Need to know
- Almost a third of the available playpens CHOICE tested failed key safety requirements
- There is no Australian standard for playpens, so our testing is based on Australian standards for other children's products and international standards for playpens
- Several playpens are so bad that they scored zero for performance
The humble playpen can provide parents with some much-needed peace of mind.
Need somewhere to leave your newly mobile crawler or toddler while you do something that requires both hands? Pop them in the playpen with a toy or two and you'll be able to supervise them while you carry on with other tasks, knowing they'll be safe.
Unfortunately, our latest playpen reviews reveal that far from being a secure spot for your little ones, many of the products in this category pose significant risks.
Almost a third of playpens fail safety testing
"We gave several playpens a score of zero for performance simply because they had so many failures," says Kim Gilmour, CHOICE's team leader for household products.
In fact, eight of the 25 models in our current review failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements – that's almost a third, a worryingly high proportion.
Eight of the 25 models in our current review failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements – that's almost a third, a worryingly high proportion
Products that failed did so for a number of reasons, ranging from major head and limb entrapment risks and ingestion risks, to less serious hazards, such as sharp edges and protrusions that little ones could bump themselves on. Some could easily be opened from inside or lifted, making them less secure.
This Bo Peep playpen had a number of serious safety failures.
In our most recent batch of playpens (tested in August 2023), three failed key safety requirements.
Common failures include a risk of head and/or limb entrapment in gaps and openings, strangulation risks if clothing is caught at various gaps or posts, footholds which could allow a child to escape, and inadequate structural integrity.
- Bo Peep Kids Playpen 14 Panels KD1102-12*: Serious failures include finger and limb entrapment risks, snagging/strangulation risk, insufficient security, ingestion/inhalation hazards and potential footholds.
- Bubbli 3-in-1 Playpen BB31PLYPENA: Serious failure due to snagging/strangulation risk.
- Regalo My Play Portable Play Yard 1370 DS: Serious failure due to potential footholds.
Our detailed playpen reviews include more detailed information on why these models failed safety tests (and responses from the manufacturers), plus playpens that we do recommend as safe options.
*We tested the 14-panel model, but only the 16- and 18- panel models are currently available; however, they are likely to have the same issues.
In our most recent test, conducted in August 2023, several playpens got a performance score of 40% or under, simply because they had so many failures.
"When a product has a serious safety failure, we always contact the retailers or manufacturers to inform them and give them the opportunity to withdraw them from sale, issue a recall and respond to our findings," says Kim.
"For the latest batch of products with serious safety failures, two of the three manufacturers didn't respond to us. The third manufacturer, Bo Peep, doesn't even have a listed Australian contact, so we weren't able to contact them."
If you've bought any of these playpens, our advice is to take it back to the retailer and ask for a refund. But because there's no mandatory standard for playpens in Australia, you might have trouble getting your money back. That's why CHOICE is calling for stronger product safety laws.
Some manufacturers and retailers have signed up to a product safety pledge; this might also be an avenue for a refund. Companies who've signed up include AliExpress, Amazon Australia, Catch.com.au, eBay Australia and MyDeal.com.au.
Before you shop, it's a good idea to check productsafety.gov.au/recalls to make sure you're not buying an unsafe product, and of course check our playpen reviews to see which products have passed our rigorous safety testing.
Although there's currently no Australian standard for playpens, our experts know what to look for when it comes to child safety.
We've based our test procedures on various existing Australian standards for similar children's products such as cots, folding cots and toys. We also draw upon elements of overseas standards, including the European and American playpen standards.
Several manufacturers claim compliance to one or both of these standards, but we use our method as it's more rigorous and thoroughly assesses the safety of playpens on the market.
Here's more detail about how we test playpens.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.