Image Credit: Amazon
Playpens (also know as playards) have gone in and out of fashion over the years; in the 1950’s and 1960’s a playpen for your baby was a must-have and most babies, like myself, probably had one.
The one I had as a baby was a classic rectangular wooden playpen; however my memory of it is of looking into it from the outside, so suspect I am remembering my younger sister using it. I also remember it a s being colourfully painted - probably in a type of paint that is banned for use on baby products these days!
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 dangerous 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.
This sounded like a very good idea as our oldest was crawling at 6 months and walking at 11 months, so was of course into everything!
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 far too too flimsy and as they stood on feet several inches off the ground, it looked to us as if the travel cot was used by a larger toddler it could be toppled over too easily.
So this narrowed the selection down to one which stood right on the ground.
At the time that didn’t leave us many options and so we chose the Baby Dan Baby Den.
Image Credit: Amazon
This 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 fun playhouse too.
The type of design has now been used by many companies - now you can even get a wooden playpen in a five or six sided design.
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 very good condition and once the kids were too old for it, 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: The only drawback was that the Baby Den is quite large and took up a lot of space in our tiny living room, but of course this does mean that baby has plenty of room to crawl around inside, and there is room to leave lots of toys (or lob them in at the end of the day when you are too tired to clear up).
Now I see that the square wooden playpen has come back into fashion - minus the garish paint. Ah, the nostalgia…
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!