A high-quality playpen is an investment that will pay dividends time and time again as your child grows. A baby playpen can serve as a portable crib, a large play area to keep your child entertained, or all three.
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What is a playpen?
A playpen is a portable, small enclosure with bars or a net on the walls and an opening at the top where a baby or child can play and be distracted while their parents are busy.
Most playpens are made out of wood furniture for portability and flexibility in placement.
Wood is also favored because of its light weight, adaptability in design, and security.
It’s an unplugged haven where kids can use their imaginations in peace and safety.
A playpen is not the same thing as a crib because a playpen is typically made of lighter material and can be moved around the house while a crib is usually stationary in one spot.
Various ages that are suitable for playpen;
- To ensure that the baby grows up knowing that the playpen is safe, it should be introduced to the baby between the ages of four and six months. The baby may feel unsafe in an enclosed space, which could cause anxiety in the event of a later introduction.
- Between the ages of six and eight months, a baby is developing some important skills, and the safety and comfort of a playpen make it the perfect environment in which to learn and grow. To encourage independent movement and development, new toys should be introduced while they are in it.
- The baby can now crawl or stand up between the ages of eight and ten months. They may feel restrained in their exploratory zeal if you confine them. It’s best to let them roam free, so a playpen might not be the best idea.
Multiple Functions of a Playpen
A playpen is useful for nap time for a young child.
The benefit here is that a kid isn’t tied down to his or her bed and can learn to fall asleep pretty much anywhere.
When it’s time for the child to play independently, parents and caregivers can leave a selection of toys in the playpen.
A playpen is helpful for travel because it frees up your hands from carrying the baby.
While the baby is having fun or napping in the playpen, the parent is free to attend to other matters.
In situations where space is at a premium, playpens can “double” as a bed so that both parents can get some rest.
To protect children from potential harm or contamination (infections) from pets, a playpen should be used in areas of the home with exposed electrical cables or outlets and in areas where pets are kept.
Before buying a playpen, it’s important to think about things like the baby’s weight and the space available.
It is important to select a playpen that won’t give way under the baby’s weight while he or she is inside.
The newborn’s weight is another factor to consider.
A playpen for a baby or toddler should provide enough room for the child to move around and play.
The playpen should be built so that it can be moved around with minimal effort.
The playpen should fold up or be able to be hung when it’s not being used.
Another crucial consideration is the available space within the designated area for the playpen.
When living quarters are small, it’s not a good idea to buy a huge playpen that restricts the flow of traffic.
The playpen’s accessories, such as wheels for easy transport, a place to stack diapers, and a place to store the baby’s necessities, are also important to consider.
In case you need to rock a baby to sleep, a rocking attachment can be a lifesaver.
Since a playpen isn’t meant to last forever, it’s important to take cost into account when making your purchase.
What Age To Stop Using Playpen Read This
Babies can play and rest securely in a playpen. Typically, infants outgrow the need for a playpen between the ages of three and six months old, though this varies from child to child.
Keep in mind that if you leave them in there for too long, it may come to serve as their primary place of rest. If your child seems distressed or uneasy whenever you remove them from the pen, they may be developing a dependency on the confinement.
Even though sleeping in a separate room might feel easier now that your baby can’t roll away from you, you should move them into a cot beside your bed once this stage has passed.
10 Tips To Transition Your Baby to A Crib
Transition to Crib Tip #1 – Have A Safe Sleep Space
Remember the abcs of safe sleep for babies before you even think about putting your baby in a crib. This will give her peace of mind and a more secure night’s rest by providing:
- Empty bumpers, pillows, and stuffed animals in the crib. A dull crib is a safe crib, so keep that in mind.
- Swaddling is a method of keeping a baby warm at night without using a blanket. When Should Your Baby Start Sleeping Under a Blanket?
- The sheets and mattress inside the crib should be firm and snug. Calculate the number of baby blankets you’ll need.
- Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. When your newborn begins sleeping on her side or stomach, she can feel free to stay in that position.
- There should be no pillows, positioners, or loungers in the infant’s bed. Find out more about the sleeping necessities and Dockatot security.
