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.
In fact, 10 of the 22 models we tested that are currently available failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements.
The failures list
The following playpens all failed to pass key safety requirements:
There's no Australian standard for playpens, so our testing is based on standards for other relevant products as well as international standards.
Products that failed our safety tests 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.
Manufacturers and retailers respond
Two playpens from the ABST brand made by Ausway Pacific scored most poorly, earning less than 20% overall in our tests. We approached the manufacturer to alert them to our concerns but are still awaiting a response.
More encouraging was the response of online retailer, Catch, who were listing these products on their marketplace. When we told them of the safety concerns related to these models they took the playpens off their site.
Two of the four Jolly Kidz playpens we tested failed key safety requirements. Parent brand Colorific told us that they take safety extremely seriously. They stated that that their products include warnings that playpens should not be used unattended by adults but told us that after reviewing our comments they'll engrave the warning onto the Versatile model, as per some of their other playpen models.
Several playpens got zero for performance simply because they had so many fails
Manufacturer TikkTokk, who 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 they test their playpens to the European toy standards.
The Kiddy Cots playpen that failed key safety requirements was structurally inadequate, as the panels can be separated easily. In response to our results, the manufacturer says it's working on producing stronger connectors to increase the force needed to separate the panels.
While we welcome manufacturers' efforts to improve their products, our tests show that many simply don't come up to scratch. Playpens should be safe, and that's why we test to find out whether or not these products can be used safely by Australian families.
Sadly, in this case, many can't.