Toddler or Circus Animal?
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the double sided information that I was finding regarding the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy. When my son was born, I was overwhelmed again by all of the “rules” regarding things like schedule, feeding, exposure…etc. When he became mobile, I was inundated yet again with all of the requirements of “child proofing” and what was OK in terms of discipline and other such issues. One of the issues that I saw a lot of folks express their opinions about was the use of Play Pens.
The amount of mom shaming that exists out there regarding this age-old tool is astounding. Statements such as “babies don’t belong in cages” or “if you don’t have time to watch your kid, don’t get pregnant” are prevalent on many different mommy-blogs and parenting sites. And to be honest, those arguments do make some sense to me. But after reading them, I would always be left with questions. Questions like- what if I have to pee?
Furthermore, if this particular toddler solution is in fact an issue of child abuse, why are there still so dang many on the market? This is when I started speaking to people. I spoke to my pediatrician, friends of older children, and moms of different generations in order to come to my own conclusion regarding the issue. I told them how I struggled with an extremely curious and brave child that did not seem to need Mom for anything, and actually preferred to experience things on his own. I told them about how I was ripping my hair out trying to keep him out of cupboards, off the stairs and out of his dad’s office.
The response I got from these women has me convinced that what you see on the internet, and mom shaming in generally, is simply unfounded and wrong.
My pediatrician told me that play pens are wonderful for toddlers cognitive development. They give them a sense of special ownership and the ability to discover anything within that space without being told “no”. My friends with older children told me that they used there’s as a way of being able to include their younger children in the activities of their older ones. For example, instead of having to be away from Tommy’s soccer game, and play on the playground with Jimmy so he won’t disrupt the game, Jimmy is able to hang out in his Play Pen and watch his brother on the field! (and so can Mom and Dad!). The moms I spoke with from my mother’s generation told me that they hadn’t even heard that Play Pens were something that was sparking conversation, and that in their day, a Play Pen was a standard baby shower gift…right up there with a crib and a stroller!
So, I purchased the Summer Infant Play Pen with a sun shade and let me tell you- my brave and curious June baby got to experience more of everything the summer had to offer than I ever would have been comfortable with without one. My little guy is going on 2 now and will ask for his “Pay Pen” by name when we are doing something his isn’t interested in. He is calm, content and engaged while he is in it. And the second he asks to come out, we allow him to. That doesn’t sound like captivity to me.
- Jennifer Akiyama