Deciding on toddler playground equipment for your new play area can be a fun but daunting task. There are a lot of different factors that should be considered before a toddler playground can finally come together. While playground equipment can be used by children as young as six months old, it’s important that your playground take a child’s range of development and physicality into consideration. This article will walk you through how to choose toddler playground equipment for your upcoming project.
Toddler Playground Equipment Should be Age-Appropriate
In the first 6 to 23 months of a child’s life, they are learning many of their most crucial developmental skills from walking to communicating to playing and socializing with others. During this time, children are constantly taking in their surroundings and growing from them. It is important to provide a safe environment that allows them to play and learn using toys or various types of playground equipment that are developmentally appropriate.
For infant to toddler-age children, having a playground that has equipment that appeals to a child’s developmental needs can be especially beneficial.
Types Age-Appropriate Toddler Playground Equipment
It’s important to choose playground equipment that will give children different opportunities to play. There are a few types of equipment that can be used.
Playground Structures - Playground structures can be designed for early childhood providing an environment that promotes imagination and creative play while encouraging social and cognitive development. Each design considers the size and shape of preschool-age children.
- Sensory Playground Equipment - Installing sensory playground equipment can help to break down physical and social barriers by providing children with an inclusive multi-sensory experience. At Play & Park, we offer Sensory Summit Systems to provide children of all abilities the opportunity to climb, explore, discover, and interact together. The organic shape of our Sensory Summit is so unique and can be used as a climber or link from one deck to another. This type of playground equipment offer elements that appeal to visual sensors, tactile sensors, and auditory sensors.
- Musical Playground Equipment - Using musical playground equipment presents an innovative way to introduce the soothing sounds of chimes, metallophones, and drums to children who may have never played music before. The resonating sounds provide a positive introduction to music for all users. At Play & Park, we offer music-makers designed for children ages 2-5. All our whimsical instruments introduce playful and authentic sounds to the outdoor play environment.
Playground Equipment Should Appeal to Different Skillsets
Taking on a scientific approach to designing play spaces supports children at all levels. Playground design should include every element of the child and their developmental attributes, such as communication, physical, social-emotional, sensory, and cognitive.
Playing on the playground creates an opportunity for children to work together with their peers, which can help sharpen their communication skills. Installing playground equipment that encourages teamwork can help children develop relationships even at the infant or toddler stage. Using products that support communication is key to a child’s development and helps them to understand how to interact with the people around them.
While physical activity can improve a child’s muscle strength, cardiovascular health, endurance, and flexibility, it also helps them develop skills that are essential for children who will later become school-age. With increased physical activity, children learn games and fun exercises to encourage them to improve their fitness.
Using playground equipment that improves overall fitness by giving children a place to learn to exercise where they are surrounded by peers in a safe and fun environment is essential to physical development as well as building healthy habits for the future.
Playgrounds are known to reduce stress and boost confidence in children of all ages. Including playground equipment that gives children a way to socialize and build a sense of community encourages them to integrate healthy physical habits that directly correlate with their mental health as well.
Sensory play encourages children to use descriptive and expressive language and the opportunity to communicate with one another. Using playground equipment that considers sensory play allows children to be in control of their actions and experiences, which boosts their confidence in decision making and encourages them to continue to learn and experiment.
While it’s important to have a playground that encourages physical activity and play, it’s also important to include playground elements that call on a child’s ability to problem solve and think outside the box. Even toddler playground equipment is made to challenge a child to think critically. Having these elements installed at your park can really enhance a child’s play experience and encourage them to continue seeing playtime as something that is more than just physical activity and exercise.
Playground Equipment Should be Inclusive
Universally designed play environments should address both physical and social inclusion, supporting children of any age or ability. When choosing toddler playground equipment for an inclusive playground, it’s important to embrace both a child’s similarities and differences by focusing on their strengths and what they can do. This helps children break through barriers so that they can be celebrated for their unique abilities.
Aligning your outdoor play environment with research-based best practices outlined in the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design can help move play areas beyond minimum accessibility.
Choose the Right Location for Your Playground Equipment
Before buying any playground equipment, consider the location of your new playground. The playground location will help you to understand the different ages of children who will be using your equipment. Only choosing toddler playground equipment for an elementary school playground or local park might limit the playground to a specific age group. There will need to be a variety of different pieces of playground equipment to appeal to all ages. Having toddler playground equipment at a playground where school-age children use the park is not the best playground design and doesn’t include everyone. That said, if you are choosing playground equipment for a daycare or preschool, you can probably just use toddler-specific playground equipment. Always refer to the age requirements before purchasing.
Find Toddler Playground Equipment at Play & Park
At Play & Park, we offer products that are designed for younger children between 2 and 5 years old. Through play, children gain independence and self-confidence, we understand these opportunities and focus on designing early childhood spaces that promote imagination and creative play. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how we can help with your new toddler playground.