Play Pens & Play Yards
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Play Pens & Play Yards
I am a first time mom with a crawling 8 month old who is
constantly on the move. We have done basic baby proofing
but I have found that that doesnt seem to help ease my
mind as she still finds new ways to potentially hurt
herself (we dont have a devoted playroom). I know I can't
bubble wrap the living room but I dont want to constantly
run after her because we would otherwise have to gate off
large areas of the living room (fireplace, etc). Have
others tried using one of the large 8 panel play pens or
play yards? I could put this in the living room and play
with her in it without pulling her out from under
furniture, etc. but the idea feels a little odd (like a
pen for a dog). I am using a small play yard I use when I
have to wash dishes, run to the restroom, etc. Have others
used a large playyard and would you recommend it? I hope
seasoned parents can shed some light on baby proofing.
Realizing that this stage only lasts a while, like maybe a
year, might help. What we did was put all the delicate and
potentially dangerous items in the fireplace and put the fence
around that. Great to also have a play pen or crib or
someplace safe for those ''I just need a minute'' moments, even
if baby screams in protest the whole time. Still safe. Soon
s/he'll be asking for the car keys, so keep it in perspective!
My son is 8.5 months old and sounds EXACTLY like your
daughter--the other moms in our playgroup call him ''the
little tornado.'' He is constantly on the move, and he's
fast, and loves to climb--so I have an idea of what you're
Initially I was against the idea of a playpen, but we got
one about a month ago and it has been a lifesaver. It's in
a central location in the house, so there's always activity
going on around him while he's in it, and it's big enough
for one or two adults to get in there with him and play too.
He actually seems to enjoy it quite a bit--he can pull up
and cruise around the perimeter as much as he wants.
(Sometimes he actually ''asks'' to go into the playpen! I
think he gets that it's an area especially for him where he
can do anything he wants to.)
One caveat: I never put him in it and just leave him there
(except for one-minute bathroom runs); I'm always in sight
if not playing with him directly. Which, I think, helps
contribute to his feeling that the playpen is a fun place
and not a site for confinement.
I hope this helps, and feel free to get in touch if you want
more info (or just an equally spirited playmate for your
Absolutely get a big set of gates. We did this and it was
WONDERFUL. We got used PlayZone panels, a total of eight I
think, and we used the couch as one wall so our son could
pull himself up there. He had nearly the whole run of the
living room except the dangerous stuff. We could walk in and
out of the room at will instead of worrying about him every
minute, and he had loads of room to play. I brought it to
the park once for his first birthday party, and to a very
kid-oriented wedding as a safe space. Was so sorry to have
to pass it on when he outgrew it. Please don't think of it
like an animal pen. So unrelated.
HI, I have 18-month-old twins and we used a superyard when
they were first moving aorund a lot. It took them a few days
to get used to, but they actually liked having a safe,
confined place to play in-we never had to say no to them. As
they got more mobile and active, we expanded their playspace
so that they had one gated room (yes, we had four gates in
our house!) that was completely safe. Now they have two
rooms and the superyard surrounds the tv. It makes me feel
really comfortable becauase I know I can be in the kitchen
or bathroom and not worry about their safety. And they don't
have to be told ''no'' constantly. You might check out this
website for more on creating safe play spaces:
We never used a play pen, mainly because our kids would have hated it and just
cried. But here are some ideas for you.
- Get some of those movable gates you can place in doorways to keep the baby
in the room you are in. As long as you are on the same side of the gate, they are
- We placed a movable gate across our fireplace to block it off. Not pretty, but it
worked. I think there are also official baby proofing options for fireplaces.
- Get an exersaucer. Kids love them, they are stimulating and it keeps the child
in one place while you do what you need to do. I bet you can even find a used on
in the marketplace email.
I would go ahead with the play pen. Yes, it's a little
weird at first, but once you get used to the idea (which
happens pretty quickly) it allows you and your child to
enjoy playing instead of spending all of your time re-
directing, prying her off of stuff, etc. We had this one
play-safe-30-in-play-yard-160014.html) and liked it because
it has a door panel that makes it easy to get in and out.
If you can, buy one used on craigslist. It's cheaper and it
won't be such a big loss if it doesn't work out (like if she
spends all of her time in it trying to climb out of it). We
didn't use ours as much as I had hoped because our house is
so small (under 600sq ft) and there just wasn't enough
space. If you've got enough space, I recommend getting some
extension panels, too. Without them, I found it doable, but
tighter than I would have liked when I was in the play pen
with my son (and if you add more panels, the bigger space
will make it feel less dog-pen like).
