Gates or playpen? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-31-2006, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is almost 13 months old. He's getting VERY mobile and the past couple of weeks has been crazy active - he's into everything, pulling papers out of my bag, throwing DVDs around, messing with anything and everything he can get his hands onto. He is now trying to climb the stairs and is also trying to expand his domain to the kitchen, where he heads straight for what he thinks of as his water bowl and crunchy snacks (in reality, cat water and food). I need to do something, I can't keep running after him all the time. I'm wondering if I should get a couple of gates or just get a playpen. I don't think DS would be very happy in a playpen, but it would be a lot easier than trying to keep our decent-sized living room Taylor-proof.

Any thoughts?

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Old 02-01-2006, 01:20 AM
 
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He won't be happy in a playpen for long - especially if he is already walking. You are better off picking a room that you and he will spend the most time in, gate it off from teh rest of the house and babyproof it. Then start seriously looking at the next room (kitchen probably) and start babyproofing that too. (I loved those magnetic baby locks btw, just made the cabinets a complete non-issue and because our cabinets never opened she would rarely try to open other people's cabinets and pull their stuff out while we were visiting) We basically did this and as DD got older her domain of what wasn't babygated off grew until we just used the babygates to ensure she stayed downstairs or upstairs when we wanted her to.

If you have things that are hard to babyproof (like a rack of DVDs) consider just removing them from the main room he plays in, pack them up if you can stand to be without them. It's not fun picking this stuff up over and over and they do grow out of this phase eventually - I'd rather have to go in the closet to fish out a DVD once in a while than have to pick them up every ten minutes - and chances are you'd only need to do that for 6-9 months before you could put them back. Some babyproofing is about making sure the child is safe and some is just about keeping yourself sane - you can certainly leave a lot of stuff, you'll just be looking at it messy or cleaning it up more often.

ETA - oh, and we just put the cat dish up on the counter in an area we didn't use for food prep - it was a bit tricky as we have a three legged cat who can't jump high, but we found various ways to keep the cat dish away from DD without keeping it away from the cats.

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Old 02-01-2006, 01:54 AM
 
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I don't recommend a play pen.
Look at the things around your place...what are some things that really don't matter if he "gets into"...babyproof the rest.

One of the things I've really learned is that you just have to choose your battles...this is where gentle discipline comes into play. Redirection is KEY.

Best of luck...welcome to the world of toddlers.
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Old 02-01-2006, 02:31 AM
 
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I also agree with using gates and the childproofing. Our main level has 3 gates off the living room. 2 are for flights of stairs and one is to the kitchen. We ended up buying a cabinet for the t.v. and such that has drawers (with child locks) on the bottom for storage. There isn't anything in our livingroom that she can get into .

Actually, pretty much every cabinet and drawer in our house has child locks. We have locks for all of the toilets. Our mattresses are on the floor. Forbidden rooms are gated off. She can go anywhere (except the laundry room and my studio) without getting into things.

Try a site like One Step Ahead for childproofing gizmos. Some work better than others. You can always ask here what people are impressed with.
Oh and we did what the PP mentioned and started with the living room and went from there. It's a lot less stress to not have to be concerned about kids getting into "forbidden" things.
hth.

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Old 02-01-2006, 02:54 AM
 
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I highly recommend gating the area of the living room off. I have seen extra wide gates for large openings,too,if the space is very open.

The only room we have gated is the kitchen cause it has no door,just the open doorway,the rest is baby proofed.
I put those doorknob covers on the bathroom doors and the laundry room door,since it leads to the garage. As an added measure of security,even though the bathrooms have knob covers I still babyproof them,lock on toilets,plug outlet covers,cabinet latches.

In the living room,all DVDs,CD's,etc are in an armoire,on a shelf or underneath in the bottom latched in there. Same goes for books,except board books. I even had to put all the kids books up in their closet cause my youngest ds eats the bindings.

Oh,for cabinets,I like the latches that are U shaped and go over the knobs,but that only works if you have 2 knobs close enough together. We also found these outlet covers that stick into the socket,but have little alarms built in if the child manages to pull them out (but even I can barely pull them out,so not likely). They're made by Summer Infant.

HTH.
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Old 02-01-2006, 03:20 AM
 
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When my DD was that age we were in a small townhome. There was no room for a playpen, let alone much to gate off. We relied on redirection and letting it go when it didn't matter. And I let her explore the stairs. She learned to climb up at 9 months and down at 11 (walked at 13 months).

