The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Outdoor Toys
How do children benefit from trampolines?
Trampolines improve balance, motor skills, coordination, agility, timing, and rhythm while encouraging bone and muscle development. Children learn tenacity as they strive to improve acrobatic skills, and physically active children are more likely to remain physically active throughout life.
What features should I look for in trampolines?
- Sturdy, foam-covered handlebars provide support for toddlers and less coordinated children.
- Although it's not included, covering handlebars with duct tape prevents young children from biting or tearing off the foam.
- Adjustable and removable handlebars allow children to use the trampoline as they grow and become more coordinated.
- A cover that extends over the frame to the jumping mat protects children from hitting the frame or getting caught in the mat’s supports.
- Enclosures protect children from falling off the trampoline as long as you and/or your kids remember to close the entrance.
What features are available on playsets?
Playsets offer traditional playground equipment such as slides and swings as well as rock-climbing walls and playhouses. Some children may be too young to use some features at first, but, because playsets last 7 to 10 years, they will grow into them. If you have to choose between classic items and current fad items, choose classic features. Playset frames can be metal or wood. Cedar and redwood are better choices for wood playsets than pressure-treated pine because they lack added chemicals and better resist rot and decay.
At what age is my child ready for kids' outdoor toys?
At 10 months, most children stand without assistance, and they climb stairs by 13 to 18 months. They run short distances by 18 to 24 months, so they can use many features on playsets. However, provide adult supervision because young children can be unaware of the dangers of some actions.
What safety issues exist with outdoor toys?
- Follow manufacturers' guidelines for age and weight. Playsets provide restrictions for the whole set and for individual features.
- Cover the ground under and six feet around playground equipment with rubberized mulch, play sand, bark, or pea gravel at least 6 inches deep, but preferably 9 to 12 inches deep. Replenish it as it settles.
- Above-ground openings should be either larger than 9 1/2 inches or smaller than 3 inches.
- Decks higher than 30 inches require railings.
- Allow extra room on playsets for items that rotate, and don’t hang accessories like swings from the monkey bars.
- Make sure that all edges and hardware are either rounded or covered.
- Check these toys regularly for loose or missing pieces, cracks, damage, or peeling paint. Tighten bolts monthly. On warm days, make sure that the slide is not too hot.
- If you’re inexperienced at assembling complex projects or unable to tighten connections well, hire someone to complete the assembly of these kids' outdoor toys.
- Follow the manufacturer's care and maintenance instructions. Move trampolines indoors during high winds and shelter, or cover them in winter. Give playsets an annual power wash in the spring, and, if recommended for a wood playset, apply a sealant at least every two years.