My wife and I have always been big fans of buying toys that encourage our children to use their imagination. One of the big Christmas gifts we bought for our son was an indoor play tent that was designed to look like a castle.
This toy has been a major hit because it provides a safe and fun private play area (and it becomes a great hiding spot during a game of hide and seek). We made sure to pick a tent that is very versatile, but will also provide a safe play experience.
We couldn’t have been happier with the decision we made, and we would encourage all parents to look at different indoor play tent options. Also, if you ever lose your keys, wallet, tv remote, or anything like that – we would recommend looking inside the tent.
Quick Product Review
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different indoor tents you can pick from. They come in all different shapes and sizes targeted for both boys and girls. And there are numerous versions based on different movie characters, landmarks, and almost anything imaginable.
We decided to purchase a castle shaped tent from IKEA. We liked the castle design thinking it would be a design that would encourage lots of imaginative play.
The setup was easy. It was literally put the poles together, push them through the proper pole guides on the tent and lock them into place. The poles we got were incredibly durable! The biggest piece of advice we could give you is making sure you do enough research on the type of poles it comes with. Cheap poles will snap and ruin the fun, which is the biggest complaint people have with indoor play tents.
We have had no problems with the durability of the fabric and the poles, and my son is hard on it! Some tents come with floors, others do no. We went with on that did. The fabric is normally easy to clean with warm water and soap (which I learned when my son decided to pee inside his tent as a protest to getting sent to time out…but that is a story for a different time).
This IKEA version is big enough that two or three toddlers can fit in it comfortably, and even stand up no problem. I can also fit in there with my son, but it does become a tight fit.
I think it is the little details that make these tents great. Ours comes with a little flag that attaches to the top by Velcro. My son loves to remove it will turn into a game of capture the flag. I also have to give major props to IKEA for the overall tent design. The tent actually looks like it is made from stones, and they even add what looks to be grass growing in between the stones. My son just loves the design.
Ours also has little Velcro straps that help you open up or shut the door. When shut there are still plenty of air gaps, but it is fun for our son. There are also a couple of air vents in the ceiling that you can peak into the tent through. As a parent it is fun to shout into these openings in hopes of scaring the occupants.
Every tent is going to be a little different, so pay attention to the little details and select something that your child will love!
The Danger Scale
These tents should be very safe as long as you get the appropriate type of tent for your child’s age. Ours did not come with any small parts, so something would have to break for a choking hazard – and our tent has been incredibly durable.
My son does get overly excited sometimes and tries to sprint into the tent at full speed. If he doesn’t duck his head enough he does run into the top of the opening, normally causing him to fall down. It is a pretty entertaining sight.
If you do place the tent to close to the wall, your child may be moving inside the tent and accidentally bump their head, thinking they are leaning against the tent wall, but in reality they are leaning against an actual wall.
The one really interesting thing my son does is turn the tent on its side, than roll around in it. The tent generally rolls in a circular pattern due to its shape, but he does run into stuff from time to time.
Side note here – sometimes when he is rolling around in the tent when it is on its side, the entrance either gets suck pointing down towards the carpet or in the air towards the ceiling. This can create brief moments of entertaining confusion.
Back to the scale, if your kid uses the tent appropriately, it really should only score a 1 when placed a safe distance away from walls.
Since my child is creative, I have to give it a three just in case you buy a version that can become a rolling, crashing, potential accident.
Parent’s Annoyance Scale
There isn’t much annoying about this toy. The setup might get a couple of swear words out of you when trying to snap things into place – the fit can be tight.
Trying to fit into the tent because your child insists you play in it can get annoying. But that is part of the parenting job, fitting into tight spaces to play a game that doesn’t make any sense with your child (check the rule book).
I guess if your kid flips the tent over and rides it around, that’s annoying. But not enough to score higher than a 3.
2020 Experience Update!
Six years after we originally bought this play tent it is still standing and an important part of our basement playroom! The kids still love, use it, hide in it, and even play all sorts of new games with it I would never have expected!
They will flip the castle play tent over and ride it like a rocket. They will throw the tent over each other’s heads to “trap” each other. The tent has been used as a jail…and even as a tent on pretend camping trips in the playroom!
Overall, it was well worth the investment and deserving of the Gold Star Rating we originally gave it!
Final Review and Links of Interest
I think every child would enjoy having a fun tent to play in. The one we purchased has stood up to all sorts of abuse. The durability and enjoyment we have gotten from this toy make it easy for me to give it a gold star rating.
The best advice we could give for you as a parent is just to pick a tent that you feel will represent your child’s interests the most.
If you are looking for an outside children’s camping tent, I have to give a shout out to my friends at amazingoutdooradventures.com; and encourage you to read their excellent review on the best children’s tents for camping.
Outdoor or indoor, a good tent will bring years of enjoyment.
Also, here are some other links we think you will find entertaining!
- The Best Indoor Play Tents
- The Best Little People Train Sets
- The Super Mario Brothers Bowser Castle
- The Best KidKraft Train Tables
Hopefully with all these great links, you will be able to find that perfect toy!