Updated on October 14, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
There’s only so much energy that can be let off with puzzles, board-games, and coloring. Toddler gyms, like playsets, towers, and swings are great for kids who are constantly on the move. Plus, it might bring some nostalgia back to when you were a kid… and might even push you as far as playing along with them!
From bounce-houses to imaginative indoor activities, here are the 7 best toddler gyms for your kiddos:
The Best Toddler Gyms
(Best budget option – $)
Why it’s great: This play tent has an incredibly simple set-up, and takes up almost no space to store! You can keep it behind your couch, in a closet, or even in the corner to open a room when it’s not in use.
This playhouse is great for your toddler six months and older to explore new and colorful worlds! With windows and clear space to keep an eye on your little one, this play tent is great for introducing exciting and unique spaces into your toddler’s life. Adding balls and other small toys into the mix makes for even more exciting crawl time.
Keep in mind: You’ll have to purchase the balls separately, as they’re not included in the set.
Good for: Younger toddlers who love to crawl.
(Most exciting – $$$)
Why it’s great: We may not have to convince you about how awesome bounce-houses are, but we may have to convince you to get on it yourself when the kids go inside! With hours of unlimited bouncy fun, your Little Tikes Bounce House can hold up to 250 pounds, can fit three kids at once down its safe slide, and even comes with stakes to ensure it’s firmly and safely planted into the ground before use. It also comes with shoe storage so you don’t lose sight of them when playtime is over.
These are suggested for 2 to 6-year-olds, depending on your kids’ abilities and interests. Though younger ones probably won’t even be able to stand on it, they’ll be excited to hop on when they get older. This bounce house is great for a summer day, a birthday party, or a regular old Saturday!
Keep in mind: The motor expels a significant amount of energy when running, so be aware of what your costs might be if you plan to use this for several hours a day.
Good for: Kids or siblings who need a way to burn off their extra energy.
(Parents’ Choice Award-Winning – $$)
The Simplay3 Adventure Climber was the winner of the 2019 Parents’ Choice Award and has a multitude of fun different crawl spaces and climbing sections for your curious kid. If you’re planning on keeping it outside, the material is weather and UV resistant; otherwise, keeping it inside makes it a perfect indoor solution for cold and rainy days.
Keep in mind: You may want to charge up a screwdriver for setting this up; assembly is a bit tricky.
Good for: Toddlers who love to climb!
(Best Activity to use with a ball pit – $$)
This tower is great for kids six and under. If you choose to keep it outdoors, it has the capability of being able to withstand weathering. If you want to keep it inside, it’s small enough to be set up in a large basement or playroom. There are a ton of ways you can add additional elements to this already exciting game, like draping a blanket over it to make it a fort, adding a ball pit to the bottom of it as a nice landing zone, or even placing it in your pool.
Keep in mind: Assembly is performed by connecting interlocking plastic tubes, which are a bit tricky not to pinch your fingers with. Keep your directions, as assembly could take up to two hours.
Good for: Slightly older toddlers with gross motor skills developed for strategic foot and hand placement.
(Most cushioned – $$)
Why it’s great: These are similar to what gymnastics classes use for teaching jumps, rolls, and other acrobatic skills. Introducing your child to athletic capabilities and the equipment used will help them be more familiar if gymnastics classes are in the near future.
These soft and colorful foam shapes are great for kids ages nine months to three years. As long as you have a place to store them, they’re super low-maintenance: just take them out and they’re ready for climbing! This playset comes as a set of five super-durable vegan leather play shapes, with both rounded and flat surfaces on each piece.
Keep in mind: Although the bottom is supposed to be non-stick, the pieces still tend to move. This means especially if you are using them on a wood floor, they’ll probably migrate. Grab some velcro to secure the bottoms more firmly to the ground.
Good for: Babies and toddlers who love crawling, or older toddlers who want to set up their own at-home play gym.
(Best Value – $$)
If your child hasn’t yet been bit with the gymnastics bug, this may just be it. This 3-piece set, which includes a swing, a ladder, and a pair of rings, is great for older kids who can’t get enough swinging, hanging and climbing from gym class. Made out of wood and organic cotton, This is a comfortable but durable way to bring gym class to the home. Recommended for kids ages 3-12, EVAS Kids Gym Play Set can provide fun for both elementary and advanced acrobats. These are commonly used outdoors, attaching to either a tree or a swing set, but can also be used indoors with the proper set-up and space.
Keep in mind: This will require quality installation, as your kid’s weight will be pulling on it in order to perform their skills.
Good for: Kids enrolled in gymnastics, karate, or other athletic sports who want to practice their skills at home.
(Best for creative minds – $)
Why it’s great: Since they’re so versatile, these multi-colored foam stepping stones can be used for a multitude of different purposes, though for the ideas we suggest, they’re probably best for kids who are expert-walkers.
These stepping stones won’t just bring out your kids’ imagination, but it will challenge yours as well! They’re great at accommodating a variety of active games that include running, hopping, or skipping. Don’t touch the lava and musical “stones” are just a couple of ideas for getting your kids moving with them. Since they come in a pack of ten and are multi-colored, you can incorporate educational games associated with colors, numbers, counting, and pattern-making. It’s great for parent-and-kid, kid-and-kid, or a kid playing independently and discovering on his or her own.
Keep in mind: Although they have a gripping material at the bottom, they don’t seem to stay down well on wood floors. Perhaps use them on a rug, grab some non-stick pads to glue to the bottom of them, or bring them outside.
Good for: Bringing an extra twist to imaginative play-time!
FAQs about toddler gyms
1. How helpful are toddler gyms for my kid?
Activities that encourage movements like crawling, jumping, climbing, and rolling are great in helping your child develop their gross motor skills. Research suggests that physical activity may play a more important role in a child’s development than we once thought. Toddler gyms and other activities involving lots of movement can also play a role in helping your child sleep better by getting their energy out for the day.
2. How safe are toddler gyms?
Toddler gyms are crafted with kids in mind. With that being said, it’s always suggested that these activities are conducted with parent-supervision, and to use your gut when determining whether or not your child is ready for a specific game or activity.
3. How do I know if my kid is ready for a toddler gym?
Many times a habitual action such as your toddler’s affinity for climbing on top of couches is an indicator that they may benefit from a toddler gym. You can always play with or be available to them for help if you feel they need it before they begin playing on their own.
4. Should I have an outdoor or indoor toddler gym?
Depending on your resources and maintenance ability, it’s up to you! Outdoor games are great for encouraging play when weather permits and may even allow for neighbors and friends to enjoy the equipment too without getting the house dirty. Likewise, indoor gyms are great for rainy days, snowstorms, and for when mommy or daddy needs to get things done inside. The more ability your kid has to move, the better, but make what you can work, and don’t feel pressure to take on anything you can’t handle.
There is no doubt that toddler gyms will develop your little one physically, spatially, mentally and emotionally. They are empowered to utilize their own bodies to solve problems and use their muscles in unique and unusual ways. We highly recommend them!
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