These 15 soft play equipment buys are perfect for a playroom or nursery – stylish and stimulating

Soft play equipment can help stimulate their brains, get them moving, improve their balance and more – here are the best buys for home use while in lockdown

Best soft play equipment: GypsyKidsDesigns Rainbow Nursery Decor Playmat
(Image credit: GypsyKidsDesigns)

If you are considering buying some soft play equipment for your home – we can hardly blame you – then you've landed in the right place. We've done some shopping for the best soft play equipment buys on the web – for home use. We're not talking about brightly coloured soft equipment, more things that will blend into your colour scheme – yes, this stuff exists.

Whether you are hoping to get your toddler moving more, you are feeling guilty that your three-year-old is missing out on soft play fun (don't!) – perhaps you want to buy something to improve their balancing skills? Or maybe it's all about the fun – either way, these 15 buys below will prove to be lots of fun, during and after lockdown.

Interested in buying one of the best climbing frames for outdoors, ready for spring and summer 2021? See our dedicated guide for top picks.

15 best soft play equipment buys

1. A stylish grey ball pit for babies – that's fit for your living room

whatkidslovethemost BALL PIT + balls

(Image credit: whatkidslovethemost)

If you are looking to simulate their favourite soft play centre, then buying a ball pit would be a smart idea – no matter how large or small. This can help little ones get used to picking things up, throwing things and even if they fall, they will land on soft ground. Great for sensory play...

whatkidslovethemost BALL PIT + balls | From £104.92 at Etsy
One of the biggest issues we have with soft play equipment is that the majority of it is brightly coloured – we'd rather not have it on display all of the time in our living rooms. With this lovely grey ball pit, you needn't hide it away when you have guests over. It comes a range of sizes and shapes – even square! – while it comes in so many colours. And, buying it means you are supporting a small business – win win!View Deal

2. Check out this lovely indoor baby swing – for teaching them how to grip and balance... and for the cute laughs

Molfar UA Baby or toddler swing

(Image credit: Molfar UA)

Swings aren't just for having fun – okay, they are mostly for having fun. But also, popping your child on a swing will teach them how to grip, it can help strengthen their spine while they are sitting upright and so much more. 

Molfar UA Baby or toddler swing | From £48.40 at Etsy
We love the idea of hanging a swing in a nursery – for endless playtime at home! This one is super comfortable with a back for little ones, and it has lots of places for them to hold onto. Not just that but it's 100 per cent handmade, and sturdy! With a maximum weight limit of 90 pounds. It's in the US but shipping is free!View Deal

3. Get them this sweet elephant kids slide from eBay – it's just £85!

motherandbaby Large Kids Slide Playground Children Toys for Outdoor or Indoor

(Image credit: motherandbaby)

Slides aren't just for the outdoor play, clearly! By using a slide, little ones will work to strengthen their arms and legs while climbing, as well as gaining balance and coordination skills. Not to mention independence once they finally conquer it on their own!

motherandbaby Large Kids Slide Playground Children Toys for Outdoor or Indoor | £85 at eBay
This lovely slide comes in different colours, and it's fit for both indoor and outdoor use. Made from high-quality PE, it's eco-friendly and non-toxic, as well as easy to clean and assemble. It has anti-skid steps and large grip handles, too.View Deal

4. Hard floors? Buy this kids playmat to soften it during playtime

Totter + Tumble Scout and Wanderer Compact Reversible Playmat

(Image credit: Totter + Tumble)

It goes without saying that soft play mats encourage floor play in older children, and in younger children they can help build neck/core strength. Not only that, but there's the obvious point that protecting hard floors will soften the fall, if they get a little wobbly on their feet.

Totter + Tumble Scout and Wanderer Compact Reversible Playmat |£125 at John Lewis & Partners
If you have hard flooring, then investing in a playmat will definitely be worthwhile, especially if your little one is just learning to walk. This reversible one looks lovely, and it's compact, too. It'll soften the blow should they have a tumble, while it's comfortable enough for them to lay on (and you!).View Deal

5. Check out this lovely kids TeePee – for hide and seek fun, or to use as a reading nook

Joules TeePee Play Tent

(Image credit: Joules)

There's not really much to say about the effect of a TeePee on your child's development, we'll be honest – but they can provide a cosy nook for your child to chill in. And you can use it to hide away their toys...

Joules TeePee Play Tent | £90 at Joules
Choose from grey or cream to fit in with your decor – store this TeePee in your living room or their nursery. Just pop some cosy cushions inside and a few blankets. Ta-dah!
View Deal

6. These sweet kids building blocks will provide hours of fun

Wee Gallery Nesting Blocks

(Image credit: Wee Gallery)

Not only can building blocks teach children how to build, obviously, but since these ones have numbers they can help them learn how to count.

Wee Gallery Nesting Blocks | £24.95 at Coggles
These lovely stacking blocks are different sizes with animals, plants and numbers on the sides. A great gift idea, they can provide hours of fun. Simply stack them inside each other when they are done playing and store them away with ease, too.View Deal

7. Go all out with this soft play equipment set – complete with a ball pit

SweetKidsPl Foam Playset with ball pit

(Image credit: SweetKidsPl)

Soft play equipment – whether at home or at your local centre – can help your child learn how to climb, crawl and slide, safely and comfortably. They might even get strong enough to start picking it up!

SweetKidsPl Foam Playset with ball pit | £137.14 at Etsy
Woah! If you have the space in your living room or nursery for this, it's definitely worth it! It comes in grey or pink, while it also comes with the balls included – in your colour choice, too. Whether you have one child or four, this will definitely entertain them while you can't.View Deal

8. This lovely (and soft) playmat rug that's perfect for inquisitive small children

GypsyKidsDesigns Rainbow Nursery Decor Playmat

(Image credit: GypsyKidsDesigns)

This soft play rug is best suited for smaller children, just as they are starting to get moving. It provides a super soft surface for them to lay, roll and try and crawl, and it comes with a pillow included.

