly even get their diaper changed.
That is where a play pen can be very handy, and we are about to look at some of the best play pens for small spaces that are available on the market today.
Why are Play Pens Better than Cribs for Small Spaces?
If you live in a small space like an apartment or you simply don’t have an extra room in your home to dedicate as a nursery, a play pen is likely a better choice for you.
Cribs (even mini cribs) can take up a lot of space in your home. They are bulky, heavy pieces that cannot be moved easily or broken down when not in use. They simply take up too much space.
Depending on your crib set up, you may also need a separate diaper changing table with storage space for your baby’s diapering needs as well as extra clothes.
When your little one is awake, you will also need a place for them to play safely or just sit/swing for a while.
All of these things take up a lot of space, but there are some great play pens that incorporate all of these elements into one convenient piece of furniture.
Play pens can be folded up when not in use, can be taken outside or moved to the living room to be used as an enclosed play area, and they may also include a removable changing table and/or bassinet with mobile.
Overall, play pens are a better choice for small spaces.
What to Look for in a Play Pen for a Small Space
When looking for a play pen for your small space, you will of course need to pay close attention to size.
Not all play pens are the same size. Some are made bigger to accommodate two babies or simply to give your baby more room to play.
You want to measure the space you want to put it in your home and pay close attention to the play pen dimensions – both open and folded – to make sure you have room for it in your home.
As we already mentioned, you may want to consider a play pen that includes extra features like a changing table, bassinet, storage space, or enough room for your baby to play.
It’s also a good idea to look for one that has an adjustable bed height for those newborn days. This will make it safer for your baby and easier on your back when you need to pick them up.
A multi-functional play pen will last you longer and save you money in the long run.
One of the best features of a play pen is the fact that it is portable. But some are easier to fold and/or transport than others.
Consider how often you will need to move it. Will you be taking it to the grandparents’ house? Do you plan to just use it in place of a crib in your room or do you want to take it outside occasionally? Will it stay up all the time or will you fold it up when not in use?
All of these are important questions to ask yourself when considering a play pen model.
Above all else, your baby’s safety should be your top priority. You don’t want to cut corners when making a big purchase, especially when you are purchasing something for your baby’s use.
Always check product reviews to ensure there are no known manufacturing issues. You also want to make sure you are purchasing a reputable model, preferable from a company you’ve heard of.
Make sure the materials are sturdy as well as non-toxic to keep your baby physically healthy and safe from injury.
Finally, you will need to consider your budget. There are some great play pen nursery sets out there, but they can also be very expensive.
Think about how long you plan to use it. You may be more willing to spend a bit more if you know you can use the play pen for a couple of years.
If it is temporary or occasional usage that you are thinking, something a little less expensive may be better.
Top-Rated Play Pens for Small Spaces
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Easy Go
This play pen is ideal for parents who plan to move it around quite a bit. It is very easy to fold down into a compact that fits into the convenient travel bag.
You can either keep this play pen open all the time – it doesn’t take up much space unfolded either – or you can fold it between each use and store it in a closet or even under your bed.
It doesn’t come with any extra features so it can really only be used as a travel crib. It is also fairly expensive for its lack of features.
However, it is a good investment as a play pen or travel crib as it can be used until around 3 years of age.
- Can be used up to age 3
- checkRemovable and washable fabrics
- Folds very compact
- Sits directly on the floor for better stability
- Mesh netting all the way around for better breathability
- Deep and difficult to get child out
- No extra features like a changing table
- Needs to be placed on a tarp for outdoor use
- Small travel crib for a baby or toddler
- Easy to set up in just one move
- Removable and washable fabrics
Ingenuity Smart and Simple Packable Portable Playard
This is one of the best all-in-one play pen models, featuring a bassinet and changing table in addition to the play pen itself.
You even have storage pockets on the side to keep extra diapers, wipes, and clothes within reach for those especially messy diaper changes.
