When you’re building your baby registry, you may not yet be thinking about a playpen. I know my motto was “worry about what I need right now—products will still be there later if I decide I need them.” But did you know that playpens aren’t just for squirmy toddlers? In fact, many playpens are versatile enough to take you from the early baby days through the wiggly toddler stage. For example, some playpens come equipped with removable bassinets and even changing tables! How convenient (not to mention money-saving) to have all of those features baked into one product. We made use of a basic version of the Graco Pack N’ Play for our firstborn to sleep in during his newborn days. The bassinet feature made it easy to pick him up for late-night nursing sessions. Then, as he got older and we started traveling, the playpen came in handy as a place for him to sleep on overnight trips. I can’t overstate how invaluable this product was during the first year of our son’s life, and on into the second.
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.

At the higher end of the price spectrum, you'll see a lot of add-on features. For example, the Graco Silhouette Pack ‘n Play Playard with Bassinet and Changer, about $170, has a removable changing table (with an "organizer" to hold diapers, wipes, etc.) and a bassinet feature. The bassinet has a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds and the changing table has a weight capacity of 25 pounds. This model also comes with a vibrating mattress, electronic mobile, canopy, console with music, and night light. The manufacturer says you should only use the play yard with children under 35 inches tall.
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.
I can’t honestly say I remember physically being in a playpen as a child—though I was—but I remember them as a fact of 1970s child life, a rubber-and-mesh piece of living room furniture as ubiquitous as mahogany-cabinet-enclosed Magnavox televisions (with family photos crowded out by a giant Betamax on top). But as the clock ticked toward my recent entry into fatherhood and I trawled various hip and modern baby-product sites, mentally equipping our nursery-to-be, I noticed that among all the titanium-framed Norwegian strollers and German educational toys (or was it vice-versa?), I didn’t seem to see any playpens —whether rendered in sustainably sourced wenge wood or not. The word didn’t really seem to surface very much among all the proper parenting discourse on the chat sites either. Which left me wondering: Do parents still use playpens? Or are they some relic of me-decade indulgence forsaken in an era of more enlightened child-rearing?
Fits perfectly with ProSource kids puzzle alphabet. Brought to our parent’s house for thanksgiving- Took less than 60 seconds to pack and secure. Same time to set up. My kiddo loves to cruise (walk while holding onto the fence). If it was possible to tear down, he would have done it already. Makes a great babyjail in our living room that we can tear down with 5 minutes notice if needed. Portable, rugged. Well worth it. Only complaint is that when placed in the shape of a square, the middle sections are prone to flex more and are not 100% rigid like corners are. However, placed into a hexagonal or octagonal shape (as product was intended), it’s completely study.
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