The Little PlayZone has worked really well for us and was
recommended by my parenting teacher for just this thing. I
actually bought two to make a bigger space and use the extra
two panels to visually block other areas that I don't want
our baby to go into. Since it is bottomless and we have
wood floors, I got some cute rugs from Costco and then put
toys in it for her. We have been using it since 6 mo when I
could put her in there to run to the bathroom or answer the
door or cook dinner, and now my 18 month old chooses to play
in there, as do our friends' kids, ages 4-8 years.
You can get a new one from the One Step Ahead catalog (and
probably all the big box stores online) but I also just saw
two previously owned ones for sale at They Grow So Fast, the
consignment shop in Lafayette.
We used the panels - 8 or 12 of them - when our kids were crawling /
toddling and basically ''fenced in'' our living room, with a comforter on the
floor. It was easy for adults to walk over the barrier, and the kids got
maybe 36 sf of play space. It's only for a little while - why not?
hi, our baby is quickly growing, and we need to childproof.
unfortunately, our home is less than 600 sq ft, so we pretty much
have no space. and childproofing is pretty much impossible since
our living/dining/kitchen area has an 'open plan.' (our bedroom
is filled with all our beds.) so we thought about maybe getting a
superyard XT and make a circle in the middle of our living room area.
is that big enough for a baby to roam in? do i need to get
multiple interlocking playpens? it's tough to watch the baby
constantly, so i need some advice on:
- how to handle childproofing a small home.
- how much you liked a playpen situation.
please no comments about moving to a bigger home, as it's already
quite expensive to live around here. thank you in advance for
I can relate to having a small home with a toddler. I don't
recommend a playpen, because that will just take up precious
real estate in your living room. You will need to keep an eye
on your child pretty much all the time - that's just part of
parenting a toddler. That said, there are a few things you can
do in a small space to help keep your little one safe and
occupied. First, move all of your unsafe kitchen items to a
few high/locked cabinets or drawers. Let your child explore
the rest freely - your child won't be harmed by kitchen towels,
table linens, tupperware, pots and pans, plastic utensils,
etc. You can do similar things in your living room. Lock up
unsafe/breakable/valuable things, but let your kid have fun
with books, magazines, old cassette tape cases, etc. Once
you've done a little childproofing, try to create mini play
areas in each of the spaces you spend time in that have
appealing items for your child to play with and show these
areas to your child to encourage him or her to play there. We
have mini play areas (eg. the bottom shelf of a bookshelf)in
our kitchen and living room areas, and our child usually goes
to those areas first to find things to play with. In terms of
further childproofing, what you need to do depends so much on
your specific home environment and your specific child -
observe your child to see which dangerous things he or she is
attracted to and deal with potential problems as they arise.
On those occasions when we've needed to restrict our child's
movement, we've found the high chair or crib (with toys or
books for distraction) works just fine for a few minutes.
Fellow Mom of a Toddler
I also live in a small house (1-bedroom with crib and bed in the
same room). We set up a play yard in our small living room
using those Super Yard XT gates and it worked great. I think we
ended up buying two boxes. We have a futon mattress in the
living room which lays in front of the sofa. The gates
completely surround the futon and the ends of the gate are stuck
in between the futon and the sofa to create one large circle.
Our son is now 19 months old and we are just thinking about
taking it down since he spends more time outside of the yard
than inside of it. He never liked to play in the pack and play,
so this play area worked great for us. All of his toys are in
there, and during the day when I work from home, we keep the
play pen gate open so he can walk around where he wants to with
the nanny. I think around 15 months, my son figured out if he
pushed on the fence hard enough, he can get out, but that was
out only issue with the yard. I hope this helps.
I would try it without the playpen first. We have a small house,
too. It never occurred to us to not let our child (now 2 1/4)
move freely around our house--it's his house too! Take some
standard precautions: block electrical outlets with covers or
heavy furniture; secure bookcases (or other things a baby could
pull over) to the wall; bundle up electrical cords and get them
out of the way as much as possible; get cabinet locks for low
cabinets that contain things you don't want the baby to get into;
move sharp/chemical/fragile items up high or into high cabinets
out of reach (and move innocuous things like toilet paper,
tupperware, towels, etc. into unsecured low cabinets/drawers);
put corner protectors on sharp table corners.
