Now, a simple visit to a site like Babies ‘R’ Us will confirm that, yes, playpens do still exist. But they seem to have been rebranded, for these devices are no longer called playpens. Instead, searching for the term on Babies ‘R’ Us will yield a range of “Pack n’ Plays” (a trademark of the kid-product manufacturer Graco, and which purists insist is less a playpen in the traditional sense than a traveling crib), and various takes on the “playard” (a word that seems vaguely French but is actually a contraction of “Play Yard”). Rather tellingly, a Google search for playpen seems to yield as many entries for contraptions to corral pets as children.
To avoid potentially fatal entrapment between the station and the yard's top rail, never put your baby in a play yard that has the changing table in place. Removing the table also eliminates the possibility of entrapment by any loop from the changing-table restraint strap, although no loops should be present in a play yard that is said to meet safety standards set by ASTM International.
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My 17 month old granddaughter was only in the play area about 5-10 minutes watching sesame street one morning and got her leg stuck in the space between the rails. The Fire Department had to come and cut the post the free her leg out! I wanted to alert the manufacture directly but I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page. The spaces between the rails need to be closer! We loved this play area until we felt a safe zone became an unsafe zone.
Many play yards with bassinets have a canopy to shade your baby from harsh light. Some canopies have attached toys that act as a mobile. Remove the canopy when you are no longer using the bassinet. In our opinion, canopies are an unnecessary expense. You should never put your play yard in direct sunlight anyway because babies can easily burn or become overheated.
Even those who embraced the playpen, however, did so somewhat reluctantly (“a necessary evil,” ran one headline), and when I reached for the parenting bookshelf, it seemed the anti-playpen voices began to dominate. In Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach, I was told that “babies who spend hours confined in cribs or playpens, with few toys and minimal adult attention, are very slow in learning to reach out and get hold of things and that means they are also slow in discovering what can be done with things.” In a book called Smart-Wiring Your Baby’s Brain, we are advised to “minimize the time she is confined to a crib or a playpen during waking hours.” Mavis Klein, in The Psychodynamic Counseling Primer, writes that “it has actually been shown that children of about seven or eight years of age who were, as infants, regularly confined in playpens, are less competent at reading and writing than those who were not so imprisoned”; while John Rosemond’s New Parent Power! warns that “there is evidence suggesting that children who spend lots of time confined in cribs or playpens suffered delayed speed and are less coordinated.”
Determine what you want most out of a playard before adding one to your registry. If you plan on needing it for travel - whether day trips or weekenders - you’ll want to look for one that is lightweight and easy to fold up. If you’d prefer to use a playard as a bassinet and diaper changing station too, look for souped up models that are not only practical but attractive too (you’ll be looking at it for a few years!).
My daughter enjoys this playpen. It's helping her learn how to walk and allows me to move around our home without being worried she's getting into something she's not supposed to. The packaging was done correctly, and was delivered on time. However, one of the pieces did not fit and no matter how many times I rearranged the pieces, they would not connect to the right side interior piece. I spent nearly an hour taking it apart and putting it back together trying to find a gate piece that would work, but none of them did. I ended up jamming one of the gate pieces into the door piece, which the directions specifically say not to do, and have the door piece facing a wall so my daughter can't open it. There was no option other than to go against what the directions said, and I haven't had any problems with the gate cracking or breaking from my improvising the door piece. It still seems very safe to me. I would much rather just pick her up out of the playpen than have her injure herself trying to open the door. Another problem I've had with the playpen is keeping it grounded. My daughter can easily move/shake the gate around and it slides all over the floor. The bottoms of the individual colored gates and white door/toy wall all have small suction cups attached. Those are supposed to keep the playpen grounded I suppose, but they don't work. I have tile in my home and there is nothing obstructing the suction cups, so there is no reason why they shouldn't work. My daughter is only 8 months old, and I'm constantly having to readjust and move the playpen back to it's original place because it's so easy for her to move. I still very much enjoy this product and would recommend it to anyone who has tile or wood flooring, as long as their children are able to be supervised nearby.
If your play yard is going to function mostly as a play space for your baby, or you're on a tight budget, you can probably go with a basic model and skip the accessories such as mobiles and bassinet insert. A pair of lockable wheels or swivel casters on one end of the yard will make it easier to move from room to room. If you'll use it for travel, you'll want a play yard that's lightweight, folds quickly and compactly, and has a carrying case. You may even want to be able to roll the packed unit. A carrying bag that allows the play yard's wheels to roll when it's packed is ideal.
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Bassinets and changing-table inserts can be useful. Just remember that you should never leave your child unattended within those devices in a play yard—no matter what type (or feature) you are using. Your infant may be content to sleep in her bassinet insert, but she's safest sleeping in a full-sized crib. That's because your child may begin moving around and could fall out of the bassinet, either onto the floor, or to the floor of the play yard, causing injury. You'll also need to remove the bassinet or changing station, (or flip the changing station to the outside of the yard, depending on the model) when your baby is in the main part of the play yard to avoid the possibility of the child getting trapped under those attachments.
Nice to keep baby out of trouble at home. Once he became mobile we had to do an "upgrade" as we noticed he was starting to hit his head on the X shaped metal bars. We tried some alternatives but the best so far was wrapping the metal bars with pool noodles (see picture). You'll need 8 pool noodles and some cuts (buy some extra in case you mess up). Use 2/3 of a pool noodle to wrap the internal bars and the remaining 1/3 to wrap half of the external bar. The pieces will also need a longitudinal cut along the length to fit the bar in. You'll also need some small cuts in the middle of the longer piece to fit the center rivet, where the mesh is attached to the bars. We got the pool noodles at the dollar store nearby for less than $10 and since ... full review