You need to get dinner on the table, but your baby's in her playpen, wailing like a banshee. All her favorite toys are inside the walls of the jungle-themed hexagon you bought at Babies 'R Us, but those toys are dead to her. She wants out, and she wants out now. You're probably wondering, why does my baby hate their playpen? As noted in Slate, the playpen debate is endless, but this is a no-judgment zone. Dinner's got to get done somehow.
There’s no right or wrong pick for a playard here. If you only need a portable play space for when your baby or toddler is on the move, choose a basic model. If you’d rather have one that can sub in as a diaper changing station or bassinet, select a playard with more bells and whistles. If you do decide a playard will make your life as a parent easier, be sure to add one to your registry today!
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.
My 17 month old granddaughter was only in the play area about 5-10 minutes watching sesame street one morning and got her leg stuck in the space between the rails. The Fire Department had to come and cut the post the free her leg out! I wanted to alert the manufacture directly but I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page. The spaces between the rails need to be closer! We loved this play area until we felt a safe zone became an unsafe zone.
This sleek, Dutch-designed playard will fit right into a modern home. It’s one-hand folding system makes for an easy setup, especially since the upper cot folds with the frame. The cushy quilted mattress turns the playard into a bassinet for your baby and then later into a dreamy napping spot for your toddler. And it comes in grown-up colors, too: red, black, gray, navy and khaki.
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.”
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.
Determine what you want most out of a playard before adding one to your registry. If you plan on needing it for travel - whether day trips or weekenders - you’ll want to look for one that is lightweight and easy to fold up. If you’d prefer to use a playard as a bassinet and diaper changing station too, look for souped up models that are not only practical but attractive too (you’ll be looking at it for a few years!).