Product Review: Pack and Plays

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The Cosco Funsport Playard is a good standard portable playpen that features a push-button folding system and an extra safety latch for added security. Some parents have found this unit difficult to fold, but overall, it seems to deliver decent quality for an excellent price.

The Dream On Me Full-Sized Playard is a large and sturdy portable playpen that's a great value for the money. Despite its strong frame, most parents find it easy to fold and tote. With its classic bright primary color scheme and basic square shape, this portable playpen might not be the most chic-looking on the market, but for a parent who values function over form, it's a really smart buy.

The Safety 1st Travel Ease Playard is designed to look and feel more like a higher-end portable playpen, with curved lines and soft padding. Function-wise, it does the job. Most parents find set-up and take-down easy and quick. This playpen works best for young babies, and may not hold up well enough to the punishment a toddler can dish out.

Money-Saving Tips

You may find that a portable playpen that works for a younger baby may not be enough for your child as he grows and becomes more active. All children's products go through a lot of wear and tear with normal use, particularly if they get passed down to subsequent kids.

Switching playpens may be costly for a family on a budget, but alternatives to regular retail buying exist to help ease the financial burden. Check out in-store sales, online specials, and other promotional offerings. You can also find portable playpens at consignment shops that sell gently used children's items. Beware of purchasing playpens from yard sales or traditional second-hand stores; they may be outdated or damaged, which can compromise their safety and lead to child injury.

You'll get more usage out of a better-quality product, so if you're able, buying a reputable product is a good investment.