Dear Crissy

Baby corral or baby jail?

Well, it has happened. Over the past week or two, Evan has progressed from a slow, uncoordinated, belly-flopping scooter to a masterful crawler. He’s become an athlete in a matter of days, and I spend most of my time now trying to head him off at the pass. I am beyond proud of him and his new skills, but HOLY COW, it is exhausting trying to keep him away from things he shouldn’t be touching. These things include but are not limited to outlets, cords, registers, and cat butts.

While being a mom is the most important position I hold, I do also work from home, and I have to try to stay on top of my photo editing and client communications during the day. We have a playpen, but Evan doesn’t spend more than 5 minutes at a time in it before going berserk, so I am planning on adding it to the growing pile of yard sale items. My next stop is a playgate system, or corral, and I am wondering what your thoughts on these are? Have you tried one? Is it completely terrible that I want to put my kid in a baby-cage? I just don’t see an option, because at least for brief periods during the day, I need to be able to keep him in a restricted area where he can safely play.

baby playgate

Things were so much easier when I could plop him in the middle of the floor and he couldn’t GO anywhere!

Leave a Comment


  1. sarah — June 9, 2010 @ 5:05 pm (#)

    Hi :)
    I rememeber those days with my kiddo’s! I couldn’t wait for my son to crawl, walk…. do all of his firsts! I learned with my daughter- I could wait as long as she wanted! Once they start, it NEVER stops :) But there is absolute joy in those moments as well. Nothing like watching your little one master new skills. All that being said, I had gates installed ( swing gates-you don’t want to have to hurdle a gate every time you need to move from room to room ) there’s nothing wrong with it, it keeps your child safe (and helps to maintain mommy’s sanity). Best wishes with your little adventurer! :)


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:35 am

      Yes, mommy's sanity is definitely one of my main concerns! LOL :)

  2. Teri — June 9, 2010 @ 5:05 pm (#)

    I think it’s fine – lots of people do it! When he gets older you can just stand him on a chair in front of the sink and let him play in the water – that will burn tons of time!!


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:51 am

      Aw, playing in the sink will be fun!

  3. Dania — June 9, 2010 @ 5:11 pm (#)

    Well, both my sons spent quite a bit of time in a play pen (Graco for the eldest and a cute Baby Einstein one for my little one). I never needed gates with the oldest, but my youngest (who turns 2 tomorrow!) is a holy terror and loves to rummage through the trash bin in the kitchen. I bought a gate for the entry to the kitchen and baby-proofed the rest of the house. I bought a rather large corral for the yard so he would be able to fall on the hard cement patio next to the grass, but they can actually move those. Once they learn to do that, the corral becomes obsolete.

    You kind of have to see what works best for Evan, but I don’t think of any of those items as cages. They’re there to protect your son from wandering off and getting hurt, and they provide you with some peace of mind.


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:51 am

      I think you're right, thanks Dania!

  4. alissa — June 9, 2010 @ 5:47 pm (#)

    i’m having this same problem, only the way this house is designed, baby gates wont work. the doorways that need blocking off are too wide. theyre like triple doors. and there isnt an area large enough for a corral thing..and she too hates her playpen. im screwed!


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:52 am

      Luckily our living room is big enough for a corral, I THINK! Fingers crossed because phew!

  5. Tesha Vann — June 9, 2010 @ 6:37 pm (#)

    Hi Crissy, he is such a cutie, I vote corral! Just voted for you on top blogs :-)


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:52 am

      Hi Tesha, thanks!

  6. Suzanne — June 9, 2010 @ 7:04 pm (#)

    We have two gates that create a baby-safe area at the back of our house (family room & kitchen) and the rest is a giant mess of horrible danger we haven’t really used in a year. Now that our Evan walks (runs) we’re considering getting an extra large gate to block off the kitchen from the family room so I can cook when my husband isn’t home to constantly chase him away from the stove. I’ve known people who claim they just teach their kids “no” and “danger” and set limits from an early age but I think they’re LYING LIARS whose kids probably didn’t walk until they were 2.

