Not so long ago baby playpen was quite common among parents. Even our grandparents used baby playpens on day to day basis. However, in the past few years, their popularity has declined because of certain worries among parents that they are “locking” their kids and restrain their freedom to explore.
Some claim that using a baby play pen will cause “neurological disorganization” and draws a link between parents who use baby play pens and those who “chained children to bedposts or locked them in closets” causing them to become “idiots [who] only grew to half their normal size.”. This kind of crazy comparison leads parents to the other extreme where, to avoid being child abusing monsters, will not place their children in large secure areas with toys for short periods.
We do not seem to worry about the damage we might be doing to our children when we confine them to a pram or a car seat or a toddler high chair or a fenced playground. Thus, we see no reason why a medium to large playpen cannot be part of a range of gear used to keep our children safe and facilitate everyday life, when used in moderation. Of course, we agree it would be wrong to keep a child in a playpen all day. Besides, the baby in such cases is smarter than us and if left there for too long, they will loudly inform us that it is time to do something else. However, we do not support the view that using play pens for a reasonable amount of time is harmful.
The playpen is a safe place to leave your child when you need to have a shower or hang out laundry or any other time you cannot directly supervise them. It then becomes a real life saver. If you have let them spend time in the playpen from a young age you child will most likely enjoy this space (provided you make it fun and do not use it as a punishment place) and happily play while you are busy. If your baby is in the playpen for short periods of time, and other times free to explore more freely, you are damaging them no more than if you sometimes restrict your baby’s movement when walking to the shops, or driving to a park.
You can get the bulk of your chores done in one go and then are better able to give your child all your focus later, rather than splitting your attention all day. By spending time on independent play, your child is learning valuable emotional and physical skills, feeling confident in your absence and experimenting autonomously.
Like so many things in life, moderation is the key. A playpen should not be a place to dump your baby while you lounge around drinking wine and sneering at parents who say babies are hard work. But if you use your playpen for short periods of time, to allow your baby to play in a secure and safe environment, when you cannot be as hands on as you need to be, you won’t regret adding one to your home.