Why buy one?
A playpen gives you a safe space to contain your child while you answer the phone, do the ironing, or just catch your breath and leaf through a magazine. Some experts feel that playpens can restrict children, and in the past they have been overused. However, sometimes the design of your house, or your circumstances at home, mean you need somewhere safe that the baby can be popped into for a short while. Then a playpen can be really useful.
Playpens are a good example of how baby equipment has dramatically improved since the '60s and '70s. Back then, playpens had metal frames, wide (finger-entangling) meshing and a tendency to collapse around their occupant! Today's playpens are more than safe: they're good-looking, easy to fold and pack away, and some even double as travel cots.
From what age?
playpen comes into its own when your child is just beginning to crawl -- at about six or seven months -- and you may find it useful until your child is about two years old. Think about how you'll use it and in which areas of your home before you go ahead and buy one. Do you want your baby to be able to nap in it, for example? Will you take it away for weekends and holidays?
Tip: Keep a few favourite toys or books in the playpen so that your child associates his playpen with some of his best-loved things.