Both my children have spent more than a few hours in our playpen in the first year of their lives. At the beginning it was just a nice place where they could lie and look at the mobile or play with the baby-gym. When they could sit it was a place where pillows and special toys were kept — a place to put them when I needed both my hands. When they started to crawl it became a safe place where they could also experiment with some new moves. Even when they were older than 12 months I put them in the playpen always surrounded by toys or books.
I had no idea it was such a controversial piece of equipment until I read this article on Slate. Maybe it was because my mother used it with me, or because Esther (who I was basically sharing my life with after we both gave birth in late spring 2005) had a very cool wooden one, or just because I never used it for very long stretches of time. Honestly it never crossed my mind that I might have been slowing down my children’s development.
My approach has always been a very practical one — if it helped me get by with daily life it was a good thing.
I also tried to follow the smart advice from Esther of keeping some nice and beloved toys in the playpen so that being in there meant being able to play with those special toys.
Have you used one? Any tips or recommendations for a smart use?