I moved things around in the kitchen so that all the lower cupboards were safe--tupperware, canned food, dry food boxes (until she figured out how to open them), and no hazmat. DVD's got moved into the bedroom and the top of the stairs for a while to keep them out of her reach (she was only in the bedroom to sleep and while she got to explore the stairs I discouraged play at the top of them).

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Old 02-01-2006, 03:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minkajane
DS is almost 13 months old. He's getting VERY mobile and the past couple of weeks has been crazy active - he's into everything, pulling papers out of my bag, throwing DVDs around, messing with anything and everything he can get his hands onto. He is now trying to climb the stairs and is also trying to expand his domain to the kitchen, where he heads straight for what he thinks of as his water bowl and crunchy snacks (in reality, cat water and food). I need to do something, I can't keep running after him all the time. I'm wondering if I should get a couple of gates or just get a playpen. I don't think DS would be very happy in a playpen, but it would be a lot easier than trying to keep our decent-sized living room Taylor-proof.

Any thoughts?
The playpen thing wouldnt be a long term solution because your child's natural exploring needs will just be thwarted and he woudl be really unhappy.
What I would suggest is gates and childproofing. If you can manage to keep one primary room as childproof as possible and let your baby explore, you still have plenty of off limits places to keep dangerous things and things that can be easily destroyed.
I have a galley style kitchen with a gate on either end and a huge playroom that I can put a gate over the door. SOmetimes my kids have free roam of the house except the kitchen. And sometimes I put up the gate to the playroom and they play in there while I do something that needs all of my attention.
Joline
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Old 02-01-2006, 02:02 PM
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I have 3 floors (levels) in my home, and I don't have any gates up yet, so I use a play pen......somebody gave it to me for free, and I keep it in my kitchen. It's a lifesaver.....My daughter plays independently in it, and she can keep an eye on me while I'm cooking, or while the rest of the family is chatting and doing their thing in the kitchen. It's funny because everybody pretty much has "their space" in the kitchen. Grandmother always sits in the same place. I'm always at the sink. Daddy is always standing at the counter. And Dharma holds court at the "head" of the kitchen, right below the window. She can see everybody from their while she plays with her toys.

I know a lot of people say a child wouldn't like it, but I think it's something that you "train" a child to deal with, just like a high chair or a car seat. You start with 5 minutes. Then go to 10, 15 etc over time. They learn to occupy themselves with whatever toys are actually in the pen. You might find that it's about the only time they really play with their toys....otherwise, I think we all know toddlers aren't really into toys, but like real stuff better! LOL!

If somebody is willing to give you a play pen for free, and it's in good condition, give it a try. You might be surprised at how useful it can be.
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Old 02-01-2006, 02:33 PM
 
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My suggestions, in order of preference:
#1 - babyproof
#2 - gate/s
#3 - playpen

Babyproofing will and does make life so much easier... for everyone! But there are areas that are difficult to totally proof for varioous reasons, so gating off a particular area is also a good idea. Playpen... I'm not a huge fan, but I did use ours from time to time. I think the key to using it effectively is barely using it at all. We pretty much used it to store toys and she was always intruiged by it because she was so rarely "made" to go in it. In fact, I think she would ask to play in it more often than I would put her in it for my own convenience. So on the rare occassion I really needed to get something done that I just could NOT have her underfoot, I would put her in it for a few minutes and she would not protest.
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Old 02-01-2006, 03:52 PM
 
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It can be such a pain in the butt to babyproof, especially when you have a large house, but it's worth it once it's done. And visitors will understand why the house looks like it does if "babyproofing" requires that some things go to live in odd places. Our answering machine is currently residing on the floor, blocked off and hidden by an armchair and an end table. We babyproofed the whole house, and it's made life so much easier. The only babygate we have up in the house goes in the doorway of Mommy and Daddy's room during the day (dh works nights and ds likes to go barging in while he's sleeping and try to wake him up). Talk to friends who have slightly older kids. They may have some babyproofing stuff they're looking to get rid of.

