Confined Space for 1 Year Old

Updated on September 18, 2012
S.C. asks from Hanover Park, IL
13 answers

I am in desperate search for a playpen or play yard or something similar that can handle the strength of my very active, strong almost 1-year old son. I need something that we will be able to put him in when needed because right now he gets into EVERYTHING! And, when I say EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING! And, the boy isn't even walking yet. I can't imagine what he will be able to get in to once he is walking. I want something a little bigger and sturdier than a standard playpen (we already have one of those). I've seen the gated type play yards (where you can add panels to it), but my fear is that he will knock that down because he shakes and attempts to lift anything he can. I don't exactly get how they are sturdy enough to keep it from falling down. If anyone has one, please fill me in. Otherwise, if anyone has any good ideas on any other products that work for you, I would GREATLY appreciate it! Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

We made my youngest daughter's room baby-safe (it had almost nothing in it besides her crib!), and then had a baby gate that screwed into the door frame. That was the only way we could contain her - and then we had to install a second one higher on the frame because she learned to climb over! We never found a play yard that could contain her. ;)

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

Look into "dog" options.

Both for 'yards' as well as in gates. I'm particularly fond of Great Dane sized dog gates. Sturdy as all get out. Cheaper than flimsy human options.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You're going to find that any playpen for a 1 year old is fighting a losing battle. Hopefully, someone will have a good recmmendation for a structure that will help you, but I wanted to point out how temporary a pen/playyard solution will be for an active 1 year old. Their interest and activity level at this age will take off, and soon, no play yard will be big enough or sturdy enough. I give it 3 months at the most. At 1, your baby's large motor skills are rapidly developing and it seems like the 1-2 year time is when they learn so much about the world around them. A 1 year old needs to run, lift, shake, jump, throw, explore!
I recommend taking this opportunity to REALLY child proof your home. Child proof everything up to about the 3 feet level. Sure, get a baby gate for stairs, and a small area where you put your breakables, but otherwise, your child is going to need some area to explore. Isolate the things that are dangerous or breakable. Get outlet covers, get rid of things he can pull down, things he can "get into". Provide 1 drawer in the kitchen that is just his to explore with play kitchen things that he can get into. Offer some good active toys that he can lift, ride, throw. Find a lot of alternatives in the yard or local park, library, etc. where he can really run, and develop those large motor skills, and you may find you can opt for quieter, small area activities at home.
Just wanted to offer a different point of view...
ETA: One other thing - at this age, we bought the book "Toddler Busy Book" and it offered a lot of activities that helped fill up time, especially with a running 1 year old. This help us define an activity zone for messes, and activity zone for specific toys, etc. Defining these zones helped us give him an activity to do in one area while I did something else. We never had to gate the kids in to keep them safe or contained.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think at this age he is just about to outgrow any containment unit. :) It may be money wasted. Our exerciser was great for containing our kids until they could walk...then they just learned to climb right out. Like another poster mentioned, the crib may be it for a while. A crib tent may help...or he could be like my daughter, she learned how to escape the crib tent pretty fast.

At this age, we moved stuff around. Made some things baby proof and a few drawers were for baby exploration. When our kids went through the climbing phase, our bar stools temporarily lived in our bedroom. And there were days I put all the dining room chairs on the back porch just to have a day of peace.

Get him outside as much as possible. A neighbor used to tease me that I was never home with my son. But if we were out and about he wasn't tearing down the house. :)

Good luck mama.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If his bedroom is safe, and I'm guessing it is, you could get a baby gate for his bedroom door (the kind of gate that screws to the wall) and he can play happily in there while mom is busy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I don't think there is anything like a playyard. 2 thoughts - you could get a crib tent and put him in the crib if you need 5 minutes to shower. Or pick a room, childproof it, and put a drilled in gate on the doorway. Then you can put him in there when needed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with aggressively childproofing your home. Get down on the floor, at his eye level, and survey for problems. Expecting a one year old to stay out of stuff they can reach is pretty unreasonable, so childproofing is the first line of defense.

