Indoor Playgrounds for Toddlers

by Erica Loop

    Fight off the winter blahs with a trip to a comfortable indoor playground. Just because the weather is about as cooperative as your toddler is when you ask her to put down her toys doesn't mean that you have to give up active play times. Keep your ultra-energetic 2-year-old busy and entertained with an awesome adventure at an indoor gym or bouncy space.

    Bounce or jumping places are popular indoor playgrounds for tiny tots. Toddlers can hop and jump on inflatable floors, crawl through bouncy obstacle courses, ride a bouncy faux truck or take a ride down a puffy slide. Some cities and towns have independently owned indoor inflatable play centers as well as national ones such as Jump Zone (jumpzoneparty.com). Many bounce centers offer free play as well as more structured activities such as birthday parties. Look for one of these jumping indoor playgrounds that has an age-specific toddler room. This will allow your little one to play on pint-sized equipment away from older and bigger kids.

    If you have a budding gymnast on your hands, try out a toddler-sized indoor gym. These well-padded play spaces, such as The Little Gym (thelittlegym.com), give tiny tykes the chance to run, play, roll, twirl, jump and more in a controlled environment (that doesn't involve somersaulting into your favorite vase) with a trained teacher. While your toddler probably isn't quite ready for a twist on the uneven bars, she can try out a very low balance beam and simple floor exercises.

    Community co-op indoor playgrounds are ideal for moms who are looking to take their toddlers to a regular activity spot. Instead of pricey one-time fees, co-op play spaces are typically member fee-based and may run at a lower rate than commercial gyms. These indoor playgrounds vary depending on the area, but may include anything from tumbling play mats to good old fashioned teeter-totters. As an added bonus, these playgrounds are often run by community moms and dads, meaning that they make ideal social spaces for meeting other moms and kids that your little one might go to school with someday.

    Whether you choose to take your toddler to an indoor inflatable kingdom or a small community co-op playground, the benefits of these activities abound. Jumping on a massive inflatable caboose might seem like a fairly trivial pursuit, but in reality this type of activity play is a way for your toddler to learn. Your tot can practice self-control skills, develop motor abilities such as balance and coordination and even navigate social situations all while staying warm and dry at an indoor playground.

    About the Author

    Erica Loop is an arts educator, parenting blogger and writer. She has been freelancing since 2010 and writes mostly child development and kids' activity content. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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