Top tips if you own a baby play pen
When your baby starts to move and crawl around, a playpen might just be the one thing that’s top of your list to buy. And with good reason too!
Not only do they keep your little one in one place, but they give them the freedom to explore and play safely without getting into trouble.
Today, there are so many playpens on the market to suit a variety of households – from compact and foldable playpens to ones that double-up as travel cots, they’re the perfect purchase if you have a little one.
But what do you do when you’ve got a play pen? Do you just pop your little one in there and hope for the best?
In this post we give you some top tips to get your little one used to their new play environment, and how you can keep it safe and fun for all.
Baby play pen tips
Get them used to being in it
Playpens are great from around six months old, when your child is just beginning to crawl and explore.
However, we always recommend investing in a playpen around four to five months so your baby can get used to being in it.
Keep it safe
Think carefully about where your playpen will mostly be used. It should be kept away from windows, fires, radiators, and other dangerous sources.
You should also check that your playpen complies to current safety standards, look out for the BS EN 12227: 1999 or 2010 safety mark.
A few tips include:
- Never leave the side of a mesh playpen lowered, babies can become trapped in the pocket and cause serious harm to themselves
- Don’t place any toys in the playpen that could pose a strangulation hazard – anything with ribbons, ties or bows should be removed
- If your child is starting to stand and get adventurous, consider removing anything they can stand on to escape such as boxes or large musical toys
- Ensure that your playpen is free of holes, tears, and loose threads so that your child can’t become caught in it
- If you have a wooden or metal playpen, ensure the slats are no more than 6cm apart so your little one’s head can’t get trapped in it
Keep it fun
When setting up your little one’s playpen think carefully about what toys you want to put in there.
If they are particularly interested in colourful books, add in a few of these as well as some of your child’s favourite toys.
You could even consider adding plastic balls to the playpen to keep them amused for hours!
Be careful not to put anything in the playpen that your little one could use to hoist themselves out or cause an accident.
It’s also wise to not include toys that could get tangled around their neck easily too.
Wipe and disinfect regularly
As every parent knows, babies and toddlers love creating mess and putting toys in their mouths – and they’re not particularly concerned about whether something is clean or covered in germs.
While many of these germs are harmless (some are even helpful), some can spread sicknesses like colds and flu. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly wipe and disinfect your baby’s toys and playpen.
Regularly cleaning your child’s playpen won’t just make it better for your little one, but it’ll help to save you money and prolong the life of your child’s play pen too.
By cleaning regularly (about once a week should do the trick), your child’s playpen will last many years.
What your playpen is made of completely depends on how you will disinfect and clean it.
If you have a plastic, metal, or waterproof playpen you can usually wipe this down with some warm soapy water and leave it to air dry.
If you have a wooden playpen, you can either use a mild soap and water solution to wipe down or a white vinegar solution diluted with water.
You will want to dry the wooden playpen well with a dry, clean cloth.
Can my baby sleep in their playpen?
If you notice your little one getting sleepy from all the excitement of playing with their toys in the playpen it might be tempting to pop them on their back and let them sleep however you should check first whether your playpen was designed for sleeping.
If your playpen came with a mattress and doubles up as a travel cot, then there’s usually no problem with letting your child sleep in there however it’s always worth checking the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you can’t find any information about this, then there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for when deciding to let your child sleep in their playpen or not.
If the mattress covers all sides and leaves no gaps, then it’s likely it was designed for sleeping too.
Press down on the sides of the mattress and if it can expand and create gaps then you should remove your baby and put them to sleep in their crib.
Is the playpen sturdy?
The last thing you want is for the playpen to tip over if your little one stands up in it. When installing it check it cannot be forced in easily, if it feels flimsy or can be pushed in with a little force, remove your baby and put them to sleep in their crib.
If your playpen comes with a removable bassinet, it’s a tell-tale sign that it was designed for sleeping in however you do need to take note of the manufacturer’s instructions as bassinets can only hold so much weight (usually around 15lbs/7kg).
You should stop using the bassinet altogether when your baby can crawl and stand up as it can become dangerous for your baby.