Outdoor play equipment for children

Written by theresa rosenthal
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Outdoor play equipment for children
Outdoor play equipment provides exercise and entertainment for children. (playground image by Lori Pagel from Fotolia.com)

Outdoor play equipment can encourage children to exercise more, whether at school, home, or at a day-care facility. With swing sets, playhouses, and jungle gyms among the options, the outdoor play equipment you choose to buy depends on several factors.

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), play yards should have at least 12 inches of mulch, wood chips, sand, or pea gravel for surfacing. Since falling causes 60 per cent of playground injuries, the surfacing of the play yard is especially important. In order to be safe, the play equipment should not have sharp edges or nuts and bolts that protrude from the equipment. Metal play yards can cause burns from being heated by the sun and Playground Cargo nets can pose a strangulation hazard. In 1996, the CPSC commended Soft Contained Playground Equipment for being safer, with padded floors, plastic tubes, and contained structures.


Decide how much money you have to spend on outdoor play equipment. With so many to choose from, you'll want to know what you can afford before you start shopping. Also, consider the lifetime of the play equipment. If you want it to last, choose items that will grow with your child. Or, start with small, plastic toddler equipment, which will entertain until your child is four or five years old. Keep in mind that some equipment will have hidden fees to consider, such as delivery and installation, warranties and extra features.


Measure the space you have for outdoor play equipment, so when you're shopping for products you know how much room you have. Circulation is needed around the play equipment, as is adequate drainage. If the yard sits on a slope, you will have to take that into consideration as well.

Age Appropriate

Not all outdoor play equipment is appropriate for all ages. Toddlers need more safety and protection from falls and injuries than older children. Sometimes something as simple as plastic outdoor equipment, a sandbox, or a paddling pool is all a toddler needs to entertain herself. If you want to purchase equipment that will grow with your child, consider purchasing the extras that aren't age appropriate at another time. For example, climbing ropes, ladders, and nets aren't necessary for toddlers and may even be dangerous.

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