I can't tell you how many times I've had grandmotherly types ask me if I use a playpen to "contain" Addie's exploring ways. It usually happens when we're at the doctor's office, or a grocery store, and Addie is trying to "escape" whatever I have her contained in. They usually finish the sentence by saying, "I don't know why you young girls don't use the playpens. That was the only way I could get a free moment to myself!" I know that's how my mom, and many other moms in her generation, made sure we were safe as they did laundry, or cooked a meal, or just took a much needed break.
But for some reason it seems like the idea of using the pack n' play for this purpose is out of vogue these days...maybe it's because of the widely-used exersaucer, which Addie has never really loved. Maybe it's because there's some guilt about putting your kid in a mesh cage. For whatever reason, it seems that no one from my generation really uses the pack n' play, for well, PLAY.
Addie slept in her playpen for the first 4 months of her life (she started in the cradle I used as a baby but that ended when Adam almost ejected her one night when he stepped on the rocker), and it has been invaluable when we've travelled anywhere for an overnight. But a few weeks ago I decided I needed to put it up to have a safe place to plop her on every floor - the exersaucer is upstairs for when I shower, need to make the bed, fold laundry...her highchair works great on the main floor, and now the playpen is in the basement. I imagined it would just be a place I would put her for a few minutes while I ran to the washroom or made a cup of tea. But what I discovered was just how amazing the playpen really can be! Our moms/dads/grandparents were totally on to something!
Addie loves it in there (90% of the time anyway). She loves to pull up on the sides and jump up and down while she hangs on. She likes to run her face down the mesh siding and try to stick her tongue through the tiny holes. She bangs her toys against the top rail and chats away. She'll sometimes lie on her back and "read" a book (or chew on the corners). She has learned how to fall on her butt, use her knees as a good resting position, and stand up only hanging on with one hand (and sometimes she stands with no hands!) I think it has improved her standing ten-fold, and she's so much more sturdy now. And the best thing of all, it tires her out because she is busy, busy, busy in there, but also safe, safe, safe. Love the pack n' play. Love it.