My kids adore ball pits, but I am not a big fan of the public ones. Most ball pits seem to be built in huge buildings that are a pain to get to, and once you arrive, they are always full of children spreading their germs to every kid they come in contact with.
Kids’ ball pits for home use are a good alternative. They are readily available and most are affordable. It simply comes down to finding the best ball pits for kids, so you pick one that pleases everyone in your household.
What Age is a Ball Pit Suitable For?
Ball pits come in a variety of styles and sizes, and the age limits vary accordingly. As a general guide, babies and toddlers should only use ball pits which are specifically designed and rated for their age range.
For children over 3 years old, consider the manufacturer’s age guide and your child’s size and physical development.
How to Choose a Ball Pit for Kids
Your primary consideration for choosing a ball pit for your child should always be their age and the age limits on the product. Beyond that, ask yourself:
- How big is the ball pit, and can it be folded or deflated for easier storage?
- How many balls will you need? Additional balls can be expensive and can be bulky to store when the ball pit is not in use.
- Is the ball pit easy to clean? At one stage or another, most kids are bound to get food, drinks, and a variety of bodily fluids in their ball pits. Be sure the ball pit you choose is easy to wash and sanitize if necessary.
- Does it have other uses? Some ball pits double as paddling pools, trampolines, tents, or bounce houses. The flexibility can be a bonus.
- Is it truly a ball pit? This might sound like an odd question to ask, but you’ll see plenty of tents labeled as ball pits when they are only regular tents the seller has thrown a few balls into. These “ball pits” will only hold a layer or two of balls and may not be what you and your child expected.
The Best Kids Ball Pits of 2020
By using the guidelines we outlined earlier, as well as our own experience as toy buyers, we chose the following as our ten best ball pits for kids.
1. Melissa & Doug Turtle Ball Pit
When your baby is old enough to sit unsupported, the Melissa & Doug turtle ball pit is a safe and stimulating place to play.
The turtle’s fabric body forms the ball pit, and the bottom, head, and legs of the turtle are all padded. When not in use, the ball pit can be closed with the zipper and hook and loop tabs, preventing the balls from escaping.
The turtle also has a variety of holes through which your child can poke the balls, a squeak button, crinkle feet, multiple textured tabs, a mirror, and a textured ring for further play value. It’s a great ball pit for curious, exploring babies.
- Compact and easy to store.
- Comes with the balls.
- It has a non-slip underside for extra safety.
- The turtle is machine washable in cold water.
- It’s small so your baby will quickly outgrow it.
2. MEOWBABY Foam Ball Pit
These soft-sided foam ball pits from MeowBaby come in a variety of ball pit and ball color combos. So not only are they a safe, fun place for your toddler to play, they are also a stylish and sophisticated alternative to other brightly-colored ball pits.
The ball pit is handmade from a 94 percent cotton, 6 percent elastane material. It is soft to the touch and provides some give when a child is leaning against it. The walls are firm, but there are no solid supports or hard edges on which your child can be hurt.
The fabric is OKEO-Tex 100 certified, which means it is independently verified as free from substances that are harmful to human health (1).
- Crush-proof balls that hold their shape.
- Ships with 200 color-coordinated balls.
- The removable cover is machine washable.
- It’s not the cheapest option.
3. Peradix Paddling Pool and Ball Pit
This ball pit doubles as a paddling pool, but it also comes with a sunshade and a basketball hoop panel, both of which are removable. Then, the entire thing can be folded down and stored flat in a storage bag, which is included.
All of this makes the Peradix paddle pool and ball pit incredibly versatile. Use it outside during the summer as either a paddling pool, a ball pit, or even a paddling pool with the balls in it.
Then, when the temperature drops, bring it inside and enjoy ball pit fun all winter long.
- Multiple uses make this a good value for the money.
- Pop up and twist down construction makes it easy to assemble, fold, and store.
- Lightweight and portable so it can be taken on vacation.
- The balls must be purchased separately.
4. Intex Jump-O-Lene Inflatable Ball Pit
At over six feet, six inches across, the Jump-O-Lene inflatable ball pit is an excellent option for those who want a larger ball pit for older kids, but don’t necessarily have space for a full-scale bounce house ball pit.
The bottom section is a springy area on which the kids can bounce, much like an inflatable trampoline. Then around the edge, there is an inflatable wall that prevents your child from tumbling out and the balls from escaping.
The Jump-O-Lene is in one piece, but there are five separate valves, each serving one area, making it quick and easy to inflate with an electric pump or compressor.
- Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
- Large enough for three or four preschoolers.
- Easy to clean.
- Although it’s inflatable, it’s durable.
- You’ll need a quality pump for inflation.
5. Hide ‘n’ Slide Tunnel and Ball Pit
This five-piece ball pit, two tunnels, tent, and cube set provides plenty of play opportunities for those 5 years and under.
The pyramid-shaped tent has a large, loop-and-hooks-fabric target on one side. It’s used as a target for throwing the four loop-and-hook balls that come with the set. The opposite side has holes through which you can throw balls.
A tunnel connects the tent to a cube-shaped structure. This cube has two circular entrances and a diamond to climb in through on the roof. It also has a second tunnel, which attaches to the ball pit, which can be accessed either from the tunnel or over the sides.
- Bright and colorful play structure.
- Affordable for such a big set.
- Needs a lot of balls and they aren’t included.
- Balls can migrate out of the pit via the tunnel.
