The Childcare Ervo Play Dome is not a playpen. It's comparably tiny, and due to its low sides it can't be used once your baby can sit up. For times when you're cooking, at the park, visiting the beach or having a shower, it could be a handy, shaded place to keep an eye on baby. But it will only be needed for the first few months after birth, as they'll soon be too old to safely fit in it.
The portable Childcare Ervo Play Dome is designed for use during "nap-time or playtime, at home or on the go". Unless you see it in store, you may be surprised at how small it is when unfolded: the circular enclosure measures 78cm at its longest point and 72cm at its widest.
It's not a traditional playpen enclosure and is more of a play mat/bassinet combo, designed for very small babies who can't yet sit unaided.
And although your baby may take the odd nap in it, it's not a replacement for a cot.
How safe is the Childcare Ervo Play Dome?
For newborns, a flat, firm surface like the Play Dome with breathable sides is definitely a safer bet than an inclined sleeper. These tilt at a dangerous angle, and have been linked to a number of fatalities in the US. Inclined sleepers can potentially restrict breathing when a baby's head falls forward. The Childcare Ervo Play Dome is designed for babies to lie flat.
A firm mattress is crucial. Our lab experts checked the Play Dome's padded base. It's a folding mattress, and while it passes the mattress firmness test method, you do need to make sure it is pressed down firmly to create an even sleeping surface. The mesh sides provide breathability if your baby does fall asleep in it, but it's not a replacement for a regular cot or bassinet.
The mesh sides provide breathability if your baby does fall asleep in it, but it's not a replacement for a regular cot or bassinet
The Play Dome also passed our strength test. If used purely for babies who can't yet sit up unaided as per the instructions, then its 45cm depth is more than adequate. But when tested using our playpen method, it fails our depth test as it's not tall enough to be used safely as a playpen once they start being more active. However, the product is intended as a sleep and play space for babies who can't sit unaided and it's far too small for any vigorous activity.
As there is no direct Australian safety standard for this type of product, we contacted the distributor, CNP Brands, who told us the product is neither a sleeping surface nor a "complete playpen". The Play Dome was tested to particular clauses in the travel/folding cot standard, AS/NZS 2915, as this covers "playpens with floors". It has provided us with a lab report saying it has passed these tests. (CHOICE has not tested the Play Dome as a folding cot.)
How portable is the Play Dome?
The Play Dome is foldable and suitable for taking on a trip. It has a hood with UPF50+ on the main materials but does not claim to offer complete sun protection. The mesh surrounds could keep out bugs on an outdoor trip. When folded, it measures 45 x 13 x 72cm and weighs 4.1kg with the canopy. No tools are required to assemble it, although it's tricky to operate the unlocking button. It feels light, and keeps its circular form well.
Is the Childcare Play Dome worth buying?
For most parents, this won't be an essential piece of baby equipment. Because it can only be used when your baby is very small, then you'll only be using it for a few months. Consider whether you'll be going out enough times to justify the cost.
When you're home, keeping your baby in their regular cot or bassinet while completing household chores may suit you just fine.
But every family is different, and if the Play Dome is something worth considering, be mindful that it isn't as deep as a regular playpen and can't be used once they can sit unaided.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.