As your child grows, you'll see what else they get into and
address it. In our case, for example, we discovered we needed to
move the cat's food and water (irresistible!) onto a dresser for
half a year or so, until our son was old enough to have the self
control to obey our ''no'' and resist playing in the water. If I
really needed to secure my son for a few minutes, e.g., to keep
him back while I took something out of the oven or to take a
shower, I put him in his crib or high chair.
Then, as your child grows in their understanding and self
control, you teach them what's okay to mess with and what's not,
with time and repetition, by saying ''no'' and taking them away
from stuff until they get the picture. It helps if you can
redirect them to something similar that's their own. For example,
when our son tried to take books from (our) bookshelves, we
redirected him to HIS books on HIS bookshelf. In the kitchen, we
have a whole cabinet of drawers. Rather than secure the drawers
(but with dangerous stuff removed, of course), we designated a
few of the drawers as his (marked with stickers and filled with a
rotating assortment of this toys and safe things to play with),
and every time he opened one of the drawers that wasn't his, we
said ''that's not your drawer, that's mama and papa's drawer;
which is your drawer?'' He learned quickly what was his and what
A playpen is dependent upon how adventurous your child is -
which is probably very. I found that mine just climbed,
sometimes right in front of me!
Now, the interlocking type playpen works much better. It
supports you in utilizing the space you have for multiple
purposes. You can easily move, adapt, expand, etc. to meet your
child's & your needs. Also, it confines your child to a pre-
determined safe area versus trying to foresee every possible
danger over the whole home.
Besides, there is no such thing as child-proofing a home:
children are naturally inquisitive & can make the most non-
threatening & seemingly innocent thing into an object of
destruction. They are just inventive & intelligent. They are
here to create & learn, so it will save you a lot of stress
to ''do what you can & can (throw away) what you can't'' as
Sister Mary Margaret Pouncil once told me when I was a young
Also, keep the play area stocked with toys that teach, like
tried & true manipulatives for their age range. But introduce
only one or two at a time, so they don't get bored as quickly.
And take something out as you place new things in, so it can be
recycled as a new toy later. It keeps them interested & gives
you a moment to focus as well.
Lastly, music music music. Different rhythms for different
times. You'd be surprised at how it will keep them busy,
focused & occupied, not to mention preparing them for learning
& teaching them how to keep a schedule.
I pray this helps.
Peace & blessings!
Childproofing and deciding whether or not to get a playpen/yard are not
thing in my mind. The playpen worked for my active girl for about 3
only for short periods like I needed to saute something or take
something out of the
oven or grab a shower. They take up a lot of room, so I don't see how
work in your space. Maybe a pack n' play for temporary restraint. But
you will have
to have your home be kid accessible for at least 2-2.5 years. You need
to do things
you can live with.
Some of the stuff we did: We put caps on all the outlets and the movable
on two that we access all the time. We put kid-thwarting covers on the
switches to prevent ''lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off''
play. We earthquake
tethered all of our bookcases and appliances (don't forget the TV) so
move when climbed on, we took off all table cloths and decorations that
4 ft. We took off books from the lower shelves and used them for toys
aren't constantly reshelving) or used a piece of fabric we liked to look
at for 2 years
and used it to cover the lower shelves (one corner had velcro so we
could lift it up
and get at the books, but out of sight is out of mind for tiny tykes).
Then we got
safe, sturdy step stools and kid chairs and taught her how to be safe
WILL climb, you can't stop them, but if they get used to doing it more
or less safely ,
have fun with your kid!
Don't stress about the size of your house. It is actually
perfectly sized for keeping the baby safe. Personally, I am a
childproofing minimalist. All chemicals go into a cupboard that
is locked. Anything breakable goes up into higher cupboards.
The non breakables (pots, pans, tupperware, etc). Permanent baby
gates go at the bottom and top of stairs. Otherwise, I don't
worry about it. I keep an eye on my kids obviously, but not for
every second. When they were little, they never played with
electrical outlets. All wires went into big flexible plastic
tubing. I made sure that nothing that I had was a pull down
hazard (tv is on a big enough base, etc). My kids are hardly the
type that parents hope for (they are spazmatoids with A LOT of
energy), so it isn't like they are quietly walking around the
house all day. They are turning my living room into a mosh pit
and jumping off the sofa arms into it.
