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Playpens are supposed to keep little ones safe. Designed to provide a safe haven for a newly mobile crawler or toddler, parents pop their child in a playpen with a selection of toys and supervise them while they get on with another job on their to-do list.
Unfortunately, the latest playpen reviews from CHOICE reveal that far from being a secure play area, many of the products in this category pose significant risks.
In fact, 10 of the 22 models tested that are currently available failed to pass CHOICE's key safety requirements.
"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.
10 of the 22 playpens tested failed to pass safety tests.
There's no Australian standard for playpens, so the testing is based on standards for other relevant products as well as international standards.
Products that failed the 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 tots could bump themselves on.
The following playpens all failed to pass key safety requirements:
• ABST Bubble Playpen 18+2 ABST-BL20
• ABST Running Bear 14+2 AOLE-BBX16
• Bubbli Wooden 6 Panel BBPLPENW6NA
• Jolly Kidz Activity 159124
• Jolly Kidz Versatile Playpen HPP005/155027
• Kiddy Cots Link 100/8 Panel Wooden Playpen
• Nanny Annie Happy Panel Plastic Playpen
• TikkTokk Little Boss Playpen Hex LBPP11w
• TikkTokk Little Boss Playpen Square LBPP01w
• TikkTokk Pokano Fabric Hex POK11c
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. CHOICE approached the manufacturer to alert them but are still awaiting a response.
More encouraging was the response of online retailer, Catch, who were listing these products on their marketplace. When told 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 CHOICE they take safety extremely seriously. They stated that that their products include warnings that playpens should not be used unattended by adults but said after reviewing the 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 CHOICE 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 the results, the manufacturer says it's working on producing stronger connectors to increase the force needed to separate the panels.
While CHOICE welcomes manufacturers' efforts to improve their products, the results are terrifying.
Playpens should be safe – but these models are far from it.