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.


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.

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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.

Best playpens at a glance

  • Best playpen for outdoor use: Graco EverGo Playpen, £100
  • Best for travel: Koo-di Happy Home Foldaway Playpen, £129
  • Best playpen for a baby: Joie Cheer Baby Playpen, £94.99
  • Best big playpen: Safetots Wooden Play Den, £177.70
  • Best playpen for versatility: Hauck Travel Cot Set Sleep N Play Centre, £79.95
  • Best playpen for added components: Venture All Stars Duo Plastic Baby Playpen, £119.95
  • Best playpen for versatility: Millhouse Plastic Baby Playpen, £109.99
  • Best sustainable playpen: Clippasafe Natural Wood Playpen, £229
  • Best playpen for extra-wide barrier feature: Dreambaby Brooklyn Converta Fabric Playpen, £129.99
  • Best budget playpen: Reladays Pit Baby Zoo Playpen, £35.32

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.

Here are our best playpens for babies and toddlers

1. Graco EverGo Playpen, £100

– Best for outdoor use

baby testing graco evergo playpen

Dimensions: 130 x 68 x 73cm | Material: Washable fabric | Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: No

This gorgeous playpen has enough room for toys, friends and moving around. Compact enough to keep in a corner, the Graco EverGo playpen is also brilliant for outdoor use too, with its durable and weather-resistant fabric – plus the UPF 50+ canopy feature. "I like that it comes with the UPF canopy so that it can be used out and about to keep baby safe from the sunshine," shared parent tester Kavita who tested this with their son (pictured above).

There are transparent sides made with airy mesh fabric allowing you to see in from any angle. The mesh also improves ventilation in warm weather. Assembly can be completed in a few seconds with the instant pop-up feature, and equally it folds down in seconds so it's easy to put away and get back out if you don't want to use it all the time.

"It comes with a side zip so it is easy for babies and siblings to crawl in and out of. Plus it includes a handy carry bag and the playpen very easily slides into the bag for storing. The sun canopy is very sturdy and perfect for outdoor use," shared parent tester Kavita.

Our parent tester suggested having a play mat on the floor for extra padding if you wanted to use this indoors on hard flooring but we think using this outdoors laid on the grass could give the cushioning your little one needs.

Pros: Foldable, carry bag included, outdoor and indoor use, transparent sides, no assembly required
Cons: May be too big for some spaces

Available from: Graco and Amazon

2. Koo-di Happy Home Foldaway Playpen, £129

– Best for travel

Koo-di Happy Home Foldaway Playpen being tested

Dimensions: L118cm x W137cm x H76cm | Material: steel, polyester | Suitable age: 6 months - 3 years | Foldable: Yes | Assembly required: No | Awards: Editors Choice – MadeForMums Awards 2022

This playpen is excellent for travel as it simply pops open and folds down compactly in seconds, no assembly required. The fabric is water resistant and it has a padded base so it can be used outside too. The playpen features a zip door to make it easy for your child to get in and out when needed, or, for you to access too.

Once you're done with the playpen, you can just fold it up and put it in the included travel bag and store away until you next need it.

Parent tester Karen tested this playpen with her son (pictured above) and said, "It's light and compact so it can be carried with relative ease and having a waterproof base is a bonus. It's quick and easy to put up and down. The zip door is a nice addition, making the play space more flexible if you don't need to keep your child contained. It would definitely be good to use on holidays, inside and outside, or when visiting relatives who don't have children."

All the mechanisms and hard materials are covered in the playpen to avoid any injuries. The sides of the pen are made from airy mesh to ensure you can always see what your child is up to.

Pros: Folds away compactly, no assembly required, can be used outside
Cons: Not as big as some of the others listed

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Kiddies Kingdom

3. Joie Cheer Baby Playpen, £94.99

– Best playpen for a baby

Joie Cheer Baby Playpen

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.

