Little Playzone - Safe Play Pen for Toddlers and Kids

Safe Play Space That Grows With Your Child


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Once your child is mobile, you may feel that your house becomes a strange new world. Around every corner is a potential danger. There is much you can do to make it toddler safe such as employing traditional childproofing tactics like plugging exposed electric outlets or using cabinet locks. However, you still need to watch your toddler around "grow-up" spaces where small tools or office supplies might be sitting too close to the edge of a counter or a bathroom door could be slightly ajar.

Yet, constant vigilance can be impossible if you need to make dinner, brush your teeth, or complete some basic chores. And screaming, "No!" every two seconds to a toddler who just wants to explore is frustrating for everyone. That's why I love the Playzone Play Center by Friendly Toys. It gives the baby a chance to play happily on his own and provides mommy with a little more freedom to get things done.

A Place of Their Own

The Playzone is, in the tradition of old-time playpens, a fully enclosed space where young children can play by themselves. The sides interlock. You just snap the four sides and four corners into place and you have a square space of approximately four feet by four feet. One wall includes an activity panel with simple toys and musical light-up keys. A door along one side can be opened from the outside. The lock on the door is too large and complex for tiny hands to open, but can be undone by an adult very simply.


  • Must be assembled; when put together it measures 47"L x 43"W x 24"H
  • Activity panel includes: removable telephone, turn dial, sliding peek-a-boo door, mirror, rollers, seven large flash-and-play music buttons that play Wheels on the Bus, Pop Goes the Weasel, Anna Lee, Skip to the Lou, Bicycle Built For Two, Sing a Song of Sixpence and Three Little Kittens
  • Locking hinged door for secure play
  • Durable plastic frame is sturdy enough to withstand toddler's knocks but light weight so that a child will not be hurt if he falls into it
  • Recommended for children under 40 pounds

Pros: Easy Solution

One of the deceptive traits of the Playzone is that it looks like a toy. The brightly colored walls and light-weight frame may, from a distance, make you think that a toddler could pull it apart or even bend it. But after five years of getting seriously beat up by three kids, my Playzone is still holding up. The durable but lightweight construction means you can transport the Playzone anywhere you need it. I've taken it on trips, put it in the backyard, set up by the laundry room, and so on. Mostly, however, it stays in the central family room. We can quickly push it to the side when we need more room, and unsnap the sides to disassemble it in seconds. Next time we need it, we just pop the pieces back together and it's all set. You can purchase extension pieces separately to create a larger play space if you want to give your toddler more room.

I like to think of the Playzone as part of our overall childproofing strategy that has included such things as draw locks, stove guards, and safety gates. The Playzone is more adaptable than some of those other mechanisms, which is what I love about it. For instance, while safety gates are often a good choice for securing highly dangerous areas such as stairs or rooms that you don't want a toddler exploring, safety gates are not usually practical for creating a secure play space for children. They may allow you to keep a child from leaving her bedroom, but they can't block off an area within the living room, kitchen or even the yard where you need to get some chores done. So except for those time when you want to stay in the bedroom with your child while she plays, the safety gate is not helpful for playtime security. Also, while my children were able to master most safety gate locks before they were 3 years old, They were 4 and 5 years old before they could release the two-part locking mechanism on the Playzone door.

Cons: Design Flaws Plus Add-Ons Lacking

Since I believe that providing time for independent play is very important to toddler development, having a way to set up a secure play area is essential in my house, and the Playzone is the best tool I've seen for this. However, I don't think it's perfect. One flaw we've had to deal with is the width of the bars. My youngest son has gotten his foot caught in between the slots a few times. Since the entire thing is made of plastic, there is no risk of long-term injury and getting the foot unstuck takes just a couple of seconds, but it definitely has caused him some discomfort.

Another thing I would like to see is add-on options for the Playzone. We purchased a foam mat separately from a different manufacturer so we could use the Playzone on wood floors or on a patio. the mat is not a perfect fit, however. One that could interlock with the sides would be ideal.

Finally, I think that the toys on the activity panel are uninspiring. The music can be annoying, too. We just remove the batteries to avoid hearing it, and since we fill the Playzone with our toddler's favorite toys, what is included on the activity panel doesn't matter. Yet, if you're going to have this feature, my advice to the manufacturer would be, "Include activities that are more fun and developmentally appropriate for toddlers and 2-year-olds."

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