Shopping Edit: 16 soft play equipment buys for a playroom or nursery

Buy some soft play equipment for at home, to help stimulate their brain, get them moving, improve their balance and more

Soft play equipment from whatkidslovethemost – grey ball pit with blue, grey and white balls inside
(Image credit: whatkidslovethemost)

Considering spending your money on some soft play equipment for your home? Good idea. Whether you and the kids have gone back to your local soft play already, or perhaps you are holding back for the moment? Either way, having some soft play equipment at home makes for fun, convenient and most importantly safe play. Not only will spending your money on this make your life a tad easier – we all know soft play equipment wears them out like mad! – but it saves a car journey and the price of a ticket. They will also get so much use out of it, whether it's in their nursery, bedroom, your living room or even if you drag it into the garden on a sunny day,

Not just for fun, soft play equipment can help your little one grow and adapt to their surroundings, whether you are after a swing to help them learn to grip and sit straight, or a slide to conquer their fear of heights and encourage them to climb. Another reason to invest in soft play equipment? The products we've found and popped below will also look the part – and in some cases blend in – with your home. There's no brightly coloured kids stuff around here. You're welcome.

Interested in buying one of the best climbing frames for outdoors? See our dedicated guide for top picks.

16 best soft play equipment buys for a playroom, nursery or your living room

1. A stylish grey ball pit for babies

Click the image shop this ball pit plus the 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
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. With this lovely grey ball pit, you needn't hide it away when you have guests over. It comes in a range of sizes and shapes – even square! – while there are so many colours to choose from. And, buying it means you are supporting a small business – win win!

2. Check out this lovely indoor baby swing

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
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!

3. Get them an indoor slide

Slides aren't just for 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!

Kids Rocket Slide
This slide is great for indoor or outdoor use – it's made of environmentally friendly high density polyethylene. You can even fold it down for easy storing, and it has softened and rounded edges for safety, as well as pebble texture steps.

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

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
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!).

5. Check out this lovely kids TeePee

Joules TeePee Play Tent with child playing inside in pink bedroom

Click the image to shop this TeePee.

(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 inside. And, you can use it to hide away their toys...

Joules TeePee Play Tent
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!

6. These sweet kids building blocks

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
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.

7. Go all out with this soft play equipment set

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
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.

8. This lovely (and soft) playmat rug

GypsyKidsDesigns Rainbow Nursery Decor Playmat

Click the image to shop this play rug.

(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
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!

9. This kids tunnel to simulate your local soft play

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
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. 

10. Rocking horses are so 2020 – buy a rocking llama

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
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...

11. Buy these soft play blocks to encourage building

Similar to that you'd find in a 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.

tumama Baby Blocks Soft Building Blocks
These colourful blocks will help your child learn animals, shapes, fruits and more – they come in a pack of 12, all differing in colour. They are made of a resin material that's safe to use around teething babies, and they can be boiled to clean them. They're great for babies and toddlers, while they fit together like puzzle pieces and they even make a noise when squeezed.

12. A playpen so they can learn to play unattended

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, prep dinner...

Baby Playpen Dripex Kids Safety Activity Center
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.

13. A 2-in-1 storage mat for hand-eye coordination

Harmony at Home Boutique Storage Bag And Play Mat

Click the image to shop this 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
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! 

14. Teach them to climm with a wooden play arch

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
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!

15. An activity gym to encourage arm lifting in newborns

Done by Deer Activity Gym

Click the image to shop this activity gym.

(Image credit: Done by Deer)

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
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!

16. Buy a step and slide for compact (and safe) fun

A step and slide will encourage your little one to be more independent, especially if they like to drag you along with them when they are at a soft play centre. It will help their climbing abilities and not to mention the fun they will have climbing, sliding, climbing, sliding, climbing...

Whittlebirduk Step & Slide
This step and slide is great for popping in their nursery for safe play (no bumped heads allowed). They'll probably spend all day climbing and sliding, and making you watch them do it, but at least it beats sitting at your noisy local soft play. You can also take it outside and use it in the garden on warmer days, and it's hardly an eyesore.

Where to buy soft play equipment online?

If you're still on the hunt for some soft play equipment, search the retailers below to find something that suits your budget and house size.

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...