Need to know
- Half the available playpens CHOICE tested failed key safety requirements
- There is no Australian standard 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.
"Several playpens we bought online got zero for performance simply because they had so many fails," says Kim Gilmour, CHOICE's team leader for household products.
Several playpens we bought online got zero for performance simply because they had so many failsKim Gilmour, CHOICE team leader for household products
In fact, 13 of the 26 models we tested that are currently available failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements.
Products that failed did so for a number of reasons, ranging from major head entrapment risks to less serious hazards, such as sharp edges and protrusions that little ones could bump themselves on.
The failures list
In our most recent batch of playpens (tested in November 2020), six failed key safety requirements.
Common failures include head and/or limb entrapment in gaps and openings, strangulation risks if clothing is caught at various gaps or posts, footholds which could cause a child to escape, and inadequate structural integrity.
- Baby Care Baby Play Pen BP-001: Serious failures include limb entrapment, strangulation risk, inadequate structural integrity, gate is too easy to open, potential footholds.
- Cuddly Baby Plastic Baby Playpen BP-C-19P: Serious failures include head and limb entrapment, strangulation risk, potential footholds, gate is too easy to open.
- Gupamiga Safety Playpen 14 Panels Multiple Classic PLP-14WL004-15: Serious failures include head and limb entrapment, strangulation risk, inadequate structural integrity, gate is too easy to open, potential footholds.
- Komodo Indoor Outdoor Kids Playpen Instant Set Up KDKIDPLPENA: Serious failures include head entrapment hazard, inadequate structural integrity, can tip over, potential footholds
- Tobbi Playpen with 8 panels and gate TH17W0352: Serious failures include: Strangulation risk, potential footholds, limb entrapment.
In previous years, the following playpens – which are still on sale – also failed to pass key safety requirements:
- ABST Bubble Playpen 18+2 ABST-BL20 (tested 2019)
- ABST Running Bear 14+2 AOLE-BBX16 (tested 2019)
- Jolly Kidz Versatile Playpen HPP005/155027 (tested 2019)
- Nanny Annie Happy Panel Plastic Playpen (tested 2019)
- TikkTokk Little Boss Playpen Hex LBPP11w (tested 2019)
- TikkTokk Little Boss Playpen Square LBPP01w (tested 2019)
- TikkTokk Pokano Fabric Hex POK11c (tested 2016)
There's no Australian standard for playpens, so our testing is based on standards for other relevant products as well as international standards.
Manufacturers and retailers respond
In our most recent test, conducted in November 2020, several playpens got a performance score of 20% or under simply because they had so many fails.
The Gupamiga Safety Playpen 14 Panels Multiple Classic (20% for performance) was purchased via the Amazon Australia website in 2020. After we alerted Amazon to the failures, it removed the listing.
In our 2019 test, two playpens from the ABST brand made by Ausway Pacific scored poorly, earning less than 20% overall. We alerted the manufacturer to the failures after conducting our 2019 test but we never received a response.
More encouraging was the response of online retailer, Catch, who were listing some of these products on their marketplace at the time. When we told them of the safety concerns relating to these models, they took the playpens off their site.
Also in 2019, the Jolly Kidz Versatile playpen we tested failed key safety requirements. Parent brand Colorific told us at the time that they take safety extremely seriously. They stated that that their products include warnings that playpens should not be used unattended by adults.
But they also told us that after reviewing our comments, they will engrave the warning onto the Versatile model, as they do for some of their other playpens.
Manufacturer TikkTokk, which had three playpens that failed key safety requirements, told us that they don't test playpens to the European playpen standard because "we do not sell it as a safety device" and instead test their playpens to the European toy standards.
Some manufacturers have improved their playpens in response to our findings, notably Kiddy Cots.
In 2018, its 100/8 Panel Wooden Playpen was found to be structurally inadequate, as the panels can be separated easily. The manufacturer's current version, which CHOICE retested in late 2020, now has stronger connectors to increase the force needed to separate the panels. We can confirm its current version passes key safety tests.
Conclusion: simply not good enough
For many products, our tests show that many simply don't come up to scratch.
Playpens should be safe in the first place. And that's why we test them – to find out whether or not these products can be used safely by Australian families.
Sadly, as our test results show, many can't.