As Ann Hulbert documents in Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, this sort of confused and conflicted debate has long been a touchstone of the parental advice genre. In Anxious Parents, Peter Stearns notes that where parents once put children in playpens to safeguard them from dangerous household equipment, as that household equipment was made more accident-proof, the playpen itself soon began to be seen as the source of danger—both literally, as in a series of high-profile recalls of poorly designed playpens and playards, and figuratively, as a symbol of damaging neglect.
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.
The Graco Pack N’ Play Playard Totbloc with Carry Bag is another large-size playpen that provides ample room for baby to roam around and explore her world. It has a clean, modern design with neutral colors to match just about any decor. This playpen is certified frustration-free and sets up in under a minute. It weighs in at around 25 pounds and comes with an easy-to-use carrying bag for travel and storage convenience. At $80, this playpen is right smack in the middle of the cost spectrum, and it comes with no extras such as a bassinet or changing station. Consumers report that the bottom of the playpen tends to slope inward, which can cause toys to pool in the middle; because of this, it is not ideal for baby napping. This product is not free of PVC and phthalates.
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.
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.”
Stop using the bassinet when your baby reaches the manufacturer's recommended weight limit (typically 15 pounds) or can sit up, pull up, or roll over. "For the first month or two they are not going to go anywhere," Gary Smith, M.D., Dr. P.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said of infants. "But when they start to develop, they do it really quickly, and all of the sudden they are rolling over and sitting up." If you don't take precautions, Smith said, "Parents who don't take precautions may end up taking their child to the emergency department from a fall."
• 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.
The Babybjorn Travel Crib Light is another great playpen for travel, weighing in at just 13 pounds! It comes with a soft and comfortable mattress and has breathable mesh sides, making it safe for baby to play and sleep. The crib material is removable and washable, which is a nice feature to have. This playpen is simple to set up and fold. It is one of the more expensive playpens on this list, but its super modern style and small footprint might just make it worth it for you. Some parents think the playpen is a bit too tall, making it difficult to get a sleeping child onto the mattress. The play area itself is not as roomy as some other options. Finally, the Babybjorn fitted sheets that are recommended for use with the mattress are on the expensive side as well.

And with a total of 8 panels, it is designed in a way that you can make octagon, rectangular or square shapes. This feature is useful because it eliminates boredom to the kids because they can engage in various exercises differently every time they do so. It also features a swinging and hinged door that uses a safety lock to ensure maximum security for your kids. It measures just 35 lbs. And hence great for outdoor use since they are easy to transport.
The word, on the face of it, is rather contradictory, combining play—a word with inherent jouissance—with a suffix that suggests confinement. Given that even pens for livestock have fallen under scrutiny—battery cages for chickens, for example, are critiqued because in them, hens “endure high levels of stress and frustration”—it’s not surprising to find parental discomfort with a product that seems so, well, penitential. Of course, the word yard itself has prison overtones, and when examining a product like the “North States Superyard XT Gate Play Yard” it’s not hard to get some serious Gitmo vibes. (Such misgivings about the playpen are exemplified in sculptor Robert Gober’s X Playpen, a bifurcated enclosure that, as one critic put it, “emphasizes this domestic space’s claustrotraumatic quality.”)
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.

It is a play yard that is made for the various developmental stages of a baby. This means you can use this playard for three subsequent life phases of your baby’s life viz. newborn stage, infant stage, and toddler stage. This is quite evident by the features of the playard. The small napper works great for young babies while the bigger bassinet is made for older infants. The diaper changer snaps out easily, which means you can remove it when it is not being used. You can attach the changer to the side of the play yard, which takes away your worry of having to store it.


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.
Love this playpen! Sturdy, bright and fun. Has a few toys inside that even bigger kids (3yr olds) want to play in it. Big enough for multiple children to play in it at one time. it has suction cups under each panel that I'm hoping will work good on our tile floors when they get installed in a few weeks. I found a mat (patchwork toddler play mat) that is 1.5 inches thick and fits perfectly inside that will vision little ones falls.
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.
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.
Many moms regard this baby pen by Gupamiga as a lifesaver. It isn’t by chance but by choice they make due to the remarkable features of this playpen for babies. It offers the best safety for the kids whenever you want to take a moment alone in the bathroom or run to a nearby shop and buy some stuff. The rubberized feet ensure a sturdy holding regardless of the texture of the floor. The colorful design encompasses attractive style and fence which lures the kids to stay inside without complaining.

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.
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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