The Graco Pack ‘n Play with Reversible Napper and Changer Playard is an upgraded version of the basic Pack ‘n Play; it comes with a cozy newborn napping station that flips around, becoming a changing station that easily wipes clean after use to save your back during diaper changes. It is perfect for tight spaces because you’re combining at least two products in one. However, some users have reported that it is somewhat difficult to flip the napper/changer back and forth. This Pack ‘n Play also comes with a storage pocket to stash your extra diapers and wipes, and it has beautiful colors and a stylish design. At $88.90, this product is a good value for all the features it comes with, but it is more expensive than your basic Pack ‘n Play model. This product is not eligible for Prime shipping, and it typically takes one to two months to ship. It’s on the heavy side at 28.3 pounds, so it may not work as great as other playpens for travel. Luckily, this product grows with your baby, becoming a full-fledged playpen when your baby grows out of the napper.
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.”
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.