When Olivia turned one, we are letting her play in a playground because we want her to experience a new environment, interact with other kids, find a new outlet to release her energy and practice her mobility skills.
Since she is just a newbie, we still need to guide her as she explores this place.
Let me share with you what I have learned so far about letting a toddler play inside a playground.
Research about the place
It’s good to plan ahead. Visit its website or Facebook page to be able to get a description on how it looks like. Read some reviews and other blogger’s experience or recommendation about it. This is what I do before we decide to go. When I see that the place is suitable for our daughter to play in, I would give it a try. I also take note of the fees to check if it would fit our budget.
Do a quick assessment of the actual venue
Sometimes, what we see in pictures don’t meet our expectations. In our case, we evaluate the venue from the outside first. When the place looks secure and not full of hyperactive kids, we go in.
Observe in-house safety rules and regulations
Yes, the kids have already taken their shoes off and are raring to go inside. But I think parents need to read the safety rules first. This is to prevent any untoward incidents from happening. Following rules demonstrates courtesy to other people who are using the area as well as to the staff of the facility.
Never keep your eyes off your toddler
I know this is somewhat overrated, but it’s really important. There are parents who get distracted with their mobile phones and no longer pay attention to their kid/s. The staff cannot keep an eye on every kid inside, so it’s the responsibility of the parent or guardian to do this. Even if you think your toddler is contented playing with blocks or other seemingly harmless toys, we shouldn’t be complacent.
In my experience, I make sure that my daughter will not be pounced on by other kids, so I let the big kids go ahead first before letting her take her turn. If she’s playing with toys with other kids, I make sure she does not carelessly throw them around or put something inside her mouth (since she is still in that stage of exploring things with her mouth). Likewise, it would be easy for me to quickly interfere if she starts to forcibly take a toy from another kid :).
Know the limitations
We should determine if our kids’ skills match the level of difficulty of the play equipment.
But, how can I determine this if I big people are not allowed to use them ? One example I can give is when using the slide. We let her test it first. We initially put her on the middle level, then she slides down with our hands still supporting her body. Then, another try, from the middle, then gradually going on top until she becomes confident to do it by herself.
Wear comfortable clothing
My daughter typically wears shirt and leggings. She also wears non-skid socks. Always bring extra clothing for unexpected moments. For parents, wear something that will be comfortable when chasing your toddler around or lifting them up the obstacle course ;).
Wash hands after play
The playground might look clean to us. However, it could be possible that there are still germs or viruses lurking around. We should always clean up our little ones afterwards. If the washroom is too far away, we could clean their little hands with wet wipes or rub them with a hand sanitizer on the spot.
I hope these would help. May these lead to a more enjoyable playtime with our little tots!