After seeing a reader comment thread about keeping kids active indoors, we decided to round up the best indoor play equipment for young kids. As the weather gets colder (or on any bad-weather day), and as we wait for the vaccine to be approved for kids under 12, indoor play gyms are a great choice to keep your kids busy on the weekends and beyond.
For indoor fun, there’s a lot more out there than just mini trampolines and doorway jumpers (both of which have safety issues). Here’s some of the best indoor play equipment at various price points — with one option suitable for adults, too!
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This play gym from Gym1 is what Kat bought a few years ago for her two boys, and she highly recommends it! The six-piece play set includes plastic rings, a swing, a climbing ladder, a trapeze bar, a knotted rope, and a pull-up bar and is $144.
The four-piece set is $121 and has everything but the trapeze bar and rope.
As for assembly and installation, the company promises “no drilling, no hammering, no stress” — and once everything’s put together, the elements are interchangeable.
Just make sure the doorway you’re using is 25″-36″ wide. And if you or your partner want to join in the fun, you can — the steel structure holds up to 300 lbs.
Kat’s $.02: The trickiest part is finding space in your home that has a doorjamb you can monopolize for it and then about 6–8 feet clear both in front of and behind the door.
If you have younger kids, you can do even less than that. And my son really likes the seat that came with the set, but you can also buy other seats on Amazon for more comfort.
Here’s a recommendation from April: a foldable Pikler Triangle. As she wrote in her post about it last summer, the Pikler Triangle is associated with the Montessori educational philosophy and was created by Hungarian pediatrician Dr. Emmi Pikler. This play structure teaches kids up to age 5 to play independently, learn their boundaries, and solve problems.
The climbing frame, which is handmade in the U.S.A., is made from 13-ply, sustainable, formaldehyde-free Euro Birch and solid hardwood. It’s sealed with a zero-VOC, UV-cured finish, which means that it’s easy to clean and won’t release any volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be harmful.
The Pikler Triangle is $285 at radchildrensfurniture.com. If you choose to add a ramp, the price goes up to $410 (short ramp) or $440 (longer ramp). (Amazon also has a few options starting at $150ish.)
A reader recommended this gymnastics bar (along with this $25 mat to place underneath it for safety), and it has hundreds of positive reviews, too. Although she bought it as a birthday gift for her 5-year-old, she says that both her 7-year-old and 10-year-old also play on it for hours.
The height is adjustable, so kids of all ages can use it, as the customer images on Amazon show. Reviewers say it’s sturdy and safe — and when your kids aren’t using it, it can be folded and put away.
The bar is $87 (blue) and $85 (pink).
Another commenter mentioned the brand Brain Rich Kids, and their wall-mounted and tension-mounted play gyms look amazing! The designs are based on the Swedish Wall, which was invented by a Swedish teacher, Per Henrik Ling.
One of the company’s bestsellers is the Model W2, which is designed for kids age 3 and up, is made of steel (it holds up to 220 lbs.!), and comes in orange and gray. It includes monkey bars, wall bars, a swing, and a climbing net and is $499.
Brain Rich’s website helpfully includes assembly how-to videos and an extensive FAQ that has info about installation, use, and more.
Finally, don’t forget about climbing walls — you can create one directly on your wall or use a panel that’s easier to remove. This YouTube video looks like a great resource to get you started…
Readers, do you have any recommendations for the best indoor play equipment? What are your favorite indoor active games to play with your kids?
Social media images via Stencil (Pikler triangle in very beige bedroom).
I am very skeptical of the doorway swing. We have a pull-up bar that is identical to this one, and when our kid tried swinging on it (by her hands), it rocked dangerously and nearly flew off the doorway before I stopped her.
Kat G says
It’s actually really sturdy — we used to have a pull-up bar a while ago but I don’t remember the way it attached to the door enough to compare and contrast. My youngest goes to TOWN on it and it’s very secure.
We also have the exact set listed on the site. Is my is extremely sturdy. It holds a great deal of weight (I’m 140 pounds, and I’ve swung in it without issues). The company also makes adult attachments like acrobatic swings. You just have to protect the door frame trim from getting banged up. I sliced a pool noodle length wise and used painters tape to protect the corners of the door frame.
our main indoor play equipment is our west elm urban sectional. it makes fantastic forts.
No Face says
My sectional couch is also my main “indoor play equipment.” My kids jump and bounce all over that thing.
We got a swedish ladder last winter and it’s great, but you need to have kids who like climbing. Took a while for them to warm up to that.
That’s probably similar to what we have but it has “extras” that make it more fun. It’s fantastic for both kids and adults.
We have this one.
This would be my kid, which is why we probably won’t get this…
If you have room, highly recommend a bouncy house. We got one from Amazon (powerful air pump included), and it was a lifesaver during the first months of pandemic lockdown, when all our local playgrounds were closed. It inflates in less than a minute, and it absolutely exhausts our kids on rainy/cold days.
We live in a small NYC apartment, and the only equipment we’ve ever tried is the Little Tikes First Slide. It comes apart and folds flat and is very light, so easy to shove it a closet or under the bed. Our son used it for years and its $25. https://smile.amazon.com/Little-Tikes-First-Slide-Blue/dp/B008MH5H4M/
Does anyone have a nugget thing? https://nuggetcomfort.com/
A few people have raved about it here.