When you’re building your baby registry, you may not yet be thinking about a playpen. I know my motto was “worry about what I need right now—products will still be there later if I decide I need them.” But did you know that playpens aren’t just for squirmy toddlers? In fact, many playpens are versatile enough to take you from the early baby days through the wiggly toddler stage. For example, some playpens come equipped with removable bassinets and even changing tables! How convenient (not to mention money-saving) to have all of those features baked into one product. We made use of a basic version of the Graco Pack N’ Play for our firstborn to sleep in during his newborn days. The bassinet feature made it easy to pick him up for late-night nursing sessions. Then, as he got older and we started traveling, the playpen came in handy as a place for him to sleep on overnight trips. I can’t overstate how invaluable this product was during the first year of our son’s life, and on into the second.
Love this playpen! Sturdy, bright and fun. Has a few toys inside that even bigger kids (3yr olds) want to play in it. Big enough for multiple children to play in it at one time. it has suction cups under each panel that I'm hoping will work good on our tile floors when they get installed in a few weeks. I found a mat (patchwork toddler play mat) that is 1.5 inches thick and fits perfectly inside that will vision little ones falls.
This play yard is an Amazon bestseller and comes at a steal of a price, making it a smart buy as a crib to leave at grandmas house or one for the car. Just because this comes at a budget price doesn't mean it doesn't perform well. It weighs 19.75 so a little large for an airplane, but it comes with a storage bag making it easy to throw in the trunk for weekend getaways. Setting this up is easy and can be done by one person. The breathable mesh sides make it a safe space for baby to sleep and play, giving parents easy viewing access while they cook or get organized for the day. The added wheels make this pick the perfect choice for grab and go practicality when traveling or if you want to move a sleeping baby around your home for convenience. This does not have dual levels so if you are using for a smaller infant bending over might cause some strain on your back. 
Rule two? "Do more, because actions count." If you tell your kid you're going to do something, be like Nike and just do it. Parents give a lot of direction when they're unprepared — which is why you have to ask your kid to sit down for a snack like 37 times. Instead, what if you waited until their ants-on-a-log was already on the table, grabbed your little one, and sat them down yourself? According to Dr. Marcie, that helps them learn what it means to listen.
Most of Graco’s models are major multi-taskers whose functions grow with your child. This style comes with a napper (a cozy bassinet elevated above the playpen structure) that when flipped over becomes a wipe-clean changing station. You can then transition your little one to the full-size bassinet (a cushy mat near the top of the playard) complete with a toy bar and plushies overhead. Once your baby starts to move around, remove the mattress and, voila, you have a playard that can be used as a safe play spot and for naps through toddlerhood. And all for a great price.
While you don’t need a playard - an activity mat can entertain a pre-crawler and a childproof area enclosed by baby gates can rein in a toddler - playards do offer a bevy of benefits. Depending on what model you choose, playards can double as a diaper changing station (especially great if your home has multiple stories!), a bassinet, a portable crib and a worry-free play spot. Of course, bouncers and swings are great worry-free play spots as well, but playards offer a bit more freedom of motion. Playards are definitely great for day trips to grandma’s house, where uncovered electrical outlets and delicate knick knacks could be within your toddler’s reach, and for overnight vacations, since your little one can use it as both a playspace and a portable crib.
I cannot stress this enough with regards to any type of baby equipment. The number one priority is that it should be safe! Be sure to read reviews from parents and experts and keep an eye on product recalls. I would strongly recommend never buying a used playpen or playard; baby items are recalled all the time, and you’re much better off getting a new model that is proven to be safe.
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.
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.
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.
At the higher end of the price spectrum, you'll see a lot of add-on features. For example, the Graco Silhouette Pack ‘n Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, about $170, has a removable changing table (with an "organizer" to hold diapers, wipes, etc.) and a bassinet feature. The bassinet has a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds and the changing table has a weight capacity of 25 pounds. This model also comes with a vibrating mattress, electronic mobile, canopy, console with music, and night light. The manufacturer says you should only use the play yard with children under 35 inches tall.
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?
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.”
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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