Even as the world opens up, your backyard remains a haven for your children. But a great backyard swing set elevates it from a patch of grass to an at-home amusement park. The best kids’ 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’ outdoor playset in the backyard also encourages more physical activity on long 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.
Go big or stay home, you say? Damn right. This is a full outdoor clubhouse for kids, featuring five foot high rock-climbing wall and 5 foot vertical cargo net. There's a long wavy slide. And two swings. There's also built-in safety railings and handholds, and two removable canvas sunshades. The swing weight limit is 110 pounds; a maximum of six kids can play on this at the same time.
Yet another bigger-is-better set for your yard: This one has an expanded upper deck with a canvas roof and a lower mesh play/lounge area when it's time to just chill out. There's a working telescope, a slide, and of course two belt swings. The weight limit for each swing is 110 pounds. The total playset weight capacity limit is 990 pounds.
So this isn't a swing set, but it's one great swing. You can use it from the time your child can sit up to about four years of age; the weight limit is 50 pounds. Because of its unique design, kids get a wider range of motion when they swing. And it helps them work on their sense of balance. You can attach this to a tree or an existing swing set.
The swing to end all swings: Kids can swing, spin, rock, or just hang out. It's a platform swing with a steel frame and made of heavy-duty nylon rope. There's an attachable cover to block out the sun. 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.And the weight limit is 400 pounds.
Hang this swing from a tree, and you're in business. The solid steel frame supports a weather-resistant canvas border, and holds 150 pounds' worth of kid. Grommets on the seat help with water drainage, so it doesn't get nasty.
If you're planning on having a few kids play together, this is a solid option that doesn't break the bank. You get two swing seats and a ring/trapeze combination swing, all with pinch-free coated chains. Each swing supports up to 115 pounds' worth of kid. Because of its simple A-frame swing beam, you can also add a toddler swing, if you're so inclined.
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.
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