When family and friends learned that my husband and I were expecting our firstborn, many gave us their old baby gear, for which we are truly grateful. One of these hand-me-downs is a standard-size playard (aka play yard, playpen, or “baby jail”) from my cousin.
The playard (which sometimes doubled as a crib) truly served us well during the first several months, but now that our baby is starting to crawl, it was beginning to feel small. We wanted a bigger play area where our child can safely move around and do solitary play, as it’s important for us that our baby learns self-distraction. We’d still be watching, but from a close distance outside our child’s own space.
Searching online for something that’s available here in the Philippines, the closest to what we had in mind is the ENO baby fence, a modular playpen made in Korea. However, it’s quite expensive at around PHP 9,000 for a ten-panel enclosure.
And so we decided to just build our own playpen using PVC pipes and fittings, which are commonly used in plumbing. Now, there are websites saying that PVC is “bad for babies”, but I figured if it truly is toxic, many in this country would be dead by now, as PVC pipes are commonly used in our water supply.
For the playpen dimensions, we settled on 6 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft, with each side divided into 2-ft sections for more stability and support. As for the pipe size, we initially planned to use the cheaper 1/2-in pipes, but eventually decided to use the heavier 1-in ones for more sturdiness.
We already had a hacksaw, so we skipped buying a plastic pipe cutter. It is quite intuitive to assemble the frame; no instructions needed. Anyone can easily do it as long as the sections are cut properly and equally.
What about the sides and bottom, you ask? We thought of using polyester netting and a puzzle mat made of interlocking EVA foam, but we opted for fabric as we had some old blankets and comforters lying around. We secured the fabric on the frame using nylon rope. We’re quite satisfied with our finished product:
One thing we missed to install was padding on the pipes, as our child might bang hard against them. We plan to wrap the pipes with foam from an old mattress come laundry day, when we remove all the fabric for washing.
All in all, we spent less than 2,000 pesos on the frame. All the materials we used are easily available at any hardware store.
|8||1-inch PVC pipes (3 meters)||105||840|
|8||1-inch PVC elbows (90 degrees)||18||144|
|28||1-inch PVC tees (equal)||19||532|
|1||Nylon rope (50 meters)||250||250|