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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?

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:26:47

There are a lot of Mummy Martyrs. 'Oh I never slept for 48 years why should you'. It's just bs. Look at the actual situation. A child is happy enough playing by themselves in a safe environment, you are getting some much needed sleep. Just because some people are handwringing and doing the 'oh wont someone think of the children' doesn't make what you are doing wrong.

Some kids wont play alone for more than 2 minutes - I suspect that's largely because they have never had the opportunity or encouragement to do so, but have been 'entertained' since birth... they make very demanding children/adults who are unable to amuse themselves (of course there are some children that no matter what you do, they wont play alone).

<Not everyone who disagrees is a Mummy Martyr, lots are just lovely MNers who wouldn't do it themselves>

Tryharder Sun 25-Nov-12 12:28:17

I think you are being a bit crap and lazy as well. Sorry. Would have been better if you had napped on the sofa next to him. What if he had choked on a brick or something?

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:28:36

No Lexiss - it's not bad. It's just fine. He is happy, you are happy. There is no reason a child needs constant interaction when he is playing happily.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:30:37

If she had been napping on the sofa and he had choked on a brick she wouldn't have heard him either - choking is silent. She has said, about 10 times, she checks to make sure the toys in the play pen are safe. Do you sleep in the same room as your child? It's no different.

InNeedOfBrandy Sun 25-Nov-12 12:32:33

I don't think babies need constant interaction or engagement. I had two babies that would entertain themselves for a while every day, I had college work/tidying up/ cooking dinner/baths and they would play by themselves happily for as long as I left them.

You haven't harmed your babie by not interacting with him for 2:5 hours! Next time IMO it would be better if you took your duvet to the sofa and dozed off with an alarm set so you don't end up with a shit it's been 2:5 hrs again.

crazyhatlady Sun 25-Nov-12 12:33:12

At that age my ds could climb out a playpen/cot! I don't think it's ok to leave a toddler unattended for a lengthy period of time. My 4 year old is up at 6am every day therefore so am I, even if I've had a crap sleep (i also suffer insomnia) or like today am ill. Luckily no harm done this time but I wouldn't chance my luck like that again if I were you.

Icelollycraving Sun 25-Nov-12 12:34:14

Long sessions of 15 minutes of playing?

KenLeeeeeee Sun 25-Nov-12 12:35:41

Logically it's not really different to letting them sleep/play in the cot unattended through the night, which many of us do without a second thought. However, somehow it just doesn't sit right with me to leave a toddler in a playpen and then sleep in a different room. I can't explain it, but it just feels like it would be better to snooze on the sofa near the playpen instead.

Gentleness Sun 25-Nov-12 12:35:55

I'm totally with Chipping. Children need space to play - frequent interference when they are occupied isn't going to improve their concentration and problem solving. Getting the balance right for your child is about you observing and assessing, not following anyone else's rules.

And also wondering how a 17mo would choke on a brick! I'm presuming it isn't a small lego brick of course, as you'd said the toys were safe...

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:41:31

KenLeee - It just 'feels wrong' is social conditioning and I think we should think about 'why' we think it's wrong and if we can't think of a good reason, then maybe accept it's just social conditioning and not actually wrong. IYSWIM.

GoldPlatedNineDoors Sun 25-Nov-12 12:43:00

I really couldn't imagine going back to bed while my DD was awake in the house during the day, no matter where she was. If I really need to nap, I will do so while she naps. It feels wrong to leave her to play alone in a room without me being there or very close by awake.

What do you do while he naps? Couldn't you sleep then?

What sort of things are you doing to tackle his night time sleep? Maybe a bit of sleep training and you won't need to get up to him when he does his five minute wakes. Also, what time does he go to bed? Better to have an early night and be up early with him than stay up late and have to nap it off while he plays alone.

I also have insomnia, and agree that cutting out naps in the day doesn't = better night time sleep (funnily enough I find it doesn't work for toddlers as well as me) but I know DD needs me around and alert while she is awake during the day and it is my responsibility as her parent to be around for her (even if I am not directly interacting with her - she will often sit and play with a set of stacking cups for 30/40 mins with minimal attention from me).

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 25-Nov-12 12:43:54

You clearly are going to carry on doing it so why ask?

You know it's wrong you know it's neglectful.

You need to address your insomnia that probably is not actual insomnia more a case of misplaced sleep hours and sort it out.

Sleeping during the day is going to cause a problem with sleeping at night it's bloody obvious, sort it out.

