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soft play centre - beginner's guide please!

(11 Posts)
eeky Sun 25-Oct-09 19:45:07

I have never taken dd to one of these centres but think it may be a good option for tiring her out and a change of scenery. She is 18m old and we have a new ds 5 weeks old. She has always been at home with myself or dh, goes to a toddler group and bounce and rhyme at local library once a week, but I would like to try and increase her exposure to different places and other kids - we don't have many visitors at home and I don't have any friends nearby with kids. She is confident but can get upset by meeting people she is not familiar with, especially if visiting the house. She doesn't stray very far from me when out and has only just started walking alone; still a bit wobbly. She has taken to her brother fantastically and seems to be very chilled with him. Can you give me any advice on what a soft play area is like, does she need particular clothes/shoes, are they ok for her if a bit wobbly? And how feasible to take the baby and breastfeed him - will I need to be jumping up and down every 2 minutes if she trips/falls, are there staff there to supervise etc?

The only one nearby is a Wacky Warehouse - any advice? I'm guessing avoid weekends as likely to be busy.

Thanks all.

whomovedmychocolate Sun 25-Oct-09 19:48:29

Socks are the norm. Wear clothes that you don't mind getting ruined in case she tears them. Take extra nappies, sometimes jiggling about can cause ahem movements. Major problem is managing both kids, it's fine to breastfeed at them but you will probably need to follow your DD round for the first time and so you will need your DS in a sling.

Staff are allegedly there to supervise in the sense of mopping up blood and vomit but they do not play IYSWIM with the kids and most seem to actively avoid them.

Expect a tantrum when you leave. Avoid weekends and half term like the plague. Late afternoons are best.

bigstripeytiger Sun 25-Oct-09 19:54:11

18 months may be a little young. Different soft play centres tend to be more suited to different age groups, asking around locally would give you an idea of where would be suited to a younger child. The wacky warehouse in the city where I live would suit children from about 2 1/2 up. It has tables and chairs and sells drinks and snacks. You should dress your DD in casual clothes that she can move about in.
Staff are there to supervise (generally in a very minimal way IME) and wont be there to help out, so you probably will be getting up and down a lot for an 18 month old, if not actually having to be in the soft play with her helping her. When I took my 18 month old DD for the first time she was very worried, and didnt go more than a few feet away from me, even though I was in the play area with her (it was for a birthday party, or I wouldnt have taken her TBH).

Sorry, that all sounds a bit gloomy, hope that is works well for you if you do go, and in a year or two you will be able to just let them go in and play while you have a coffee. smile

whomovedmychocolate Sun 25-Oct-09 19:58:12

Oh and the coffee and food tend to be shite. You need to know this. Eat FIRST then go.

Also your 5 week old may well be charged the same entry fee as your toddler hmm

sanfairyann Sun 25-Oct-09 20:01:35

are there any other toddler groups you could try instead? with a newborn in tow, you might not want to be giving her a helping hand up the slides if she can't do it by herself etc. and if she's only just started walking as well, it might be too overwhelming. does this one have an area for young babies/toddlers? our wacky doesn't but other soft play places do

pipWereRabbit Sun 25-Oct-09 20:05:36

Please try and avoid soft play centres during the school holidays - they are bedlam grin.

Otherwise try one or two different ones, we have one locally called Creepy Crawlies which is small and compact and perfect for my 17mo. Don't give up after your first attempt as they can be a bit intimidating.

P.S. IMO if a place charges for non-mobile babies they should be avoided at all costs as greedy rip-off merchants.

CristinaTheAstonishing Sun 25-Oct-09 20:12:06

Can you bend already?

Personally I wouldn't do it with a 5 week old in tow, unless you have a friend with you to watch him.

Socks, across-body bag, Panadol.

momijigari Sun 25-Oct-09 20:16:47

They are the hamster wheel for children, no?

seeker Sun 25-Oct-09 20:25:10

I hate them with a passion - and would never go to one without another adult or two to talk to. But if you're going, make sure you have a push chair or a car seat to put the baby in while you play with your toddler.

I find outside things much better for wearing children out - the artificial light, bright colours and sometimes the music make them simultaneously exhausted and wired - BAD combination in a toddler. Or maybe that's just mine.....

moomaa Sun 25-Oct-09 20:42:23

Do you have a local lesiure centre? We have two that put on soft play at particular times for such young children. Some big soft play centres do toddler times too. When DS was this small and I had a young baby these were much better as I knew there were no older children that would play too roughly and that most of the children woud have 1:1 supervision as not many people have two under two so I didn't need to worry about him getting too playful with a much younger baby.

Scottie22 Sun 25-Oct-09 21:04:59

I take my 2 year old dd to soft play quite a lot and would say it's great if they have good facilities for toddlers. The one we go to has a specified toddler area which is just right for crawlers and walkers. My dd is very wobbly which is why I take her - advice of physio! Only thing I have to look out for is older children straying into toddler area as they are not usually that well manned by staff. Some parents just let their kids run riot unfortunately!

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