6 'Big Kid' Pieces of Playground Equipment Your Toddler May Be Ready to Conquer Now

Awww! 29

kids parkOne of the funniest things one sees at the park is all the new moms who are so anxious to get out of the house that they are there stuffing 2-month-old babies into the baby swings and pushing them ever so slightly. The reality is, as parents, we are ALWAYS so excited for our kids to get to that next level. We want them to climb high, reach the top, slide fast, and do those monkey bars ASAP.

The reality is, though, playgrounds aren't all made equally. Ask any mom who has followed her 2-year-old around equipment made for 8-year-olds with clenched fists and you will know. There is a reason many playgrounds have structures for the little ones and different ones for the bigger ones.

It's not always easy to tell when a child is ready for the bigger equipment, but here are six pieces of equipment, each with signs you can look at in your child to assess his or her readiness. See below:

  1. Slide: It's probably best to try to wait until your baby is about 18 to 24 months old before using this park favorite by himself. Before that, of course, slide with your baby or hold him as he slides, but until about 18 months or so, babies don't have the balance or core strength to keep themselves upright on the way down the slide and they can bang their heads or worse on the way down.
  2. Climbing equipment: This all depends on the age of the child. A small child under 3 can maybe do the climbing, but mom or dad should spot him. To me, this is just a feeling. I still spot my 4.5-year-old, but generally give my 6-year-old more freedom.
  3. Baby swing: Your baby isn't really ready for a swing until she can hold her head up and sit up herself. Having seen many parents putting babies in these swings way before this, this is a big one.
  4. Big kid swing: Big kid swings require stability, balance, and coordination. Most children should remain in the bucket swing until they are 3 or older. Those who can graduate should have all three of those aforementioned skills. And if they are too scared, let them swing in the "baby" swing! My son does sometimes and he is almost 5!
  5. Sand box: With this you really need to wait until your baby is out of the eating everything stage. This comes at different ages, but you will know.
  6. Ready for the monkey bars: Some might make the argument that monkey bars are NEVER safe. But as a veteran of the old bars myself, I'd say this is definitely an older one. Even my 6-year-old doesn't do them without supervision and a soft surface beneath her! That would be the earliest kids should be doing them alone.

How did you know when your kids were ready for big kid equipment?



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Young... YoungHold

WARNING on #1 - Take care where your little one's feet are positioned on your lap when sliding with your baby or toddler.  It's NOT always the safest. 

I'm not saying don't do it - my son loved the slide and I always went with him until he was old enough.  But having him break a leg while on my lap is something I never thought of until I saw a sign posted on a playground slide.  Here's what can happen:

lobus lobus

Yeah sliding with your kid is not good. Also looks pretty dumb. I just held his hand as he slid down.

sukainah sukainah

Good advice.

gridi... gridironsmom

I judge it by if they try it and if they need help...

amazz... amazzonia

Talking about helicopter parent! Both my dd were going on slides at 12 mo or younger, on the swing 4-5 mo, when they could sit, and they loved going faster and faster, and climbing up the steps as soon spas they could move 9 mo....and they love love the playground. Now they are 2 and 3 the old one is starting to do monkey bars, the little one tries to keep up with older sis. Just leave your kids alone! They know their limits! We know our limits, we never know other people ones!

amazz... amazzonia

If they can't sit on the slide just tell them to slide on their bellies! My dd loved sliding that way

TeamT... TeamTARDIS

@amazzonia: That is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Leave the child alone? They know their limits? Really? Do you allow your children to have a full run of your house? Are they allowed to eat what ever they want when ever they want?
The point is, is that kids don't know their limit, especially babies and toddlers. They need parents to set limits and  boundaries so they can learn their limits and what is safe for them to do.
Sure kids should try out new things, but it would be poor parenting to not be available for a little one to lean on if they are out of their comfort zone and climbing past the point of safety. 

Susan Delly

I love to see parents playing and sliding with their babies!  It is important to make sure their legs are tucked in but after that... play and have fun! 

That being said, my lil guy was walking at 9 months and climbing play ground equipment and sliding by himself before he was a year old.  I was always right to catch him just in case (never needed) but he's always been independent.

godde... goddess99

My dd has always been tall and fearless so she's been using all the equipment all the time. She's 10 now, never had an accident.

kellynh kellynh

My son has been sliding on his little tikes slide since he hit 11mths. This slide I have had for  years AND I got it used. I can't say enough good things about little tikes!! Too bad I can't post pics and videos on the stir. I took video of him climbing up and sliding down. BIG BOY!! 

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