The playpen has gone in and out of fashion over the years; in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was a must have and most babies like myself probably had one.
Mine was a rectangular wooden; however my memory is of looking into it from the outside, so suspect I am remembering my younger sister using it.
The purpose is simple. A playpen is intended as somewhere that a crawling baby or smaller toddler can be placed in to prevent them hurting themselves. Their carer can then perhaps answer the doorbell, cook a meal or visit the bathroom, safe in the knowledge that baby cannot climb on the sofa or get hold of any small objects.
Later they fell out of fashion as an undoubtedly small proportion were used to coop children up for hours at a time by a few neglectful parents, and soon parenting experts were advising against them.
Now they have become popular again as people realise that, used for short periods of time as intended, they give mum and dad a few moments respite and allow a child to be left safe from the trampling feet of its larger siblings.
When my first son was born we decided that we would buy a playpen. But what a choice - metal, nylon, ones that double as a travel cot or even as a play tent! In fact the only type we couldn’t find was a wooden one.
We rejected the idea of the ones which double as a travel cot; they looked too flimsy and as they stood on feet several inches off the ground we felt that if used by a larger toddler it could be toppled over too easily.
So we narrowed the selection to one which stood right on the ground.At the time that didn’t leave many options and so we chose the Baby Dan Baby Den. We bought ours from Kiddicare, and they are also available from Amazon.co.uk.
This octagonal playpen is made from reassuringly weighty metal with a washable padded base which goes straight on the floor. It can also be converted, when it’s time as a playpen is over, into a fireguard or a safety gate as well. It is also possible to add a top section so that it can be turned into a playhouse.
The pros: Well this play pen certainly wasn’t going anywhere. It would have been pretty difficult for me to topple it over never mind a small child!
We certainly felt we made the right choice as it was easy to dissemble and store until our second baby arrived. Also it remained in good condition and we were able to sell it in our local newspaper for over 60% of the purchase price within hours of the advertisement appearing!
The cons: Only one, that it is quite large and took up a lot of space in our tiny living room, but of course this does mean that baby has room to crawl around inside.
Now I see that the plain square wooden type of playpen is coming back into fashion. Ah, the nostalgia…
About The Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the editor of eParenting.
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