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10 of the best playpens for babies and toddlers

Ensuring your child is safe is one of the most important things for a parent. Take a look at all the best playpens to keep your baby or toddler entertained and protected.

10 of the best Playpens

When your baby starts to move and crawl around, a playpen might be just what you need to give them a safe place to explore and play. If you need to go to the toilet, check on dinner or you just want to sit down for five minutes, you can put your child in the playpen and know they are going to be safe.

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You can also fill the playpen with safe, age-appropriate toys to keep your child entertained and encourage independent play. There’s not just one type of playpen, there are many to choose from, ranging from big to small and made from all different materials.

As well as ranging in function, playpens really vary in price. You can purchase a playpen for pretty much any budget; it’s up to you if you want to spend more for added features, space, or different materials.

Some people choose to use stair gates to segregate off part of a room, in fact, some playpens actually have the ability to convert into a gate to cordon off an area. If you’re looking for a stair gate too, take a look at our roundup of the best stair gates. Similarly, some travel cots double up as a playpen for a baby, so you may also want to check out the best travel cots – especially if you’re short on space.

If you want even more ways to keep your child safe, take a look at the best safety products for babies and toddlers, including our best baby monitors.

The choice of playpens can be overwhelming. To help you decide which playpen is the most suitable for you, we’ve asked parents and experts for their thoughts.

Different types of playpens

Wooden – You can get wooden playpens made of all different types of wood. These tend to be very sturdy and a generous size and they last for a lifetime: great if you have or hope to have multiple children.

Metal – Metal playpens are usually similar to wooden ones in design, with bars and panels that fit together. However, they may last longer and be easier to clean than their wooden alternative.

Plastic – Plastic playpens, much like metal ones, are easy to clean. They tend to come in bright colours and fun shapes and sizes. If you’re after a colourful playpen, a plastic one is most likely your best option.

Versatile – Versatile playpens can be wooden, metal, plastic or fabric. It just means it can be used in different configurations to suit your needs. For example, maybe it doubles up as a travel cot or a gate, or comes in panels you can click together in different shapes. If you have an open plan house this can be very handy.

Things to consider when buying a playpen

Strength of construction – The strength of the playpen may depend on the material it is made out of, or even the quality of the product. Make sure, if your child can climb or pull on the playpen, that it’s strong enough to stay up. If you plan on using the playpen for quite some time or with multiple children, investing in a strong durable one could be a good idea.

Ease of assembly – If you’re not going to have the playpen out all the time, you might have to keep dissembling and assembling it again. If this is the case, make sure you look at how easy and quick it is to assemble.  A pop-up style may be best for you.

Foldable/storage – Similar to assembly, if you plan on putting the playpen away, getting one that is foldable and easy to store is a good idea. If it’s foldable, you don’t have to keep assembling it every time you want to use it.

Size of gap between bars – This is mostly for wooden and metal playpens. Be careful that the gap between the bars is not too big. If your child can fit between the bars, or fit a limb between them, they may get stuck or injure themselves. Look for bars the same width as those in a cot.

Smoothness and sharp edges – Check that there are no sharp edges or scratchy surfaces that could injure your child. If you opt for a wooden playpen, be sure to check that the wood is smooth and there’s no chance of splinters before putting your child in it.

Duration of use – If you’re thinking of keeping your child in the playpen for a while, you may need a bigger one than someone who plans to just pop them in there for a few minutes.

Outside use – Some playpens may not be suitable for outside use. If you want to be able to use your playpen in the garden or outside elsewhere, make sure that it can withstand that.

Size of space – You may want your child to have lots of room in their playpen. But, you need to consider realistically how much room you have in your house. It’s always a good idea to measure your space before purchasing a playpen just to be sure it will fit.

Your child’s temperament – Some children will happily sit in a playpen for ages and play independently if you fill it with the right toys. Others will scream and cry to be let out from the moment they’re put in there. Before investing, try and recreate the playpen experience to see how your child copes: put your child in their cot with some toys, or borrow a stair gate to cordon off an area of your home.

How did we choose our 10 of the Best?

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations. 

To collate this list of best playpens for babies and toddlers, we spoke to our hand-picked panel of Made For Mums home testers to find out which playpens they use with their child and why they love them.

When testing playpens we look at value for money, size, ability to fold and ease of assembly as well as the material the playpen is made out of.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

Here are our best playpens for babies and toddlers

1. Aldi Mamia Playpen, £49.99

– Best for value

Dimensions: 66 x 134 x 116cm | Material: steel, polyester | Suitable age: 6-36 months | Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

This Aldi playpen is a great value safe space for your child to play. Although it is not foldable, it’s easy to assemble. It also includes a carry bag to help store the playpen when it’s not in use. The Mamia playpen features an easy access zip-up door to make getting in and out easy. The mesh sides mean it has excellent ventilation and great visibility to keep an eye on your little one.

