There are a few ways to witness pure toddler joy in action: You can put your kid in an outdoor swing and let them soar through the air and kick their pudgy little legs around. You can let them, oh, say, play with pretend butter, or thanks to the latest brilliant trend in sensory play, you can also let them roll around in a baby ball pit full of… well, plastic balls. In a world crowded with STEM toys and others that make big claims about development, the best ball pits for kids are a refreshingly simple way for toddlers and preschoolers to experience what play really means: letting go and having fun.
But before you invest in a ball pit for kids, there are a few things you must keep in mind: Make sure your child can sit up on her own before using it. Unless you have tons of floor space, you’ll want a ball pit that folds up and keeps the balls contained. And you want balls you can clean. The reason for that should not need any further explanation.
We love this see-through ball pit because of its design: Rather than wondering what your child is up to, you can literally view him or her in realtime through its mesh sides. It also includes a small basketball hoop and soccer goal. Granted, some may not have the room for this model, which is 92 inches long and 51 inches wide, but there’s a smaller version available for tight spaces.
And this is the other side of the coin: You’ve got the pit, but where do you buy the balls? Bestway’s set is durable and cleanable, and they’re air-filled so you do not pull a muscle lugging them around the house. The sealing seam is smooth so it will not abrade delicate skin.
The gold standard of miniature ball pits: This one is suitable for babies 9 months and older. It’s a zippered turtle that houses 60 plastic balls that are multi-colored. The bottom is non-skid, and it zips up when your kid is done playing to become a pillow.
Another of the less garish options, this one is made from microfiber with a non-slip bottom. One bonus is that the outer cover is removable and washable. Note that the balls are sold separately (but we’ve listed an option above).
If you have the space, get thyself this three foot wide ball pit. It comes with 30 multi-colored balls and has an electronic activity panel that features a hoop that counts the balls and buttons that play phrases, animal sounds and music. There are multiple play modes, but be sure to stock up on the required AA batteries.
If space is at a premium, here’s a compact ball pit that’s still big on fun. The interior is made of memory foam and the exterior is soft velvet, and the cover is machine washable. It fits up to 500 balls and has room enough for only one child. For the dad looking to keep garish colors to a minimum, it’s a great modern option.
How absolutely genius if you do not have much space. You inflate the ball pit (which has a self-inflater), fill it with balls, and the rest takes care of itself. And then you deflate it and put it into a storage bag. Balls sold separately.
The brand known for its intricate play tents delivers again, this time with this sweet baby ball pit. The exterior is made from heavyweight heathered cotton jersey; it takes 300 balls to fill it, and – downside – the balls are, in fact, sold separately and cost extra. However, if aesthetics are important – you may be looking at this thing a lot – this one is very easy on the eyes.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.