    To sum up: I vote gates. Cages. Door locks. All of the above.


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 2:53 am

      Haha, I love it, and I think you're right about the lying liars. LOL.

  7. Karen — June 10, 2010 @ 12:00 am (#)

    We have a corral – the one I showed you the other day, I think it's called the Superyard XT. We really love it and we bought 2 extenders to make it very large like a playroom. there's all kinds of toys in there now including a little picnic table for him to sit at so he can color. Zachary is really happy playing in his playroom!


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 4:57 am

      I am pretty sure I bookmarked that link you gave me, looks like a good and affordable choice!

  8. verdemama — June 10, 2010 @ 12:06 am (#)

    Hire a babysitter. Seriously. He'll get sick of that corral in a flash, and if you ever want to get any work done ever again, a trustworthy young adult playmate is the only way to go. Been there, done that.


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 4:56 am

      Luckily my mom is available to babysit a couple days a week, however, I still need an option for home in case I need him to be contained for a minute while I make an important call, etc.

  9. Peek at My Paper — June 10, 2010 @ 2:01 am (#)

    Hi Crissy – I am visiting from TwitterMoms – just became a follower. Can you follow me too! :) Great Blog!


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

      Done! Thanks :)

  10. bryelee — June 10, 2010 @ 6:01 am (#)

    That's awesome.

    BTW I am your 500 followers! :)

    Following from MBC.



    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

      Joanna, yay! Following you too!

  11. nya's mom — June 10, 2010 @ 9:26 am (#)

    That's so cool! How old is your son? My daughter is still a belly flopper at the moment (it's so funny), and she is four months. Just the other day, I was wondering when and how she would begin crawling.

    I found your blog on MBC and am now following!

    Please follow me back at:
    -Jessica a.k.a Nya's mom


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

      He's just turned 10 months! He always hated being on his belly so we might be a little slow to crawl LOL! :)

  12. Jamie (va_grown) — June 10, 2010 @ 10:44 am (#)

    It's not jail to keep your kids safe! We installed gates to keep our kids in whatever room we were in so that I could clean, cook dinner, or whatever while they played nearby without worry that they would run off every time I turned my back or had to go to the bathroom. Our pack n play only really worked out when they were too little to crawl. Then it was a "jail" to them because it was so small and we stopped using it.

    But those corrals are very roomy. Some of them are bigger than a bedroom, floor space-wise, once you consider furniture–we have a small house. It wouldn't be mean to gate the doorway to your kid's bedroom and let them play quietly and safely in there while you worked nearby.


  13. Vicki Bingham — June 10, 2010 @ 11:41 am (#)

    Crissy, my playpen was my sanity when my firstborn was at this stage. What I would suggest is to put him in and extend the time a little at a time. Start with 5 minutes and move up until he can play quietly for an extended period of time. I would alternate his toys to keep it interesting for him too. I wanted him to be able to play by himself for a little bit because I thought that was important and I needed some time to do things without worrying about him getting into anything. I also used gates to corral him. We had a house that was pretty much perfect though because it went in a circle around a set of stairs. The kitchen was on one side and the living room was on the other and the entryway/stairs and backdoor/half bath were on the ends. I would put a gate at both doorways of the living room and he was trapped. Besides capping outlets, I put covers over the cords and pushed an ottoman in front of the tv/vcr so he couldn't get over there and touch buttons. I hope this helps you. When you have another baby though, this all flies out the window! :)


  14. Vicki Bingham — June 10, 2010 @ 11:45 am (#)

    Oh, one more thing Crissy, if you don't already have one, get one of those playthings you sit them in that are either stationary or walkers. I had both and they are terrific! They usually come with toys attached and they bounce and I loved them and so did my kids. The only thing to keep in mind if you get a walker type, make sure you don't have stairs he can fall down.


  15. Megan — June 10, 2010 @ 1:01 pm (#)

    Just found your blog (love, love, love!) I had to stop and tell you how adorable your little one is!


    • Crissy — June 10th, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

      Hi Megan, and thanks!

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