MFM home tester Hannah, commented saying it’s a “really good size, height and cost”. She also went on to say how “she turns it into a little den” and her 1-year old “loves going in there with her starry projector light on”.

Available from: Aldi

2. Millhouse Plastic Baby Playpen, £119.99

– Best for versatility 

Dimensions: 157 x 157 x 63cm | Material: plastic | Suitable age: toddler | Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

This fun and stylish playpen allows your child to have an open play area, whilst remaining safe. One great thing about this playpen is its adaptability. You can use the panels however you like. Maxine, a MFM home tester, used this playpen with her 15 month old and loved how it could be used “as a rectangle, square or fence” which is how she uses it now. She went on to say “it’s fab for keeping the kids in the living room/play area” and “she would definitely recommend having one”.

Another great thing about this playpen is it’s easy to move and recreate. Although the pen looks great as it is, with its grey and white panelling, it also comes with stickers to make it look even better.

In terms of safety, the playpen comes with an easy to use lock system on the door panel to stop your child being able to get out. It’s made with safe non-toxic materials. An added bonus is, it comes with interlocking mats included to increase safety and prevent your child from slipping.

One thing to note is, the suction caps to stick the playpen down to the ground are not suitable for sticking on carpet.

Available from: Amazon

3. Arkmiido Large Baby Playpen, £67.99

– Best for outdoor use

Dimensions: 150 x 150 x 62cm | Material: steel, mesh | Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

This large and spacious playpen has enough room for toys, friends and moving around. It has 360° safety protection, with its transparent net allowing you to see in from any angle. It’s made from high-quality Oxford cloth, with 4 safety sucker tees in each corner to secure it to the ground. The foam steel pipe and thick protection foam, followed by an intimate cotton cover protects your child from injury.

This safe playpen is brilliant for outdoor use too, and the fabric is durable and easy to clean by hand washing.

Assembly can be completed in a few minutes, so it’s easy to put away and get back out if you don’t want to use it all the time.

MFM home tester Yasmin, who started using this playpen when her son turned 9 months, admired the design of the door. “The zip door is handy, it only unzips from the outside so he can’t open it when he’s in there but I can leave the door open when I’m in the room so he can nip in and out”. She also said the playpen is “pretty big but so helpful.”

Available from: Amazon

4. Venture All Stars Duo Plastic Baby Playpen, £139.99

– Best for added components 

Dimensions: 155 x 155 x 65cm | Material: plastic | Suitable age: from birth| Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

If you’re after a good looking playpen with lots of added features, this one’s for you. The grey and white colouring means it goes with most interiors.

Its round edges and soft surfaces are great for protecting your child during their playtime. This stylish playpen is suitable for both indoor and outdoor play.

Another great thing about this playpen? It’s super easy to assemble, it uses simple push fit components. Home tester, Hannah, mum of 2 boys, ages 1 and 2 loves how “you can set it up depending on the floor space you have/need at that exact moment”. She went on to say how she “had a very mobile first kiddo and used it and was delighted”. MFM Consumer & Commerce Editor Gemma also used a Venture playpen with her toddler son and managed to position it to do double-duty protecting a Christmas tree from tiny hands.

If this playpen isn’t appealing enough, it has lots of added features which make it great. It has an activity panel with interactive development aids, to really stimulate your child. The playpen comes with coloured play balls for in the playpen and foam play mats to ensure the highest safety.

It’s also important to note, each panel is made with non-toxic materials and highly robust plastics with any finger traps removed.

Available from: Amazon

5. Angelbliss Baby Playpen, £129

– Best for a big playpen

Dimensions: 180.3 x 149.9 x 68.6cm | Material: alloy steel, plastic | Suitable age: infant| Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

This Angelbliss playpen is spacious for your child to have fun safely. It’s covered with transparent mesh to ensure you can see your baby at all times. The 300D Oxford fabric and sturdy steel tubing with safety slips and 4 safety suction cups in each corner ensure the highest level of safety for your little one.

This playpen isn’t just to be used indoors, it is suitable for outdoor use too. It’s really easy to clean, just wipe it down with a wet cloth and soap.

The height of this playpen is perfect for a child that’s starting to learn to stand and walk. If that’s not enough, it’s quick and easy to assemble and dismantle when you no longer want it out.

MFM home tester, Sarah stated “it is really good if you have a large space”, so be sure you have enough room, as this playpen is purposefully large and cannot be made smaller.

