So, playpen, childproof room, fully free range, or something else? Are playpens cages of disregard or safe, useful accoutrements? How much time is too much time? Will a playpen keep my daughter out of the Ivy League? When I asked Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at University of California-Berkeley and author of the just-released book The Philosophical Baby, about any work on the negative consequences of playpens, her answer was instructive: “I don’t know of any systematic research on this,” she noted, adding, “Ironically these small kinds of parenting differences, which are just the things parents care about most, are just the areas where scientists wouldn’t expect to see many differences.”
If you are looking for something that is lightweight and can be set up easily in your living room or on the go the Lotus Travel crib from Guava is just the thing. The Lotus play yard has a fully zippered side panel allowing parents to lie down with their children and help them go to sleep or encourage tummy time and beyond. The mattress is thicker than other travel pack 'n play competitors, ensuring your little one gets a comfortable nights' sleep. It also has a wide opening at the top which makes it great for playing on the go since your little one won't feel smushed in. 

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.”


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.
The Babybjorn Travel Crib Light is another great playpen for travel, weighing in at just 13 pounds! It comes with a soft and comfortable mattress and has breathable mesh sides, making it safe for baby to play and sleep. The crib material is removable and washable, which is a nice feature to have. This playpen is simple to set up and fold. It is one of the more expensive playpens on this list, but its super modern style and small footprint might just make it worth it for you. Some parents think the playpen is a bit too tall, making it difficult to get a sleeping child onto the mattress. The play area itself is not as roomy as some other options. Finally, the Babybjorn fitted sheets that are recommended for use with the mattress are on the expensive side as well.
I liked this style of playpen as it gave a lot of room and didnt have thin, easily broken fence pieces. Its thick, has suction cups along the bottom to stay in place on hardwood/tile and had a play wall. While a bit expensive the thickness of the plastic holds up well to abuse, household pets, and teething kiddos. Not having the mesh style panels also made it a bit harder to climb out of. But when my son finally got to the point of not wanting to be trapped in it anymore and able to figure how to pull himself over the top, we took it apart and used it as a baby gate to prevent him from being able to get around the media cabinets/shelves where it keeps him from pulling all our blurays and such off the shelves and from turning off and on the cable box and game consoles.
We live in a house filled with breakable art and treasures, so we bought a total of 5 sets, connecting all of them together to create a space within our great big museum of a house, virtually toddler proofing the ground floor but giving the grand kid the run of the place (sort of). These set up and break down quickly. Carpeting leaves some wiggle room but it's still quite functional. The topping pieces that secure the sections are not really necessary and could be improved by providing left angles in addition to the rights and straights. We just left them off and in that way we were able to construct odd angles. This really is the best choice among all on the market, in my opinion. I did my research....believe me....before spending nearly $600 on 5 sets. We did have one get lost by UPS but the seller eventually delivered the replacement. Overall: Totally Happy.
My son and I found this playpen to be very enjoyable. The set up was very easy and was done in several minutes. The sides slid into one another. My almost 2 year old son was not able to get the sides apart and break out. The plastic sides were good quality. They were thick enough plastic without being overly heavy. There is a door with a lock. My son was unable to get out of the door when he tried. When I opened the door to let him out, he wanted to get his sister or me and bring us into the play pen. There is a basketball hoop in the playpen that you screw on by a twist of a cap. It is on pretty sturdy although the hoop itself is bendable. This was a very enjoyable ... full review
I liked this style of playpen as it gave a lot of room and didnt have thin, easily broken fence pieces. Its thick, has suction cups along the bottom to stay in place on hardwood/tile and had a play wall. While a bit expensive the thickness of the plastic holds up well to abuse, household pets, and teething kiddos. Not having the mesh style panels also made it a bit harder to climb out of. But when my son finally got to the point of not wanting to be trapped in it anymore and able to figure how to pull himself over the top, we took it apart and used it as a baby gate to prevent him from being able to get around the media cabinets/shelves where it keeps him from pulling all our blurays and such off the shelves and from turning off and on the cable box and game consoles.
Roll with it. Some manufacturers claim that their play yards fold compactly and easily, which is especially important if you'll be traveling with it or assembling and disassembling it often. See for yourself how easy it is by practicing on floor models in the store before you buy. Some parents find that while they can collapse their play yard in a jiffy, fitting the whole thing into its travel bag is almost impossible. If traveling with the play yard is important to you, look at the travel bags when you are shopping.
Cost: Don’t go for the most expensive products thinking that it is full of adorable qualities. Also, don’t go for cheaply made products just because they cost low. Go for moderate prices and start your selection there. This balance of equation will ensure that you don’t waste your hard earned money and that you don’t take your kids safety for granted.
Bassinet inserts can provide a nice place for newborns to nap. Look for a bassinet that securely fastens to the play yard in a way that prevents older children from dislodging or tamper with it, especially if you have other kids in the home or plan to use the bassinet for your next baby. Some of the models we tested in the past had bassinets that attached to the play yard with easily disengaged bars or exposed plastic clips. Older children could easily undo those fasteners, and that could cause the bassinet to fall to the play-yard floor. But one play yard we tested had bassinet clips that are covered by fabric flaps that are locked into place with a button, hiding the clips from view and protecting them from curious fingers. That's a safety plus.
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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