I think that a big playyard is fine (pack and plays are way to
small -- at least for mine). My kids probably wouldn't have like
d it, but I guess if I worked at it (ignored their screams?) for
a few days then they would have quit.
We have a small house as well - 2 adults and 2 toddlers in 750 sq
ft. And moving was not an option for us, either!
I think the playpen or fenced-off areas are not good long-term
solutions. No baby or toddler wants to play *separately* from
where the adults are. Unless you have an unusually independent
baby, my guess is that s/he is not going to be willing to stay in
a playpen very long alone. And that goes for a fenced-off area,
too - no matter how big it is and how many toys are in it, s/he
will object if you are not in it too! (Say if you are in the
kitchen cooking dinner.)
A better long-term solution is to work on your house to make it
more baby-friendly. This does take some time, but you don't have
to make all the changes right away. Do all the obvious safety
things first (i.e., cabinet latches), and then see what kind of
specific trouble your baby manages to get herself into (or looks
like s/he is headed for), then make other changes. You'll
probably have to rearrange your furniture/possessions somewhat -
just resign yourself to it and remember that you can have a
''grown up'' house again when the kids are bigger. For example, we
got rid of our open CD rack (too tempting to pull all the CDs out
over and over) and replaced it with a lockable dresser from IKEA
to hold all the CDs. Lots of other stuff (wine rack, books) went
up to higher shelves and we bought new, lower shelves that had
lockable doors. So in the end we managed to switch out old
furniture with new stuff (and made a looooot of trips to IKEA)
but didn't need to lose any of our existing floor space. (That
ended up going to all the toys, anyway!)
Fellow tiny-house dweller
We have a similar set up: Small, open plan apartment, with bed
in the living room. Glass and breakables go into upper
drawers/cabinets in the kitchen. Lower cabinets are baby-locked
OR have safe stuff in them: plastic tubs, pots, pans, screw-top
storage jars of rice, flour, sugar. Baby needs to explore. Use
a pen, swing or exersaucer for when you have to take a shower
or are flambeeing something in the kitchen, but I wouldn't pen
baby into such a small area at all times--house is small enough
of a pen. Exploration also teaches baby: Oven is on? when baby
touched it, it was a huge teaching moment: Don't touch, baby
ow! By the time he/she needs to wander more, he'll know not to
touch garbage pail, oven, glasses (still working on that with 2-
year old). Babies like exploring with pans, small metal bowls,
plastic bowls. Regarding drawers: ''Fingers! Baby ow!'' use those
teaching moments. It'll be over pretty soon and your baby will
know stuff and be confident, feel safe and be an explorer.
Don't forget teaching teach crawler/cruiser how to climb down a
step or climb/slide off bed, a key skill.
Basics: put the garbage out of reach (pail resided for several
months on the piano and/or diaper changing table), electrical
plugs covered, extension cords covered or clamped to
baseboards, bookcases screwed to wall. Every few months (or
even weeks) as baby develops, check what new babyproofing needs
doing, since it comes in stages.
small house, big world
I am wondering if I should buy a playpen for my six months
old baby girl. I hardly know anybody who has a playpen
anymore and I wonder what the reason is. Do most babies
like it in there or not or is the playpen more for traveling ?
My babie is trying to sit up right know but after a while she
falls over and she could of course hit her head on the
ground if I would.'t sit with her all the time. I think in the
playpen this wouldn't happen because everything around it
is soft. I would just put her in there if I do some house work
and cooking and I certaintly would always be close by but if I
turn my head and she falls over at least she wouldn't get
hurt. I would like to know what other parents have to say
We went back and forth on the playpen question for quite a
while. In the end we ended up with two. We got the Kidco Play
Den, which we use in the study so we can do bills & computer
stuff without our daughter getting too bored and we got a
travelling one when we went away for a weekend. She only
tolerates the small one for a short period of time regardless of
what toys are in it. The Play Den worked out really well - lots
of room & vertical bars which are perfect to practise pulling up
& standing. She first went in it around 6 months & we had the
same concerns about her whacking her head. Until she had good
balance, we just put pillows against the bars & propped her
against them - but only when we were in the room with her!!
