Pros: multi functioning, a stand for the bassinet, and compact.
Cons: It can be uncomfortable for a taller person to change a baby's diaper, too low.
Last August my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our second child. We were so thrilled at the idea of having another child, but we were also living in a very expensive duplex that we were having a hard time affording as it was. So in late September a friend of ours who was also having some financial difficulty asked us to move in with her. After much discussion we figured this was the best thing to do even though we were loosing a lot of space.
So in October we moved in with our friend and we had a much smaller bedroom than before. I was still only in my first trimester though so we didn't think too much about the sleeping arrangements. I just assumed that our older daughter's crib would still fit in our bedroom, but it would give us much limited space.
Well, as my due date was approaching I kept telling my husband we need to get the crib set up. We finally went out and bought a replacement mattress for my daughter's crib and brought the crib upstairs to set it up in our bedroom. This is where we ran into a problem. The crib was just too big. There would be no walk way to the other side of the bed with the crib and no matter how we moved the room around there was just no way it was going to fit. So this was a major dilemma.
My husband and I decided that perhaps the best thing to do would be to either get a bassinet, or get one of those play centers. We had a bassinet for my older daughter that she had never used because she was a large baby and really hated small spaces. The bassinet we had for her was very old and very used and seemed smaller than some others out there. My SIL had a "play center" for her baby when he was younger, but it was more like just a play pen. And reaching far into a play pen to pick up a small baby everytime she needs to be picked up is not an easy task to do. So if we were going to do the "play center" I wanted something that had a place for me to put the baby higher up so I didn't have to reach down.
So we looked around online first and say all kinds of Graco "play centers" that had changing tables on them, but that was about it. We decided to go look at stores. We went to Walmart first and found this Fisher Price Close to Me Care Center. Now keep in mind we don't have a whole lot of money to spend on these things. So we found out that this cost $99. Well, that's not bad, but I kept wondering if we could find something cheaper. My husband did talk me into buying this one though with the promise of looking elsewhere too and returning this item if we found something we liked better or cheaper.
So we made the purchase and then went on to Toys R Us and K-Mart to see if we could find any other "play centers" that we liked. There were a few nice ones, but they were all more expensive and all seemed very unstable. So we decided to keep our Fisher Price Close to me Care Center.
We went home that night and excitedly started assembling the place that our new baby girl was going to be sleeping in. It was very simple to put together. There were no tools required. You just had to put some poles in the correct place and pull the fabric on. The fabric had a tight fit and this was a little difficult to do, but I imagine that once it's been stretched to fit on the play pen it will become easier and easier to do each time. It only took us about five minutes to get it all put together. We don't collapse the play yard at all though so I really wouldn't know if it is any easier to do now. I was so excited. Of course with two months to go on my pregnancy and the place my child was going to sleep in all set up I couldn't wait for our new arrival to come and sleep in her bed.
So I bet you are wondering, "what in the world is so great about this play center?" Well, let me tell you.
This Fisher Price Close to me Care Center totally stands aside from all other items like this. It has a bassinet that rests on the top of the play pen part and also it has a changing station to change diapers at. There is even a little pocket on the side where you can store diapers or whatever else you may want to put in there for changing your little one's diaper. Here is the thing that set is apart from the rest; it has a stand for the bassinet. The stand even folds up when it's not in use so you can place it out of the way behind another piece of furniture like the couch or something. It folds flat and easily. You just have to pull up two tabs on either side and fold it together. To open it is even easier. Just pull it apart and place it on the floor and you're all set. So not only can you have the bassinet sitting on top of the play pen, but you can also have the stand set up anywhere in the house to put your baby in. I loved this, because having a toddler as well I can't just stay in one room all the time and need to have many places around the house where I can put the baby down when my toddler starts climbing the walls or getting into something she's not supposed to. So this was a great feature to me.
I ended up using the bassinet and it's stand a little differently than I originally intended though. The first few weeks our daughter was home from the hospital she slept in our bed. We had the Care Center set up at the foot of our bed and that was just too far for me to have to go in the middle of the night to get her. I am a little lazy at times I guess. So while we were getting used to things we had her sleeping in our bed. My daughter very rarely will go to sleep on her back. No matter how much a try she just hates being on her back. So while I know that it is not recommended that your baby sleep on her stomach this was the only way I was getting any sleep, but when I decided it was time she slept in her own bed I was very nervous about not having her right next to me so if she stopped breathing or something I could help her. So we set the stand up next to the bed on my side of the bed and put the bassinet in there so my little girl was still right next to me at night, but now I could get a more comfortable night sleep. I still would move the bassinet in the morning and have it out in the dining room, but I just liked having her right next to the bed. I wouldn't have been able to do this with the crib or with any of the other "play centers" we had seen which were more expensive. My daughter is four months old now and I do still have her sleeping in the bassinet right next to the bed even though she's getting way too big for it. I looked everywhere on this product for any weight limitations and could find none. Even at the Fisher Price website I found no weight limitations for the bassinet, just for the play yard itself (which is 30 pounds). However, the dimensions of the bassinet are 25" x 16" x 9". Since my daughter is 24 1/2" she is definitely getting way too long for the bassinet, however there really seems to be nothing wrong with her weight and she weighs 17 pounds. I have started putting her in the crib to sleep at night which is set up in her big sister's room. On occasion she does still sleep in the bassinet, but it's really not often now. Now that she is sleeping through the night there really is little need for her to be sleeping in the bassinet anymore.
