Hey kids, listen up.  We all love soft play, right?  I mean, what’s not to love.  You can run indoors.  Really fast.  And not get told off.  You can climb up stuff, jump down from stuff, and you can be loud.  Really loud.  Anything your Mum won’t let you do at home, you can do here.  So here it is the definitive guide to soft play through the ages.

soft play centre


Age One

You’re pretty much on a winner here from the get go, because everyone thinks your cute and finds everything you do amazing.  So go for it, pull yourself up, test out those new balancing skills.  For optimum grown up clapping and attention you could even try taking your first steps.  Just watch out for the bigger kids.  The two year-olds will take any toy you have and the three year-olds pose a very high risk ‘squashing’ threat.


Age Two

So Mummy thinks you’re fast and that she needs eyes in the back of her head.  This is the perfect time to put her skills to the test.  See that yellow ball that baby is playing with?  That could be yours.  Make a run for it whilst Mummy is still trying to squeeze through those big roller things.  If you really want a laugh insist Mummy goes down the slide first.  Hey even you know that’s a toddler slide and any adult bottom will get wedged in.  If she says no, cry.  Loudly.  She’ll either do it to make you stop, or she’ll give you a biscuit to quiet you down.  Win win.  Just don’t do a wee wee in the ball pool.  That just ain’t cool.


Age Three

You’re now the big kid in the toddler area.  You need to show these little ones how it is done.  Always attempt to go up the slide and not down it.  If Mummy gives you a green ball, say you want yellow, if she gets the yellow, say you want red.  The ultimate skill you require is to prolong your stay for as long as possible.  If you leave she’s only going to try to put you down for a nap.  When Mummy says it’s time to go run to the smallest space you can find and stay there.  There’s no way you can be physically removed from the space, which means she is going to resort to some serious bribery.  If you miss the run and hide opportunity and your Mummy outsmarts you, now is the time to throw the mother of all tantrums.


Age Four

This is a tricky age.  You are too big for the toddler area and must now go in the big kid area.  The slides are bigger, the steps are higher, it’s a bit darker, and there are really big kids in there who are really fast.  There are lots of reasons why you must absolutely insist on not going in there without Mummy or Daddy.  Mummy might be reluctant but it’s ok, Daddy’s love this place and all the bigger kids will get to see just how cool your Daddy is.  And when you wear Daddy out it’s the perfect time to suggest you get some cake.


Age Five

So you’re bigger, braver and stronger.  You can get up those big steps all by yourself now.  And you can run across the rope bridge.  You even have the courage to take on the helter-skelter slide.  Just watch out for the bigger kids, they can take you down when you are least expecting it.  If this happens run and find Mummy.  For optimum effect cry.  Then insist the only thing that will make you feel better is chocolate.


Age Six

You’ve nearly made it to the top of the food chain.  You just need to hang in there for another year.  Use this year to your advantage, check out every nook, cranny and dark corner of this place.  You need to know the best places to escape the baddies, you need to know where to ambush people, and you need to know all the short cuts so you can win every race.  Do your research, practice your skills.  Just don’t go in the toddler area.  If you get caught you will be kicked out and then it’s game over.


Age Seven

You own this place.  All the other kids move aside to make room when you hurtle past.  They all want to be you.  You are the biggest, the fastest and the best.  You make the rules now.  Kids seek you out for directions and obstacle tips.  Tell the others you were here when that kid broke their arm that time and you will become the stuff legends are made of.  Just remember, don’t ever take your socks off.


Age 9 Months "What is this place?"

Age 2 Baby Builder

Age 5 Faster than the speed of light!


This post was first published on the Huffington Post

This post was featured on Mumsnet


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Claire Kirby

40 Comments on The Ages of Soft Play

  1. Oh the world of soft play! My son is 9 now so unless it’s a super duper one with a disco room and really high slides then he’s just not interested. Great idea for a post and bang on the money Claire! xx #FridayFrolics

  2. This is very funny and it makes me think it’s time for our baby to start going with us to soft play. He goes to Tumble Tots in the week with our child minder but I’ve not been brave enough to venture into a soft play centre yet – i think they’re more intimidating for adults than toddlers!

    • It’s because there too bloody small for adults. I’m terrified of one day having to be rescued because I got stuck trying to rescue my child!

  3. Ha! So much truth in this post! Don’t forget (age 2) thinking you are too big for the toddler area so heading straight for the ‘big boy’s’ section, only to find that you can’t get up the immense steps. Cue screaming for Mummy and losing all street cred 😉

  4. Ah yeh gotta love soft play…my 18 month tiddler is a bit crazy and always injuring herself so I love the safety of soft play…although you do get the odd older child trying to trample her!! Am sure the rolls will be reversed one day though! Great post!

  5. Aaaah soft play – how I’ve missed thee – NOT! Must confess I’m a little guilty of avoiding these if I can, but this had me laughing out loud! Great post #FridayFrolics

    • It’s so much harder now I have two and the big one is too big for the little area. I tend to only go now when I have another pair of eyes with me!

  6. Ha!
    I am tempted to take our 8 month old but very worried about the ‘squashing’ risks! I’m also looking back at these places through the rose tinted glasses of childhood. I guess I’ll find if different when I’m there as a mum.

  7. Hehee “a very high squashing threat” has to be my favourite line ever!! Great post, I love a bit of soft play! Thanks for linking up xx

  8. I love this and so great to see it at every stage as I have only experience newborn to 3 years so far!!! I am yet to accomplish the others so at least I know what’s coming. Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me and I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme

  9. LMAO! This post is hilarious. This is exactly how it works at soft play. Obviously written by a true soft play veteran. Love the ‘don’t wee in the ball pit’ bit. 😉 #PoCoLo

  10. Brilliant – great post! Kids love soft play – I, on the other hand am not such a big fan. Dreading tomorrow as we’re at a birthday party at one… wish me luck! #TheList

  11. Hello there, I really enjoyed this-our little boy is three and is obsessed with trying to climb up the slide, and is a little apprehensive about coming back down it! x #sharewithme

  12. I need to give this to my 3-year-old to read as he already thinks he’s 7! Darn the big slide is BIG!
    And what are those rollers about? I do get stuck every time, but there’s just no way around them!

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