Friends and I are throwing a baby shower for a first time mom. We are all chipping in and purchasing big ticket items from her list -- a stroller, a playpen, a car seat etc. I am of the opinion that we shouldn't bother with the playpen because it is expensive and she may find that she will never really use it. I just don't see it as a must have. Maybe I am just biased because I never used one with my kids. What do you Mamas think? Are playpens necessary?
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
Nope! I want to find out if other mamas use playpens or find them necessary before we decide to buy one for her. I am trying to mitigate my own bias here. And, we can easily choose something else from her list instead. I want to get the most useful items.
Car seat is a great gift. She have a registry?
I used a pack-n-play when we went places that were just not toddler or baby safe. I loved it and the kids liked the fact that they could get down and play instead of having to stick right by my side.
At home amongst the redwoods with my husband and my son, born 7/5/11 Instant CNM, just add !
I liked it as a travel crib or for a visiting child to sleep in. Though when we went out of town we had the family members we were visiting borrow one for our use, instead of lugging ours there. I didn't use it much for her to play in at home; we basically just let her have the run of the house. It helped that she was never the kind of kid to get really into things and wreck them in the space of 5 seconds, so we did fairly minimal childproofing and it was okay. If you have a crib you don't NEED a pack and play, but I do think that once a baby is mobile you NEED to have *a* safe place they can't escape from that you can put them for a few minutes if there's some sort of problem. I think some parents will use the pack and play more and some less. It's hard to know which category your friend will fall into.
If you're trying to decide between getting a pack n' play or other registry items, I'd NOT get the PNP, just because they are really easy to find used at kids' consignment stores, craigslist, yard sales, etc. It might be harder for her to find the exact stroller or carrier that she wants used. I would say that a PNP is a pretty helpful thing to have when you need it, but not something I'd want anyone to bother purchasing new for me.
Work at home, homesteading mom sharing child care 50/50 with my wonderful WAH DH. DD1 born Jan. 2010. March '12. DD2 & DD3 (twins) born Feb. 2013
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
Just thought its worth pointing out, even though play pen and pack n play are sometimes used interchangably, pack n play typically refers to something like this: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=17197766&cp=2255957.2273443.2255983.3225353&parentPage=family
whereas a playpen could be referring to something like the above, but could also easily be referring to this http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13193080&cp=2255957.2273443.2255983.3225353&parentPage=family or this: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12934513&cp=2255957.2273443.2255983.3225353&parentPage=family (bigger than an ordinary pack n play, designed primarily for play, not so much for sleep)
The OP said playpen, and could legitimately be referring to either of those 3. Likewise, other posters in this thread could have been visualizing any of the 3 when talking about usefulness.
The most useful item is a car seat, of course! If you buy one, make sure it fits in the car your friend uses. And I would go for a rear-facing that the baby can use past 30 pounds if possible. I remember putting a car seat on my registry, but it was hard to pick what one I should get back then. If it's a good one, go for it!
Re: play pens - if it is one suitable for sleeping, I would only get it if your friend was the type to host traveling little ones. I have to say, I have always relied on the "play pens" of others.
Trish~mama to Kaelie 5/03 and Amelia 12/13, surro mama to Aidan 2/08 & Ellyss 6/09,
I have two sons and I have watched babies and other children and have never used one. If you are planning on spending a certain amount or purchasing a specified number of items off of her list, I would vote for choosing things other than a playpen. Like Brambleberry said, it is pretty easy to find those second-hand, or borrow one from a friend to see if it suits your baby and lifestyle.
Wonderful input! Thank you Mamas :)
I am now firmly on the side that a playpen is not a necessity but nice to have when/if ever you need it. As most of you pointed out, she can easily purchase it second hand. @LiLStar I was def. not thinking something like the one in the second link (the fence looking one). Thank you for pointing out the differences; I had no idea!
I have not seen a playpen since like 1982. I didn't even think they still made them.
To the OP, we don't have a crib and we didn't have a playpen but I found myself thinking an "old school" playpen would be kind of cool to have. But, they do take up a bunch of space, don't they? I agree with Trish that the carseat are something that most want new, so many other things can be bought second-hand. It's a shame we have the whole "must be new to be a gift" thing in our culture. Imagine the purchase power you could have for her shower wish-list if you could go out and get used! You could probably get everything on her list for the cost of one new item... Hey, not a bad idea! Maybe ask her?
To clarify, we have a playpen, not a pack and play. It's like a fenced off corner of the living room. It does take up a lot of space, but we leave the gate open so she goes in and out as she wanders as well, so it's not like it's unusable unless the door is closed. I like that we can get into it with her and play sometimes, and so she knows it as a shared space, not a space of isolation.
I don't think a playpen is a necessity though. I might skip it if it means better buying power for other core needs.
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25yo FTM to a Wiggle Panda , student teacher , newlywed