Truth is, the parenting culture has had mixed feelings about the playpen seemingly since it was invented. An ad in a 1925 newspaper, for example, for a device called the “Kiddie Koop” (reputedly designed by Buckminster Fuller), encapsulated the tension: “There is no thrill like that of holding and caring for a baby in your arms,” it began. “Yet the modern mother with her manifold duties must—simply MUST—forego such maternal joys at times, or the ‘regulation of household affairs’ will suffer.” Playpens would continue to be debated, not in the pages of scientific journals but in the mothering advice columns of newspapers. In a 1943 edition of the Spokane Daily Herald, Myrtle Meyer Eldred touted the benefits of playpens: “Not only is the child free of possible physical injury but his behavior is not subjected to constant punishment, since what he does in his guarded play-place does not annoy the parent.” In a 1957 article in the Chicago Tribune, the writer, after first asking the reader to remember “the great hue and cry raised against the play pen a few years back,” then goes on to cite a report by Dr. E. Robbins Kimball noting various advantages of the playpen (including the fact that it “gives nervous mothers relief.”) In 1966, a columnist was asked in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette if mothers used playpens “as a lazy excuse to keep their babies out of the way”; while in an article in that same paper a decade later, a reader of the “Parents Ask” column wondered about “some psychologists who are against playpens.” The column’s author, Louis B. Ames, noted the reader was probably referring to Burton White’s The First Three Years of Life (“there is no way of keeping most children from being bored in a playpen for longer than a very brief period of time”), and then went on to advise that “the ordinarily lively and intelligent baby does not have be entertained by others during all his waking hours.”
As these books tend to be short on footnotes, I couldn’t actually track down any such study. And what a study it would have to be: large-scale, “longitudinal,” intensely observational, randomized. Otherwise, how would we really know how much time children had spent in playpens (self-reports tend to be biased), what sort of households the children lived in, not to mention what might have occurred in the years between the time spent in playpens and the time of the reading and writing tests at age 7 or 8? Which left me wondering: Is the fear of playpens all hype? Just a hysterical outcropping of our anxious style of modern parenting?
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.
Check the production date and packaging. Buy the play yard with the most recent date of manufacture. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certifies that some brands meet current voluntary safety standards for play yards. This certification is not required by law and is not supervised by any government agency. Still, we feel a JPMA certification sticker offers some assurance that a product meets the safety standard. The play yard standard addresses design problems of earlier models, such as inadequate locking devices or protrusions that can snag clothing and create a strangulation hazard.
Only had a little while, but really not worth the money. Very flimsy can’t even lean against it when sitting in it. I bought it so I could let my son play while I did things near by; however I can not leave him unattended bc the way it’s made has perfect slots for them to be able to put feet in and climb up. Material is hollow plastic so it squishes also if pressed hard.
Portability: Are you going to be taking your playpen to other houses? Perhaps you might want to spend a day at the park, where a playpen would be a handy way to keep your baby safe and let them play alone while you read a book? If you think you might be taking your playpen outside of the home, be sure to choose one that can fold up for easy transport.
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.
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.
Some attach to the longer top rail—you have to remove them to get them out of the way. Others simply rest on the long rails and are hinged at one shorter side rail so the changing station can be flipped over the rail to hang at the outer side of the play yard. We think it's safer to remove the changing table when not in use so it is out of reach of your baby and any other children. In addition, it is always better to have an active means of attachment to the frame—that is you have to click, snap, button, or strap a changing table or bassinet into place rather than just have it resting on a frame.
Entertaining a baby can be a lot harder than you think. The fact of the matter is, we've come a long way from when jingling your keys was going to cut it. Still, as you pick out various playpens and other areas for your child to play in, it's important that you keep a few key factors in mind. Obviously, safety is at the top of the list, along with comfort, price and style. Luckily, shopping this extensive variety of products will mean that you never need to compromise on any of these.