Play pen is an optional for new parent to buy. It should not be on your first list but if you have extra cash, it is very helpful because it can be a mobile nursery for baby. Play pen or play yard is most the same, but baby play gate or fence is different thing.
Good playpen will provide a space for baby and their toys. Usually playpen need to be assembled before can be used. Some of it has 6 panels or 8 panels. I would like to recommend you to buy 8 panel playpen, so you would have an option. Use 8 panels when the room is big and 6 panels when the room is small.
Gates or without gates
Not all playpens has a gate or door. The cheap will not provide a door as their entrance. When you setup the play pens without gate, that's it, just put your baby in the surrounding space. However playpen without door also a good especially when the panel clip mechanism can be taken on and off easily.
Consumer has an option to choose, it made from wood, steel or plastic (polyethylene). Traditionally it is made from wood, but nowadays you can find it made from steel and plastic. Today parent will choose play pen made by plastic or steel, because of durability and elegance.
Playpen made from steel has pro and contra. Usually steel playpen not only can be used as play yard but also very useful as room divider. This features is a favourite especially when the baby start to crawl. Somehow before buying steel playpen please check assembly clip, it should clip tight and strong. It will ensure safety and not falling over the baby.
Wooden playpens although is a traditional type but it is expensive compared to steel and plastic. People bought wooden style playpen because they want the color blend with other furniture. Wooden playpen not easy to put on and off, it used screw, usually parent will not bring it as mobile nursery.
Most playpen comes with music control panel. Not only plays music but it is also can used as a vibrator to make baby sleep. Nowadays you can play your ipod by plug in into the music control panel. Apart from playing baby song, you can play music from ipod and not only that, it also can record your voice.
Top brand in the market are Graco, 4 Mom Breeze, Baby Trends. Buy it according to your need. Good playpen price range from $70 - 150. But if you want wooden made the price is higher.
The safety of playpen is govern by agency such as cpsc (United States). Read manufacturer's recommendation on weight, age, assembly instruction. Comparing used playpen and new one, I prefer the new one, because the recent one will meet the new safety requirement.
Avoid playpen with protruding bolt, sharp edges or pinch that can cut finger. Make sure the net is mosquito type netting and it will not make any strangulation, can harm baby. The joint and end of metal tubes should cover with plastic cap.