(Being worried about suffocation.) Now that she is a year old,
the big one is still a good place to be, provided she has a good
selection of toys & books & she isn't left too long. The only
drawback to it is that it isn't very easy to move, even room to
room, so you really need to decide where it will be most useful
before setting it up.
Our now 9-mo. old is very physically active. We got a travel
playard when he was about 5 mo. old thinking we would use it as a
playpen when we were at home. We were advised to get him used to
it before he became mobile so he wouldn't feel, well, ''penned in''
if we put him there when he could crawl around. I used it for
about a month, then when he did start crawling he hated being in
there. We do still use it as his bed when we travel, though, and
he'll sleep in it just fine. As a safe place to keep him when I
have to leave the room for a minute, we bought a ''corral'', a
free-standing 8-panel thing that covers a much larger area so
he's free to roam around. He's content being in there alone for
a short period. I bought it at onestepahead.com.
I kept a playpen in our kitchen and put my daughter
in there while I prepared dinner nightly. it was
such a great help, I would not want to have been
without it! I used it until she was walking, after
that she was not about to be confined.
In my opinion the playpen was a godsend. My son was happy, and I
could do other things and know he was OK without watching him
every second. We had a folding one that we also used quite a bit
for travel--it made a great place to sleep as well as a place to
A playpen is an ESSENTIAL piece of equipment in the parenting
arsenal. You simply cannot live without one!!! Where else do
you put all the clean laundry? (well, that's what we've done
with ours these past years)
My 6mo is right where yours is (actually, she's 7mo tomorrow).
What I do is place pillows around her (3 - one to the back, one
to the back left and right) or a thick blanket. When we are
outside (I'm hanging clothes or in the front yard gardening) I
put her on a blanket (on the grass) with the same setup. Then I
put her basket of toys in front of her and she ignores them and
goes for the grass (or the 2yo plays with her toys).
I still see playpans around, only they're not the ones our
parents had for us. They're the Graco 3-way Pack 'N Play that
turn from being a bassinet into a traveling crib and playpen.
Personally, we used ours quite a bit from the time my son was
about 8 months old to 1-1/2 years. As you note, little ones can
bump into things a lot, and it's good to have a safe place for
them. I didn't put my son in there for more than 20 minutes at a
time and rarely twice in a day. It was more for when I was
cooking or feeding the dogs and couldn't keep an eye on him. I
believe that the negative things you hear about playpens are
because of possibility that parents will just leave their babies
in there and ignore them, which is a terrible thing to do. But I
don't believe there's anything wrong with a playpen for the
baby's safety. Put special toys in there that your baby can't
get anywhere else to turn it into a special place. Turn on some
Another alternative is an Ultrasaucer. It's a circular activity
table with Baby's seat in the middle. Baby can spin and bounce.
It's good until Baby learns how to walk. I found it a good way
for my son to have some safe, protected fun while I was cooking.
I think that playpens have gotten a bad reputation because of the
perception that previous generations left their babies in
playpens for hours on end. My daughter is a year old, and I have
used the playpen for exactly the resons you describe. Early on it
allowed her to sit up safely, and lean against the netting, and
now that she is very mobile, I can use it for a few minutes while
I boil water, take things out of the oven, or run into another
room to get something.
I don't use it for long (maybe a total of 15 minutes a day), and
she doesn't seem to mind it (as long as I am in the room with
her), and occasionally she even tries to get into it. I try to
rotate the toys in it fairly regularly, and give her things like
books, etc, that she can use while in one place. She loved being
in the playpen while she was learning to stand; it provided lots
of surfaces on which to pull up.
What we use is the Pak-n-play, which we also use as a portable
crib. One can get real playpens, which are much bigger, but I
didn't want to devote that much floor space to it.
Our son has always hated the playpen that we have. It's one
of those pack-n-play things that we got from a friend, and the
only thing I've ever used it for is as a ''holding area'' down in
the basement while I'm doing laundry. I put a book in there
and he's OK for a few minutes but then he's yelling to get
out. He's always been super active [he's 14 mos. now] and
since birth has rejected being placed in any confining
non-mom's-arms place [carseat, stroller, crib... although
he's better at those now!]. My niece, on the other hand,
who's 3 now, used to sit for long periods looking at her
books, and on the occasions that she found herself in a
playpen [like early morning at auntie's house before any
adults are awake] has been fine for an hour or so just
reading. So, I guess it depends on how you want to use it
and what your other ''confining spaces'' experiences have
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