Whatever its name, the concept of the playpen reveals yet another fault line in the politics of anxious parenting, as I found via a simple inquiry—whether the playpen was in or out of vogue—at Urbanbaby.com, a site that combines the neurotic firepower of Woody Allen’s 1970s oeuvre with the conviviality-tinged-with-hostility of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars. Reading through the various replies (including a few from parents-to-be who shared my curiosity), the opinions seemed to fall roughly into two camps: Against were those who said playpens are overly confining, that it is better to child-proof one’s home instead, that playpens are “the first compromise to good parenting” (inevitably followed by television, etc.); on the other side were those who averred that playpens are safe and necessary spaces to park toddlers while getting things done, that it is folly to suggest that one’s parental eyes can always be trained on the child, that far from restricting creativity playpens enhance a sense of independence, etc.
If a quick DIY play yard better suits your requirement then make one at home with an inflatable plastic kiddy pool. In case you have a kid’s plastic pool lying around in your house, then you can inflate it and convert into a play yard. Simply inflate the plastic frame, place a soft blanket or mattress inside it, and you just made a safe and comfortable place for your baby to play. Just make sure the walls of the pool are high enough to prevent your baby from crawling out. Also keep all sharp and pointy things away from the pool.
Some basic models may be easier to cart around because they don't have any extra parts. You can also look for bags that leave the play yard's wheels free, so the whole thing can be rolled once it's packed up. If you plan on taking frequent trips (especially by air), you might want to consider a heavy-duty bag that you can buy separately, such as the Rover Gear Easton Travel Yard Bag (about $34).
My daughter enjoys this playpen. It's helping her learn how to walk and allows me to move around our home without being worried she's getting into something she's not supposed to. The packaging was done correctly, and was delivered on time. However, one of the pieces did not fit and no matter how many times I rearranged the pieces, they would not connect to the right side interior piece. I spent nearly an hour taking it apart and putting it back together trying to find a gate piece that would work, but none of them did. I ended up jamming one of the gate pieces into the door piece, which the directions specifically say not to do, and have the door piece facing a wall so my daughter can't open it. There was no option other than to go against what the directions said, and I haven't had any problems with the gate cracking or breaking from my improvising the door piece. It still seems very safe to me. I would much rather just pick her up out of the playpen than have her injure herself trying to open the door. Another problem I've had with the playpen is keeping it grounded. My daughter can easily move/shake the gate around and it slides all over the floor. The bottoms of the individual colored gates and white door/toy wall all have small suction cups attached. Those are supposed to keep the playpen grounded I suppose, but they don't work. I have tile in my home and there is nothing obstructing the suction cups, so there is no reason why they shouldn't work. My daughter is only 8 months old, and I'm constantly having to readjust and move the playpen back to it's original place because it's so easy for her to move. I still very much enjoy this product and would recommend it to anyone who has tile or wood flooring, as long as their children are able to be supervised nearby.
Don't buy used. For safety's sake, don't use a hand-me-down or garage-sale play yard. Older models may have a top-rail hinge that can collapse, forming a steep, V-shaped angle that puts children at risk of being trapped or strangled. They may also have changing-table restraint straps that can form a loop beneath the changing table, posing a strangulation hazard to a child in the play yard. For example, in 2007 the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of 425,000 Kolcraft play yards for that reason. And in January 2009, the CPSC announced a recall of 200,000 Fisher-Price Rainforest Portable Play Yards manufactured by Simplicity Inc. and SFCA Inc. after 1,350 reports of side-rail collapse; injuries included cuts, bruises, and broken bones. In the past, incidents of side-rail collapse have resulted in more serious injuries and some deaths. Even if you plan to buy new, protect yourself by signing up for e-mail recall notices at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. And send in the registration card to the manufacturer to ensure that you'll be informed of any recalls. Play yards are one of the 18 types of juvenile products that must, by law, include pre-addressed, postage-paid product registration cards and an easy way to register your product online. Manufacturers are forbidden from using or sharing the information you put on those cards for marketing purposes.
I had been using the colorful 8-panel North States baby gate from the time by babies were 6 months-one year. But once they were learning to climb the gate with their toes in the little holes (and use their baby muscles to pull the entire gate down), I knew it was time for a more sturdy option. This fit the ticket, it's not as large as the North States - but plenty large enough for toddler twins (with more than enough room for mom and/or dad to play in with them as well). It's also a few inches shorter in height to our old play pen, but it's not an issue with our 28 & 29 inch boys because the openings/holes on the play pen are low enough that when they step on them, it's more than tall enough to make them unable to climb over. ... full review
I have been satisfied with this playpen so far. It has a nice size for my baby to play in. Most of her small to medium sized toys, plus a fold up sponge sofa(where she takes her naps during daytime when being unfolded), can all fit in there. And there is still room for me , even for my hubby to squeeze in and interact with her. It helps me a lot during daytime specially with two dogs running around in the house all day long. At least I don't have to worry about my baby girl getting knocked over and hurt by the dogs. I wish I had fund this product when I had my first two kids nine years ago.
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.
An incredible selection of play yards and mats makes it easy to find the perfect environment for your child to crawl around, learn and explore within. All of these products are engineered for safety, so you can rest easy knowing that your little one is out of harm's way whenever they're playing in these. These baby play yards can be placed inside your home or outside on a sunny day, allowing you to kick back and relax while your child has safe fun in a controlled environment. Best of all, many of products are lightweight and portable, so you can take them anywhere.
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.
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