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.
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.
• You don't need a sheet. Most play yard mattresses, which are thin, can be cleaned, and the bassinet is safer without this extra piece of material, in which a baby could become entrapped. But if you do use one, make sure it is tight-fitting and specifically made for the mattress or bassinet insert on your model. Never use a sheet made for a crib mattress or twin or other size bed.
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.
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The Fisher-Price Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yard gets the vote for the most portable playpen. Weighing in at just 15 pounds, it is half the weight of some other playpen models. This playpen comes loaded with extras: an inclined sleeper/bassinet for infants, as well as a changing station and pocket to store diapers and wipes. The fabric on the changer is machine washable, making it easy and convenient to clean. This product is easy to assemble and fold up for storage or travel. At around $80, this product is firmly in the mid-range of prices for playpens. Some consumers do not like that the bottom of the playpen sits on the ground and that the mattress for the playpen is very thin and flimsy. Because the bottom is low to the ground, it can be difficult for some caregivers to lay their baby in the bottom portion for naps.
She continued: “It’s as if you asked a climate-change scientist whether the fact that you bought a Prius would make a hurricane less likely in New Orleans this summer. Carbon makes a big difference and so does care-giving, but not at that scale. Of course if you kept a baby confined in a playpen and never took him out that would probably make a difference, but nobody actually would do that.” While science does suggest crawling strongly influences the way babies think and learn, she points out “babies in playpens are crawling and exploring too, of course.” Her last bit of advice? “Parents should try to think not ‘How will this affect my baby in the long run?’—who knows?—but ‘Is this helping my baby and me to thrive right now?’ ” That, she says, depends on what you and your situation are like—and only you know that.
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.
• Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembly, and double-check that all latching features and hinges on the play yard are in place and secure. Before using a play yard, confirm that all top rails and the center floor are locked in position; the floor pad should also be in place. Never put your baby in a play yard with the sides down. Keep your owner's manual for future reference.
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.”
We have our 9 month old grandbaby visiting, and needed a secure place for him to play. This play area gives him room to play without him feeling confined, and I love the handles on top of each section, as he is pulling up and doing his best to walk while hanging on. We also purchased interlocking floor pieces to go in the floor, making this a clean,fun, safe,and colorful place for baby to play. Love it!
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.

 So, like many other people on here, I was very hesitant about spending $150 on a playpen. However, it is more then worth it. I had gone back and fourth, and finally pulled the trigger. My 6month old is crawling everywhere, already trying to pull herself up on things, and getting into everything! This play pen allowed minimal safety proofing for my apt, since she is only out when i can keep my eyes completely on her. The play pen is sturdy when pulling on the panels, doesn’t tip, and takes quick a bit of effort to move the walls out (she hasn’t been able to get them to budge). She is able to pull herself up, teeth on the edges, and it is safe (especially if i need to clean, do chores etc). Also, my husband and I fit in it with her. The activity wall is also an added plus. She enjoys playing with it.
Most play yards are designed for portability—to fit through a door, be moved from one room to another, or folded up to fit in the trunk of your car. Many are rectangular, usually 28 by 40 inches. A basic model such as the Cosco Funsport Travel Play Yard (about $55) has mesh on all sides and comes with a travel bag. Another lightweight model, Graco's Pack ‘n Play Playard/Circle Time (about $57), weighs about 20 pounds.
My son and I found this playpen to be very enjoyable. The set up was very easy and was done in several minutes. The sides slid into one another. My almost 2 year old son was not able to get the sides apart and break out. The plastic sides were good quality. They were thick enough plastic without being overly heavy. There is a door with a lock. My son was unable to get out of the door when he tried. When I opened the door to let him out, he wanted to get his sister or me and bring us into the play pen. There is a basketball hoop in the playpen that you screw on by a twist of a cap. It is on pretty sturdy although the hoop itself is bendable. This was a very enjoyable activity for my son. The sides do not have to be installed at a right angle. They hold in place a couple of different angle in between. There are suction cups on the bottom of the fencing to stick to laminate or hardwood floors. I had it on carpet, so I am unsure if that works. Overall this is a good product. When it got put away in order to vacuum the floor, my son cried.
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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