Swinging and swing sets are childhood milestones. They are an essential part of growing up, having fun, and operating as a portal from adult life back to carefree times.
It may be a lesser-known fact to the general population, but swinging provides unlimited opportunities for social development, physical mobility, and cognitive skills like problem-solving.
Whether swings were used at home, at a friend’s house, at the school playground, or in a park, it is rare to come across someone who has not been on a swing.
Not all swing sets will be the same, just as no two people are the same.
A baby swing is not going to entertain a toddler, just as a toddler swing is not going to amuse older children and teenagers.
Understanding your child’s physical and mental development will help you pursue the perfect swing set for your excited toddler.
At what age should a child get a swing set?
There is no straightforward answer to this question due to the uniqueness of every child at any age. It is crucial to understand that children will grow and mature at different speeds, making age recommendations only a recommendation. As a parent or caregiver, it is vital to know where recommendations align or do not align with your toddler.
When a baby can sit upright and maintain stability, usually around six months, they can slowly be introduced to baby swings. Baby swings will look like a highchair seat and may have a seatbelt to ensure extra safety.
Between six months and two, swings will look like bucket seats to support a toddler’s back and torso while moving back and forth. There is more room for legs and arms to enjoy the swing and get more movement from the necessary motions.
Toddlers that are two to five years old will naturally start to gravitate toward traditional swings commonly found in school playgrounds and parks. A general rule, if the child can get onto the seat by themselves, they can safely start swinging on their own too.
Children six and older should have no issue with swings and can enjoy playing without requiring immediate supervision.
What are the Benefits of Swings for Toddlers?
Swing sets are an excellent way to introduce and improve social skills. Toddlers will learn the importance of taking turns, helping current friends get started, and establishing new friendships through activity interactions.
Sometimes new friends will need to leave, or their new friends will have other friends that show up and want to play too.
Once mastered, swinging is a reasonably simple activity. However, as toddlers start at the beginner level, they may need encouragement to keep trying to be just as good as their siblings.
The more a toddler improves their swinging skills, they also develop fine and gross motor skills simultaneously.
Fine motor skills are used as toddlers learn to grip, grasp, and hold on to the chains holding the seat in the air.
The small hand muscles used for swinging are crucial to holding a pencil, marker, or crayon. Strengthening during play will improve specific skills academically and professionally.
Gross motor skills are used as children pump their legs front and back to gain momentum and see how high they can go.
Helping friends with a good push start requires using muscles in the arms. Staying upright on the swing while it is moving, holding onto the chains, and working on balance all focus on core strength.
Developing the Sensory System
Swings are a unique approach to sensory development. Starting as a complicated and coordinated movement, almost all the five senses are involved from start to finish on a swing set.
While on a swing, a toddler is constantly moving, opening them up for constantly changing stimulation.
The movements are routine and straightforward to get a swing in motion, but the feelings, sights, smells, and sounds can rapidly change.
Well-developed sensory systems are beneficial for coping strategies to noise, smells, and feelings. Spatial awareness is also improved as children can recognize where they are in relation to other people and playground equipment.
The vestibular sense is necessary for knowing where and how a body is moving. The feeling of balance comes from within the inner ear, where the vestibular receptors connect to the fluids in the ear canal.
Swinging is a constant motion of back and forth, gradually lifted and lowered as the swing moves up and down.
These motions help develop the receptors in the inner ear and strengthen the connection between the ear and brain for improved balance.
Through enhanced balancing skills, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness are also improved.
There are numerous positive developmental gains from swinging, but swings can also be calming at the same time. The repetitive motion of hanging on, pumping legs, and moving back and forth can reduce anxiety, calm tempers, and initiate a relaxed feeling.
The activity is not intense, but studies have shown that swinging increases blood flow to the brain, helps with deep breathing, and results in better focus for up to eight hours after only fifteen minutes of fun.