6. Infantino 4-in-1 Baby Gym and Ball Pit
A super-cute baby gym, the 4-in-1 from Infantino takes this gear from tummy time through toddlerhood by adding a ball pit.
The soft floor provides a safe and comfortable surface where your baby can lay for some much needed time on their belly. Once they’re a little older, they can lay with their front supported on the bolster pillow and watch themselves in the mirror.
On their back, your child can reach up for the dangling toys. Once they are sitting unsupported, you can attach the soft mesh walls and add the balls for a safe first ball pit experience.
- Includes multiple, detachable toys.
- Multiple uses.
- Cute sloth-shaped storage bag for balls included.
- It includes 40 balls, so you don’t have to buy them separately.
- Surface wash only.
- It’s awkward to store because of the bag shape.
7. Milliard Ball Pit
This option from Milliard is a mid-size ball pit that is rated as being suitable from birth and is sturdy enough to stand up to many years of use.
The soft, but firm, foam walls and floor are enclosed in a vinyl cover that is designed to be easy to wipe clean. However, if you need to, the cover can be removed, and it is safe to put it in the washer and dryer.
The walls are 4 inches thick, meaning they will not collapse when a child leans against them. The total diameter listed is 44 inches, and the usable ball pit area is 36 inches across.
- Stands up to hard use.
- Can be used as a soft play yard.
- Two toddlers can play in it together.
- Needs around 800 balls to fill it three-quarters of the way full.
- Balls are not included.
8. WellFunTime Inflatable Bounce House and Ball Pit
Some bounce houses are listed as also being ball pits, while in reality, they are regular inflatables with some balls thrown onto the floor for the publicity shots.
However, this inflatable bounce house has a six-foot by almost three-foot enclosed, dedicated ball pit area. Access to the ball pit is either via the main bounce house or through the opposite side, where there is a tent flap entrance.
The bounce house has a blow-up soccer goal attached to one side, a basketball hoop, hook-and-loop target and balls, and an inflatable slide for a quick exit from the front of the house.
- Rated for a total weight of 300 pounds.
- Plenty of play possibilities.
- Includes a pump and 50 balls.
- The footprint is over 120 square feet so you need a big area for it.
- Not enough balls included.
- Bulky to store.
9. Little Tikes Slam Dunk Ball Pit
For kids from 3 to 6 years, the Little Tikes Slam Dunk ball pit has tall walls and an inflatable basketball hoop as well as 20 air-filled balls and an inflatable basketball. More balls would add to the fun, so you might want to buy extras.
At 4 feet, 4 inches tall and with a circumference of 55 inches, this could be used inside as long as you have a clear two-foot by two-foot floorspace to spare.
However, some owners say they have concerns over the stability of the ball pit and worry it may tip if their kids become too boisterous when playing.
- Indoor active play opportunity.
- Includes some balls, but more would be better.
- It includes a basketball hoop for added play value.
- You may find it necessary to have a pump.
- May not stand up to boisterous kids.
10. Eezy Peezy Jungle Gym PlaySet
Built for 1- to 3-year-olds, this jungle gym and ball pit from Eezy-Peezy consists of a small climbing frame, indoor slide, toss ball target, and a ball pit. The entire structure is big enough to enjoy but small enough to use indoors.
You have to assemble the jungle gym, and the materials are easy to assemble if you can figure out how to piece it together. Some owners complain the instructions are pictures only and that they had problems putting it together.
The jungle gym is rated for 150 pounds in total, so you could easily have two young children climbing and sliding at once.
- Comes with 50 balls.
- Easy to wipe clean.
- It includes a toss target for added play value.
- Some parents complained about a plastic smell, which only dissipated after a week or two.
Ball Pit FAQs
Some ball pit questions come up repeatedly. To ensure you have all of the information you need in one spot, here are the answers to the most frequently asked ball pit questions.
Are Ball Pits Safe For Babies?
Ball pits designed and made specifically for babies by reputable manufacturers are safe for babies when used correctly.
Larger ball pits, designed for older children, are not safe for babies.
Could You Suffocate In A Ball Pit?
The stories of children suffocating in ball pits seem to be urban legends with no basis in reality. I was unable to find a documented case of a child suffocating in a ball pit. The ball pits at your home will be even safer than ones used in public because they typically won’t be as big or deep.
How Often Should Ball Pits Be Cleaned?
There is only one readily available study that looked at ball pits and the germs they may harbor.
This research looked at ball pits in children’s physical therapy centers and concluded that, even though they can harbor some germs, ball pits were safe for the majority of children. Only those with medical issues that affected their ability to fight infections, such as a compromised immune system, should avoid them (2).
While that accounts for serious illnesses, it’s certainly possible for children to get colds or flu from the use of public ball pits.
With home ball pits, like any other toy, you should wash any visible dirt or debris off the ball pit and the balls they contain.
In addition, a wipe down with hot soapy water once a month, when in use, should be enough to keep your ball pit clean. You should consider cleaning it more frequently if your child has friends over who also use the ball pit.
How Many Balls Do I Need For A Ball Pit?
To work out how many balls you need, you need to know:
- The square footage of the floor area of your ball pit.
- How deep you want the balls to be.
- The radius of the balls you are using.
A rough guide is that 500 balls with a radius of 2.5 inches will fill an area measuring two feet by two feet in a layer that’s one foot deep.
Ball pits are a fantastic way for kids to burn off some excess energy. Buying a ball pit for your kids to use at home is more affordable than you think.
For the price of a couple of sessions at the public ball pit, you can have a smaller ball pit for your kids to use whenever they like.