AskDefine | Define playpen

Dictionary Definition

playpen n : a portable enclosure in which babies may be left to play [syn: pen]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. An enclosed space for children to play in.


Extensive Definition

A playpen is a piece of furniture in which a child is kept so that they will remain out of harm's way.
Playpens are traditionally made of wood, and consist of a flat rectangular platform, usually square in shape, with vertical bars on four sides, so that the child can see out. The floor of the playpen is usually a soft mat. The walls of the playpen are usually higher than the height of the child, so as to avoid climbing injuries; playpens may also have a detachable lid. There are many more modern and portable designs.
The purpose of the playpen is to confine children, who might otherwise wander off and hurt themselves. It is usually used when the person watching the child is pre-occupied with something and cannot watch the child directly. Further, children often enjoy the safety and comfort of the playpen, which can therefore be the preferred location for many activities.
The earliest use of the word playpen cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1902.
Today mobile playpens are called Pack 'N Plays which often consist of a basic metal and plastic support system and mesh, soft plastic or nylon sides. Often a removable bassinet is attached at the top for the child to sleep in or be changed in until four months of age. Some models have attachments such as mobils, side pockets for supplies and toys, and clip on adaptor for CD player for the child to listen to music while sleeping or playing. Pack 'N Plays come in different sizes, but most are expected to be collapsed into a small roll for ease of transport or storage, thus explaining the "pack" in the name. Playpens and Pack 'N Plays are considered baby gear.

External links

playpen in German: Laufgitter
playpen in Spanish: Parque para bebés
playpen in Dutch Low Saxon: Looprekke
playpen in Swedish: Lekhage
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