Drexel, my baby boy (who will turn 3 months on the 9th), is growing like a little weed. My husband and I measured him the other day and found that he has grown almost an inch and a half in length over the past month. Add to that the fact that he has also started to roll over, and the baby basket sleeper thing that he was in at night has been mommy-deemed no longer safe at night (and now too small, anyways) when I'm asleep when he is sleeping and hence cannot supervise him. One trip to Target later, and we came home with the Baby Trend Playard pictured above.
True to its promise, the playard is easy to set up. It comes a little dismantled in a box, but with the very clear accompanying instructions and a little persistence, anyone can set this up. It is nearly impossible to switch parts up and put them in the wrong places. No extra tools necessary.
Drexel has plenty of room to stretch out as much as he wants (this kid stretches like he is Stretch Armstrong) and doesn't reach the ends. Now, I understand that this will change as he continues to grow, but for now he has plenty of room everywhere. This momma also sleeps better at night knowing that her little tyke is flat on his back when snoozing. The bassinet can likely hold more weight than the product description shows, but we won't test this theory much. The bassinet is an additional piece that looks like a net and clips onto the outer edges of the playard. The mat sits into it and viola...baby is sleeping only halfway down the playard. That being said, the walls are still high enough around him that I have no concerns about his safety, and yet they are not so high that they block the air circulation that I use a fan to create over his body. I like that height compromise.
The brakes work wonderfully, and Drexel absolutely loves the mobile that hangs over the top of the playard. The mobile is easy to set up, has a wind-up feature (wind it up and go), and can easily swing out of the way when I want to get my baby out of the bassinet. This particular model (Columbia) has little bears that hang on the mobile, but I've seen other models that have other animals/shapes appropriate to their design. It plays the typical lullaby tune when it is spinning, and he loves it.
Once you figure out how to fold it up, this unit is easily collapsible for storage and/or transport. I definitely appreciate this feature as we are moving soon and he has a crib in the location to where we are moving, this is just a temporary solution until that time.
When Drexel gets a bit older, I can take the netting off of the bassinet and lower the mat into the bottom of the playard. Drexel will then have a place to sit with some toys and play in a nice quiet space that is all his own. The very fact that we can keep using this product with our son until he is well into toddlerhood is a definite bonus!
The entire unit itself is extremely easy to move. There are wheels on one end, so all one needs to do is release the breaks and presto! it will go anywhere.
The Bugly (Bad/Ugly)
My number one complaint with this playard is the mat. The packaging makes it seem like Baby can sleep directly on the mat with no problem whatsoever. The problem is that the mat is very sturdy and has very little actual padding. Hence the sleeping surface is actually very hard. I thought maybe it was just a little firm, but Drexel slept like crap the first night he was on it. After I spread out and secured 3 blankets on top of the mat (not one, not two, but three), it was finally soft enough that he can sleep like he normally does. Now, my boy does not need a super soft surface to sleep on, he sleeps just fine on a regular crib mattress, that mat is just really hard unless it gets some help. I wouldn't want to sleep on a mat that hard! The fact that they have a mattress that comes separately does not redeem the piddly padding on the included mat - it should be Baby ready the instant it comes out of the box and is set up...or at least it should indicate that an extra mattress might be necessary. Okay, I'll stop ranting about that.
The product description boasts storage pockets. These pockets are rather flimsy and, in my humble opinion, a little cheap. Now, remember that this is not the highest end playard - for that I could have spent upwards of $200 (I got this one on clearance and spent less than $85). Yet, those of us on a tight budget still want quality. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the storage pockets are complete garbage, just a little cheap. They are a tad flimsy, to the point that the diapers I put in the bottom part - where I assume diapers go - fell right out. Now, that may be because this product is really designed for little ones who are older than my baby and therefore take larger size diapers. We'll see if the diapers keep falling out of the pockets once he is a bit older.
The mobile. The mobile that my son loves to stare at and listen to. The wind-up mobile that graces the top of the unit. Even when completely wound, it only lasts about 3 or 4 minutes. As any parents around children's noisy things can attest, it can be nice that a noisy thing only lasts so long. Yet, as nearly any parent can also attest, it generally takes longer than 3 or 4 minutes to calm a fussy, over-tired child. I like that it winds to a stop and is not a sudden "oh, now the music is done" because sudden silence can be a shock, but it would be nice if the mobile lasted longer. My other nitpick about the mobile is that its stand falls over rather easily. It clips onto the side of the unit, and pretty easily slides to a toppling-over fall. It is never a fast topple and it does not happen when it is positioned over the unit - rather, it happens when it has been swung to the side to allow room for moving Baby around in the bassinet.
I think that is about it. :) Oh, except for that the entire until wobbles a little more than I would like. It doesn't wobble a lot...just a little bit. Just enough to make me a teeny weeny bit nervous. I suspect, however, that is from the majority of the weight being closer to the top when my babe is in it than it would be if I had him sleeping in the very bottom.
Overall, I like this playard. It is easy to set up, keeps my baby right where I want him when we are sleeping, and will provide an excellent play space in the future. The mat being so hard, however, and my issues with the mobile are what hurt my score for this item. I don't like being required to buy an extra piece (i.e. the mattress) so my child can sleep properly when the packaging makes it sound like it is ready to go. If it was upfront about needing the mattress, fine...but it wasn't.
On a 1 to 10 rating scale, I give this product a 6.