GypsyKidsDesigns Rainbow Nursery Decor Playmat | £67.96 £57.76 at Etsy
This colourful, gender-neutral play mat/rug is extra large and the perfect addition to a playroom or nursery – hard flooring or not. Pop a baby gym on there, use it for playing, eating, or flip it over – it's reversible. We love!View Deal

9. Buy this grey kids tunnel to simulate the tunnels in your local soft play centre

Kids Concept Grey Cotton Canvas Playtunnel

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Why buy your little one a play tunnel? Encouraging them to crawl through it will develop their gross motor skills – and it'll give them some physical exercise. It may also help prevent separation anxiety as when they crawl through they won't be able to see you, but will then realise that you are at the other end when they get out!

Kids Concept Grey Cotton Canvas Playtunnel | £48.95 at Cuckooland
If your little one loves crawling through those (small and quite dark) tunnels in your local soft play centre, then we suggest buying them a tunnel for home use. Specifically, this lovely one from Cuckooland. It measures 180cm long, it's made from 100 per cent cotton and it collapses for easy storing. View Deal

10. Rocking horses are soooo 2020 – buy a rocking llama for them this year

Little Bird Told Me Rio Llama Rocker

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Where do we start with rocking horses (and llamas)?  Not only will using one of these help your little one with their balancing skills, but it will teach them how to grip.

Little Bird Told Me Rio Llama Rocker | £99.95 £05 at Cuckooland
How cute is this llama? Soft, fluffy and it rocks, pop your little one on top and get them to hold onto the handles – let them rock away. He has a scrunchy mane and jingly tail provide more fun, while they can use this from nine months old...View Deal

11. Buy these soft play blocks to encourage building – castles, fences, houses...

ToddlerSmileShop Toddler toys soft blocks

(Image credit: ToddlerSmileShop)

Similar to that you'd find in a soft play centre, these soft blocks are much better suited for home use. They will help your child learn how to stack, as well as reason – they come in different shapes and sizes – and they should learn some spatial awareness skills while building, too.

ToddlerSmileShop Toddler toys soft blocks | £50.51 at Etsy
These soft blocks are made from natural foam with linen covers, and they are best for children aged six to 12 months. 10 blocks come in one set, so they can build everything from a castle to a house or even just a fence. They are super soft for when they tumble over, too.View Deal

12. Opt for a baby playpen if you want them to learn to play unattended

Baby Playpen Dripex Kids Safety Activity Center

(Image credit: Dripex)

It's important to leave your child to play alone, to reduce separation anxiety and encourage solo-play – you won't always have the time to entertain them in later life. Using a playpen leaves your child in a safe space while you catch up on chores, answer your front door, prep dinner...

Baby Playpen Dripex Kids Safety Activity Center | £119.99 at Amazon
This playpen measures 150cm by 200cm – plenty of space for them to have fun. Fill it with soft toys or balls, and rest assured that it's non-stick and secure for your peace of mind. Not just that but it's BPA-free, simple to assemble and easy to clean.
View Deal

13. A 2-in-1 storage mat – a car playmat – for improving hand-eye coordination

Harmony at Home Boutique Storage Bag And Play Mat

(Image credit: Harmony at Home)

A play mat with a pattern – specifically one for playing with cars – will help boost your child's hand-eye coordination as they try to wheel their cars on the road, avoiding paths and houses.

Harmony at Home Boutique Storage Bag And Play Mat | £54.90 at Not on the High Street
This lovely play mat doubles as a storage bag, too – pop all of their toys in the middle of the mat and pull the drawstring around the edges. Super handy! View Deal

14. This rainbow wooden play arch – to teach them to climb

WoodenToysStore Rainbow Climbing arch

(Image credit: WoodenToysStore)

This (not-so-soft) toy can teach them to climb, or you can turn it over and use it as a rocker. It will also help develop their strength and balance skills.

WoodenToysStore Rainbow Climbing arch | £149.69 £127.24 at Etsy
This wooden and colourful setup is two in one – use it as a climber or a rocker. You can also buy a climbing wall add-on if you have space!View Deal

15. A super soft activity gym for newborns – to encourage arm lifting

Done by Deer Activity Gym

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

An activity gym is a great buy for newborns – even if you only want to buy one soft play toy for them, we suggest this be it! It will encourage them to be alone and play (while you are just opposite, obviously) and they will be reaching their hands in the air before you know it.

Done by Deer Activity Gym | £79.95 at John Lewis & Partners
This very soft and stable activity gym just needs to be placed on a mat before using. Pop your little one underneath and watch their eyes dart back and forth as they engage with the hanging toys. These hanging toys rattle, crinkle and more once touched – there's also a mirrored toy in there!View Deal

Annie Collyer
Annie Collyer

Annie joined the Real Homes team in 2018 as our Deals Editor. Now, as our UK Shopping Editor, she spends much of her time giving advice on what you need to add to your shopping cart. Whether that be a sofa bed for your spare room, accessories to give your space a new lease of life, shiny new appliances for a kitchen or some smart tech for an easier life. She's also our fitness and beauty guru, with hands-on experience with some of the top hair tools and the best home gym equipment around. Otherwise, you can find her rearranging the furniture in her space-savvy London flat, DIYing accessories to fit with her ever-changing colour scheme, or going on long walks with her pug. Next up on her to-renovate list is her bathroom...