Being a parent comes with all sort of physically-tasking jobs, like changing a squirming, screaming baby’s diaper, or hunching over a bicycle that just had its training-wheels removed. After each of these activities, caretakers are often left feeling battered and bruised. But in my nearly six years of being a mom, no task is more grueling — or dreaded — than opening and closing a travel crib (a.k.a. a “playard.”)
Here’s the thing about playards: You need them. If you plan on ever leaving your house again with a baby or toddler or small child, then being able to have them sleep in a safe, caged (for lack of a better word!) space on-the-go is imperative. My ten-month-old currently sleeps in one in my mom’s closet when we’re visiting. I had my three-year-old son napping in one in a hotel bathroom in suburban Illinois last summer. When friends pop over for a visit, being able to put their children down for a snooze in a playard in one of our bedrooms is a godsend. The product provides caretakers the ability to travel, even if it’s down the block to have dinner with friends … without having to leave by 6:45 p.m.
Okay, so now that we’re all on the same page that this product is vital to parents everywhere, let’s address its main flaw: It. Sucks. Lol. I’m sort of joking here, but sort of not. Talk to any adult who’s ever tried to open and close and playard and it will be hard for them to discuss the experience without cursing. Depending on the model and brand you own, travel cribs typically need anywhere from two to four side bars to connect and lock before the flooring can be flattened and locked. This sounds easy enough, but getting the sidebars into the right position might as well require a PhD in quantum physics. And to complicate things, you’ll nail it on the first try maybe ten percent of the time. The rest of the time you’re left shouting, “This was so easy last time! What am I doing wrong?!”
Next, throw in some outside elements that add pressure to the experience as a whole. Let’s say, for instance, your baby has fallen asleep and it’s your job to quickly and quietly set up the playard so he can keep napping. Try doing this in pure silence. Impossible. The only harder scenario is setting it up while a tired, cranky baby is screaming. I am fairly certain I have PTSD from this happening in during a family vacation a few years ago.
When I saw that Mamaroo brand 4moms had created a playard that opens and shuts with the push of a button I legit yelled, “It’s about FREAKING TIME!” 4moms even created a hilarious YouTube video of one mom watching the other open her Breeze with one button, then recollecting in her mind her own completely opposite experience with playards. I’ve been there!
The brand identified that parents were simply fed up with the playards on the market, and saw an opportunity to the fill the void. “Our mission at 4moms is to make dramatically better products — products that solve a real pain point for parents,” Karen Kane, 4mom’s head of marketing, told us. “We had heard from our consumers that traditional playards can be hard to use — requiring a sequence of tricky steps to open or close. We believed that playards would be better if they were intuitive and simple to use. That’s why we created our line of Breeze playards. They all open and close in one simple step.”
So, I tried the Breeze Plus for a month. I brought it on a road trip (with two different overnights, requiring multiple open/close/move scenarios), I set it up at my parents’ house, I had friends set it up when they came over and wanted to put their baby down. Here’s what I found: It’s truly as easy as it claims to be. Why did it take so long for someone to figure this out??!!
Like most playards, the Breeze mat encases the playard. Once un-velcroed, you open the playard, press down on the flooring and it’s ready to go. No more locking arms to get the floor to lock. It’s one step, and zero sweating, versus 27 steps, sweating and cursing (if you’re like me!).
What’s also to like? The porta crib is bigger than most and it’s easy on the eyes in shades of black, grey and white. Why are all the playards I own brown and green with hideous duck and bunny patterns? Why??
4moms offers the Breeze in three formats — the biggest is the Breeze Plus, which comprises a bassinet and changing table (if you want it, I never set that component up); the Breeze Classic, which has a bassinet, but no changer; and the Breeze Go, which is specifically designed traveling. All of the Breezes are one-step open and come with a carrying case.
Life as we know it has changed, moms and dads! Let’s celebrate with a nice long nap, shall we? Shop all the Breezes below.
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