With access to neighborhood amenities such as playgrounds and public pools still limited this summer, the backyard swing set will have to rise to the occasion. Outdoor swing sets can be a hefty investment, but the payout is your mental health: You yell at the kids to “go play outside!” and instead of whining, they just… go? Having a kids’ swing set in the backyard also encourages more physical activity on long, quarantined summer days when screen time sings its siren song.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are a few safety features parents will want to keep in mind when choosing a swing set. Though wooden or metal swings might be appealing, the AAP recommends choosing swings made of soft materials. During installation, parents should make sure there are no open hooks or bolts, and that the swing set is secured to the ground, and not swaying when the swing is in use.
Swing sets should be installed in areas with soft surfaces that can gently break a fall, like wood chips, sand, or rubber, if possible. “I think the surface is a real key,” says Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. “Most injuries I have seen are due to the swing sets being on grass, or other unforgiving surfaces.”
The AAP’s guidelines can make swing sets sound scary, but mostly they’re common sense. Teach kids to walk far from swings when people are on them, to remember that seats might get hot on hot days, and to never stand on swings or tie things to them. “Supervision is absolutely essential, and [so is] making sure things are used as intended, and not ‘creatively,’ ” Hoffman says.
The Best Outdoor Swing Sets for Toddlers and Big Kids
This deluxe cedar playset comes with a bench swing and two traditional swings, in addition to the slide, hammock, trapeze bar, rock wall, and lookout point. The stairs and lookout have wide railings, and it's built to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials standards for safety. It gets great reviews, though users warn it's difficult and time-consuming to put together, and it requires 33 feet of space.
This swing set has the same swings, rock climbing wall, slide and clubhouse as larger models, but only requires 23 feet of space. The upper level has mesh siding to keep kids in while letting parents see them, and it also has a built-in chalkboard.
This multi-use swing set comes with a saucer swing, traditional swing, and a standing one (though kids should sit, not stand on it) plus a seesaw and slide. Unlike some backyard playgrounds, it has no high points for kids to fall from, and its legs come with padding to soften any accidental bumps. You may need additional stakes to secure it to the ground.
This toddler swing set keeps baby secure in the swing and features a low-to-the-ground slide, a kids basketball hoop, and a ring toss. It can be used both inside and out, and is easy to assemble. It does require extra effort to secure to the ground, however.
This saucer-teepee mash-up serves as both a swing and a hideout. The swing stays low to the ground and is secured by a pyramid of feet, and the fabrics are water- and UV-resistant. The included cushion adds extra comfort, and the tent can be removed.
Though not technically a swing set, this lightweight, adjustable, and easily stowed-away tree swing offers a more affordable option for those with limited space but at least one sturdy tree in the yard. The 40-inch rainbow saucer swing lets kids swing (in any direction that space allows) or to simply 'hang out' in the shade of a tree and read, talk, or play. It's sturdily constructed, with a steel frame and heavy-duty oxford fabric designed to hold up to 330 pounds.
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