Should I buy a playpen for my 8-month-old?
A playpen can provide a safe place for a child to be parked with safe toys, near where the action around him takes place. Outside, at the beach, in a house with older children or pets or while visiting a non-childproofed house (and placed away from dangerous reachables), it is a safe haven for an infant
. It should meet all safety standards, with slats close together and mesh with small openings, and not one shown to be likely to collapse. (See the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site for the latest product recalls.
) No large toys should be placed in a playpen, as these will become step stools for an eager climber.
A playpen should not be a daylong cage, however. All young children need to explore the environment, moving on their own and going after interesting people and things. Floor exploration is good for at least some of the time, provided it is directly supervised-you'd be surprised what trouble even rollers can get into!
So, having a playpen or not is a matter of personal choice and balance in your child's life. The good news is that there's hardly anything you can do to stop him from getting on the move, short of tying him up. His own drive for mastery and developmental push will get him going, in the playpen or on the floor.