Not all early childhood development and childcare facilities can have outdoor playgrounds, but kids still need a safe, fun environment for recreation and for their physical development.

by George Maday, Quadrozone

Examples of childcare settings where outdoor playgrounds may not be feasible include

  • Childcare in office buildings
  • In-home daycare
  • Pediatric medical facilities
  • Fitness centers

In addition, inclement or harsh weather in many parts of the country can limit outdoor playtime for kids, thus creating a need for alternative indoor play equipment.

Due to limited space in indoor facilities, there are several important factors to consider in purchasing indoor play equipment.

1. Floor space. Equipment should fit in the room but still allow an adequate "use zone" and not block exits.

2. Ceiling height. Low ceilings will limit the height of equipment so that kids do not touch the ceiling.

3. Cube capacity ratio. Have the maximum number of kids per cubic space.

  • Multiply the length by the width by the height and divide by the manufacturer's recommended capacity.
  • Multilevel play equipment will provide the highest capacity ratio.

4. Stability. Look for equipment that does not require anchoring to the floor but that is very stable so there's no danger of tipping or sliding.

5. Portability. You should be able to move equipment easily inside a room to allow more play space as needed.

6. Location options. You should be able to place equipment against a wall, in a corner, or in the center of the room to maximize space.

7. Developmental benefits. Equipment should offer kids the maximum number of interesting, fun, and challenging activities, including climbing, sliding, and crawling, which will encourage muscle development and social interaction.

8. Safety surfacing. The equipment should be appropriate for indoor play and include rubber tiles and safety carpeting.

9. Age-appropriate designs. Kids should feel safe yet also challenged and entertained.

10. Safety. The equipment should meet ASTM and CPSC requirements.

11. Supervision. Check for easy viewing and access by supervisors from all directions.

12. Ease of installation. Compare the cost of do-it-yourself versus professional installation.

13. Ease of inspection, maintenance, cleaning or repair.

14. Adaptable for theme or party decoration.