8 Best Swing Sets for Your Backyard, According to Safety Experts
Sure, you could take a trip to a community playground, but that would involve a lot more risk factors, like equipment safety and germ control. Luckily, there are many residential swing set options on the market to fit your child's needs. Plus, you can choose from simple, two-seat swing sets or high-end designs with clubhouses, slides, ladders, climbing walls, and other fun bonus features.
What to Consider When Buying a Swing Set
According to Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A., a child safety expert and the author of The Safe Baby, you want to purchase swing sets that are appropriate for your child's current age and weight. "Don't buy equipment expecting your child to grow into it," says Holtzman. "If the child is too small for the equipment, they cannot safely use it. Many injuries of young children occur when they play on equipment designed for older children." She recommends a full bucket swing, like this one, for young children who can sit upright on their own. "It's best to check with your pediatrician to see when your child is ready [to use a bucket swing]," she says.
When choosing a swing set brand, Holtzman says it's extremely important to make sure you're buying equipment that meets the American Society for Testing and Materials standards. "Swing sets for young children should be composed of soft materials, such as canvas, rubber, or plastic, and no more than two swing seats should be suspended in one section," she says.
What to Consider When Installing a Swing Set
Once you find the best swing set for your child's needs, the next step is finding the right spot to install it. According to Holtzman, you'll want to plan your placement carefully so that it's far enough away from hazards. "Find a place in your yard that is at least 6 feet from walls and at least 7 feet from electrical wires—the wires should not go over the playground," she says. "Prepare this area so that it's nearly level but will drain. Each apparatus should be set at least 12 feet from every other structure." She emphasizes the importance of following the manufacturer's instructions for installation and regularly inspecting your swing set for signs of wear, like hazardous splintering or cracks in the equipment.
Expert Advice for Safe Play on Swing Sets
Provide a Soft Landing
Add a soft material, such as this ASTM-approved playground tile at Wayfair, under slides, swings, and other equipment that would benefit from a cushioned surface. "For swings, the material should extend—at the front and back—as far as twice the height of the suspending bar," says Holtzman. "Twelve inches of loose fill material, such as sand, pea gravel, wood products, or loose rubber products, will make a soft-enough cushion, but you can also use rubber mats, synthetic turf, and other artificial materials (ASTM tested), which require less maintenance." Stay away from asphalt, concrete, dirt, grass, and soil.
Be an Active Supervisor
Plain and simple: Accident prevention starts with you. Before letting your children play on the swing set, Holtzman suggests showing them how to properly use the equipment. "Even in your own backyard, there must be safety rules, and you'd rather your child not learn them the hard way," she says. "Make sure they know how to [use the swing set], and explain the dangers of not following the rules. By following the example you set, they'll learn almost automatically." It's also crucial to give your child your full attention, meaning you should stay close by and free of distractions.
Dress Your Child in Playground-Safe Clothes
When it comes to dressing kids safely for swing set play, consider more than just the weather. Avoid oversized clothing, necklaces, and drawstrings, and swap scarves for neck warmers on chilly days. Closed-toe footwear, such as sneakers and boots, are safe shoe options when laces are tied securely. "Be sure there are no points on the play equipment that can catch a child's clothing," says Holtzman. "Check especially the top of slides, S-hooks on swings, and joints of climbers."
With that in mind, we rounded up outdoor swing sets for different ages and height requirements that meet or exceed ASTM standards. Ready to make a purchase? Scroll down for the best swing sets you can buy on Amazon and Wayfair.
