Portable Play Yard
Whether they call it a playpen, playard, travel yard or portable playard, the vast majority of new parents will tell you that they currently own or plan to purchase one. Not surprisingly, this is one of the largest product categories represented by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA).
To those not selling or shopping for baby products, this purchase decision would seem to be pretty cut and dry. Those who are familiar with the category, however, realize that the multitude of options and brands available can be confusing to a new parent.
Playards can be divided into two major product categories. The more traditional or full-size playard is the type that many will refer to as a "playpen"often square in shape, with sides that pivot down to the center for storage. This category is slowly shrinking as more new parents are attracted to the multi-featured, more flexible travel yards, or portable playards. Most portable playards sold today are a standard rectangular size (usually 28" x 40"), with a center floor fold mechanism and top rails that unlock to allow the entire unit to fold compactly and be stored within its own padded floorboard. Some variations on the standard size portable playard include oversized models or those of different shapes, such as square, triangular, round or oval. Portable playards are typically manufactured with round steel tubing, plastic corners and feet, and padded polyester or nylon fabrics.
Meeting Customers' Needs
From a new parent's perspective, the addition of bassinet and changing table features to portable playards makes perfect sense. The product is more accommodating to an infant, and is useful for more stages of a young child's life. For example, the bassinet features allow parents to keep the baby close by in the bedroom during the early months. When the child outgrows the bassinet and changer, the product can be used as a play area elsewhere, in or outside the home.
Requirements for Playards (ASTM F406) include general requirements for small parts and sharp edges, height of sides, rail and floor strength, maximum size of holes and mesh openings, and required labels and warning statements. Portable playards can also be certified to pass a Non-Full Size Crib set of requirements (ASTM F1822). These requirements were developed and adopted by JPMA to address some of the more common consumer practices. In general, here are basic suggestions for parents provided by JPMA in reference to portable playards: