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Playpens - are they useful?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My mom is such a funny lady. She was the kind of mom that always told me - don't have kids, have a career and when I told her I was pregnant she was quick to tell me she was NOT excited for me at all...

Now she is off collecting all sorts of things for me through her friends and thrift stores! I do admire her ability to find free or next-to-free things, and it IS nice that she is getting a little excited about the new family member... but she doesn't seem to understand that we don't want to collect a lot of STUFF. As an example, the crib she found us was free and really nice - even though we told her we want to co-sleep and wouldn't have invested in a crib anyway.

Now she has gone ahead and found us a playpen... I mean, what is a play pen for? Are they really useful tools? She told me this one is "transportable" meaning I can bring it to a friend's house and set my baby up even if their house isn't baby proofed... But I can't see myself shoving one in my car everytime I want to visit a friend. Maybe this is something I could leave at their place, seeing as how their house is 100% NOT baby-proof and likely never will be?
post #2 of 17
Ahh.. we call that the portable crib. I'd say they are nice to have but we hardly ever used ours. I have had the one I have now through 3 of my kids, it's going on 10 years old now. lol. It's nice to occasionally have a safe place to lay baby (i have many other children, so emphasis on SAFE, lol) while I use the potty or cook or whatever and when we are outside at picnics or whatever and baby takes a nap... it really isn't used a whole lot in my house though.
post #3 of 17
Grandma's house is where big unwanted gifts are meant to live

We never used one. We had a bouncer and a swing that were gifts, and I have a family heirloom cradle for popping baby into safely... We just gated the kitchen and baby-proofed the entire downstairs (one big room... not TOO big,small home) and the "nursery" where we spent a lot of time.

I hear you on not wanting all the STUFF. Seriously, limiting stuff is valuable in the long run. I liked having a place upstairs for baby to be safe while I showered (bouncer fit in one bathroom-- by the time DD outgrew it, we had babyproofed and she would jsut bop around while I showered quickly.) and one place downstairs (honestly we had too much stuff-- but I had this cradle from my family and it was special, then the ILs bought the swing and we knew the movement might pay off so we kept it-- that one lasted the longest). I'm sure for some, playpens are great and they do take them places, but we have a small easily gated home and I wore DD or attended to her, or she napped on a nest of blankets and pillows or bed and she would call as soon as she woke... or more likely slept on me!
post #4 of 17
I think it varies between people and their individual house designs. I put my dd in a packnplay about 10 minutes a day everyday, so I could do laundry. Our laundry room is too small to bring a newborn and a 2 year old in with me. I wouldn't trust my 2 year old to not hurt his sister when I was busy with the wash. The packnplay was just outside the laundry door, so she could hear me talking but I knew that she wasn't going to get stepped on or picked up by a toddler.

We have used it while traveling. Even though my kids were occasionally in our bed at home, I wouldn't count on a hotel bed having a safe headboard.
post #5 of 17
We only ever really used ours when traveling, and even then my IL's got their own so we wouldn't have to pack it half way across the country. It was useful if we were going to someones house and planning to stay late, so we could put the baby to sleep somewhere safe. I didn't even get one until DD was maybe 6 months old. It's one of those things where if it appears for free you can probably find a use for it, but you can also get away without it.
post #6 of 17
I kinda want one this time just to have somewhere to put baby. Our house is bigger so I may be farther away from baby once in awhile during the day. But our house is NOT big enough for a crib or anything, and I never used ours anyway, so I don't want something big. I had a playpen with #1 and #2 and it was a temporary crib/kid bed when I couldn't afford new ones. Otherwise it was never used-except by my cats.
post #7 of 17
As a playpen, I have no use for them and never did. Putting a baby in a cage just didn't make sense to me, and I'm not even a full blown AP'er.

As a travel crib, we used and pack n play frequently, but I had a babe that preferred to sleep on his own from a young age. Every babe is different.
post #8 of 17
I like them. When my oldest was a baby, I had a giant one, not portable. But I was living with my parents, and my younger siblings still had friends over and such. Putting the baby in the playpen kept her out of the way and safe.

With dd2, I was doing at home daycare also. I always used the playpen to keep one baby or another seperate, so that dd2 couldn't start pulling and poking at the younger one.

I plan to use the same one to help keep baby #3 away from dd2, again, so that dd2 doesn't inflict harm.
post #9 of 17
We had one that I finally sold a year or so ago (before we knew we'd have another, it's true). It got some use, but not a ton. With my first, we used the bassinet part for a while (we were co-sleeping but would sometimes start him in his own bed, and kept it up against our bed as a barrier of sorts), and we put it in DH's office for a while with the idea that DH could work and DS could play and be happy. But, um, he wasn't very happy in there.

Years later, DS1 slept in it in our room when visitors would be sleeping in his room. That's probably when it got the most use. DS3 was never, ever in it and I don't recall DS2 using it much, either.

That being said, we also had a bassinet (family heirloom), swing, and bouncy seat as places to safely place a baby (who typically had to be asleep to be willing to do that!). Occasionally I think it'd be useful to have one again, but we probably won't get a new one.

ETA: I just remembered we DID travel with it once. We used it when visiting DH's grandparents, whose house was abundantly UNsafe for a little one. It took up most of the available space in their living room, but meant we could put him down without worry. And we might've taken it with us when we went on another trip, as an option for him to sleep in and a barrier to put against the twin beds we were sleeping in. (Not as effective there.) Anyway, yeah, sometimes they're useful. But you can also sometimes rent them places these days when traveling! But if you have one for free, you'll likely find *some* use for it.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
The more I think about it the more I realize that it will probably get the most use at grandma's house anyway. I really hope she isn't offended by that, but we don't really travel to hotels or friend's places for overnights very often - and if we did it wouldn't be too difficult to pick the playpen up from their place first. She just has so many antiques and breakables - and has already told me that no way in hell is she baby proofing, so that pretty much decides it, lol. Besides, we have already come across a free bassinet, swing, and bouncy seat which all seem more appealing to me.
post #11 of 17
With my first, I was very "anti-playpen", but my life was very different then, so I didn't need one.

With my second, we got a bassinet/pack n' play that we put next to our bed. Although I co-slept with my first for years, this little guy sleeps much better on his own. After he outgrew it as a bassinet, we brought it down to the family room where it's very useful as a safe place to put my son when I take the dog out. I also use it occasionally as a brief chill-out zone when he keeps hitting the dog because he thinks it's funny.

Because DS is used to sleeping on is own, we've used it when traveling and will take it camping with us next month. I really think it depends on your baby's personality. One thing both of my kids have loved is a swing...
post #12 of 17
I just wanted to add that I think it is a generational thing as well. I was talking to my Oma about it shortly after my DS was born and she commented on how my 'generation' was really against playpens while hers (and likely my Mom's as well) saw them as a safe place to place the baby. I don't think they had all the gadget for childproofing that we have nowadays and my Oma had 7 kids so she couldn't really give the baby undivided attention to make sure they didn't get into trouble. Babywearing wasn't very mainstream at that point either. So to them it probably seems odd to let the baby wander all around the house. I totally agree with the pp that you should suggest to your mom that the playpen live at her house... it will be a handy to have as a portable bed there and then you won't have to store it.

We used our playpen as a bassinet beside the bed for the first couple of months. Then my ds napped in it when he started rolling and couldn't nap on our bed anymore. The only time he ever played in it was when we were camping and he was ~5 months old. The mosquitoes were atrocious so we would put the playpen in the dining tent and put him in the playpen and then cover it with a bugnet to keep him safe It sound like overkill but he still got lots of bites!!
post #13 of 17
I have a pack and play that I used with my son.

