With all of us parents wanting the best for our children, sometimes we jump the gun and get toys, items, or experiences they are not developmentally ready for yet.
A classic example of this phenomenon is when I tried introducing nerf blasters to my son far before he was coordinated or strong enough to use them. His young fingers could not pull back the mechanism, so he would wander the house, yelling for someone to load his nerf blaster. That got old fast.
We circle around to the question that started this; what is a good age to get a swing set for your children?
Starting off, I will say that, as their parent, you are ultimately responsible for knowing your children and adjusting the age as necessary. My following thoughts are not medical professionals’ thoughts but rather observatory thoughts of a dad of three kids who has worked for some time in the swing set industry. I also tend towards the more old-school approach of letting kids learn by doing and not over-managing them.
I believe the most important factor in when to introduce a swing set is the motor skills of the child. Naturally coordinated 2-year-olds will be able to climb like monkeys, and I have seen such kids rocket up a 7’ rock wall without hesitation or struggle.
I have also seen much older children who are still gaining mastery of their movements or are more naturally risk-averse struggle to get up climbers on the swing set. Thus, I don’t believe we can just stamp a generalized age for when kids are ready for a swing set.
As with so much in life, it depends on so many factors.
Another part of this conversation is the wonders swing sets can do for a child’s strength, coordination, and confidence. The older children that I referenced who struggled initially will quickly adapt and learn to climb and crawl in just a few days. By no means do you need to wait till children are “ready” to get a swing set. A swing set teaches a child how to use their little bodies in safe, natural ways.
The real question we are asking is how young is too young? We don’t want to jump the gun.
I hate to say this, but it depends.
The appropriate age to buy a swingset for your children truthfully depends on the child, the equipment size, how much time you will dedicate to teaching them how to use it, and your risk tolerance. But if guidelines you seek, here are a few good ones.
- 5’ deck heights are best for younger children.
- 7’ and taller deck heights are best reserved for older children though it all depends on the equipment attached.
- Simple climbers like stairs and ramps are easier for younger children.
- A few days of monitoring and guiding your children on how to use the equipment will do wonders for their long-term use.
- Open slides are generally better for younger children as they can see out and are a bit slower.
So let’s take what we talked about and apply it to two of our sets, the Sea King and The Chateau.
The Sea King is one of our best swing sets for smaller children ages two and up. Two-year-olds will find the staircase easy to climb and the tower spacious for their movements. The rock wall provides a more advanced challenge to test their strength and coordination, but it is only at a 5’ deck height. This means it is not intimidating or dangerous for them to learn. The Sea King is the perfect swing set for the little ones to master.
The Chateau, on the other hand, is geared toward older children, ages four and up. All the swing set’s towers are 7’ tall. The two climbers are a rock wall and a ladder, which take more coordination than a staircase or ramp. Although fun, the wobbly bridge can be scary for smaller children when it is far off the ground. An advanced 3-year-old would be fine on the Chateau, but I would not recommend children younger than that.
Ultimately, what my children are ready for may not be the same as your children are, even if they are the same age. In the same breath, teaching that lacking coordination and strength is one of the benefits of owning a swing set.
The key is knowing your child, knowing what you are comfortable with, and designing your swing set accordingly.