Pros: Affordable; attractive with stylish colors; easy to set up and transport.
Cons: Too confining for some babies; padding could be a bit thicker.
While some parents may refer to them negatively as "baby jail", play yards are often a very necessary piece of baby equipment that most new parents eventually decide to purchase. With limited, supervised use as intended, these items are often referred to as "life savers" many times by parents and caregivers of inquisitive babies and toddlers. Many years ago when my older children were young, we'd received a play yard as a baby shower gift, and used it frequently for a number of purposes. So shortly after my 13 month old son, Tristan, was born last year, we decided it was time to purchase a new one as all the baby equipment we had owned previously was long gone. Our selection turned out to be the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard, purchased for $49.99 plus shipping and handling at an online baby products store (babycenter.com) that eventually went out of business a few months ago.
~~~Attractive & Stylish Design~~~
Constructed out of easy to clean yet durable materials, the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard is attractively designed in navy, burgandy, and hunter green colors and takes on the traditional rectangular "playpen" shape. Unlike the old play yard we owned years ago, this particular model comes in one fully collapsable piece that unfolds easily for use and folds up again for transport and storage with just a few simple steps. Sheets of colored fabric cover all of the exposed folding metal frame pieces, which helps to keep those little fingers from being injured. The sides of the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard are made of a navy, mesh "fish-net" material, allowing for air to circulate freely and to give baby (and parents) a better view. And the removable rectangular padding piece folded into 4 sections is secured in place inside the play yard with velcro tabs, burgandy side up.
~~~Ease of Setup~~~
With a bit of practice, the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard can quickly and easily be set up in literally just seconds. I'm truly amazed at how simple and convenient it is! Unlike our old play yard consisting of SEVERAL separate pieces that took several minutes to assemble every time, this model unfolds from a small collapsed piece to its designed rectangular shape with just a few easy steps. To open the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard, lift all four side rails two at a time and lock them into place. Then push the floor down until it's completely flat and all four corners are level and also locked into place. Insert the floor pad inside the play yard with the instruction side down, secure in place with the velcro tabs, and it's all set! The play yard is now ready for use. To fold for storage or transport, simply reverse this process. Take the piece of padding out, pull the center strap attached to the floor upwards to unlock, and then unlock the rails by lifting and squeezing each at the center symbols to release the locks. Push all 4 rails down into the collapsed position, and then wrap the floor pad securely around the folded play yard, fastening it in place with the velcro straps. The Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard is now ready for storage or travel inside the included storage bag.
The Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard may be used for a variety of purposes. Most of the time, we keep ours set up in the basement den to keep Tristan out of harms way when I'm downstairs doing laundry or other things. He's already took one tumble down our basement stairs (without injury, luckily!), so we hope to prevent any such future incidents from occurring again. In addition to being a sometimes necessary safety tool during a typical busy day at home, the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard also doubles as a portable crib for day trips to grandma's or other overnight occasions such as holidays and vacations. We frequently take weekend trips to my parents' house, who live 5 hours away, so our play yard always goes with us so Tristan will have a safe place to sleep. And we recently spent a week in Florida on vacation, and the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard went with us there as well. Hotel provided cribs usually are available in limited quantities and are often old and potentially unsafe, so I prefer the safety and convenience that comes along with having our own portable model for any overnight trips we might take.
~~~Guidelines for Use~~~
Designed for babies and young toddlers less than 35 inches tall and weighing less than 30 pounds who cannot independently climb over the side rails, the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard can easily be moved around the room while completely assembled while rolling it on two of the wheeled legs. Simply pick up the side containing the stationary plastic legs and push to the desired location without worrying about scratching the floor, etc. Do this when the play yard is EMPTY, of course! ALWAYS keep your child in full view and NEVER leave him or her unattended while playing inside. Supervised play sessions of no more than 20 minutes or so at a time are recommended. Whether used for safety, as a portable crib, or for those times when you just need a much needed break from chasing your little one around the house all day long, the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard should NOT be regarded as a substitute for adult supervision. This piece of equipment is a supplement only.
Children should not be left alone inside the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard for extended periods of time (other than nap times) for a majority of reasons. First of all, being confined to such a small space for more than a few minutes at a time limits a child's physical as well as social development. While there are times when we, as parents and caregivers, DO want to set physical limits occasionally, doing so for large blocks of time decreases your child's chances of practicing those rapidly developing motor skills. On top of this, most babies will get bored with his or her confined surroundings very quickly as their natural curiosity and exploring instincts rise to the surface. So limit periods of confinement and provide interesting toys to keep babies entertained while inside, or risk having a child that screams and protests loudly every time you attempt to place him or her inside the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard. Abusing intended use guidelines will almost certainly result in the above situation, and your play yard will become nothing more than an expensive toy box.
Always make sure the side rails and floor of the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard are locked into place before use. Serious injury and even death from suffocation can occur if an improperly set up play yard collapses onto your child. Make sure any sheets used to cover the floor pad fit tightly and do not use pillows or fleece bedding inside. Do not place the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard near dangerous items such as stoves or furniture pieces that your child can reach and pull inside. Only allow ONE child inside the play yard at a time as it is not intended for multiple users.
If you are looking for an affordable yet safe play yard for your little one that is stylish, colorful, and easy to use as well, consider purchasing the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard from your favorite department store today. The dark, rich colors are very attractive and the material is easy to clean. Assembly and fold-up are a breeze, and transport from one part of the room to another is made simple with the wheeled legs found on one side. Used with adult supervision as a temporary safe area of confinement for your baby or toddler for short periods of time, as well as a portable crib perfect for nap times at grandma's or even occasional overnight use, this play yard will meet a variety of different child care needs. Keep your little one safe with the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard while attending to required household chores or just to take a break every now and then from chasing him or her around all day long. This sometimes necessary piece of baby equipment is a "must have" in many households containing crawling babies and young toddlers....including mine!
For more information on the Kolcraft Travlin' Tot Play Yard and other pieces of baby equipment including strollers and other items, check out their website online at:
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Chicago, IL 60623 USA
****Originally published in July 2001 under a generic Kolcraft Play Yard category with no picture displayed, this review now has a new and better home.