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Old 02-01-2006, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamameg
Playpen... ...... I think the key to using it effectively is barely using it at all. We pretty much used it to store toys and she was always intruiged by it because she was so rarely "made" to go in it. In fact, I think she would ask to play in it more often than I would put her in it for my own convenience. .....
This was an interesting take on using a play pen that I can also relate to. There was a period of time when I stopped using the play pen (around 8-10 months of so...when my daughter started to crawl, but wasn't very fast,) and so by the time I went back to using the pen, my DD was ALSO very intrigued by the pen and all the contents in it. Since that time, believe me, she NEVER cries about going into the play pen for any reason. So even though I gave the suggestion that you should acclimate a child to the pen over time.....on the other hand, you could try just using the play pen as a toy storage box, and after a while, your child might WANT to get in there just to see what's hanging out in the pen! LOL!


Whether you proof, pen or do a combination of both - good luck!
I'm sure that once my daughter starts to walk and run, I'll probably have to do some proofing, myself.
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:28 PM
 
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I thought I "needed" a playpen when I was pg with ds. Its all I really knew and everyone I knew with a babe had one too. Well it turned out only to be used as a changing table , until I figured out the couch was just as easy, and ds took a few naps in it when my mom would watch him. Other than that it really did not get used, other than storage. I wish someone would have let me in on the secret that it really is not a necessary piece of baby equip. Sorry OT, just my little rant. Anyway, I think gating and babyproofing is definately the best way to go with lots of redirection thrown in for good measure. Babies need to explore their environment safely in order to learn about it, not just watch it go by. I don't think of myself as a baby"trainer". My ds needs my guidance, not my training. JMHO
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Old 02-02-2006, 11:32 AM
 
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I wanted to add that if you have weird shaped spaces to gate off, or, like we have our CD/DVD racks gated off, and then all my home business shelving and supplies gated off, so he has free run of the rest of the room (it's a big room, and the two gated areas are on either end), there's a product called the "Superyard XT" - it is plastic though, so if you have plastic issues, it wouldn't be for you.

If you Google the name, you can find one for about 60 bucks. It's a series of connected panels that you can snake around weird shaped areas, or use as a stand alone "playpen" (but way bigger than a standard playpen)....just be SURE to anchor it somehow. At our old place, we put eye hooks into the walls and used D-rings to attach them to the walls. At our new place, we configured one to be anchored by wrapping around the furniture itself, and the other is paritally anchored by furniture, and partially tied off to the railing with some scarves. We ended up with 3 sets (I think a total of 18 panels) in our old townhouse because of the weird configuration and me working from home and trying to give him as much freedom as possible while I worked, and it also worked great to take to my parents when we visited for a week, cause he was familiar with them, and we were able to block off thier very open steps and kitchen by breaking it up into sections and tying off on various things. Now, we just use them to keep him from things we don't want fiddled with

Fortunately for us, DS is very good with visual barriers, always has been, and doesn't try to "foil" them.

But agreeing with others, first and foremeost, babyproof as much as possbile, then use gates.

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Old 02-02-2006, 11:50 AM
 
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Given your setup, I'd do gates. We have an apartment, I just shut the door to the bathroom and our bedroom, the rest is Zaker-proofed so he can play. I don't keep anything remotely dangerous in the bottom kitchen cabinets, I just find cans of soup and mixing bowls in weird places occasionally. I did move a tall bookshelf into our bedroom because I got sick of pulling him off it. (It also was a major hazard as I can't bracket it.) Now that it's in there, when he does go in there, he hasn't once tried to climb it...

Baby is not going to be happy in a playpen. He needs to explore and move. I agree with gating off a room and babyproofing it. I too would rather have to go dig for a DVD for awhile than pen my child in someplace where he can't move or pick them up all the time. I'd also maybe rethink what's in some of your low kitchen cabinets, magnet-lock a few if you have to, and let him be in with you while you work in the kitchen if he needs to be.

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Old 02-02-2006, 01:38 PM
 
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I never really did the playpen thing because we weren't offered one and I didn't think to get one when ds1 was little. We lived in an apartment with ds1 and it was really easy to 'babyproof'' some things and others he just knew he wasn't allowed to play with (we were really blessed) but when we went to others houses it was hard because he didn't know what he could and couldn't play with and it was exhausting.
It took about a week (maybe more as my memory isn't what it used to be) of just letting things go and being with my ds and saying things like thats not yours, this is yours you can play with this', and then playing with it with him.
That was ds1. Ds2 is another story. He would NEVER go into a playpen with out a fight because he sees his brother out and about and wants to be doing whatever his bro is doing. So we gate.
I don't know if its taht I don't have as much time as I did with the first to train him or what, but I can't seem to get ds2 to understand that there are things he can't touch....so we babyproof.
So, all of that said, enjoy having just one and use what works for you.
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