With all the brightly coloured ball pits, swirly slides, tunnels and rope bridges, there’s really no wonder that soft play is an all-time favourite activity for kids. However, parents of children under 3 might be wondering if the soft play environment is suitable for them. In this blog post, we’ll answer the question “what age can babies go to soft play?”, explore all the benefits of soft play for babies and toddlers, and tell you a bit more about our unique take on soft play for babies and toddlers here at Wild Things Play Project in Bristol.
So, what age can babies go to soft play?
Generally, most soft play centres in Bristol state that they are suitable for kids aged 1 and over. Even if you do take babies into a soft play, it can be a struggle to find much for them to interact with. It can also be an anxiety-inducing experience for parents of newborns and younger toddlers due to all of the older kids racing around and (quite literally) bouncing off the walls. Some soft plays have an upper age limit of 12 years old – and 12 year olds have a lot of energy to expend at a soft play!
However, there are lots of benefits of soft play for babies that you don’t want to miss out on…
Play is a crucial part of brain and muscle development and most health professionals actively recommend soft play for babies and toddlers. Indoor play centres are full of physically stimulating activities that allow kids to engage their legs, arm and torso muscles in a way that might not be safe for them to do outside. They are also full of maze-like twists and turns that encourage children to make their own decisions and gain confidence in their own abilities.
When it comes to children under 3, sensory play is especially important. Sensory play uses specific age-appropriate equipment to engage the senses. This aids the development of memory skills, emotional regulation and learning how to hold things. This is why parents of younger children might want to opt for an indoor play centre that has a specific sensory play area for 0-3 year olds that will have age-specific baby soft play equipment
As we’ve already mentioned in this article, the traditional soft play environment might not be the ideal place for under 3s to enjoy all of the great benefits indoor play has to offer. Not all soft plays have special baby soft play equipment, and the presence of older, bigger and stronger kids can make soft play a daunting place for little ones.
It’s also worth pointing out that the loud screams, blaring music and garish colours of traditional soft play centres often lead to sensory overload, leaving children overwhelmed and less likely to engage in truly enriching play.
At Wild Things Play Project, we’re delighted to offer our own special take on soft play for babies and toddlers in Bristol.
Our indoor play centre offers an eco-friendly, sustainable, all-natural alternative to soft play located in The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. You can read more about why we think all-natural indoor play offers a more mindful and enriching experience than traditional soft play here. We have a dedicated room for under 3’s (AKA The Workshop!) and lots of toddler and newborn-friendly activities taking place on weekdays during term time.
So what is soft play for babies like here at Wild Things? Well, when you head to our Workshop on weekdays during term time, you’ll find our Kindergarden. We’ve got a huge variety of brand new sensory play equipment especially designed for pre-school and nursery age children, offering a taste of our all-natural soft play for toddlers. The bits we’ve invested in have been especially selected to help develop gross motor skills; with play pieces for balance, mark making (hand-eye coordination), roll play and initial numeracy and literacy – providing activities for toddlers that are both fun and educational.
And, as with everything at Wild Things, we’re thinking about the grown ups too. The Workshop Kindergarden is a lovely place for adults to relax with a drink while keeping an eye on the little ones.
In addition to our special take on soft play for babies, WiLD THiNGS hosts a range of events designed for babies and toddlers including story time every Wednesday at 11:30AM and 1:30PM, and sing along nursery rhymes every Thursday at 11:30AM and 1:30PM. These activities offer a fantastic opportunity to bond with your baby while the big kids are at school! You can also try out a Sing and Sign class, held at Wild Things every Tuesday this autumn and learn over 100 signs to help you communicate and connect with you baby – more info here.
See our full autumn term schedule here.PLAN YOUR VISIT