As any parent of a toddler knows, toddlers have boundless energy and enthusiasm. A play set can be the perfect way to expend some of that energy in a healthy, safe and fun way. Here are some things to consider:
- The first step in choosing the right play equipment for your child is to determine a budget. Do you want a small gym that can be used indoors or out? Maybe you would prefer a play set that provides every activity imaginable for your little one, no matter the cost. There is a world of options to explore, but for most people, price will be at least one determining factor.
- The next step to consider is your child's likes and dislikes. If your child is scared of heights, she may not be ready for a play set with swings and slides. A better choice for this type of child may be a small play house or sandbox. On the other hand, if your child is very adventurous and athletic, you will want to find a play set that will challenge her or she will quickly grow bored.
- The next important consideration is safety. Most toddlers love to explore, but they don't yet have the reasoning skills to determine whether or not an activity is safe. Swings should have a safety harness and be low to the ground, in case of falls. Slides should have high sides to prevent a child from climbing or sliding over. If there is a platform at the top of the slide, it should have a railing that is at least shoulder high and the slats should be close enough together that a child cannot climb through.
- If you have chosen an outdoor play set, you will need to decide what kind of groundcover you would like to have under the set. Some commonly used groundcovers for playgrounds are cedar mulch, pea gravel, shredded tires and thick rubber mats. Cedar mulch provides a soft landing area in case of spills, but can worsen allergy symptoms for some people. Pea gravel also provides some protection from falls, but the small rocks can be picked up by children and put in their mouths. Shredded tires are a good choice, but some brands can stain clothes, so be sure to choose carefully. Rubber industrial-grade mats are an ideal choice, but also the most expensive.
- The final decision to make in choosing a play set for your child is to determine how you will anchor it. For a wood play set, you can use specially-designed stakes that are inserted into the legs of the gym, then pounded deep into the ground. Metal swing sets are commonly anchored using concrete. If you have chosen a plastic swing set, the legs can usually be filled with sand to anchor it.
No matter which play set you choose, it's important to remember that toddlers require constant supervision. But, with a little planning, you can find a play set that's perfect for your little darling, and probably a few neighbor kids, too!