Monday, April 28, 2014

Review of the Ingenuity Washable Playard with Dream Centre

I am excited to be writing a review of the Ingenuity Washable Playard with Dream Centre.  I will start with full disclosure and state that while I received this product from the company for free to review, these statements and this review is 100% honest and unbiased.

This is a unique review for me because instead of trying the product for just a few days, I have been actively using this product in my home for approximately 6 weeks now.  This is not because I have been lazy about writing the review; this is because I don't take a review of this product lightly. Playards are huge and expensive, two things that can be difficult to swallow if you are an urban parent.

The features of this product, as listed by the manufacturer, include:
  • Fabrics easily remove for machine washing
  • Dream Centre features soft fabrics and breathable mesh
  • One Less Step: quickly fold and go without removing bassinet
  • Just Right Height: Elevated changing table easily pivots out of the way
  • Soothing Sounds Station: 5 melodies and 3 nature sounds to comfort baby
I live in beautiful downtown Vancouver, and this means I have an apartment and limited space.  The baby items that come into this apartment have to be carefully selected because even a single square foot of space is precious.  This means that every baby item we own has to be:

- Useful
- Practical
- Necessary

After 6 weeks of using this product, I can honestly say without a doubt that it has become our #1 most useful, practical, and necessary baby item. Below is my 100% completely honest review of this product.

I will start by saying that we do not own a crib of any sort.  There simply isn't the space.  With Aias I side-carred the crib to our bed, but our current master bedroom does not have the space for this so the crib was given away to a friend months before we even conceived Azriel.  The plan was to get a larger bed for ourselves and then co-sleep.  However, having a place for the baby to nap alone safely is also of the utmost importance.

We have a modest sized master bedroom and this is where we chose to place the playard.  As you can see, we put it next to our queen sized bed.  The playard consists of 3 main parts:

- The bassinet
- The change table
- The playard itself

When you take the playard out of the box, it is set for a newborn or a baby that cannot yet pull his or herself up.  You can see from the picture that the floor of the playard is raised.  This is so you can easily access the baby.

Putting the playard together, straight out of the box, took me 13 minutes from start to finish without ever having assembled it before.  This was a major plus to me because I have a 4-year-old child running around and babies only like to be sitting on their own while you complete an activity for a very limited amount of time.

Assembly was very easy.

I was pleased to see that the walls of the playard were made of a totally breathable, see-through mesh.

This means that if my baby is sleeping in the playard, and I am sleeping in my bed, I can actually see through the mesh to check on the baby.  This may seem like an insignificant feature, but in my previous playard this part of the infant setting was not see-through, and I was repeatedly sitting up to check on the baby.  This can get very tedious.

I will talk about the main playard itself, but first I want to talk about the Dream Centre and Change Table features.

The Dream Centre feature is mainly the bassinet.  You can see it is attached to the playard frame and has a hood and some toys that dangle:

The sides of the bassinet have the same breathable mesh. I find that the hood is not particularly useful as it doesn't cover enough of the bassinet to prevent light from getting to the child's eyes, and the baby seems ambivalent about the dangling animals, but the bassinet itself is a life saver.  You can't really tell from this photo, but it actually sits at an angle.  It isn't enough of an angle to compare to a bouncer or anything, but it's a nice alternative to being completely flat.  It's a lovely and safe place to rest the baby when you aren't necessarily putting them to sleep in the main playard.  Although I have to say that we put him in this spot 3-5 times every day, and 50% of the time he falls asleep.  He will also stay asleep!  As I type this, he is asleep in the bassinet!

He's very comfortable in this position (pardon the waving hands!).  In this photo he is 4 months old and weighs approximately 16 lbs, and he is quite tall.  He is still very comfortable in the bassinet.  I received this product when he was over 2 months old and I was a little sad thinking I wouldn't be able to use the bassinet portion but he still seems to be enjoying it and I suspect he will for several more weeks.

This would have been invaluable to have had when he was a newborn!

The next part I want to talk about is the change table.  I could not live without this change table.  We actually own a change table that also doubles as a full-sized dresser that lives in Aias's bedroom, but it is the type that doesn't have high sides so you must always have a hand on the baby at all times and you most certainly cannot walk away.  The change table on the Ingenuity Washable Playard is completely different; it is deep, solid, and you can feel 100% safe walking away to grab something (a diaper, new wipes, bum cream, the phone) while your pre-sitting up baby is laying in it:

Next to the change table itself is my absolute favourite part of this entire set-up, second only to the fact that it is washable:  the caddy!

I am in love with this caddy.  My diapers, my wipes, and my bum cream and hand sanitizer are RIGHT THERE next to the changing table when I need them.  It's incredibly convenient. The pockets are large and deep enough to hold both cloth and disposable diapers, but they aren't too big to be a nuisance.

Now here's another absolute favourite feature of this change table...

See these little clips:

You simply undo two of those clips and baddabing, baddaboom...

The change table slides out of the way entirely!  When you need it again, you just flip it and snap two clips into place and it's ready for use.

This is a huge improvement over my last 2 playards, where you had to unclick the entire change table and place it somewhere in the room if you wanted to access the main playard.

Once you have moved the change table out of the way, the playard looks like this:

Now, even though the bassinet is still there, this is actually plenty of space for a newborn, or an infant that can't yet roll:

Once the baby is too big to fit into that space, you can easily move the bassinet for more room.  Most likely the bassinet would be outgrown at that point anyway, even if you have a larger baby.

The only thing I would change about this, is I would have the bassinet be movable in the same way that the change table is, but as you can see from my set-up, that wouldn't have been particularly useful to me anyway.

So far I have used this playard 100% for sleep and diaper changing purposes and it is really exceeding my expectations.  The beauty of it is that if I needed that space next to my bed for anything, even temporarily, I could just really easily break the whole thing down and put it aside.  You can't generally do that with a crib or change table.

Finally, I want to talk about the most important feature of this playard, the fact that it is washable.

A playard that is washable is a huge deal, because quite frankly, they don't really exist.  I have owned several playards because I have a family child care and some playards are approved as safe sleeping devices in registered family child cares in British Columbia (it will say inside the playard if it is safe for sleeping or not).

Cleaning a playard that is not washable is a hellish process that is anything but convenient or easy.  The main "mattress" of a playard is generally comprised of 4 boards connected with fabric.  In a playard that cannot be washed (most playards), this means that if you have to clean it, you need to take the whole thing out and scrub it. It doesn't bend, so it can't be put through a washer.  It requires you dismantle the entire thing, spray it with vinegar, and leave it outside in the sun to dry for about 48 hours.  I would have to do it on Friday night if I wanted to be able to use it for Monday, and if it rained I was hooped. 

To clean this playard you simply unhook the fabric, and put it in the washer and dryer.

The fabric of the change table also can be washed.

If you decide to save money and cut some corners on a playard that can't easily  be washed, and it turns out that you use the playard often, you will be certain to regret that decision.  Even the cleanest of babies usually puke or have a diaper explosion at least once, and cleaning it off an unwashable play yard is about as fun as cleaning puke off a carseat.  It isn't something you want to mess around with.

I think this is a beautiful playard, but frankly, I would choose this playard over an unwashable playard even if it only came in the most hideous print I have ever seen.  The washable feature is honestly that desirable.  The dream centre and change table are icing on the cake.

I saw this product at Babies R Us at Metrotown and it was retailing for $209.  I am incredibly frugal, and I can say without a doubt that this product is worth every penny of that.

As you can see in the photo above, there is also a music box that sits on the side of the playard.  It plays 5 sounds and makes 3 nature noises as well.  We haven't used that feature at all, but that's just a matter of personal preference.
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