It’s interesting that we feel ok to strap our energetic baby into a car seat, a pram, or a carrier but still have concerns to put their kids into a playpen due to they think it’s too restricting.
Playpens were once as popular in baby furniture as high chairs. Parents crammed newborns into them without considering whether there were any risks to the infants. Then, early childhood development specialists started worrying that children in playpens were less able to discover their surroundings and might not be getting sufficient stimulus or recognition. As is often the case when new information is given to parents, the professional’s concerns were interpreted as “Don’t ever put a child in a playpen” rather than “Don’t keep your baby cooped up the whole day.”
Anyone who has ever attempted to pick up the phone while a fast-crawling child is rushing to taste the cat’s food understands that some babies do not have to be corralled from time to time. Parents usually use playpen for a variety of reasons. The first is to keep their kids secure, the second is to place their kids in controlled surroundings where they can play freely, and the third is for parents would sleep on the playpen and sometimes use it as a portable cot.
We are not really concerned about the harm we may be doing to our kids by confining them to a stroller, a car seat, a high chair, or a guarded play area. When used in reasonable quantities, I see no excuse why a mid-sized playpen cannot be part of a range of equipment used to retain our kids safe and to support daily life. It would be inappropriate to confine a baby to a playpen the whole day. It would be improper to confine a child to a stroller all day. But realizing you have a secure way to leave your baby when you need to take a shower, hang your clothes on the line, respond to the front door, or any other time you can’t directly monitor them is a lifesaver. If you’ve allowed them to spend time in the playpen since they were a baby, your child will most likely enjoy this area (given you create it enjoyable and don’t use it as a disciplinary spot) and will love to play while you’re preoccupied.
If your little one is in the playpen for short time periods and then free to discover more flexibly, you are no more harmful than if you constrain your child’s mobility when travelling to the store or driving to a playground. You can complete the majority of your tasks in a single session and then devote your full attention to your child afterwards, rather than dividing your attention throughout the day. Your child is learning precious physical and emotional abilities, feeling positive in your nonattendance, and exploring independently by spending time on individual play.
Check out our range of baby playpens at Little Pomelo: https://www.littlepomelo.com/shop/infant-toys/baby-playpens/