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