Transition to Crib Tip #2 – Create a Good Sleep Environment
The baby’s nursery should be designed with rest and relaxation in mind. Make sure they have a relaxing space that invites sleep, such as
- The room is completely dark thanks to the blackout drapes. The lights should be dim enough so that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. These drapes block out light exceptionally well.
- There should not be any overhead or wall-mounted nightlights.
- A high-quality, always-on white-noise generator. (In the womb, babies are exposed to a lot of white noise).
- Baby should be in comfortable clothing and the room temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Babies are frequently overdressed, causing them to be too hot. If you’re not sure what to wear, look at the TOG rating!
Transition to Crib Tip #3 – Swaddle Baby
That crib seems excessively large for your infant. If they’ve only ever slept in a rocking chair or bassinet, it could seem enormous. Put them to bed each night feeling secure by swaddling them.
Swaddling can prevent babies from waking up and create a warm, secure environment similar to what they experienced while still in the womb. The baby burrito will make them look even cuter.
If you think your baby hates being swaddled, try these strategies.
A sleep sack or Zipadee-Zip can serve as a cue for sleep and a way to keep baby warm without using loose blankets once you have weaned your baby from the swaddle.
Check out these top rated baby sleep sacks.
Transition to Crib Tip #4 – Make The Nursery Familiar
You can’t expect your baby to sleep well in her crib when you leave if you never spend any time in there with her. Put in some quality time with her in the nursery during the day by playing with her, changing her diaper, feeding her, cuddling with her, etc.
Tummy time in the crib is another great way to show support. You can either play with her while she’s in the crib by playing with her, or you can put some baby toys in the crib and play with her that way.
All of this will ease your baby’s transition to her new crib by making her more comfortable in the space.
Transition to Crib Tip #5 – Make the Crib Feel Like Mom
If your infant usually drifts off to sleep in your arms, you should do what you can to make the crib a comfortable transition.
When making the change, try sleeping with the baby in the swaddle or with the pacifier for a few days. You can also use the crib sheets as your own bed before putting your baby down for the night.
Transition to Crib Tip #6 – Start A Bedtime Routine
Establish a regular bedtime routine with your baby as you transition. This is a great way to help her wind down at the end of the day and develop healthy sleep habits. The routine will become familiar to your baby, and he or she will begin to associate it with going to sleep.
You can swaddle your baby after giving her a bath, reading her some bedtime stories, giving her some goodnight kisses, and finishing her last feeding of the day.
We really appreciated having a set routine for winding down each night. When our parents or a babysitter put our infant to bed, this was a huge help. Since the routine was always the same, she knew that soon enough it would be time for bed.
Transition to Crib Tip #7 – Do the Bedtime Routine in the Nursery Before you Transition
When you’re ready to make the switch to the bedroom, do the entire bedtime routine in the nursery for a few days.
For the next three to four days, you can wear your baby in pajamas, read books, feed him or her, and cuddle with him or her in your room. This will help her remember her nursery in a positive light and ease the pain of leaving it.
Transition to Crib Tip #8 – Choose A Sleep Training Method
If you want to start sleep training your baby after he or she has turned four months old and is now able to sleep through the night in the crib, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various approaches to sleep training before making the transition. Whatever strategy you choose, stick to it. Your infant will develop a sense of security and familiarity with the crib as she spends more time in it.
Transition to Crib Tip #9 – Start With Nighttime
Many people will advise you to start putting your baby down for daytime naps in her crib right away, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.
We did things backwards and started making the change over at night. This method served us well because once infants overcome their day/night confusion, the desire to sleep is stronger in the evening than in the morning.
Babies typically have a greater need for rest at the end of the day. If your baby sleeps well at night, this may be a good time to make the change.
Transition to Crib Tip #10 – Pause for a Minute
Many mothers who have had babies before will tell you that they have learned not to respond immediately to their child’s cries. Babies often make some noise while sleeping as they learn to link their sleep cycles. If you hear your baby struggling, take a moment to assess her needs.
