How to Create a Cozy Toddler-Friendly Outdoor Play Area
With all the talk about childhood obesity, something that is becoming something of an epidemic in the Western world then the expert advice that children need outdoor play and exercise as often as possible seems more relevant than ever.
When those children are small though letting them rough and tumble outside can be a bit of a scary prospect for parents. Little kids are clumsy by nature so the fact that a parent wants to avoid as many scratched knees and bumped heads as possible is only natural.
One way to try to make outdoor play for toddlers a little safer is to create a playground especially for them and thanks to the range of children's products available today you can probably do that right in your own backyard. Here are a few ideas for creating a toddler play haven that is both safe and fun:
Set a Boundary
In order for toddlers to feel like they really have their own play space, and to give parents a little piece of mind, ideally a toddler play area should have some kind of boundary around it. That is not to say that they can then play unsupervised but it will allow the adults watching them to sit down to do so rather than having to chase all over the garden!
Simple fencing is often the best answer, but not the sharp edged picket fence variety. Simple panels that can be purchased at your local home store are fine, but do make sure that you include a gate opening for fast access to the area for adults. Alternately you can opt for a plastic collapsible fence style if you want to have the flexibility to be able to disassemble the play area in winter.
While you are at the home store you may also want to invest in a softer ground cover material to help soften those inevitable falls. Rather than opting for a loose fill which can become messy consider rubber flooring mats or tiles which are neater while still providing lots of shock absorbency and is far less expensive than you might imagine. The fact that you can also purchase them in lots of bright colors adds another kid friendly touch as well.
Choosing the Right Spot
If you are making an outdoor play area where toddlers will be spending lots of time setting it in a spot in the garden that gets a lot of direct sunlight is probably not a good idea. Little kids overheat a lot faster than everyone else, especially when they are actively playing so a spot that offers at least some shade from the summer sun is ideal. If no such spot exists then a simple playhouse placed somewhere in the area can do the job just as well.
Make it Toddler-Friendly
The idea of setting up a separate play space for a toddler is that it is fun for them. Its hard to play with the older kids in their playground when you are only three or so because the swings are too big, the slides are too high and the climbing frame looks like a mountain!
There are a lot of great toddler friendly outdoor toys on the market these days that are especially designed to provide younger kids with a place to play that is safe and sized for them. Some of the best investments however are the sets that offer a variety of play activities in one. For a very young baby taking their travel play yard outdoors may be sufficient while older kids will always enjoy good old fashioned slides and swings.