Swings

Swings are very popular equipment to buy for children from a very early age. There are lightweight indoor swings for babies either slung on a low frame or made to fix over door lintels. Compared with most other large toys they are relatively cheap but they need to be very carefully scrutinized before buying and even a strong firm one needs to be inspected regularly. The centre of gravity should be low even when a child is at the highest point possible so a wide base is necessary. One drawback they have is that only one child at a time can use them, and for older children the exercise they offer is rather limited; another warning is that the traditional wooden-seat type can be absolutely lethal to other children who get in the way.

For older children, and particularly for nursery-group use, a rubber-tyre seat, a small round wooden disc with a single rope firmly knotted through the centre, or simply a foot loop made at the bottom of the rope, give more scope to the child using them and they are far less dangerous. A wide swing frame which will take several swings could have any of these and perhaps a rope ladder too. As with climbing frames, some thought has to be given to anchoring the frame firmly and a soft landing provided in case children slip off. For the child at home the same swing frame could be used for a progression of swings starting with a safety seat, then a rubber tyre, a foot loop and eventually hand rings attached to two chains – if the frame is still sound and well anchored. Those gardens which have suitable trees are few and far between these days but boughs used for swing ropes should be checked frequently. Trees which are very old or those which shed branches suddenly and without warning, such as elms, are best avoided altogether.