In search of insight, Romper spoke with Dr. Marcie Beigel, a behavior specialist with over 20 years of experience. For Dr. Marcie, it's all about being intentional. If your kid throws a tantrum every time she gets in the playpen, she associates the space with being upset. Likewise, it doesn't matter how well you've stocked your playpen with toys if every time she gets in it, mom disappears. If you want to change the pattern here, "you have to make the space really fun and delicious and enjoyable," says Dr. Marcie.
As Ann Hulbert documents in Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, this sort of confused and conflicted debate has long been a touchstone of the parental advice genre. In Anxious Parents, Peter Stearns notes that where parents once put children in playpens to safeguard them from dangerous household equipment, as that household equipment was made more accident-proof, the playpen itself soon began to be seen as the source of danger—both literally, as in a series of high-profile recalls of poorly designed playpens and playards, and figuratively, as a symbol of damaging neglect.
Most manufacturers make play yards that are designed to move. Many roll on wheels and fold easily and compactly into their own totes, which resemble short golf bags (although less rugged), making them ideal for trips or jaunts to Grandma's. As we've said, basic play yards tend to be smaller (about 28 inches wide) and lighter (about 20 pounds) because they're not loaded with extras. If you can find a model that fits into its travel bag with its wheels exposed, it can make moving through a busy place such as an airport easier. The Chicco Lullaby LX mentioned above does that.
We have a new puppy. We got one of those wire pens for him. Unfortunately, he almost immediately figured out he could climb the cross wires! He was out in a flash. SO we got this pen. It is almost perfect. It will be perfect when we get done. The bars are in general about two inches wide. Those he cannot get through. But the gate is a different matter. The bars around the hinge and latch areas are about a half inch wider--probably to accommodate the mechanics of the gate latch and hinge. But that is just enough wider that our puppy can get his shoulders through. Maybe the rest of his body, but we intervened.

While it might seem like a nice gesture to hand down a playpen that’s been in the family for years, I would strongly recommend not using an older or used model. The idea of picking up a lower-priced playpen from a garage sale or Craigslist might seem appealing at first, but this is never a good idea. Baby equipment, including playpens and playards, are recalled all the time, and older models might have safety hazards.
Graco makes many different versions of the Pack ‘n Play, and this is one of the most popular with the most consistent high ratings. It’s inexpensive at just $63, and it ships quickly via Amazon Prime. This particular Pack ‘n Play, known as the On the Go Playard, comes with a full-size bassinet, which is perfect for newborn napping at home and while traveling. Once baby is older, it converts into a full-size playpen that should last until baby reaches 35 inches tall. The Signature Graco push-button fold eliminates any frustration and makes folding the model up easy and quick. As a bonus, it folds up to 20% smaller than the average playpen, making it a great option for travel. This playpen comes equipped with a mattress that is fairly thin and firm; some consumers do not like this about it, but it is recommended for infants to sleep on a very firm surface to reduce the risk of SIDS. The bassinet feature maxes out once baby reaches 15 pounds or is able to push up on her hands and knees, at which point you can still use the playpen feature. Some consumers have complained of the product having a mildew smell when they first open the box. (I would recommend contacting Graco directly if you encounter this problem.)
It's helped us out tremendously. It provides a way for us to cordon off a safe space for our son while allowing him an area to freely move. The fact that it breaks apart and can be arranged in various patterns allowed us to expand that space with some creative use of furniture. Sadly though like all young raptors, he's testing the gates, looking for weaknesses that he'll eventually use to escape and terrorize the local populace of cats.
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