Gone are the days when your questions included, “Can babies sleep in playpens?” or “Can a baby sleep in a playpen overnight?”—you already know the answers to these! As your precious little one grows and matures, you’re probably now wondering when they’re going to outgrow their playpen.
A playpen offers an incredibly safe space for your active child to explore without getting into trouble. But unfortunately, there will come a time when your baby starts to get bored of the same area each day. So how do you know when they’re ready? And what activities can they do after outgrowing their playpen?
In this post, we’ll answer these questions by giving parents helpful advice about understanding if their baby has grown too big for the playpen. We’ll also offer ideas on how to keep them busy once they’ve moved away from it.
When Is a Baby Too Old for Playpens?
Having a playpen is very helpful, especially when your baby starts crawling, standing, and climbing. It ensures that babies only play with toys that are safe for them and stay in an area that is baby-friendly. Nevertheless, no matter how beneficial having a playpen is, babies will outgrow it. Here are the signs when your baby is too old for theirs.
Their Age Suggests It
Babies can begin using a playpen from four to six months, as long as they can sit on their own and have a caretaker to look after them. As they become more independent, they’ll enjoy exploring the playpen while staying safe. However, when they reach around 18 to 24 h months and onwards, or if they grow big fast, a playpen may not be the best play area for them anymore.
A baby grows significantly at this stage, and the playpen will be too small for them. Most playpen labels state that the tool is best used until the 24th month because of a weight and height limit.
Their Motor Skills Are Advancing
Age isn’t the only basis for whether your baby has outgrown the playpen. Although studies have proven specific ages when babies can crawl, stand, walk, and run, every baby has a different developmental pace. Hence, the ultimate decision about whether or not your baby has outgrown their playpen lies on you.
If you notice your baby beginning to climb out of the playpen, it may be time to give them a new play place regardless of age. They may still appreciate the toys and activities inside, but it defeats the purpose if they can climb out or bring down their playpen.
They’re Bored With Their Hard and Soft Toys
Even adults get bored with routines and the things they already have, so what more for energetic and curious babies? Boredom steals happiness and natural curiosity from your little one, so observe whether they are bored with the toys they play with.
If you still think your baby belongs in a playpen, some ways you can reintroduce excitement are the following:
- Introduce new toys with attractive colors
- Give one toy at a time to let them appreciate each and every one
- Bring in interesting toys that challenge their motor and cognitive abilities
- Play with them
- Invite other babies inside the playpen to play
- Move the playpen to a new area
If your baby shows no sign of enjoyment after all these, the time has come for you to fold the playpen.
It’s Time To Socialize
Baby socialization begins in the womb when they react to their parents’ voices. They’ll be ready to mingle with their parents, other family members, and caregivers when they finally come out. But between 4 and 6 months, they’ll be more excited to mingle with other kids and babies.
However, even this socialization within the playpen can have an expiration date. When a baby has a companion, they gain more confidence exploring and get excited moving too, and a playpen’s limited space might frustrate them. When you see your baby having fun with their baby companion, let them out of the playpen and allow them to explore a larger space.
What They Can Do Post-Playpen
Bidding goodbye to a playpen may give you a mix of emotions. You’ll be anxious because your baby is growing up so quickly, but at the same time, you’ll be excited to see your little one reach another milestone. To make this stage better for you and your little one, here are some exciting things to look forward to.
Repurpose Their Baby Room
Your baby needs more space, which is why they try to climb out of the playpen. Take the initiative to give them a more expansive space by repurposing their rooms.
Let them exercise their motor skills and explore in a more spacious area. You can also add educational toys in the nursery room for your little one to play with. Invite their friends over for a playdate—you have all the space with a room. You can even repurpose their playpen by disassembling it and using it as a gate to the door of the playroom.
Make Them Your Assistant
Your baby may be too young for chores, but do you notice how excited they are to explore the kitchen? Have you seen them looking through the things you have in the bathroom? Many babies are like this: they love being in areas they aren’t supposed to be in. The good news is you can use this to your advantage!
Once your little one has graduated from using a playpen, and especially around their toddler years, you can train them to do some chores with you. Formal or informal, for fun or for real, it will help instill the idea that they should be helping you with chores around the house.
Though the playpen has served your little one well, as they grow, so do the list of places they can go to. By around 2 years, your not-so-little one will be ready to join toddler play schools.
Play schools are institutions that put learning in the form of play. Since toddlers are too young to be in an actual school setup, language, mathematics, science, and other educational concepts are introduced in fun and creative ways. These child-friendly methods will hone your baby’s motor, social, and cognitive skills.
Play Yard, Pack ‘n Plays, and Outdoor Activities
Of course, last but not least, let your little one explore the great outdoors. Indoor activities are fun, but there are a lot of things your baby can discover outdoors. Begin with a little picnic in your yard where your baby can discover the texture of leaves, sand, or soil. This will also fill their eyes and mind with the view of the sky, trees, plants, flowers, bugs, and even animals.
Take them to a community playground, but make sure that the rides are safe and age-appropriate. Finally, if you have the means, you can introduce your baby to the wonders of traveling.
What To Prepare When Babies Outgrow Playpens
Just before your little one gets out of the playpen, we have this final reminder for you: make sure the areas they will be playing in are babyproofed! Here are some items you can use:
- Bed rails
- Drawer locks
- Corner guards
- Outlet blockers
- Anti-tip straps
- Sliding door locks
- Baby gates
- Crib bumpers
- Socks with rubber soles
With these items, you can welcome the new milestone in your baby’s life with peace of mind because you know they will be exploring safely, indoors or outdoors.
Get What You Need From Ashtonbee
Several factors can indicate whether or not a baby is too old for their playpen, so it’s essential to watch your baby closely. Once they outgrow their playpen, they may enjoy larger rooms or outdoor activities. Preparing for these changes slowly can reduce stress significantly, so don’t do it all at once.
Ashtonbee provides numerous helpful products for when your baby outgrows their playpen. We have different babyproofing items, and playtime must-haves like play mats, baby bikes, and even larger playpens.
Check out our collection now, and find what you need!