So, how do you go about changing tantrum central into Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? Dr. Marcie suggests using the playpen when it isn't necessary — and not just when you have to get dinner on the table or take that important call. "Sit on the outside and read them a book," she says. "Walk away for a minute, then come back, so they realize, oh, it's just a moment that you disappear." Build it up as a fun space, singing her songs and talking to her. When it comes to transforming a place, "it's not about the stuff, but about the level of engagement," says Dr. Marcie.
Do not use the play yard once your baby has outgrown it: Stop using the play yard right from the day your baby outgrows the recommended age. You may be tempted to use it for some more days or weeks but this can be very dangerous since play yards are designed to meet the specific height and weight requirements of babies of certain age. The build materials may not be able to sustain the increased weight of a baby who has outgrown the recommended age of the playard thus posing a risk of injury.
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.
The Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard is a highly portable and lightweight playpen at just 11 pounds. This playpen is so easy to set up—it takes just 15 seconds! Breakdown is somewhat more difficult, but see the video below for instructions. The Lotus folds up into a backpack, which you can transport easily on all your family adventures. The sides of the playpen are made from soft, see-through mesh so you can watch baby play; the side even has a fun door that zips and unzips so baby can crawl in and out while supervised. More than just a playpen, the Lotus comes with a soft mattress, making it a safe and comfy place for baby to nap. Some consumers do not like that the mattress rests directly on the ground. Additionally, you will need to buy the Guava Family quilted sheets, because the mattress is not a standard size. This playpen is more expensive than average, at $198.
The 4moms Breeze Play Yard is a high quality, large and durable playpen. It also contains a bassinet and changer for three products in one. This playpen is literally a breeze to set up (see the video below for details). The mattresses (yes, it comes with a separate mattress for the playpen portion and the bassinet portion) each come equipped with Velcro to attach directly and securely to the playpen unit. This product comes with a carrying bag, so technically you can use it for travel, though it is on the heavy side at 25 pounds. Some consumers say that they have a difficult time getting all of the pieces back into the bag for storage or transport. The 4moms Breeze Play Yard will set you back $299.99, but you are getting a high quality product that will last a long time, through multiple kids.
Play yards have also been associated with 29 infant deaths due to suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment from 2005 through 2007. Most of those deaths were due to positional asphyxia, where the infant becomes wedged between the mattress and the side of the play yard. Children have also strangled while in their play yards on nearby window-blind cords or suffocated in soft bedding such as blankets. Just as with a crib, nothing should go in the play yard or bassinet attachment with the baby besides a fitted sheet meant to be used with the floor pad that comes with the unit. That means no stuffed animals, bedding, or pillows.