Do I Really Need a Baby Playpen? – What To Know Before You Buy

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Supervising a child is challenging and demanding, and, at times, exhausting. Parents and caregivers need a break, too, so typically, they place their babies in a baby playpen. A baby playpen can be a convenient and safe method for keeping your baby safe and occupied while you attend to other tasks, but do you really need it?

A baby playpen is necessary if your baby is between 6 months and one year. However, it’s unnecessary once your child is older, especially if you’re on a tight budget. There are other alternatives to using a playpen, such as using a baby gate or having your baby crib double as a playpen. 

Read on to learn about baby playpens and their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll also discuss a few playpen brands and prices as well as acceptable alternatives. Plus, I’ll share tips on how to save money on a baby playpen if you decide to purchase one.  

What Is a Baby Playpen?

A baby playpen, also called a play yard, is a portable piece of furniture made of plastic, wood, metal, or fabric, used as a safe enclosure for babies. Parents can put their babies down in a playpen for short periods, so they’re free to perform tasks around the house.  

Generally, baby playpens are essential for very young babies. So if you’re expecting a baby, investing in a baby playpen is recommended.

What Age Can You Use Baby Playpens Until?

Baby playpens are perfect for babies between 6 and 8 months, so you should be able to use yours for up to a year. In a year, babies can crawl, roll over, sit up, and play, and when they learn to stand, they may begin to feel confined by the playpen. 

Infants younger than 6 months are more dependent upon their mothers and need more stimulation and touch than toddlers. Placing them in a playpen may hinder their development since they require more interaction and supervision during this phase. 

On the other hand, once a baby begins to stand and move about, at around 10 to 12 months, they become more curious about the world around them. Around this time, using a playpen may cause them to feel confined and frustrated since they’re observing their surroundings but can’t explore them.   

What Are the Advantages of Having a Baby Playpen?

Some of the advantages to having a playpen for your baby include the safety, portability, cleanliness, and durability of playpens. Since baby playpens are convenient, they’re one of the must-have items for new parents.

Below, I explain why baby playpens are good for babies.

Playpens Create a Safe Space for Babies

Placing a baby in a playpen gives the parent the advantage of having their arms free for a limited time, ensuring that their baby remains in a safe place. Having the child in the playpen prevents them from putting small home objects into their mouth or hurting themselves.

You can use the playpen to keep your baby safe from pets. It can be especially beneficial when you have a sick pet or is otherwise a danger to the baby.  

Baby Playpens Are Portable

Most playpens are collapsible and may be transported by folding them up and transporting them from one location to another. Often, they can be used outdoors for camping, picnics, beach trips, or in the backyard, allowing parents to do gardening or enjoying the fresh air at the same time.

Baby Playpens Are Sanitary

When traveling and staying in hotels or other homes, a playpen provides a clean, germ-free enclosure for your baby by keeping them in one spot and not roaming around in an unfamiliar area.  

Baby Playpens Are Durable

Many playpens are made of durable materials and are constructed to last a long time. They’re sturdy, long-lasting, usually lightweight, and easy to assemble. For these reasons, they’re a valuable investment for families with young children.  

What Are The Disadvantages of Using A Baby Playpen?

A baby playpen takes up space, so it’s not ideal for families living in small homes. Considering that it can only be used for less than a year, it may not be a good investment if money is tight. In addition, it’s not suitable for babies who dislike being left alone, especially for extended periods.

I’ll explain these reasons further, so keep reading.

Baby Playpens Take Up Space

Using a playpen may not be practical for those living in smaller homes or apartments. They may take up too much space and may not fit in a more compact space.  

Playpens Restrict Baby’s Movement

Although many babies don’t mind being left in playpens, not all babies are pleased about being left alone to play on their own. Your baby may feel confined and restricted, resulting in them feeling unhappy.

In this case, you won’t be able to leave your baby for long in the playpen. 

Isolation Can Be Detrimental

If you plan on using a baby playpen, you shouldn’t leave your baby in it for long periods. The isolation of playing alone for extended periods can be detrimental to your baby’s development and cause them to be unhappy.  

Playpen Use Is Temporary

Using a playpen is recommended for babies between approximately 6 months old and one year, so using a playpen is a temporary solution to keeping your baby safe and contained.  

After they begin to stand and walk about, it’s best to stop using the playpen. Once your baby can move around easily, they’ll want to explore, so being “locked” in a playpen will frustrate them.

For this reason, some parents find playpens unnecessary, since they can only use them for a limited time.  

Are There Alternatives to Using a Playpen?

Instead of using a playpen, you can use a crib as a play space for your baby. Alternatively, you can use baby gates in a hallway to create a safe area. Both of these ideas are practical substitutes for a playpen if your budget doesn’t allow for one. 

Use a Crib as a Playpen

If you own a crib for your baby, you can quickly and safely convert it into a playpen during the day. By adding protective padding to the sides and a few safe toys for your baby to play with, your crib can become an excellent play area for them.  

Add Baby Gates to a Hallway 

Baby gates are an inexpensive tool for creating a safe play space for your baby.

If you have a hallway or another small area free from hazards, you can section off the site with the gates and create a place for you to observe them while you tackle chores and other household activities.  

Are Baby Playpens Expensive?

Typically, baby playpens are not cheap, costing between £60 and £150. It’s best not to spend more than this or a lot less to purchase a good quality playpen that’ll stand the test of time.   

I have selected a few different brands, types, and models for you to compare. All of these models available on ranked high in quality, according to Best Playpen 2021.

Safetots Deluxe Fabric Playpen£
iSafe Fabric Baby Playpen££
Venture ALL STARS Baby Playpen££
Baby Dan Deluxe Playpen£££
KIDUKU Baby Child Playpen£££

How To Save Money on a Baby Playpen

You don’t have to spend a fortune if you decide to buy a playpen and are on a tight budget. Here’s how to pinch pennies in your search for the perfect one for your baby:

  • Purchase a second-hand playpen at a resale shop or online. 
  • Scout out a good deal or use a coupon to find a bargain.
  • Borrow one from a friend or family member.  

Do I Really Need a Baby Playpen?

You don’t really need a baby playpen if you have a tight budget. While a baby playpen can be a convenient addition to your baby wish list, it’s not a non-negotiable item, unfortunately. Opt for a baby gate to create a safe space or have your baby’s crib double as a playpen.  

You should only purchase a playpen under these conditions:

  • If you have the space and money to purchase one and you want a safe space in which your baby can play
  • If you don’t have much help in caring for your baby and are alone with them for long periods and you need help taking breaks
  • If you own pets that you want to separate from your baby
  • If you plan on traveling and want a safe and sanitary space for your baby

You should not purchase a baby playpen under these conditions:

  • If you’re financially unable to afford one
  • If you live in a small home or apartment where there isn’t enough room to fit a playpen
  • If your baby doesn’t enjoy playing alone temporarily and is unhappy when isolated