I have to admit, before I had a kid I didn't get the point of play yards. Why would you need a fence when you could just get a playpen or babyproof? Oh, but now I know. Play yards are awesome. We got a Superyard XT on Craigslist when Nico started crawling, and it was much simpler than replacing our open-front entertainment center or buying a giant custom baby gate for our somewhat open-floorplan house. It also allowed us to keep the baby and the dog separate without denying either one access to the main living areas. The best feature of the Superyard, as far as I'm concerned, is the flexibility. It can be set up as a freestanding hexagon, which provides an okay amount of space for a young baby (and a bigger area than a classic playpen for an older child). The company sells expansion kits with two additional panels that increase the enclosed area, and a friend from our baby group got one and said she was shocked at just how much space it added to the "yard." As Nico discovered at 9 months of age, however, there's a small disadvantage to using the freestanding setup on hardwood floors...the whole pen can easily be pushed around the room:
Once Nico discovered how to push the yard around, it didn't make much sense to use it freestanding. Our living room is a long rectangle shape, with the TV and loveseat on one long side and the couch on the other long side. We set up our Superyard in a sort of crooked L-shape, with the long bit blocking off the entertainment center and the short bit cutting across to divide the living room in half, leaving the couch on Nico's side of the fence and the loveseat on Indy's side (since the loveseat is Indy's seat). This worked really well for several months, but toward the end of last year, I started to wish Nico had a little more room to roam while still being safely separated from Indy's food and resting areas. The problem was only compounded once we procured Nico's play kitchen, and we were constantly moving the kitchen into the play yard area while Nico was hanging out and then moving it out of the way once Nico went to bed. I tried to get a second Superyard on Craigslist in the interest of expanding the fenced-in space, but was never able to hook up with the seller.
Then, in January I had another opportunity to work with CSN Stores, and it turned out that they carry the same Superyard that we already had. Armed with a $100 voucher, I ordered one just before Nico's birthday. I was shocked at how fast the item shipped to me. I believe I ordered it on a Thursday and received it the following Tuesday even with a bank holiday in between. With the second Superyard, we were now equipped to create a somewhat epic play yard setup. Now we're using four panels from our first yard to cordon off the entertainment center and seven panels connected end-to-end to create a second fence that can be strung out from the playroom doorway across the open area where the living room blends into the dining room. We use the carrying strap that came with the Superyard to attach the long segment to the short segment, neatly giving Nico run of the entire living room while keeping the loveseat on the outside of the fence for Indy's lounging needs.
It does kind of look like a plastic version of the Great Wall of China marching down the middle of the house, but it does the trick marvelously. Nico has plenty of space to play, he can hang out with us in the living room and get to his playroom, and we can give him access to his play kitchen without shoehorning it into the already-cramped space right around the couch. I'm sure if my pre-kid self saw a picture of our crazy play yard set up, she'd think it was absurd. But my raising-kid self thinks it's pretty awesome. Sure, our living room won't ever be featured on any fancy-pants style blog, but the Superyard helps keep everyone in the family happy and safe, and that's worth more than style to me.
DISCLOSURE: I received a $100 voucher in exchange for a teaser post on my main blog containing a linked keyword selected by CSN Stores. The choice of product as well as the words and opinions in this review are my own.