Seesaws and Rockers

These need little explanation and there is a wide variety to choose from. Rockers with two seats are best for nursery use since they involve two children. With a mixed age range of children or even with an older group of children the most likely hazard is that a third child who is not at all involved with the two on the rocker gets his fingers or feet squashed underneath it. Obviously the gentler the curve of the rocker the slower and more restricted the movement will be so this needs careful checking against the age and competence of the children who will use it. Some rockers are designed so that when turned upside down they form a set of shallow steps which is a good idea. Strength without unnecessary weight is another point to watch for as adults will probably have to move it about.

Early one-child rockers for young children can be found in all kinds of designs in metal, wood and moulded plastic. It is im- portant that a toddler should be able to get on and off reasonably easily by himself and of course should be safely supported while he is on it. This means that a back rest and hand rail are necessary. Rocking horses are usually designed for one child only yet the size and movement are more suitable for older children which puts them in the category of expensive home-playroom use. The mechanical’bouncing horse’ toy which moves along as children bounce up and down on the saddle probably comes into this group too. There is a danger that they will become a space-taking white elephant once the initial excitement has died down.

Seesaws are simple in principle. Those to avoid are the ones which have a support beneath the seat which hits the ground hard and jars the child’s spine. Others which move too freely may allow a child to hit his feet on the ground too hard and this does the same damage. For nursery use or for two well-matched children at home the seesaws which have a central pivot and allow for spinning round as well as an up-and-down movement seem very popular.

Commonsense safety principles, such as the younger the child the more support he needs and the nearer the ground the pivot should be, are obvious once one has watched children playing on this equipment. No one would buy a seesaw with splinters or rough edges but once one is installed it is necessary to inspect it regularly to see that these have not developed in use or with weathering.