Here are the best swing sets of 2021:
- Best Overall: Swing-N-Slide Ranger Wooden Swing Set
- Best Wood: Backyard Discovery Oakmont Swing Set
- Best Metal: Sportspower My First Metal Swing Set
- Best Budget: MaxKare Metal Single Swing Set
- Best Splurge: Little Tikes Adventures Bobcat Ridge Swing Set
- Best for Toddlers: Gorilla Playsets Free Standing Swing Set
- Best for Big Kids: XDP Recreation Free N' Swing Swing Set
- Best for Small Yards: KidsClub Toddler Slide Swing Set
Best Overall: Swing-N-Slide Ranger Wooden Swing Set
Featuring a simple wooden frame, this cedar swing set is easy to assemble with one or two people. Many shoppers say they are impressed with the quality of materials and that the set comes with ground anchors. This outdoor playset has two swings and a trapeze, with each piece of equipment supporting up to 115 pounds of weight. You can adjust the swings' chains to create a comfortable height for your little ones to hop on and off. A great option for families with children of all ages, this swing set lets you simply swap out one of the regular swings for a bucket-style one to make it toddler-friendly.
Best Wood: Backyard Discovery Oakmont Swing Set
With a lower level clubhouse and a covered top deck, this swing set provides the perfect setting for imaginative play. It also has two swings, a trapeze, a ladder, and a slide for when kids aren't hanging out by the snack window. Thanks to its cedar construction, the swing set can withstand mold and decay from bad weather. "I've had this up for four years now and it is just as sturdy as the day I built it," one happy shopper wrote. As a bonus, you can follow the installation instructions on a free 3D-interactive app.
Best Metal: Sportspower My First Metal Swing Set
What makes this metal swing set better than others like it? It has soft foam padding on each leg for added safety. Recommended for children ages 3 to 8, the heavy-duty swing set can support kids weighing up to 100 pounds. It includes two swings, a trapeze, and a slide that parents say keeps multiple kids entertained at one time. One reviewer said the swing set is "holding up great with four busy kids on it every day," while another said her youngest child practically "lives on the slide."
Best Budget: MaxKare Metal Single Swing Set
For just $80, this single-swing set is an affordable option that works well for small families and backyards. It comes with a U-shaped swing seat, but you can use a bucket swing (not included) until your child is ready to upgrade to a big-kid swing. The swing set provides the tools you need, including four twist anchors, to make sure it's secured to the ground. Remember, it can only support one kid at a time and the weight limit is 100 pounds.
Best Splurge: Little Tikes Adventures Bobcat Ridge Swing Set
If your kiddos love going to parks, consider this Little Tikes playhouse swing set that's basically like having a public playground in your own backyard. It has common features, such as three swings, a slide, and a ladder, as well as special outdoor play equipment, including a rock climbing wall, rope bridge, and monkey bars. Packed with so many activities, the spacious wooden structure can support 12 kids at once. Want to enjoy snack time outside? There's even a covered four-person picnic table located under the deck.
Best for Toddlers: Gorilla Playsets Free Standing Swing Set
Since swing sets with baby swings have limited years of use, consider Gorilla's free-standing swing set, plus its coordinating bucket swing. As mentioned above, you can easily switch a regular swing to a bucket swing and then switch back when your child is ready—typically around 3 or 4 years old. The frame is made of cedar, so it thrives in all types of weather. Shoppers say this swing set works well in small yards, feels strong and sturdy, and has a simple assembly.
Best for Big Kids: XDP Recreation Free N' Swing Swing Set
Searching for a big-kid swing set? This option meets the needs of older children, supporting up to 100 pounds of weight on each piece of play equipment. The swing set includes three different types of swings, a teeter totter, and a slide. The disc swing, which we can almost guarantee will become everyone's favorite, is padded and provides seating space for two. What's more, the swing set features foam leg padding, adjustable chains on swings, and slide rails for safe play.
Best for Small Yards: KidsClub Toddler Slide Swing Set
This swing and slide set for toddlers is designed for indoor and outdoor use, which means kiddos can play regardless of the weather outside. The fun doesn't stop at a swing and slide: There are also two basketball hoops, a writing table, and a soccer goal for your little one to engage in different kinds of activities. Made of plastic, this small playground set has smooth edges ideal for young children and an easy assembly.