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• Remove mobiles and toy bars when your child can roll over or push up on hands and knees so he can't reach them and pull them down, due to the hazard of strangulation. If your child uses a play yard at a day-care center or someone else's home, be sure it's a recent model, preferably manufactured in 2008 or later. Also check its condition as your would any item your child might use. Visit Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that model has never been recalled.
Think about the ‘look'. Some play yards feature understated and neutral color combinations that could seemingly blend into the décor of any home. Others offer contrasting colors that make the play yard a standout. Still others come in boy- or girl-specific color selections, such as pink polka dots. Your baby won't care what the play yard looks like, but you might, so decide which way you want to go: neutral, high contrast, or with fabrics that signify "baby zone."
The word, on the face of it, is rather contradictory, combining play—a word with inherent jouissance—with a suffix that suggests confinement. Given that even pens for livestock have fallen under scrutiny—battery cages for chickens, for example, are critiqued because in them, hens “endure high levels of stress and frustration”—it’s not surprising to find parental discomfort with a product that seems so, well, penitential. Of course, the word yard itself has prison overtones, and when examining a product like the “North States Superyard XT Gate Play Yard” it’s not hard to get some serious Gitmo vibes. (Such misgivings about the playpen are exemplified in sculptor Robert Gober’s X Playpen, a bifurcated enclosure that, as one critic put it, “emphasizes this domestic space’s claustrotraumatic quality.”)
This play-pen features a picture house, ball spinners, play telephone, and a swinging hinged door with safety lock. The size of this playpen can increase or decrease by removing or adding panels. It also may create interest and encourage mobility for your child. Makes a great holiday gift. FEATURES: Good quality; Perfect for children up to 4 yrs of age; 8 Panels; Activity board: picture house, play phone; Swinging hinged doors, and safety lock on doors; Assembled dimensions: 63'' in diameter, panels: 31" W x 23.5" H
Whatever its name, the concept of the playpen reveals yet another fault line in the politics of anxious parenting, as I found via a simple inquiry—whether the playpen was in or out of vogue—at Urbanbaby.com, a site that combines the neurotic firepower of Woody Allen’s 1970s oeuvre with the conviviality-tinged-with-hostility of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars. Reading through the various replies (including a few from parents-to-be who shared my curiosity), the opinions seemed to fall roughly into two camps: Against were those who said playpens are overly confining, that it is better to child-proof one’s home instead, that playpens are “the first compromise to good parenting” (inevitably followed by television, etc.); on the other side were those who averred that playpens are safe and necessary spaces to park toddlers while getting things done, that it is folly to suggest that one’s parental eyes can always be trained on the child, that far from restricting creativity playpens enhance a sense of independence, etc.
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!).
There’s no right or wrong pick for a playard here. If you only need a portable play space for when your baby or toddler is on the move, choose a basic model. If you’d rather have one that can sub in as a diaper changing station or bassinet, select a playard with more bells and whistles. If you do decide a playard will make your life as a parent easier, be sure to add one to your registry today!
• You don't need a sheet. Most play yard mattresses, which are thin, can be cleaned, and the bassinet is safer without this extra piece of material, in which a baby could become entrapped. But if you do use one, make sure it is tight-fitting and specifically made for the mattress or bassinet insert on your model. Never use a sheet made for a crib mattress or twin or other size bed.