Toddlers love spending time on playgrounds and benefit greatly from them. They are more susceptible, however, to certain hazards because of their young age. Their size and underdeveloped musculature, for example, mean that falls can be more dangerous. They are also more prone to choking hazards than older children. Surfacing needs to be chosen based on the age group expected to use the playground. It has to meet impact attenuation needs according to the fall height of the playground equipment. It also needs to made of a material that poses a minimal choking hazard.
Inappropriate Surfaces for Toddlers:
There are certain surfaces that should never be used in a playground, regardless of the age group. Asphalt and concrete, for example, cannot be used in a playground setting because they have no impact attenuation and are far too abrasive. Dirt and grass do not have the proper impact attenuation either and are susceptible to degradation from weather conditions. Some carpet materials are have been ASTM tested but generally are not recommended. CCA treated wood mulch presents several problems, the most important of which is the presence of arsenic in the wood treatment.
Loose-fill surfacing is generally not recommended for use on playgrounds designed for toddlers. The small, loose pieces pose a serious choking hazard to the children. Toddlers are an age group that is particularly susceptible to death or injury by choking because their throats have not yet fully developed and are smaller, more flexible, and therefore more easily obstructed. This age group also has a tendency to put small objects in their mouths. For these reasons, unitary materials are the best option for safety surfacing in a playground where toddlers are expected to play.
Poured in place rubber is an excellent option for these play areas. The surface is easily customizable to the playgrounds size, shape, and impact attenuation needs. Installing a thicker base layer is an easy way to increase the critical height of a playground. The rubber granules are smaller than shredded rubber or wood mulch. This makes it less likely that a child can choke on them. when granules begin to break away, the surface can be reconditioned and repaired. The surface can also be reconditioned when they start breaking away from the surface.
Toddler Turf is the best option for playground safety surfacing for toddlers. Toddler turf is designed to function without the sand or rubber granules used in other kinds of turf so that the surface presents no choking hazards. This is an advantage over the poured in place surfacing. Poured in place rubber does use small granules, and even those small pieces can still be swallowed by children if they break away. Toddler Turf will also provide the proper impact attenuation. Padding installed under the turf surface can be customized to fit the needs of a particular play area.