There was once a time when Baby would stay in the same few feet of space just because they couldn&;t go anywhere else. Those were different times, simpler times. Now that Baby can move pretty much anywhere their heart takes them, it’s an extra challenge to keep them safe and happy. Hello, playpens.
Playpens are in the same general category as play yards, pack ‘n’ plays, or travel cribs, but there are sometimes small differences depending on the brand. Pack ‘n’ plays and travel cribs are generally on the smaller side and look like cribs, meaning they’re usually rectangular and raised from the floor. Playpens and play yards can be either raised and crib-like or flush to the floor and gate-like. They’re usually bigger than pack ‘n’ plays or travel cribs, giving toddlers a little more room to play and explore as they get bigger. Some brands will use all these terms interchangeably, and size will vary depending on the model.
The best playpen for Baby in their second year – if you use one at all – really depends on you and them. Something on the bigger side will give you all the benefits of keeping Baby in a safe area without restricting their movement or play too much, but a smaller one will be more portable. Some playpens come with built-in toys and interactive elements, which can be super fun, and almost always have bright, vibrant colors. Throw a few of Baby‘s favorite toys into the mix, and a playpen is basically a baby sanctuary.
Staying in a playpen for too long could get a little frustrating for Baby, but in shorter chunks of time, it’s a great little safe zone. If you need to take a shower, make dinner, tackle some chores, or just rest a little, it can be helpful to know that Baby has a safe place to play or nap, especially if they have been especially into everything lately. They’re also good for giving Baby solo space to play on their own and develop the skills they need to entertain themself.
One thing to note if you’ll be using a playpen is that it might be best to avoid using it as a punishment area. If Baby associates the playpen with being punished or bad behavior, they isn&;t going to enjoy being in there. Instead, use it as an alternate play space. It doesn’t just have to be used when you’re busy, it can also be a special little space for Baby to take ownership of and be proud of. You can sit next to them and read, relax, or look on as they play. They can even practice cleaning up the space and inviting you in for special events like tea or trains (if you have one of the bigger playpens, that is). If you’re lucky, maybe Baby will even let you borrow the playpen on occasion for a quick nap.