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Too much time in playpen for toddler?

(722 Posts)
lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 11:25:11

This morning DS 17 months woke up at 6am. I got up bf him and put him in the playpen. It is one of those extra large, hexagonal playpens.

Around 6.15 I gave him some water and changed his nappy. Then I went back to bed after making sure the playpen had only safe toys and the baby monitor was plugged in.

I fell asleep and woke up at 8.30. I went out to see DS and he was happily playing with this toys. He is very into small manipulative puzzles, shape boxes, stacking cups etc at the moment and he was busy playing with these.

He had been in the playpen for nearly 2.5 hours! Is this too long? Is there a problem that he plays happliy for this length of time by himself?

Most days I have a nap during the day for an hour or so and DS spends this time in the playpen but I have never left him for 2.5 hours before.

What do you think about this?

LoopsInHoops Sun 25-Nov-12 11:44:37

Also, if he's been up for a couple of hours he needs food.

InNeedOfBrandy Sun 25-Nov-12 11:45:23

Could you try not going back to bed and napping in the day so your more tired at night? Or tricks for insomnia, I always thought insomnia was people who couldn't sleep day or night.

EdgarAllanPond Sun 25-Nov-12 11:49:49

i find it a bit odd that having left your child alone all night (which is fine, and normal) you worry about an additional 2.5 hours on top of that.

i suspect quite alot of kids wake up early and play by themselves in their cot - the only difference here is you've gone in to feed them at 6ish.

a playpen should be as safe as a cot.

Marzipanface Sun 25-Nov-12 11:50:39

2.5 hours for a 17 month old is fine without food! The child would have cried if he was hungry.
I'm impressed he played that long on his own!

I have to say it would never occur to me to put my DD in the playpen then go off to bed. Perhaps nap nearby on a sofa? My DD didn't sleep through the night until 2 and half so I know how crippling tiredness is.

lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 11:50:46

No ...for me the insomnia is about taking an hour to fall asleep at night after DS has woken up for 5 minutes. For some reason I dont have this problem in the day. I have tried not taking naps during the dat and it makes no difference to the insomnia at night.

Loops I hadnt planned on leaving him for 2.5 hours, I honestly thought he would shout for me after an hour, so that is why I didnt get him breakfast first.

surelythisoneisnttaken Sun 25-Nov-12 11:52:56

I would be worried about all the (probably rare but still possible) accidents that could happen that wouldn't necessarily mean your toddler would make enough noise to wake you (choking, entanglement etc). Especially if you're very tired, you may sleep through the monitor or accidentally miss a potential hazard you'd have spotted if you were feeling more alert.

I put my 2.5 year old toddler in his cot at lunchtime with books for a 'rest' now he has mostly dropped his nap, but I am always aware of what he is up to. I wouldn't actually go to sleep at any time when he was awake (unless my DH was also there and awake with him).

I also think it's quite a long time for a toddler that age to be playing on his own without engagement from a caregiver tbh.

Can you go to bed earlier? But I understand that might be hard if you have insomnia.

I feel for you as you're obviously very very tired, and sleep deprivation is really really hard, especially coupled with insomnia.

ErikNorseman Sun 25-Nov-12 11:53:11

I'm not ok with people leaving little children awake and going back to bed. I think it's unnecessary and lazy and dangerous, not to mention crap for the kids. Why do you need to do it?
Dozing on the sofa in the same room for 30 mins isn't so bad, but if you have to do it every day there is a problem.

Marzipanface Sun 25-Nov-12 11:53:40

As for a playpen being as safe as a cot. I don't agree with that what with bumpers and all the crap people tie to cot bars. Also my little girl had been climbing out since she was 12 months so was in a big bed by then.

I think playpens are safer tbh.

ImagineJL Sun 25-Nov-12 11:54:22

If you absolutely can't get through the day without a sleep, you should have a power nap. Lie on floor next to the play pen, set an alarm for about 10-15 minutes later, and go to sleep. It won't feel like a proper sleep, but it should give you enough energy to survive the day. Being on the floor would stop you getting too comfortable and sleeping too long, and being by the play pen would enable you to hear if your toddler was distessed. And as InNeed says, maybe if you weren't having long daytime naps you might sleep better at night.

I sympathise, but I still think napping for longer than a few minutes while a toddler is awake is wrong. I have dozed off once, on the settee, after being up all night with D&V, but it was only for about 5 minutes and my kids are 7 and 3.5, and were in the same room as me watching TV.

ladyfirenze Sun 25-Nov-12 11:55:41

has any body thought the baby might have fallen back asleep in the play pen on this occasion? or maybe he whinged for you but you never heard him. I guess the thing to think about is this.... If anything went wrong, and you were fast asleep in another room, would you be comfortable that your dc was adequately supervised.... How would you feel if his dad had done this.... (I know I'd go fucking ballistic in that scenario) I also understand tiredness.... I have three dcs, the youngest two are twins and I was on my own when they were little. I used to put a dvd on in my bedroom if my dc's were up earlier than seven. Then I'd doze with one eye open, all cuddled up together.

valiumredhead Sun 25-Nov-12 11:56:35

I think what you did was fine as a one off BUT next time snooze on the sofa so you are in the same room. I also think playpens are safer than cots.

Marzipanface Sun 25-Nov-12 11:58:08

Erik Some people's children simply don't sleep. I think lazy and dangerous is a bit unfair. I speak as someone whose child regularly woke up between four to THIRTEEN times a night for bloody years! I was so sleep deprived I am surprised I didn't conk out whilst she was playing in front of me.

