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.”
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.
The Graco Pack N’ Play Playard Totbloc with Carry Bag is another large-size playpen that provides ample room for baby to roam around and explore her world. It has a clean, modern design with neutral colors to match just about any decor. This playpen is certified frustration-free and sets up in under a minute. It weighs in at around 25 pounds and comes with an easy-to-use carrying bag for travel and storage convenience. At $80, this playpen is right smack in the middle of the cost spectrum, and it comes with no extras such as a bassinet or changing station. Consumers report that the bottom of the playpen tends to slope inward, which can cause toys to pool in the middle; because of this, it is not ideal for baby napping. This product is not free of PVC and phthalates.
• On some models, the safety straps on the changing-station insert can also be a strangulation hazard if they form a loop beneath the changing table, which is another reason to remove a changing table when your baby is in the playpen portion of a play yard. Check to see that your baby can't push down on the bassinet or changing table insert because of the danger of strangulation and entrapment. Changing-table straps should be sewn down or otherwise securely fastened to the changing-table surface, so that they cannot form a loop that extends into the occupant area of the ply yard.
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!
• It's best to remove the bassinet and the changing station entirely, or if you have a hinged changing station, at least be sure to flip it to the outside when your baby is playing in the play yard. A baby's neck can become trapped between the side rail and the bassinet or changing station and children have died in play yards when that has happened. Be aware that another child can flip a hinged bassinet back onto the play yard while your baby is inside—another hazard.
Nice to keep baby out of trouble at home. Once he became mobile we had to do an "upgrade" as we noticed he was starting to hit his head on the X shaped metal bars. We tried some alternatives but the best so far was wrapping the metal bars with pool noodles (see picture). You'll need 8 pool noodles and some cuts (buy some extra in case you mess up). Use 2/3 of a pool noodle to wrap the internal bars and the remaining 1/3 to wrap half of the external bar. The pieces will also need a longitudinal cut along the length to fit the bar in. You'll also need some small cuts in the middle of the longer piece to fit the center rivet, where the mesh is attached to the bars. We got the pool noodles at the dollar store nearby for less than $10 and since ... full review