As the parent of kiddos learning to walk, you’ll quickly discover that toddlers will make every effort to injure themselves while running wild around the house—especially during the trapped-indoors winter months. (We feel you if you have a newborn and a toddler at the same time.)
Your job turns into serving as a 24/7 bodyguard, helping them avoid stairs, sharp coffee table corners, and every other hazard as they drunkenly stumble around the house.
Eventually, toddlers start to gain mastery of walking and even climbing. Your next job is to help them hone their skills on safe toddler play gym products, rather than on bookshelves and other death traps. Your kids may still find a way to hurt themselves, but at least with indoor play gyms there is a contained danger zone. It’s up to you if you can handle seeing a play yard, or an in-home gym, in your living room every day. A slide may be a necessity, but swings, a ball pit? Your call.
And sure as hell, your kids will find a way to do something adorable while playing on their new gym, reminding you why you even decided to have kids in the first place. (Within a few minutes, the toddler will be back to normal, screaming “NO” 45 times in a row, but at least you’ll have that adorable moment to remember.)
When your toddler is still vacillating between trying to injure itself and gaining control of its walking and climbing skills, you’ll appreciate this indoor toddler gym. It has rounded edges with plenty of hand grips, and it doesn’t allow the child to climb too far off the ground
Ball pits at fast food restaurants are some of the most disgusting places on the planet. Ask a teenager who’s had to clean one of them, and you’ll never get within 25 feet of another one without a gallon jug of Lysol at the ready. So keep your kids safe with their own ball pit and tunnel system that you can use indoors at home for climbing and playing.
This Gym1 climbing gear is perfect for older toddlers who are obsessed with climbing. The gear connects to a brace that supports 300 pounds. Securely hang the brace in a doorway, allowing the kid to dangle a couple of feet off the ground. If you often call your toddler a monkey, this is the perfect gear for showing off primate skills.
Kids (and some parents) can’t resist bounce houses. This bouncer is small enough to use in a large indoor room, or it will work outside. It also ships with a pack of balls to double the fun. This toy looks like something that older kids and adults won’t be able to resist either, so set some ground rules before the older kids take over … or dad gets stuck inside.
Younger toddlers love climbing toys that end with a slide. Used outdoors or indoors, this climber even has a periscope that increases the fun. The all-plastic material is easy to clean, which, as we all know, is an everyday concern with some of the disgusting goo a toddler manages to create, seemingly out of thin air.
Seeing a giant purple caterpillar in the middle of the play room will either delight or scare the sh*t out of your toddler (and you). Hell, with the way a toddler’s mood shifts 180 degrees in a nanosecond, the caterpillar may do both. It’s definitely fun and safe, though, so hopefully you can look past, over, and around that.
This inflatable indoor play yard requires a big room, so it may be better for birthday parties or outdoor use. But if you have the space for it, it has so many amazing components. Your toddler may wear down after only a couple hours, making it all worth it. Hey, we’re usually ready for a nap well before they are, but to be fair, the two glasses of wine we had at the bday may have contribute to our need for a nap. #weluvdaydrinkin
For toddlers who are really into climbing, this indoor toddler gym is a great choice. It has several hand and foot holds notched in the sturdy plastic, resembling a pseudo rock wall, so the kids can go up and down repeatedly. And it’s far safer than climbing on big rocks, which rambunctious toddlers can’t seem to resist. It’s almost like they enjoy splitting their heads open and getting stitches. (PS-when the ER personnel know you by name, it’s time to try something new, like this mini-climber.)
For the toddler who loves to show off his or her imagination while climbing and running around, this toddler play gym that resembles a pirate boat is fun for indoor or outdoor play. Come to think of it, the toddler’s one word sentences, obsession with everything being “MINE,” and constant guzzling of grog … juice (for the record, I meant to type juice), basically makes the toddler a pirate-in-training, so this toy is perfect.
This all-in-one is for toddlers who aren’t satisfied with trying to injure themselves while learning to walk and climb. They need to grab other objects and try to smash and destroy them as well. (Watch a classic Godzilla movie sometime, and you’ll understand the mindset of a toddler.) With this indoor gym, you have part-climbing and part- sports center, complete with a plastic baseball bat and an oversized ball for smacking over and over. Sometimes, toy manufacturers really do understand their customer.
Need to entertain a toddler and a baby at the same time (or an older toddler and a younger toddler)? This outdoor/indoor play yard is the answer. It has a climbing area for the older kid and a swing for the baby or younger toddler. By the way, the world record for the two kids playing together on this structure before they start fighting is about 11 minutes. Good luck.
Keep your toddler entertained while they’re burning off energy with this ball pit and climber combo. Young kids can switch between climbing and playing in the ball pit. The manufacturers say kids can even throw the balls from the pit at a target mounted to the structure, but we’re not sure that encouraging a toddler to throw balls in the house is a good idea. (I know exactly what my mother would’ve said to that idea … and it’s not repeatable here.)
Sometimes, simple is better when it comes to toddler play areas. (After all, something should be simple when it comes to parenting a toddler.) These foam pieces allow you to construct a basic climbing play area. And the soft materials are perfect for that young toddler who’s just learning how to walk and fall and walk and fall and walk and fall.
We know some of these best toddler play gyms can get pretty pricey. This Little Tikes set sneaks in at under $100. It’s made for younger toddlers who can find entertainment in climbing a few steps and going down a slide over and over … just like the same toddler can find entertainment in watching the same TV show over and over until you are ready to question your own sanity.
Toddlers love climbing and they love playing with a ball … much like the family dog, now that we think about it. (At least the dog is willing to listen and do what you say part of the time.) This toddler jungle gym has separate areas to climb, slide, and play with a ball, giving young toddlers plenty to do, all in a sturdy plastic material.
Not all of our best kids products involve as much physical activity as these gyms … for you or for the kids. But for the times when the toddler’s energy levels drop down a bit for quiet time activity, you’ll love these other products too.