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Play Gyms: 6 Essential Considerations

Have you ever seen a child take their first dips and swings on a swing set? A wide-eyed, adventurous look spreads across their youthful face. The expression is punctuated with a bright, open-mouthed smile that says both, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” and “Help!” to the caretakers in the vicinity. The rush of adrenaline, the thrill of adventure and the desire to keep on going higher and higher marks the first day of the rest of a child’s life. Ah, parenthood. Yes, you’ve arrived.


swing set buying guide
After enjoying the experience at parks, playgrounds and friends’ houses, many parents start looking into home play gyms and swing sets. But, swing sets are no small purchase. Most parents buy one play gym and one play gym only. Each child uses it heavily as they age, and when the kids are grown, it’s tossed. How many purchases can boast that kind of usefulness?

The following six tips will help you to make the first swing set purchase the correct purchase.

MinimalismDeluxe Multi-Play Swing Set by Kettler

Some parents can afford to go all-out on deluxe jungle gyms. These parents have the funds to spend, plus the yard space for a huge spread. The most elaborate swing sets are fit for kings, with multiple slides, rock walls, lookouts, tunnels, sandboxes, gliders, obstacle courses, picnic tables, snack stands and more. And, if you can afford the investment and the space, by all means, treat your kids to the most elaborate of all jungle gyms.

But, many parents cannot afford the money and space. Take heart, conservatives! It’s okay to be a minimalist. You don’t want your jungle gym to crowd your backyard or take over the space you use for sunbathing or gardening. Jungle gyms require not only the amount of space to fit the structure, but they require a perimeter of space to ensure safe swinging, sliding and playing. If you’re pressed, go with a smaller, simpler option. And, the simpler models can prove to be just as fun for kids. Jungle gyms with one or two swings, a swinging bar, a lookout, a ladder and a slide will bring that sought-after smile to any kids face.


Have you considered the educational opportunities that a swing set can provide? Jungle gyms can keep kids mentally occupied and physically busy. But, they can also help them to achieve some coordination and physical fitness that will help them to grow into physically capable children. Consider the developmental milestones that you’d like to help your kids achieve, and make sure that your jungle gym caters to those skills. If you want your kid to be able to climb, look for a model with a rock wall and a ladder. If you want your kid to be able to take some risks with confidence, make sure the set includes a slide. Perhaps you value imagination and storytelling. Include a lookout and different props in your swing set.

Classic with Top Ladder Swing SetInterchangeable Parts

So, you stumbled upon the perfect swing set. It has the perfect dimensions, design, materials and more. But, it only has belt swings and you need a toddler swing. Or, it has two swings, and you were hoping for a trapeze bar. Take heart! Most manufacturers have interchangeable items, like belt swings that you can replace with toddler swings, or belt swings that you can replace with a trapeze bar. Look for these single pieces, which are sold separately.


Even minimalist swing sets are large in size. Some customers purchase a swing set in store and believe that they’ll haul it home in the back of their minivan or suburban truck. Jungle gyms are bigger than you think. The wisest option is to purchase swing set from a company that delivers the set to your front doorstep.

Future Location

Are you moving sometime soon? Play gyms are easier than ever to assemble, but it’s still no walk in the park. If you’re moving across the neighborhood or across the country, it’s wise to wait to purchase the swing set of your dreams. As mentioned earlier, one of the best things about a swing set is that it can be the only one you’ll ever need to buy. Wait until you settle into a “forever home” before installing yours.

Future InterestsOlympian Peak 1 Play Set by Backyard Adventures

Don’t buy the swing set that best suits your kid today. Time flies, and kids develop quickly. If you buy a toddler swing because that’s what your kid is capable of enjoying today, the swing will be too small and too easy in a few short months or years. Make sure that there are a few features that your toddler can enjoy today, like a sandbox or glider, but think ahead. Where will your kids be in one year, two years, or five years? Will this swing set still meet their needs?

A backyard play gym or swing set is a great place for children to hang out and play, but that’s just the beginning. The true value of a play gym has as much to do with the benefits the child receives from the activity, as it does with just having fun. We encourage you to make some time to play with your children in the backyard and take lots of pictures! Family Leisure would be honored to provide you and your family with a safe, fun and affordable play gym that will offer years of enjoyment!

Learn more in our Play Gyms Resource Center.


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