Are Playpens Necessary?

child looking up from inside a playpen

For some parents who just want a bit of time to themselves during the day, a playpen can be a godsend if you have a small baby. What better way to have a few minutes to yourself by letting them play by themselves in a safe environment with their toys.

However, playpens are not for everyone. In fact some parents think they are cruel on your baby by placing them in a confined space for a period of time. In this article let’s take a look at whether playpens are necessary, or whether you can do without one.

What is a playpen?

A playpen is a little enclosure where babies can safely play. They are usually easy to assemble, straight forward to put away and some come with a number of different features. For example, some playpens function as travel cribs, where your child can sleep, play and you can take it with you if you’re visiting friends or going on holiday. Other playpens can also function as stair gates or fire guards.

Related Post: Types Of Playpens

Do you really need a playpen?

Let’s be honest, it’s not a necessary purchase, like a car seat, stroller or crib, but a playpen can provide a safe environment for your baby to play in. A lot may depend on your circumstances. If you need some time to yourself to do the housework or other activities during the day, leaving your baby in a playpen for some individual play time might be a great idea.

The Fortella Cloud Castle is a great choice for a playpen. It has good customer feedback and plenty of features to keep your baby entertained.

Playpen vs baby proofing. Which is best for you and your baby?

It really depends and what works for you as a parent. Some parents don’t like the idea of containing their baby in a playpen under any circumstances, and want them to have freedom to explore the home when they start crawling. However, other parents really want to have breaks throughout the day and love the idea of letting their baby have some alone time in a playpen.

Child proofing

If you decide a playpen isn’t the way to go, you need to invest time and money into child proofing your home. This can be a big task if you live in a large home, but it’s a lot easier if you just live in a flat. For starters, you’ll need to childproof sockets and keep electric gadgets and cords out of reach. You’ll also need safety latches on cupboards and your fridge and freezer. You’ll also need to watch out for sharp edges on tables and other items of furniture, install door stops, shield the fireplace and possibly install a stair gate. Here are some detailed tips on how to child proof your home.

However, once you’ve childproofed everything, your baby is free to explore. They still might injure themselves as they are bound to fall over and stumble from time to time, but you should have covered the main risks.

Using a playpen

If you’d rather limit your baby to just one room or a small area, you should probably invest in a playpen. Just ensure your baby has enough toys to play with to keep them entertained. You might also just want to properly baby proof the room which has the playpen in, so you can quickly and easily pick up your baby and put them down in the same area.

What age can your baby stop using a playpen?

You should stop using the playpen when your baby can start to climb out. This varies from child to child, but as a rough guide, once they weigh around 14 kilos or reach a height of 34 inches this is usually when most playpens won’t contain them any longer!

What age are they suitable for?

The best age to start using a playpen is once your child can start to crawl, which is usually between 6-8 months. However, make sure you purchase the playpen before they reach this milestone, as you might want to use it a bit earlier so your baby can get used to it.

Are playpens cruel? Are they bad for babies?

Playpens aren’t really that cruel providing your baby doesn’t use it for too long, and you only use it at the right time in their development, which is when they’ve just started crawling. Just use a playpen for a few minutes at a time, and pick up your baby when they’ve had enough. However, don’t put your baby in a playpen by force if they’re crying uncontrollably. They will quickly develop a negative association with it, which certainly would be cruel!

How long should you leave your baby in a playpen?

It’s very hard to say how long you should leave your baby in a playpen, as a lot depends on the temperament of your baby. If your child has quite a demanding character, they might only last 30 seconds, in which case a playpen is probably not a good purchase. However, if your baby is more laid back and calmer, they might be able to play for 5-10 minutes at a time. Also, older babies can usually play by themselves for longer than younger ones. By all means if your baby is content to use a playpen, use it when you like, but pick them up when they get a bit restless or want a change of scenery!

What are the pros and cons of playpens?

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of playpens


  • Safety. You can relax when your baby is in a playpen. They can explore in a safe space and play with their toys while you can get on with some other tasks.
  • Convenience. Playpens are very easy to setup and take down so you can use them in a different room, keeping your baby close by if you need to be in the living room or bedroom for a period of time.


  • Your baby may feel isolated. Some parents are against playpens because your baby can feel abandoned, which may affect their development. To mitigate this risk, it’s best to use them for short periods only.
  • It can become just a place for storing toys. If your baby doesn’t like being in a playpen, it can end up just being a large storage area for toys taking up a lot of space. In this situation, you’re better off just selling the playpen and make the room a little tidier!

Can babies and toddlers sleep in a playpen?

It depends on the type of playpen. Some are only designed for play, so your baby should continue to sleep in their crib. However, some come with mattresses and bassinets, which means they are perfectly safe for your baby to sleep in. Just read the instructions carefully and ensure everything is installed correctly.

How big should a playpen be?

Playpens come in all shapes and sizes. Some are only about the size of a small crib, some consist of hexagonal or octagonal panels, where as others consist of multiple panels so you can make a playpen as large as you want. If your baby will only be playing in one, try and have a larger area. Make sure you measure the size of the playpen, and the area where you wish to put it in your home. They can take up a lot of space!

For a compact option, check out the Graco Pack ‘n Play which comes with a changing station, bassinet and it also converts into a playpen.

How can you teach your baby to stay in a playpen?

It can take a while for your baby to get used to your playpen, so start with just a couple of minutes at a time and gradually increase it. Providing they have enough toys to play with, they can learn the value of playing independently, and give you a break in the process!


Why do babies throw toys out of playpen?

This might be frustrating for parents, but when babies throw toys out of their crib or playpen, it’s just because they’ve learnt a new skill. It normally happens around 7 months when their motor skills have developed and they can pick up small objects a lot easier. And for some babies throwing these objects in the air is a fun activity!

What’s the difference between a pack and play and a playpen?

A playpen is basically a simple enclosure for your baby, where as a pack and play comes with a range of features including a crib, a changing area, and a place for storing items.

are playpens necessary
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