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How to Choose a Playpen

by Andrea Sparks

Cute toddler ready to play in his playpen

You have the crib, the bedding and the diapers, and a playpen is the next item on your list of things to buy for your new baby. With so many playpen options, however, it can be hard to choose the one that's going to fit the needs of you and your little guy. The following tips can help you weed through the baby activity gear possibilities to find the playpen for you.

Choosing a Playpen:

  1. Safety features: Safety is the number one thing to look for in a playpen. The railings of the playpen should be able to support up to 80 pounds. You'll want to make sure that the playpen has locking mechanisms to make sure that it does not collapse on your baby while he is playing inside. You'll also want to look for any signs of wear or tear in the floor or sides. If you choose a vinyl and mesh playpen, make sure that the fabric is thick and tear-proof so your baby can't bite off bits to suffocate on. Lastly, check over the playpen and look for any bolts, sharp corners or exposed hinges that could injure your child.

  2. Wooden vs. mesh: Wooden playpens are generally sturdier and safer for your child than vinyl playpens, and they are often more attractive, too. Lots of parents prefer to have a wooden playpen that matches the nursery furniture. Wooden playpens also offer more stability for your child to stand up and lean against. Mesh playpens, on the other hand, are lightweight and easy to move, making it easy to have your little one close no matter where you are in your home. Mesh playpens are great for traveling, visiting grandma or spending an evening with the babysitter; they make sure your baby is happy wherever he is.

  3. Double duty: Many parents choose a playpen that can double as a portable travel crib. That way, you can knock out two birds with one stone since babies tend to fall asleep in their playpens anyway. If you're looking at doing the same, you may want to get a lightweight mesh playpen that can easily be packed around. You can purchase a pad for the bottom of the playpen that will double as a mini mattress to make sure your little one is comfy all night long.

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