Not really necessary, but if you have a free one I might see if you end up using it.

We had it set up in the living room when my son was little and he took naps in it. We took it to the grandparents house and set it up next to the bed we were staying so he could nap and sleep at night. I put him in it while I vacuumed. I think the only real time he was awake in it was when I vacuumed.

It was good for travel, especially since the grandparents all have dogs who are poorly trained and not used to babies or children and the beds we stayed in weren't always set up well for co-sleeping. At home we had the co-sleeper attached to our bed which worked much better since there wasn't a rail to lift the baby over and if the baby stayed in the bed then it acted as a guard rail.
post #14 of 17
We were in a similar situation, not wanting a ton of stuff and figuring we wouldn't use much. However, we ended up with a free crib, pack and play and tons of other stuff I never thought I would use, and luckily kept it all (we moved right after baby was born to a duplex with a full attic and basement so we had room to store everything )

We side carred the crib to our queen size bed, allowing us MUCH more peaceful co sleeping after our babe was about 6 months and began kicking and squirming in his sleep. The crib was a lifesaver since we couldn't afford and didn't have room for a bigger bed. We still have it side carred now, ready for baby #2, even though baby #1 has moved to his own bed in his own room. I'm very grateful for the crib.

The pack and play was equally useful. When Wyatt learned to crawl, but before he could figure out how to get off our bed, he fell off the bed and I felt SO bad. We started putting him into his pack and play to sleep the beginning part of the night, then moved him to our bed when we went to sleep. It was very nice to have him used to sleeping in both, and I think it made the transition to his own bed easier. I also used the pack and play for naps for awhile, and definitely used it just for a spot to put baby down safely when he was a newborn (since we have pets and didn't have any bouncy chairs or anything). The pack and play is already set up downstairs so I'll have someplace for this baby to sleep since I'll have a toddler running around. And in the meantime it's a very useful storage space for the ridiculous amount of baby clothes I find handed down to me!

So personally, I'm very glad we have all this "stuff", even though I was anti-stuff in the beginning. Honestly, my attitude is it's better to get it for free, have it, and then never use it and give it away, then realize you need it when baby is already here and have to go spend a fortune on it. However, that's my attitude only because we have a full attic and basement to store stuff in. If you are limited for room, that's a different story.
post #15 of 17
Oh, and just as a side note about how "portable" the pack and plays are. Yes, you can fold them easily, and could transport them if necessary. But when you've got a baby, a car seat, a diaper bag, and can't find your brain, there's no way you're going to be packing up the stupid playpen to bring to a friend's house for a few hours! When they're newborns, that's what wraps/slings are for. And when they're a little older, you can just sit them up on a blanket on the floor. By the time they're mobile and would need to be in a pack and play to keep them safe, they don't want to be contained like that, so you'd have a miserable baby in a play pen anyway. I have never once packed up the pack and play to bring it anywhere!
post #16 of 17
I was anti playpen too until I had kids 17 month apart! both my older kids got soooo much use out of our pack n play at one time or another that I have already gottten a new one for this baby! (it's also a changing table) But we mainly have used it for naps (We cosleep and there's no way I'm leaving a baby alone on the bed during naptime nor am I going to sleep everytime babe does) or a place for the little one to play while I cooked or cleaned or showered or changed the other kids diaper or just take a break. I use a sling and a swing too) but we also used it in our bedroom too when they would both go through an easily woken up phase. we also used it outside and took it with us when traveling. that's where the portability comes in great. it's great because if you are in one part of the house your kid can nap right there. it certainly made my life so much easier! I had a crib and NEVER used it but I used the pack and play tons.
post #17 of 17
we ONLY use ours as a portable crib. co sleeping never worked for us so we needed it when we were other places overnight.

Otherwise, even if I HAD wanted to use it as a safe place for her to play, she would have just screamed anyway. Between not being held and being trapped, it wasn't really a good option.
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