Besides installing a stronger gate (no tension gates... your child will knock that over in a second, get a good one for stairways), you might also consider using the high chair or an umbrella stroller for containment when you need to be otherwise focused. My son spent quite a nice time playing with cheerios at the table while I cooked. At other times, popping him into the umbrella stroller and offering a few toys at a time (keep a basket nearby) would keep him busy and happy. This also doesn't take up much room and can be put away easily.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I used that when my son was around 1

Now he is almost 2 and we moved. We arranged the furniture in the apartment we moved in to to kind of block him in a little bit and use this gate to guard the TV.

It's strong and sturdy, plus it's big enough for little ones to crawl/walk around in with their toys! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

We used a piece of plywood that was attached on one side with a piano hinge and on the other side it was behind a stereo speaker beside the piano. If we wanted it open we would slide the speaker out just a bit and swing it open.

It was low enough he could see any of us easily by just pulling up and peaking. As he got older he could just climb over, but that was when he was nearly 2 or more.

He had the door to his room open and the hallway. He could bring toys and what ever he wanted into the hallway and play with it. Sister's bedroom door was always closed as was the bathroom door. We used the round doorknob protectors on those doors for some time so he could not open them in any way.

I could see all the way down the hallway almost every place in the living room and kitchen so he was never really alone.



answers from Seattle on

Don't waste your money. We had a superyard XT or whatever they call it nowadays... when DD was a toddler she couldn't get out, but she could push the entire thing around to get to what she wanted. Waste of money once your kid can walk.
Instead TOTALLY babyproof one room in your house and secure it with a gate. Any room will do: his room, living room, kitchen...
I found it easiest to babyproof the kitchen! We put locks on all cabinets and drawers except for one... DONE! In the one cabinet that wasn't locked I kept the tupperware that was safe for DD to discover and play with - plus I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so she wasn't alone.
Good luck!



answers from Portland on

I can't remember what it was called, but we had one that was wooden and had hinges and a gate on it. The hinges could hook to the wall, or it could be a circle. I liked it because we did half of the dining room as the baby/toddler area and it worked great. We bought it off craigslist, but I did see them online too.

We also had the superyard, and while they can't get out, it always seemed too small and unfair.



answers from Chicago on

I have an old version of the gated ones you talk about, where you add panels no gate, they are by Today's Kids and discontinued now but you can get them on EBAY. I use them in my daycare and have never had them knocked over. Even if I don't connect the whole thing and have each end behind furniture holding it up. Look up Today's Kids Play yard on ebay, scroll down a bit and you'll see some set up ones. They last forever too, I've had mine for at least 9 yrs



answers from Chicago on

I know exactly what you are talking about! Mine was the same too at that age. Somebody on this forum had mention about this superyard, which worked great for M.. I had ordered it online(you can google for it, sorry don't have the link), it had yellow, blue and red panels and one of the panels has some little toys on it. I was happy to buy something colorful rather than the grey colored superyards that you find it stores. Those look like a cage to M. ;) Quite big to put in lot of toys and my son could walk around inside that. I had put it on the area rug(it s as big as the rug) , so I did not have any issues with sliding or baby pushing it around. I did have some furniture around it(pretty small house) , so it remained fixed where I put it.I loved it! They are sturdy and no, baby can't knock it down. Once you connect all the panels tightly (they fix very well) , they can't be knocked down. Mine had a gate as an entrance which had double lock, so the kid can't open it at that age. It felt very safe leaving my son in there, my son didn't try climbing it as well (I was worried he would). He actually would walk holding on to the panels round n round before he started walking independently.
Once your son starts walking I would suggest childproofing your house and letting him around (this holds good while crawling as well). Superyards are nice to use when you need a break or get some work done around the house, but childproofing is equally important as well for other times. It's important babies learn from their surrounding, touching objects in the house. If anything unsafe put it up high on the table out of reach. But yes, definitely buy a superyard. It was a life saver for M.! I remember taking my son to the restroom with M., because I didn;t feel he was safe even fr a minute out of sight. he was really high energy baby. So buying a superyard made M. relax a bit. My son could not get out of there unless I picked him up. And it had lot of room for him to entertain himself for quite a long time.I would just rotate the toys so he didn't get bored!

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