LEGOs in the Playpen

by evelynsaenz

Put the baby on the floor and the big kids in the playpen. Playpens keep LEGOs out of the mouths of babies!

Most parents buy a playpen for their infants to keep them safe from choking hazards but there may be a better use for these playards. A playpen can easily contain all those little LEGO pieces that your older children love to play with.

For years I would try to make my children keep the LEGOs on the table so that the baby or toddler couldn't pick them up, put them in their mouths and choke on them. But soon one of the pieces would fall on the floor or the toddler would grow taller and be able to reach onto the edge of the table.

Then one day at a La Leche Meeting a mother of older children suggested that one of the best uses for a playpen was for LEGOs.

What a revelation!

Photo Credit: Playpen by gabeandchry
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gabeandchry/7795121306/sizes/l/
Used under Creative Commons

Children love LEGO Blocks

LEGOs are Choking Hazards

No matter what age it seems like all children love LEGO blocks. LEGO bricks come in pretty colors and fascinating shapes. They fit together and come apart to make an unlimited number of objects. Unfortunately the small pieces can be hazardous to babies and toddlers who still put things in their mouths.

How can we give our older children the space to use and play with Legos when we have babies and toddlers in the house?

Over the years I have tried various strategies.

  • Move all the LEGO into another room or upstairs
  • Put away the LEGO until the babies are old enough
  • Put the babies and toddlers in a playpen
  • Take out the LEGO only when babies and toddlers are asleep
  • Use DUPLO instead of LEGO

None of these solutions seemed satisfactory.

Toddler with Lego Block in his Mouth

by Michael Bentley - Used under Creative Commons
022_edited-1
022_edited-1

Children love LEGO Building Blocks

Legos are Educational

Legos are amazing building materials. My children made buildings, vehicles, mazes and so much more from their LEGO blocks. They loved to build for hours and sometimes even days creating bigger and fancier projects with all those little bricks.

It might seem ideal to put the LEGO blocks in your older child's room or upstairs where the little ones couldn't get to them but here is the problem:

The older kids don't want to be shut away from the action. They feel left out and alone. They want to be with Mommy too!

Babies Try to Eat LEGO Blocks

by Jason Lander - Used under Creative Commons
And standing.  Of course.  Thought a lego table would keep the choking hazards away from her.  That lasted about a week...
And standing. Of course. Thought a lego table would keep the choking h...

Older Child as Babysitter

Babies in the LEGO Pieces

I have occasionally allowed my oldest to watch the baby around LEGO pieces but I hate to give her that much responsibility. After all, she likes to play with the LEGO blocks and should have that opportunity. I worry that if she is playing she might not notice when the baby puts a LEGO in her mouth. 

I decided I could let the baby join in if I was right there watching but most of the time the baby is much safer playing with bigger things.

So I tried putting the baby in a playpen.

Which child should be in the Playpen?

by dickdotcom - Used under Creative Commons
Summit in the playpen
Summit in the playpen

Baby in the Playpen

Toddler in the Playpen

I guess it is no surprise but the baby and later on the toddler were not impressed with being caged up. Babies and toddlers are learning to explore the space around them. They need room to roll over, crawl around, climb up, scoot along.

Playpens just don't have enough space for all this movement. Playards don't have couches to climb up on. Babies and toddlers soon become bored being stuck in a cage. They want out and they are willing to scream about it.

But then you take them out and they crawl over to the Legos just spilled off the table and try to put them in their mouths.

What can you do?

LEGO Pieces Fall off the Table

by Bug Labs Inc Used under Creative Commons
LEGO playpen at Austin Convention Center
LEGO playpen at Austin Convention Center

Keep the Legos on the Table!

Oops! My toddler is too tall!

Well, we could try to keep the LEGO Pieces on the table. Be careful and make sure that not even one piece falls on the floor.

The problem here is that  LEGO Pieces are almost impossible to keep on the table. One or two pieces inevitably get dropped all ready for a toddler to quickly snatch up.

 

Trying to Get into the Playpen

by DaveBleasdale - Used under Creative Commons
Guess who
Guess who

Playpen Time!

A Playpen for Older Kids!

So this is where the playpen comes in!

By the time that your older children are ready to play with Legos they are also old enough to climb over the sides of a playpen. 

Put a box of  LEGO Blocks in your playpen and invite the older children to climb over the sides and have fun.

What a novelty! 

  • Baby can't get to their project and take it apart.
  • The baby or toddler gets the whole rest of the room to crawl, climb and explore. 
  • LEGO Blocks can't fall on the floor
  • Older kids can climb in and out of the playpen
  • Babies and toddlers can't climb into the playpen

Should the LEGO Blocks or the Babies be in the Playpen?

Playard for LEGO Blocks

Put the LEGO Blocks in the Playpen
Joovy Room² Portable Playard, Black

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Updated: 01/03/2014, evelynsaenz
 
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Comments on LEGO Blocks in the Playpen


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VioletteRose on 01/04/2014

This is an interesting article with good suggestions on handling toddlers and toys. Many times, I have also used the play zone pieces to cover up an area from my child when he was so young and starting to explore all over.

jptanabe on 01/03/2014

Clever!

ologsinquito on 01/03/2014

This looks like a great solution to keep your baby safe.

WordChazer on 01/03/2014

I love LEGO! (And it's LEGO like that with capital letters, whether singular or plural) I have a half built random abstract object on the table next to me as I type. Children don't come in this house so as long as the neighborhood cats don't get at it, we're fine. That's a good idea to keep the babies and the LEGO apart and to keep the LEGO tidy too. Stepping on a brick is Rather Painful.

Mira on 01/03/2014

Yes, this is a great idea! :)

evelynsaenz on 01/03/2014

Thank you AbbyFitz

AbbyFitz on 01/03/2014

This is a neat idea!

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