Rushing in will become the norm if you do it all the time. Our infants may need a couple of minutes to calm down.
Transition to Crib Bonus Tip – Gradual Approach
Before your baby is sleeping through the night, you can begin the process of transferring him or her to a crib. After their 3am(ish) feed until morning, that’s when they’ll be at their noisiest, so start putting them in the crib.
Babies are often worn out and half-asleep at this time, so they may fall back to sleep easily in their crib. You can put them to bed in their crib for the first time after about a week or two. After a week, change it to 9 p.m. to midnight. They’ll soon be able to spend the entire night in their crib after being put to sleep between 6 and 7.
I hope the move to the crib goes smoothly. You’ll feel like a new person once she moves into her own room and begins sleeping soundly through the night.
Also, keep an eye on your baby’s development and physical milestones so you’ll know when to move her to a lower crib.
The 8 Best Baby Cribs of 2022
Best Overall: Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Bed Conversion Kit
- The bed has four different height settings.
- Changing from infancy to toddlerhood
- Different hues are available.
- Does not expand to a queen or king size
Because it can be transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed and back again, the Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Bed is our top pick. This best-seller is a great value because it can be converted from a crib to a toddler bed to a daybed using the included conversion kit.
The metal mattress platform crib has four adjustable heights to suit your needs as your child develops. The six color options range from single standard colors to two-color combinations, so they can be used to complement the aesthetic of any nursery.
It has a maximum child weight of 50 pounds and measures 53.5 by 29.5 by 35 inches.
Best Budget: IKEA Gulliver Crib
- Modifies into a bed for a youngster
- Only one color is in stock.
- Just two heights to choose from
You can trust IKEA to make a timeless crib that won’t break the bank. The crib’s base can be adjusted to two different heights, and it can be converted into a toddler bed by simply removing one side. This baby crib is simple in design and won’t break the bank.
Weight: 44 ounces; Dimensions: 53.5 by 29.5 by 33 inches; Maximum Child Weight: Not Stated
Best Convertible: DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib in Espresso
- Different hues are available.
- Available in four different forms
- Separate conversion kits may be purchased.
- Putting it together can be a challenge for some.
If your child will be sleeping in their own room for an extended period of time, a convertible crib is a great investment. You can easily adapt the bed to their changing needs as they get older. This versatile option can serve a family for many years by transforming from a crib to a toddler bed, daybed, and full-sized bed (conversion kits for the toddler and full-sized beds are sold separately).
Weight: 50 lbs. Dimensions: 54.5 x 35 x 42 inches Maximum Child Weight: 50 lbs.
Best Acrylic: Pottery Barn Kids Sloan Acrylic Convertible Crib
- Glass panes
- Converts to a bed for a toddler
- Kits to make your car into something else are available for purchase.
Acrylic cribs stand out from the crowd because they are a completely contemporary take on the traditional baby crib. The transparent slats give the bed a light, airy look that complements the white walls and crisp white sheets in the nursery. There are only two mattress height options and no included toddler conversion kit with this crib.
It has a maximum child weight of 200 pounds and measures 54 by 30 by 36.5 inches. It weighs 83 pounds.
Best Mini Crib: Babyletto Gelato 4-in-1 Mini Crib
- Conveniently small
- Eco-friendly, lead-free finishes
- Converting Four Times
- In two distinct hues
- Separate conversion kits may be purchased.
A mini crib is a safe and convenient way to accommodate a newborn or young infant in a parent’s room, a compact nursery, or anywhere else. They can be used from birth up to around 18 months. This compact alternative doesn’t skimp on sophistication, though. The convertible 4-in-1 crib can be transformed into a toddler bed, a day bed, or a twin bed. A mini crib requires a special mattress and bedding set made for its smaller size.
Weight: 40 pounds | Maximum Child Weight: 2 years old or 35 inches tall | Dimensions: 39.75 x 26 x 35 inches
Best for Travel: BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light
- Easily arranged
- Sheets are not always included in bundles.