Though it is a little bulky when folded, it is very easy to fold and take in the car with you to the grandparents’ house. It also has wheels on one side to make it easier to move from room to room in your home.
- Complete nursery set with changing table, storage space, and bassinet
- Machine washable fabrics
- Foldable and on wheels
- Breathable fabric allows air flow
- Weight limit is only 25 pounds for changing table
- Changing table is low; may hurt your back
- Bassinet isn’t very strong
- Difficult to assemble
- Keeps baby safe from playtime to naptime. The maximum weight recommendation is 30 pounds and the minimum weight recommendation is 6 pounds
- Portable Playard with bassinet and changing table
- Bring wherever you go foldable and on wheels
4moms Breeze GO Portable Travel Playard
This is another great play pen that can be easily used as a travel crib. It is easy to fold and unfold with one simple step, and it folds down into a very compact size, which fits into the included duffle bag.
You don’t need to worry for your baby’s safety with this play pen either. It has a very sturdy frame with nice, thick feet that sit directly on the floor. It also has breathable mesh sides all the way around to allow air flow and to protect against SIDS.
It is a little expensive considering it only comes with the crib itself. But you can use it until your child is 30 pounds, so you will get plenty of use out of it before they are too big.
- Sturdy frame
- checkFolds and unfolds in one step
- Comes with a travel bag
- Mesh sides all around
- Easy to set up
- No machine washable fabrics
- Not much padding on rods and mattress
- A bit on the heavy side
- Opens or closes in one step
- Quick setup. For use from birth until 30 pounds
- Convenient travel bag
JOOVY Room Playard and Nursery Center
JOOVY is a brand worth mentioning as they have high quality products parents have been trusting for years, and this play pen is a full nursery center with bassinet and changing table included.
Unlike other similar sets, the changing table on this one is very easy to move aside and store. It simply flips away when you don’t need it anymore.
This play pen is a little on the bulky side, both folded and unfolded, and it is very heavy. So, it may be best used in one place consistently rather than as a portable crib.
- Includes flip away changing table and bassinet
- checkChanging table and mattress include waterproof linings or covers
- Large storage pocket on the side for diapers, wipes, and clothes
- Two wheels on one side for easy portability
- Difficult to assemble
- Bulky even when folded
- Bassinet sits rather low
- Very heavy
- Flip-away changing table with sturdy vinyl top for easy cleaning supports a baby up to 25 pounds
- Full-size bassinet holds infant up to 15 pounds
- Diaper organizer and giant side pocket provide plenty of storage
Baby Trend Deluxe Nursery Center
This play pen from Baby Trend is very similar to the JOOVY nursery center but with a few additional features at a smaller price point.
You still have the flip away changing table and removable bassinet (with a full expandable canopy), but you also have a music center that features two types of music and nature sounds. It also includes a vibrate setting and nightlight for your convenience and your baby’s comfort.
It is a little bit lighter in weight than the JOOVY and the two wheels on the side include an easy to use one-hand locking system, which are both great features not included with the JOOVY.
- Includes bassinet and flip away changing table
- checkMusic center includes nature sounds, music, nightlight, and vibration
- Bassinet includes expandable canopy
- One-hand locking mechanism for wheels
- Everything must be hand washed
- Difficult to assemble
- Changing table tilts with baby in it
- Difficult to fold and unfold
- Removable full bassinet and canopy, lots of storage
- Flip away changing table. One hand-locking mechanism.
- Music center includes two styles of music, nature sounds. Easy compact fold, travel bag
Even though all of the play pens we looked at are great choices for small spaces, we would have to pick the Ingenuity Smart and Simple Packable Portable Playard as our favorite.
It includes everything you need in a nursery center if you want to just have a more compact set up for your home. It is also very easy to fold – even if it is a little bit bulky – and take with you on your next trip to use as a portable crib.
The best part is even with all of these great features, the price point is just right to fit into just about any parent’s budget. You really can’t go wrong with this play pen.
Last update on 2021-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API