The debate over the playpen, in the end, seems less about the thing itself than one of the eternal conditions of parental pathos: the fact that children demand so much of our attention and that we cannot always give it to the extent we (and they) would wish. As I’ve been writing this I—a modern father with “manifold duties”—have had to occasionally give time to the nearby girl I’ve stashed in the Fisher-Price “Cradle ‘n’ Swing” (some bylaw must require that children’s product names use ’n’ in place of and), which for all I know may simply be the infant forerunner to the playpen. (My friends nervously and jokingly call it the “Neglect-o-Meter.”) Yes, my lack of attention may be stunting her development—shaving a notch off that IQ—but my failure to write portends more sweeping consequences, like the lack of a roof over our heads.

This play area is great! It gives me some peace of mind when I can't be near my 9 month old son all the time, while doing house work. He loves it! I put a little couch in there and his toys. I even put a nice toddler mirror on the inside with gorilla tape and it's awesome! He is always laughing at himself. He can't pull it off. He's tried! Wonderful purchase! Good sturdy playpen!


I love this pen. It's bright, bulky enough so it's sturdy, but not extremely heavy so it's not hard to handle. Easy to put together and take apart. I bought 2 sets to make this pen twice as large. There is so much space to play and I still have so much room for more toys. I actually need more toys for it! I also love the handle on each gate. It allows me to hang crib toys and dangly toys from it. No toxic odors. Only thing I wasn't happy about was that 2 of the plastic feet to hold up the gate, came damaged. It wasn't packaged right, these 2 feet were cracked right down the middle so I took off a star. Also, the activity panel is pretty boring for my 1 and 2 year old. They found it interesting the first couple if days But it doesn't do much and they quickly lost interest. But my babies do love their baby jail.
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.”

Play-yard frames are typically made of metal tubing. Mesh on three or, better yet, all four sides provides ventilation and allows you to see your baby. Most models have hinges and lock buttons in the center of the top rails. To set up a play yard, you'll need to pull the top rails up so that they're locked, then push the floor down and secure the play yard mattress or pad. To fold this design, you'll need to pull the floor up, and then raise the top rails slightly while pressing the release buttons to unlatch and collapse the top rails. Before assembling or using your play yard, read the owner's manual carefully and keep it handy for future reference.
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.”
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.
If you’re all about your playard being easy to setup and breakdown, 4moms breeze has you covered. Just push down on the center and the four legs spread and pop out. When it’s time to put it away, pull up on the center and everything folds back into place to pack back into a travel bag. It also comes with a removable bassinet mattress and a portable changing pad.

I ordered this for my 8 month old daughter who is starting pull herself up. Compared to the rest of the playpens out there (and I've researched alot!), this was the best bang for my buck. It is sturdy enough that it gives my daughter enough support to hang onto (with supervision of course). It is easy to clean. The height is comparable to bending over a pack 'n play to put your child in if that helps give you an idea of what its like. There is enough room in there for 2 adults and a baby to sit comfortably. It keeps me sane when I have to do chores around the house, but have to keep the baby safe and contained in one area. The slats are small enough to where my dogs are not able to get through and bother her. I did have some issues with some missing parts, but this was taken care of and replaced by customer service. The package altogether was lighter than I expected. It is possible to travel with but it is bulky. Easy to take apart, and put back together. Extremely happy with my purchase, and their costumer service!


If you expect to frequently move your play yard from room to room, check its dimensions before you buy. Many interior doorways are only 30 inches wide—no problem for the 28-inch width of most basic models. But many deluxe models are wider—the Graco mentioned above, for example, would be a tight squeeze at 28.8 inches wide. Just be aware that you might find yourself folding a deluxe model to move it around inside the house.
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.
×