When you’re away from home, make sure your baby has a warm, comfortable place to sleep. This lightweight, nearly-standard crib is a favorite among parents. Reviews from parents rave about how convenient it is.
It includes a mattress, mattress cover, and convenient carrying case, and can be used from birth until around age 3 (or until your child can climb out).
Maximum child weight is 3 years old; dimensions are 44 by 32 by 24 inches; weight is 13 pounds (including the carrying bag).
Best Alternative Shape: Stokke Sleepi Crib
- Spherical wheels that lock
- Modular crib with a detachable side panel
- A regular bed mattress will not work in the crib.
This oval crib is designed in the minimalistic, modern style popular in Scandinavia. The mattress base is height adjustable and the swivel wheels can be locked for easy portability from room to room. To facilitate getting in and out of bed on their own once your baby has reached the exploratory toddler stage, you can remove one side of the bed.
The oval shape of this Stokke bed necessitates the use of the specially designed oval mattress.
Weighting in at 44 pounds, its dimensions are 29.1 by 33.6 by 50 inches. Weight Limit for Children: 176 Pounds
Best Foldable: Dream On Me Jett Non-Full Size Folding Crib
- Wheels that come off
- Thin mattress pad
A foldable crib is a convenient alternative to storing a full-sized crib in a guest bedroom, basement, or attic. It’s perfect for tight quarters because it folds up and rolls on lockable wheels.
A baby can change positions on the mattress as they develop. This crib comes with a mattress pad that measures 1.5 inches thick and folds flat when the bed is not in use. A second crib mattress will have to be purchased.
Weight: 36 pounds; Dimensions: 38 x 26 x 36 inches; Maximum Child Weight: 50 lbs.
What to Look for in a Baby Crib
It’s important to double-check the dimensions of both the crib and the room into which it will be placed before making a purchase. The typical dimensions of a standard crib are 28 inches by 52 inches, while those of a mini crib are 24 inches by 28 inches by 43 inches.
Standard vs. Convertible
Even though you won’t know until your baby is born, you should consider how your child will use the crib and whether or not you already have beds for older children. There are a wide variety of cribs available, and it’s important to find one that fits your family’s needs and preferences.
The standard size for a crib is 28 inches by 52 inches, and it may not grow with the child to become a toddler or full-size bed. A standard crib can be used from the moment a baby is born up until the time that child reaches the crib’s milestones or begins trying to climb out. If it doesn’t change into a toddler bed, you’ll need to buy one separately.
Cribs that can be easily converted to a toddler bed and then a full-size bed are called “convertible cribs.” These are excellent if you’re trying to stretch your dollar as far as possible, as they’ll be useful from infancy well into adulthood.
Because of their smaller size and weaker construction, mini-cribs can only accommodate infants up to a certain weight limit. It’s time for a new bed once your child reaches the specified age or weight. Mini cribs, on the other hand, are fantastic if you need a compact and secure place for your baby to sleep.
Ten years ago, after dozens of infant deaths, the use of dropside cribs was outlawed worldwide. They pose a serious health risk even when used properly, and it’s against the law to distribute them.
Bar Spacing Safety
Checking the size of the crib is essential, but so is ensuring there is adequate space between the slats. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that there be no more than 2 3/8 inches (or six centimeters) of space between the crib’s slats. Verifying the distance between the bars will ensure your child’s body cannot squeeze through. Check for broken or missing slats as well.
If you’re worried about your baby falling out of their crib or hurting themselves, measure the distance between the top of the mattress and the top of the crib’s side rails. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a distance of 26 inches from the top of the mattress to the top of the raised crib side. 4
When should a baby be transitioned to a crib?
Crib transition is a matter of personal preference and practicality. While some infants may go straight from a bassinet or play yard to their cribs, others may require some transition time. By the time most infants are 3 to 6 months old, it’s time to transition them to a crib.
How long should a baby stay in a crib?
Newborns vary greatly from one another. While some children are perfectly content in a crib until they are well into their third year, others may start to fuss or even climb out as early as 18 months. Keep your child in a crib for as long as possible, as transitioning to a big kid bed all night requires maturity and good sleep habits.