Other features of the Fisher Price Close to me Care Center
Not only does this Fisher Price Close to me Care Center have the changing pad (which has an easy to clean plastic covering so that when baby has accidents all you have to do is wipe it up) and a bassinet, but it also is a play pen. This play pen is so easy to put together and take apart it would be nice for traveling with. It folds up more compactly than that one I had for my older daughter did. When folded the dimensions on this play pen are 40 1/4" x 3 1/4 " x 28". When set up the dimensions are 40 1/2" x 28 1/2" x 29". There are no wheels on it, but it does slide across my hard wood floors pretty easily so I can get behind and clean whenever my older daughter throws stuff behind it. I have never used it for travel and probably never will, but if we were to go out of town for any length of time I can see us bringing this along to put the baby in to sleep. Unfortunately, I cannot find the directions for how to fold this up and I can't remember how to do it since I never do it. I do remember that it wasn't hard at all to put together so I can't imagine that taking it apart would be much more difficult. I sure hope my husband knows how to take it apart though or else I suppose we'll be calling Fisher Price to find out how to do it. From what I have read it weighs 36 pounds, but I really don't think it's that heavy. My oldest daughter weighs about that and I don't think it weighs as much as she does.
The mattress on the bassinet and on the bottom of the play pen are thin and very soft. The play pen takes a standard play yard fitted sheet and the bassinet takes a standard bassinet fitted sheet. My daughter seems to be very comfortable in her bassinet every night. As soon as I put her in there she falls right to sleep.
My daughter spits up a lot. So I am always having to clean out the bassinet. It is very simple to do. The mattress is just velcroed on lift that up easily and pull the fitted sheet off like any fitted sheet of a bed and throw it in the wash when it needs to be cleaned. I have put a bassinet fitted sheet on this bassinet even though it says to not put any other sheets or blankets in there except for the ones provided. The bassinet sheets fit perfectly on the mattress though and I put it right over the covering that's already on there. This way if my daughter has a particularly bad week of spitting up I can prevent myself from having to constantly wash sheets for it. Underneath the cloth covering on the mattress is a plastic covered mattress. So this makes it easy to wipe down with a cloth and some sort of disinfectant. As I have said before, the changing pad is also covered in clear plastic, which makes that very easy to wipe down and keep clean. And if you want to know the dimensions of the changing pad are 26" x 20 1/2" x 6". I haven't used the changing pad for a while though. Since my daughter is still too young to actually play in the play pen I haven't had to wash out the play pen covering, but I know it's just as easy to take off as it is in the bassinet and it's the same material so it should be just as easy to clean, it's just a little larger than the bassinet cover is.
Having a toddler and being summer time she often wants to be outside. Of course I can't put sunblock on the baby and the sun is just too bright for her. I am still able to take her outside though. I just bring her out in the bassinet which has a shade that easily goes up and down on it to block out the sun. This is a very nice feature to have if you like to go out in the yard a lot or have another child at home that wants to be outside a lot. The play pen itself has no covering on it, but by the time my daughter is using the play pen as a play pen she will be old enough to use sunblock anyways and besides, she probably won't want to be stuck in a silly play pen and would much rather be out where she can watch her big sister run around and play on the swings.
The design on this play yard is very cute. We got one that has little teddy bears on it and it's a dark navy blue color with a tan or khaki color as well. There are other choices of design, but with the same color scheme. There is one that is called Critters (which has a bunch of different kinds of animals on it) and one with bunnies. So these are your choices: bears, bunnies, or critters. I only saw one with bears on it when we got ours at the store so I'm not too sure if other stores sell these other fabric choices or if you can get them at an online store. All of them look very cute though, but I really like the teddy bears.
Is there anything we don't like about this?
There is one thing my husband doesn't like about this Close to me Care Center. I kind of think this was just an excuse he used to not have to change the baby's diaper. He always complained that the changing pad was too low and he had to bend over in order to change her. Now, neither me nor my husband are very tall (I'm 5 ft. 3in. and my husband is 5 ft. 7in.). So since it made him uncomfortable to change the baby I would imagine that a lot of people might have this problem. I did have to kind of lean forward to change her diaper when I did it on the changing pad. I actually use that a lot less than I thought I would. I pretty much just change the baby wherever it's convenient.
Where you can get more information
If you would like to find out more about this play yard see a demo on it, or find out where to buy one you can go to the Fisher Price website which is: http://www.fisherprice.com/us/babygear/. Also you can get more information at the J.Mason website on this product which is http://www.jmason.com.
Overall feelings on this product
I am very pleased with this Fisher Price Close to me Care Center. We did end up having another large baby (8 pounds 15 ounces and 22 inches long). She seemed to have more room in this bassinet than our older daughter (who was smaller than that at birth, 8 pounds 12 ounces and 21 inches long) had in her bassinet. She's four months old now and I still have her in the bassinet and she still likes it. She is getting really crowded in there, but she loved it from the moment we put her in it. I would definitely say we have and are going to get our money's worth out of this item. For less than a hundred dollars we got a place for our baby to sleep, a changing table, and a play pen for her. Not too bad and it doesn't take up a whole lot of room. So I highly recommend this product to anyone who is expecting a new baby. It has worked great for us so far and I think will continue to work great for us as our daughter gets older.