Six skills toddlers learn from soft play

Love it or hate it, if you have a child, you have likely spent your fair share of time at soft play. If you choose wisely and pick one that is accessible for their ability, you may even get the chance to consume a hot beverage. Alternatively, the space is too restrictive and your tot is bored within minutes or otherwise, there is too much challenge and you end up contorted within the cramp primary coloured maze trying to hoist them up.

Either way, I think soft play has lots of benefits. Whilst slurping a hot latte at a recent trip, I thought of six skills that my girls were developing from just from being there. I gave myself a little parental pat on the back and continued to drink my coffee knowing I was providing a valuable experience and not just taking the opportunity to practically ignore my offspring for nearly an hour.

So here they are – six skills your toddler will learn at soft play.

1) Determination: When everyone else has reached the summit, you are going to be motivated to get to the top too. You may have to try over and over but whatever is up there is going to be worth it. The look of pride when they finally realise that if they just put this foot here and pull there, that they can get up. Priceless.


2) Resilience: The sign may say up to age 5 but you know that is never abided by. Some boisterous seven year old will arrive and before they know it, they are getting barged past and knocked into as the oblivious child careers past them. These minor bumps are teaching them to keep going and not let little set backs put them off.

3) Patience: When the place gets busy, the chance to practise turn taking kicks in. One slide and five waiting children can be a recipe for meltdowns. It is also a good opportunity to watch others and negotiate your slot. There will always be one who wants to hog the slide and so patience is definitely a skill to be mastered.

Finding the way myself

4) Strength: Little arms and legs have to work hard to navigate the various challenges that soft play offer. Climbing over something that is the same height as you is no easy feat. I certainly couldn’t do it. Repeating these actions over and over as they go around the circuit, builds core strength and works all their muscles. It’s practically a workout.

5) Independance: After spending the last week within arms reach of Mummy, it’s good to break free.  Climbing, exploring and crawling alone is great for testing new abilities and not relying on being helped. It’s so tempting to get in and push them up or follow them through and while they are tiny this may be necessary but soon enough, they’ll be able to do it alone.

Climbing at soft play

6) Risk taking: Soft play often pushes little ones to challenge themselves and try something they haven’t done before. Climbing a ladder or swinging on a rope may pose a risk but in the relative safety of a padded play centre, it’s probably a risk worth taking.

When they learn something new

At this particular soft play, there was a large rope hoop that Emily was just too small to climb through. She tried again and again but just couldn’t do it. I was so proud to watch as another little girl crawled through a gap below and Emily followed. If I’d stepped in, she wouldn’t have figured this out. My girls surprise me every time we go to soft play with their new skills. What skills have your children learnt from soft play?

Read what your child will learn from a farm visit here.

37 thoughts on “Six skills toddlers learn from soft play

  1. Totally agree. The girls have learnt so much in the past from using soft play. But then again I’m the ‘yes you can climb up the slide’ parent because I know they will learn.

    1. I know… as long as they are not getting in the way of others why not. Who says slides have to be slid down???

  2. I’ve never thought of soft play like this before. Thanks for enlightening me 🙂 #TheListLinky

    1. You are most welcome 😬

  3. This is so true, mine love soft play and they’re always pushing themselves to do more each time we go! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    1. My Emily tried so hard today to get up the climbing wall today. She finally did it ❤️

  4. It’s also great exercise for the parents if you go in and run around with them! I’m always surprised at how quickly I get exhausted!

    1. Tell me about it – crawling through the tunnels and pulling myself all over the place and I’m knackered

  5. This was great to read as it reminds me why I take my toddler to soft play, even though it can be totally hectic at times! I agree, it is so good for them in so many ways. Lovely pix too! #thelistlinky

    1. Can be crazy at peak times – we generally try to avoid these. A quiet soft play is the best

  6. I know the importance of soft play but that doesn’t stop me dreading it! It was ok when there was just 1 child but then there was 2 and now 3 and it is so tricky trying to keep an eye on the little one. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to sit and have a hot drink! Thanks for linking up to #Blogstravaganza

    1. Those huge soft plays look pretty intimidating to me and it’s scary you can’t see them. I’m still at the stage that we go to really small ones and they are still entertained.

  7. I have a love/hate relationship with soft play, I love how happy it makes my toddler, but I hate some things like you say the big 7year olds in the under 5 area who bulldoze in to my 3year old! But you are right there are so many skills they can learn, and just always the perfect way for them to let off steam on a rainy day! #postsfromtheheart

    1. We try and avoid busy times but you’re right sometimes a few do spoil it

  8. You can’t beat soft play – especially on a rainy day, which we have been having a lot of! Resilience is definitely something they learn – there always seems to be some big kids or some sort of conflict anytime we go but there is learning in that too. Thank you for sharing with us at #BloggerClubUK x

    1. A great solution for wet days and we had a climbing wall victory today

  9. We had another little soft play victory today

  10. I do love a good soft play. They’ve died a death where we live though, so whilst my now-teenage son had his pick of six local ones and spent a lot of time there, my four year old doesn’t go as often as it’s a half hour drive to the nearest one. We always enjoy it when we do go though (not least because I actually get to have a coffee in peace!).

    1. No soft play oh dear. I wonder why they all disappeared?

  11. I used to take the children that I was child minding to a soft play centre, I remember one little boy had done an unnoticed pooh in his nappy as he climbed a rope it fell out of the nappy and his shorts#truiamphanttales#_karendennis

    1. Urrrrgh – guess that’s an image you can’t unsee

  12. The softplay by me is a bit naff, there is an under 4 section which my lb is currently only allowed in, just some toys which we have at home and some plastic germ infested colorful balls 🙁 i hate to catch him putting his mouth on one of the toys there, 🙁 #TriumphantTales

    1. That’s a shame. I guess they are all different and some are better at keeping their toys clean.

  13. #triumphanttales i agree, for me its hell and for him its Disney land (and way cheaper) for enjoyment and also for his development. I totally recommend putting them in something bright – sometimes its hard to locate him now he is faster lol.

    1. I always forget this until I’m there and then wonder why I put them in something indistinctive.

  14. We don’t have a soft play in our area, but it is something I will be looking into next time we head to the city. I know my Sweet Girl would LOVE this.

    Great post!


    1. Thanks…they love it

      1. Update: We just went to one today in a nearby city. It was a great place! Sweet Girl was pretty tired so she wasn’t her normal overly hyper self, but by the end of the hour we were there she was starting to be braver and having more fun. Definitely will be going back!
        Thanks for introducing us to this!

        1. Glad you enjoyed your self

  15. Ben is yet to experience soft play as where he skipped crawling to walk, he doesn’t really know how to move around sitting down – for someone so smart, he’s a bit clueless (definitely inherited from Mr Harris haha).
    I’m waiting for him getting to grips with soft play, more for me to unleash my inner child haha!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. Your girls are too cute! I hope to see you back next week.

    1. Thanks – there is definitely a stage when they’re just not ready but you are. Putting them in too soon just frustrates everyone.

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