Available from: Amazon and Onbuy

6. Clippasafe Natural Wood Playpen, £164.95

– Best sustainable playpen

Dimensions: 79 x 24 x 62cm | Material: wood | Suitable age: Toddler| Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: Yes

This clippasafe playpen is made from natural and sustainable beech wood. It features 6 sections and can be configured as a 6-sided playpen or a rectangular one. It’s also possible to combine 2 sets together to make the playpen bigger, as it can be rather small. When in the hexagonal configuration, it comes with a fabric base mat.

This playpen is very versatile, it can be used as a gate, travel cot, fire surround or a room divider. The door has a slam-shut feature, allowing parents to easily access their child.

Another amazing thing about this sustainable playpen? It’s foldable, so no need to keep assembling and dismantling it when not in use, you can simply fold it away and store it.

Available from: Amazon and Hello Baby Direct

7. Dreambaby Brooklyn Converta Fabric Playpen, £99.99

– Best for its extra-wide barrier feature

Dimensions: 80.5 x 16 x 66cm | Material: metal, mesh | Suitable age: from birth | Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: Yes

The Dreambaby Brooklyn Converta Fabric Playpen can be configured to make an extra-wide barrier gate. Wall mounts are included for the  barrier/gate function. The mesh fabric panels increase the safety of this product, ensuring great visibility. They also make it stylish too.

The door of the playpen has a stay-open feature so you can easily get in and out. The door swings both ways but there is an option to make it one-way if you feel that increases the safety.

You can arrange this versatile playpen to your desired layout, suiting it to you and your child’s needs. The sturdy metal and strong mesh panelling is designed to last for a long time.

One of the best things about this playpen is it’s also quick and easy to fold away when not in use.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, Uber Kids and Amazon

8. Hauck Travel Cot Set Sleep N Play Centre, £79.95

– Best for travel

Dimensions: 125 x 68.5 x 82cm | Material: metal, mesh | Suitable age: from birth to 15kg | Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: No

Some people repurpose a travel cot as playpen, and this product has been designed specifically for that. As it’s a travel cot too, it is obviously smaller than some of the other playpens, so it’s more suitable for babies than toddlers.

The highlight of this playpen option is its convenience. There’s no assembly required, you simply fold and unfold it. It also folds down to fit in a small bag which is easy to take on holiday or anywhere else you may need to take it.

The travel cot/playpen has a removable newborn bassinet and changing table top, making it super useful for parents when not at home. When being used as a playpen, it has a zip door to make getting in and out easy for your young child. MFM home tester Sarah uses this with her 8 month old girl and likes “the little flap that she can crawl in and out of”. The wheels on the bottom increase the convenience even more so.

Included with this travel cot/playpen are: a changing table, folding mattress, second level attachment and a transport bag.

If you don’t have much space and travel a lot this playpen option is very much for you.

Available from: Amazon, Online4Baby and Very

9. Joie Cheer Baby Playpen, £90

– Best playpen for a baby

Dimensions: 96 x 96 x 76cm | Material: metal, mesh | Suitable age: from birth to 15kg | Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: No

The square design of this playpen means your baby has more room to stretch, play and nap, but it’s still small enough to fit in most rooms. It’s beautifully decorated to entertain your baby, with little plane and cloud plush toys on the walls.

The playful print helps with your baby’s imagination during playtime, while you’re reassured that they’re safe whilst playing.

The side panel opens up to make accessing you baby painless and easy. The mesh lined sides also provide excellent ventilation.

But, much like the Hauck travel cot, one of the best things about this playpen is that it can fold down to a small package that can easily be taken or stored wherever you like. The playpen comes with a removable mattress to make nap time comfy and cosy too.

Available from: Mamas & Papas, Very and Halfords

10. Relaxdays Pit Baby Zoo Play Pen, £32.27

– Best pop-up playpen

Dimensions: 80 x 80 x 29cm | Material: polyester, plastic, steel | Suitable age: 6 months – 8 years | Foldable: Pop-up | Assembly required: No

If you’re looking for a slightly less permanent playpen, this zoo pop-up one may be perfect. The fun animal designs make it bright, colourful and stimulating for your child.

The pop-up feature means it’s quick and easy to set up, it just pops-up and you can put it wherever you need it.

The playpen comes with 50 toxic-free balls made of PE-plastic in 5 different colours to increase fun, whilst still remaining safe.

This pen is great for playtime and entertaining, however the sides aren’t secure enough to leave your baby unsupervised: a child who can crawl could probably get over the sides of this quite quickly, so keep it for supervised-but-contained play only.

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Available from: Amazon 

About the author

Chloe Brightwell is a Digital Reviews Writer working for Immediate Media’s Parenting team. She is dedicated to helping parents find the best deals on the very best products.

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