What To Do If Your Baby Hates Their Playpen (Tips, Tricks, and Alternatives)

For some parents, playpens are a lifesaver. Not for babies, it’s actual users. 

Some are okay with it. Others hate it. While some LOATHE it.

So what do you do when your baby hates their playpen?

How do you get your child to like and stay in theirs?

What do you do every time your baby cries inside their playpen?

And is there any other playpen alternative you can use, that your baby won’t hate?

We’ll answer that and more in this article. 

First, to give you a better understanding of what goes into your little one’s head when they’re wailing inside their playpen, let’s discuss the possible reasons why they hate their playpen.

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Reasons Why Baby Hates Their Playpen

Because they want to explore the whole house

Some babies just hate being confined in one place.

They would prefer to see where the action is, rather than being stuck in their playpen.

Or they’re just hyper and active and get restless when confined in one play area.

Because they want to see and be with you all the time

Babies are clingy. Putting them down in their playpen can leave them in hysterics as they’re so used to being with you all the time!

And if the playpen is far from where you’re working or cooking, etc., that can just make things worse for them.

Because they feel lonely in their playpen

Your little one might be feeling alone and ignored.

They might feel a bit isolated in their playpen since you’re probably too busy with your work and chores, to play and even talk to them. 

So in your baby’s mind, they associate playpens with “mommy/daddy being busy”, “my parents are not playing with me,” or even “my parents are always ignoring me every time I’m here in my stupid playpen!”

How to Make Your Child Like Their Playpen

Get inside the playpen

If you can, stay inside the playpen with your baby and play with them.

Try out developmental activities and use educational toys!

Get them used to the idea of this wonderful place with mommy or daddy inside and with all their toys easily accessible to them.

Make the playpen a more familiar place

Breastfeed or give them their bottle, change their diaper if it’s doable, read them a book, etc.

Just make using a playpen a part of your daily routine.

So your baby can associate it as something positive and as a safe space, or as a normal part of their everyday schedule.

Put toys that are in line with their interest

You might need to be more observant about how your baby plays, to really know which toys will click with them.

But once you’ve figured those out, put those inside the playpen in an inviting way.

If they like cars, line them up in the playpen. 

If they like legos, stack them up!

You can even try putting in a Pikler triangle if they can fit inside the playpen. Especially if you have a hyper kid!

Just take note to only give them a few toys, so they won’t feel too overwhelmed.

And to do some “toy rotation” to make everything seem brand new and fresh for your kid.

Stay close while interacting with your baby

Initially, you’d want to stay close to your baby so they don’t feel too lonely and ignored in their playpen.

So try doing light chores or activities that need you to be out of the playpen but where you can still stay close to your baby.

Do something like folding the laundry, checking your email, exercising, drinking your coffee, etc. – do all of these beside the playpen.

Do it while chatting with your baby, so they’ll still think of the playpen as a safe space where they can still talk and have fun with mommy!

Interact with them even if you’re out of sight

Now try going to the kitchen or anywhere a bit far away from the playpen.

But still, talk or interact with your baby while staying in another room.

If your baby can still see you while you’re in another part of the house, that will be better.

If not, just talk or sing to them occasionally, just so your baby knows that you’re just nearby.

Then check up on them every 5 minutes or so.

Use a two-way baby monitor

If you have to do something in another room for more than 10 minutes, your baby might feel alone and panicky in their playpen.

You can try to calm and assure them that you’re nearby by talking to them via a two-way baby monitor.

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Just practice using it first when your baby is around, so they won’t get too startled and scared when they hear your voice coming from the baby monitor.

Turn on the TV

This is a temporary solution but if you can’t stand your baby crying and you’re doing something pretty important and you need to concentrate, turn on the TV.

Do it for both your and your baby’s sanity.

Nothing wrong with letting your kid be exposed to it for a limited time!

Especially if they’re watching educational tv shows that are appropriate for their age.

What If My Child Cries When I Put Them In the Playpen?

You can do one of the following:

  • One is if you’re not in a hurry and there’s space – go inside the playpen and comfort them.
  • Two, if you need to do something urgently, pick up your kid and bring them with you.
  • Three is to move the playpen (if possible) so that your baby can see you!

Take note though to avoid rushing to their side whenever they start crying. 

You want them to learn how to adapt first and see if they can settle themselves in the playpen. 

So try talking to your child first before scooping them up in your arms.

Ask them where their toy is, what is going on with their favorite toy inside the playpen, etc., and just basically distract them.

It’s also okay if your baby is upset and crying in their playpen, as long as they’re being acknowledged.

You can’t always carry your baby, so it’s fine if your little one is objecting to staying in their playpen. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry so, if you can’t get in the playpen or pick up your kid or move the playpen, then just do your task while talking to your crying baby.

The most important thing is for your child to be safe.

Playpen Alternatives

If nothing seems to work for your baby, then maybe it’s time to try other playpen alternatives:

Baby proofing

If possible, baby-proof the whole house and then keep your little ones busy by letting them do chores and tasks with you!

Give them something they can easily do, like take out the clothes from the dryer, wipe the table, etc.

Just involve them with whatever you’re doing, to keep them close, busy, and distracted, instead of running all around the house!

Baby gates

You can baby-proof a room and just install a baby gate to corral your kid.

This is a common, popular setup, especially for those households lacking in space.

Baby highchair

Keep your baby safe in their high chair! 

You can entertain them thereby giving them age-appropriate toys, so they’ll stay long enough in their baby high chair.)

Baby carrier

You can also just baby-wear your baby if you can.

Some parents have done meals, cleaned the toilet, etc. while wearing their babies!

This is also a more practical alternative, especially if the budget is tight for a playpen and you don’t have space for one.

Tips on Using Playpens For Your Baby

Check out the most mentioned and highly recommended playpens by parents and experts online here.

If possible, put the playpen in a room where you can easily check on your baby and where your baby can easily see you. 

Make sure to only leave age-appropriate toys inside the playpen. Don’t leave any choking hazards or anything they’re not supposed to play with, like wet wipes, diapers, etc.

Don’t let your baby eat snacks inside the playpen. You don’t want insects crawling in, eating the snacks, and probably biting your baby!

Clean it regularly and asap when your child spits, vomits, or does a poonami in it!

FAQ on Babies Hating Their Playpen

Why does my baby cry in the playpen?

Your baby is crying in the playpen because they’re possibly feeling alone and afraid in it or they associate the playpen with something that makes their parents go away.

At what age do babies stop using playpens?

It’s recommended to stop using playpens on babies who are attempting to climb out of them.

Takeaway on What To Do If Baby Hates Their Playpen

It’s all a matter of perspective.

If your baby sees their playpen as something fun, as part of their everyday routine, and as something where their parents are always doing something fascinating, then they’ll hate the playpen less. 

And will eventually grow to like it or even love it.

So I hope this article has helped you on what to think and do if your baby hates their playpen!

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