Maryz Sun 25-Nov-12 12:45:08

If you were tired enough to sleep for 2 and a half hours you obviously needed to sleep. And imo it makes no difference whether you are asleep with a monitor in another room, or asleep beside the playpen.

And as long as the contents of the playpen are as safe as the contents of a cot would be, what is the difference between putting him in the cot while you have a rest or having him in the playpen?

It seems to me that he was happy, you are now better rested, it's win-win.

ThalianotFailure Sun 25-Nov-12 12:45:18

having thought about it, I really don't think there's a problem with this - your intent was not to leave him there for that long, you knew he was safe and the fact that he was perfectly happy playing by himself is great! You catching up on sleep is important. Is there room to set his playpen up in his bedroom? That might be a bit better - but you had the monitor on so it's really not a problem. The fact that he's happy to play by himself is fantastic - and it may not last so I'd make the most of it. I agree that children don't always need or want interference from adults - if I see DD playing happily, wittering away to her toys, I leave her to it and go and have a quiet cup of tea!

ThalianotFailure Sun 25-Nov-12 12:46:31

It's not wrong or neglectful, what rubbish. If he's been crying and she'd not gone to him, that would be wrong and neglectful. For goodness' sake.

Maryz Sun 25-Nov-12 12:46:40

And sock, I don't agree - it's not wrong, it's certainly not neglectful. Unless sleeping in a different room from your child at night is neglectful hmm.

And your post is spectacularly unhelpful and shows complete ignorance of how difficult life can be with insomnia.

SamSmalaidh Sun 25-Nov-12 12:53:44

I don't know... I do find this a bit weird, but maybe that's because I don't know anyone that uses a playpen?

However, my 2 year old goes to his bedroom with a gate on the door for 2 hours every afternoon and either naps or plays, and sometimes I nap too... I definitely don't consider this wrong or neglectful! Also he sometimes wakes an hour before us in the morning and plays in his room.

Marzipanface Sun 25-Nov-12 12:54:55

Pretty sure half the posters here telling the OP she should be sleeping whilst child sleeps and so on, have never had a child who

a) Sleeps badly at night and
b) Hardly naps

As for catching up on sleep being 'me time'... words fail me!

SamSmalaidh Sun 25-Nov-12 12:58:33

lexiss - I also do a few periods of 10-15 minutes playing with DS (reading, playdoh etc) interspersed with him playing alone. I am glad to have a child who can entertain himself rather than needing 24/7 entertainment grin

PurpleGentian Sun 25-Nov-12 13:01:28

If the playpen's only got safe toys in (so no choking / strangulation hazard), you've got the baby monitor on, he can't climb out, and he seems happy playing by himself, then I don't think it's a problem.

I'd second the suggestions about trying to get help with the insomnia though (and apologies if you're already working on that!)

The only other thing I'd say is to check that your DS can't use any of the playpen toys as steps to get himself high enough to clamber over the top of the playpen, IYSWIM. My DS is 15 months, and often climbs on top of toys and low furniture to try and get at things we've put out of reach.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Sun 25-Nov-12 13:02:38

It sounds like you might be having some trouble knowing how to spend time with your child. Somewhere like home start might be able to help. You could have a volunteer come and play with you and your child for a couple of hours a week. You'd get an idea of the sorts of things youcan do together and some company and a friendly face.

Do you go to any groups or children's centres? It could be boredom on your part -at least meeting up with others or a swimming class gives you something to do or focus on while interacting with your child.

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 25-Nov-12 13:04:45

Having a problem that prevents you being alert during the day and not able to remain awake that is easy to address with a bit of effort and time.

If you don't either address it or obtain support with your responsibilities is wrong and is neglectful. If you can fix an issue you should.

If you think I know nothing about insomnia you may wish to check out the timings on lots of my posts I'm constantly up at night the difference is I have learnt how to not let it impact on my day and take steps all the time to minimise the problem.

akaemmafrost Sun 25-Nov-12 13:05:43

It's neglectful. Wasn't he hungry?

SamSmalaidh Sun 25-Nov-12 13:06:48

The posters that feel this is neglectful - is leaving a toddler to play alone in their room for a couple of hours also neglectful?

SolomanDaisy Sun 25-Nov-12 13:10:00

Enjoy it while you can, I've had to stop using the playpen at all as DS can climb out and he's the same age as yours! It's not really a long-term solution for your insomnia, as it won't be long before he can get out. At 17 months I'd guess he must have been asleep for some of the time though, 2.5 hours is a long time to play alone.

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