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How to Choose the Best Baby Playpen for Your Child

How to Choose the Best Baby Playpen for Your Child

Many parents are considering a playpen at home to create a safe space for their little one while they attend to certain tasks. That said, playpens are no substitute for adult supervision. Here’s what you need to keep in mind in choosing and preparing a baby playpen.

Baby Playpen vs. Crib: What’s the Difference?

Before deciding on a playpen, it helps to know the difference between a playpen and a crib.

A crib is a slatted, high-sided infant bed that is usually made of wood. While babies can sleep and play in the crib, it’s typically not as portable as a playpen because of its heavy nature.

Playpens or play yards come in various types. The most common kind looks like a softer version of a crib with sides made of cloth and mesh. Unlike cribs, most playpens are foldable and portable.

Other playpens don’t double as a crib; they only have plastic gates that enclose the baby within a confined space.

How to Choose a Baby Playpen

While playpens are generally safe for babies, it is not advisable to leave an infant unsupervised for a long period. In choosing the best playpen for your baby, keep the following tips in mind:

Make sure it’s by a reputable manufacturer

The shop you are purchasing from can usually clue you in: if they are a well-established store selling well-known brands, you’re likely in good hands. But if you are purchasing online, pay better attention: look into the playpen manufacturer. Are they credible? This will give you a good idea on the quality of the playpen.

Inspect the playpen for hazards

It’s important to ensure that the playpen is safe for use before buying. If you can, inspect the product in person for any hazards. Look out for the following:

  • Paint that peels off
  • Splintered wood, if it has wood compartments
  • Loose screws and other plastic parts, which the baby can undo easily
  • Wide rails, for those with fences
  • Loosely-attached mesh
  • Mesh with large holes

The sides should also be at least 20 inches high, with the locks out of your baby’s reach.

Check its sturdiness

Check if the playpen is sturdy enough and can handle a considerable amount of weight. Babies old enough to stand may lean on the edge–if it’s too flimsy, the playpen could topple over and cause harm to your baby.

Inspect the mattress

Make sure that the mattress or pad is at least 1-inch thick. Any substitute mattress must be made specifically for playpen use, and its space from the edge of the bed must be two fingers wide.

Baby Playpen Safety Tips

After purchasing, it’s important to make proper use of the playpen. Bear these tips in mind to ensure your baby’s safety.

  • Never leave your baby alone in a mesh playpen with one side lowered. The pooled mesh can hinder their breathing if they get too close, which can cause them to suffocate.
  • Avoid placing pillows, additional beddings, or other items in the playpen that can cause suffocation.
  • String toys can be a suffocation hazard. Avoid tying them on the side, and be careful of hanging them above as well– while they are not yet issues for newborns or small babies, it may be time to remove them once they get old enough to reach the toys.
  • Avoid placing the playpen near curtains, blinds, or strings to prevent the risk of strangulation.
  • Do not position the playpen near stairs or appliances to avoid any accidents.
  • If the baby playpen comes with a bassinet or changing table accessory, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use them.
  • If the playpen doubles as a crib, be sure to put them to sleep on their back to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Once your child can now easily climb over the playpen, it’s time to stop using it. To add, avoid placing boxes or other large items they can climb on.
  • Inspect the playpen regularly for hazards (tears in mesh, peeling coverings, loose screws, etc.), and don’t forget to review these safety procedures with a babysitter should you hire one.

Keeping The Home Safe For Toddlers: 5 Crucial Tips

While a baby playpen can be a big help in keeping your baby safe while you accomplish your tasks, adult supervision is always necessary. Whether you choose a baby playpen or another product, remember to always keep an eye on your little one.

Learn more about Baby Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 03
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS
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