I don't think going off to bed whilst child is in playpen is a wise idea, perhaps napping nearby would be better? However the OP made it clear in her post that her intention wasn't to leave her child for that long.

lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 12:00:08

Ok I will nap next to him and try to limit the naps.

Do you think it is bad for him to be in the playpen that long or is it just that I wasnt in the same room?

Marzipanface Sun 25-Nov-12 12:00:45

Actually I remember catching my DH whilst he was looking after DD lying asleep on the sofa whilst she was very little playing with her toys in front of him. I went barmy and woke him up.

His response was 'Well what do you do when you are tired in the day??!'

Seriously? I manage without sleep!

N0tinmylife Sun 25-Nov-12 12:01:34

I don't think it is a problem as long as the toys are not small enough for him to swallow and choke on. I don't think most people would worry about a toddler playing quietly in their own in their cot before a parent was awake, which I would think is similar. I do think it is very unusual for a child that young to play happily on their own for such a long time though.

lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 12:03:24

Also I want to say that I always double check to make sure the toys in the playpen are safe and there are no large ones he can climb onto, toys with strings, toys with small parts that may break off etc.

Gentleness Sun 25-Nov-12 12:04:46

It already happened and I personally wouldn't waste time on feeling guilty. I'd try my best to ensure it didn't happen again simply because you were on different floors and it is quite a long time. But really the length of time is a red herring - I can't see why a choking would be more likely after 2 hrs than after 5mins and you'd checked the toys were safe. My sons have been pretty good at independent play for surprisingly long periods and I'm far from concerned about that, despite the mummy guilt and sadness when I realise they are fine without my input....

surelythisoneisnttaken Sun 25-Nov-12 12:05:34

I think 2.5 hours is definitely too long to be in a playpen - if you were setting the timer for a 15 minute power nap in the same room, then that length of time I am sure would be fine.

I was never in a position to even think of doing that as my toddler wouldn't go 5 minutes of playing on his own at that age - he also woke at least 7 times a night then so I completely understand how tired you must feel.

ImagineJL Sun 25-Nov-12 12:06:47

Well there's bad and there's bad. I think it's potentially dangerous to be left in the play pen while your asleep, wherever that is, so yes that's bad. Being left in the play pen that long while you're awake isn't "bad" as such, but it's pretty dull and not what most parents would aim to do on a regular basis. And as I said before, I would be looking into paid childcare if I really needed that much "me time" regularly.

lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 12:10:50

What length of time would you consider ok for him to play by himself? In the playpen or out of it (with me a but not directly interacting with him)?

I do play with him and do puzzles, read stories but he is pretty happy playing on his own a lot of the time. So I leave him to it a lot and get on with my own things. When he is not in the playpen he still spends lots of time playing alone.

Is this bad or is it just the playpen confinement that is bad?

ImagineJL Sun 25-Nov-12 12:14:02

I think it's OK if he's out of the play pen and if you're interacting with him frequently eg stopping to play with him for five minutes as you walk through with the laundry basket and so on. But if he's so good at sitting and amusing himself, you surely don't need the play pen?

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:14:06

My initial reaction was 'OMG you did what? How lazy & crap?!' but then I had a word with myself grin

Once I thought it through I decided that IF the playpen doesn't have any unsafe toys in it (you say he likes the small puzzle things - how small are they??) then it's no different to a todder that wakes in the night and plays with their toys. Most toddlers wake up far more often and for far longer than parents realise.

You had a monitor on, no problem going to bed rather than napping on the couch - no different to leaving him at night.

If you are sure he's happy, then it's not a problem smile and you should probably count your blessings and make the most of it while it lasts!! Though hopefully that will coincide with him sleeping better and you wont be so knackered in the day!!

frootshoots Sun 25-Nov-12 12:15:06

In my opinion if you're questioning how much time you leave your child 'to it' then its too much. I personally, at that age, only left DD so I could do the dishes/tidy up/cook dinner, and she too was and still is fantastic at entertaining herself. But that is the age when they absorb so much and benefit from not being stuck in a cage with toys for hours each day.

What else besides napping do you do when he is in there?

RandallPinkFloyd Sun 25-Nov-12 12:15:55

I think it's the going back to bed part that doesn't quite sit right.

Fair enough if they've decided to wake up at sparrow's fart and you have genuine sleep issues maybe lie on the sofa for a bit, but physically going back to bed? No, can't understand that tbh.

Not flaming, I understand what tiredness is, I've been an LP since DS was 4 mo! But it just wouldn't occur to me to get him up then go back to bed.

I think maybe your sleep issues are more serious than you realise. No harm done so don't beat yourself up but I'd seriously consider seeing your GP.

lexiss Sun 25-Nov-12 12:22:29

imagine he's only in the playpen when Im not around (I also put him in there when he keeps playing with dangerous things like power switches, like a mini timeout).

Otherwise he is free to roam wherever he likes as I am supervising him while I do chores, read, internet, talk on phone etc

I do interact with him for long sessions of maybe 15 minutes or so when we read books or play with puzzles etc. I also talk to him every now and then about what he is doing etc. But often he will play for an hour or so without any interaction from me. Is that bad?

I am just trying to get others opinions as I dont have much experince with children. Even when we go to playgroups etc it is hard to determine how different children are in their own home environments.

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