Pros: Foldable, good size for babies, nicely decorated, easy access, foldable and no assembly requires
Cons: Small, not enough room for toddlers

Available from: Very, Mamas & Papas and Halfords

4. Safetots Wooden Play Den, from £177.70

– Best for a big playpen

twins testing safetots wooden playpen

Dimensions: 80 x 76cm | Material: Wood and rubber | Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes

This Safetots play den is great for bigger living spaces. One of the best things is that it's so versatile, you can purchase extra panels to make the den bigger if you like, equally you can remove the panels to adapt the size of the play den.

"The panels easily come apart so can be stored stacked up against a wall when not in use," shared parent tester Samantha who tested this with their twins (pictured above). It's fairly simple to set up although our parent tester found it was a little tricky to adjust the angles of the sides at the start.

Made with quality rubber wood, the play den is designed to suit any home. It is sturdy and strong enough to hold up even if a child pulls themselves up on the bars. "I initially thought that if they leant too hard against one side of the pen the whole thing would move in that direction but this didn't happen," shared Samantha.

The gate self-closes so it's handy for when the gate is left open if you're holding other items.

"My children were quite happy. They could see me clearly through the bars which I think they liked. They also enjoyed pulling themselves up to standing and peeking through. I was very pleased I could leave them in one place, they stayed put and were also fairly happy when I returned – job well done! shared parent tester Samantha.

Pros: Large, easy to see through wooden slats, indoor and outdoor use, versatile size
Cons: Not foldable, assembly required

Available from: Safetots

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

– Best for versatility

Hauck Travel Cot

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.

Pros: Doubles up as play pen and travel cot, no assembly required, foldable, changing table top, easy access
Cons: Small, not really suitable for toddlers

Available from: Little Angels and PramStores

6. Venture All Stars Duo Plastic Baby Playpen, £119.95

– Best for added components

Venture All Stars Duo Plastic Baby Playpen being tested by little girl

Dimensions: 155 x 155 x 65cm | Material: plastic | Suitable age: from birth| Foldable: No | Assembly required: Yes | Awards: Gold – Baby and child play product, MadeForMums Awards 2022

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. Parent 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.

Parent tester Anisha, tested this playpen with her daughter (pictured above) and said, "As soon as my daughter saw the playpen she was keen to go straight in and play with the balls! We put some of her favourite books in there and she was quite happy to sit and flick through the pages whilst in her playpen."

Pros: Has added features like play panels and plastic balls, indoor and outdoor use, adaptable
Cons: Cannot fold, assembly required

Available from: Amazon

7. Millhouse Plastic Baby Playpen, £109.99

– Best for versatility

Millhouse Plastic Baby Playpen

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. Parent tester Maxine, 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.

Pros: Adaptable to whatever size/shape you like, customisable stickers included, lock system door, safety matts
Cons: Not foldable and assembly required

Available from: Amazon

8. Clippasafe Natural Wood Playpen, £229

– Best sustainable playpen

Clippasafe Natural Wood Play Pen

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.

Pros: Sustainable wood, foldable, adaptable, fabric base mat
Cons: Assembly required

Available from: Clippasafe and Olivers BabyCare

9. Dreambaby Brooklyn Converta Fabric Playpen, £129.99

– Best for its extra-wide barrier feature

Dreambaby Brooklyn Converta Fabric Playpen

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.

Pros: Versatile, stay-open door feature, foldable
Cons: Requires assembly

Available from: Amazon and Kids Magic Land

10. Relaxdays Pit Baby Zoo Play Pen, £35.32

– Best budget-buy

Relaxdays Zoo 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.

Pros: Pop-up, easy to use, no assembly required, fun design, comes with plastic balls to play with
Cons: Sides aren't secure so can easily get out

Available from: Amazon

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.

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Picture of Chloe Brightwell
Chloe BrightwellDigital Reviews Writer and Coordinator

Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for Immediate Media's Parenting team, specialising in household and trying to help parents save money. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products, ranging from best cordless vacuums to best playpens. She has a First-Class Honours Psychology degree where she developed a strong interest in child development. During her teenage years she worked as a play worker and Brownie volunteer to support children's play.