Playpen Safety

The following guidelines will help you to keep your playpen and your baby as safe as possible:
  • You must never leave your baby unattended in a playpen. Unlike cribs, playpens are considered recreational and babies require constant supervision when in a playpen.
  • If using a wooden playpen, make sure the slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. There should be no missing, loose, damaged or improperly installed hardware.
  • If using a mesh-sided playpen, the mesh on the sides must be a tight weave. Mesh should be less than 1/4 inch in size, so your baby's hands and toes cannot poke through and small buttons cannot be caught in the mesh trapping your baby. The mesh must be securely attached to the top and bottom rails so it does not sag and become a suffocation hazard. It must not have any tears, holes or loose threads that could entangle your baby.
  • The hinges should lock tight and not buckle under pressure. If the playpen has locks to ensure the hinges stay closed, the locks must be beyond the reach of your baby. Most accidents occur when the locks slip, letting the crib fold down on the baby. Babies can suffocate in the sloping, V-shaped spaces created in the corners of playpens.
  • If staples are used on your playpen, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposed where they can scratch your baby or become a choking hazard.
  • The top and corner rails should be padded and should be 22 inches from the floor. This will ensure your baby cannot flip out of the playpen onto the ground.
  • Use only the mattress or floor padding provided by the manufacturer. Keep all loose sheets, blankets, or pillows out of the playpen. Soft bedding and ill-fitting mattresses pose a suffocation risk to babies.
  • Do not tie toys or other items to the playpen to prevent strangulation.

Playpens are not subject to the same extensive testing as standard cribs and are not meant to be used as your sole piece of sleep or play equipment. When looking for a playpen, make sure it meets all ASTM, CPSC, and JPMA standards. There have been recalls on several models of playpens with rotating top-rail hinges. Always be cautious if looking for a second-hand playpen or when borrowing an older playpen.

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