Whether your child is just learning to crawl, an energy-packed preschooler, or somewhere in between, chances are they will enjoy a crawl tunnel. There’s something about making your way through that snug space that appeals to most children.
But with so many options to choose from, how do you select a crawl tunnel that works for your child and your family? We’ll go over how you can pick an outstanding product and share what we consider to be the best crawl tunnels for kids.
Are Crawl Tunnels Safe for Kids?
Every parent worries about their child’s safety, and rightfully so. There are too many hazardous products out there. But a crawl tunnel produced by a responsible manufacturer, made specifically for children, and used correctly, will be safe.
At What Age Can Kids Use Crawl Tunnels?
There are no hard and fast rules that apply to how old a child should be before using a crawl tunnel. But if you’re looking for the best crawling tunnels for babies, look for shorter, less complicated ones.
Some crawl tunnels are even designed specifically for babies who aren’t crawling yet. These tunnels can be used as soon as a baby is old enough to roll over. More extensive tunnels are designed for children who are mobile enough to move through them safely.
Benefits of Crawl Tunnels for Kids
Crawl tunnels aren’t just fun — they have tangible benefits that will help your child in a multitude of ways.
Development Of Gross Motor Skills
Think about how your child’s body moves when they crawl. These movements are not only fabulous for developing muscles in the limbs but they are also great for building core strength.
Crawling along the tunnel, emerging from the end, and running around back to the beginning is an excellent form of exercise. And because it’s so much fun, your child will willingly step away from a tablet screen to do this activity.
Sensory Integration Therapy
Our brains take in, process, organize, and respond to an extraordinary amount of information from our five senses. For some people, this unconscious and complex process doesn’t always run smoothly. This can result in sensory processing problems.
Crawl tunnels provide many of the elements found in sensory integration therapy, which can help people with these issues cope with sensory overload (1).
How to Choose the Best Crawl Tunnel for Kids
With so many options out there, how do you choose the best crawling tunnel for kids? By keeping these criteria in mind as you do your search.
Check the recommended age range for any crawl tunnel under consideration. Some are sized for babies or toddlers, while others are sized to accommodate older children.
Choose a crawl tunnel made from a strong enough material to stand up to rough and tumble play. This becomes especially important if multiple children will be using it.
If you plan to use the tunnel outside, choose one that will stand up to the weather. Fabric pop-up style tunnels have a metal skeleton that could rust.
Also, check that it will not rip easily if crawled through on a rough surface.
After extensive research, we couldn’t find a single instance of an accident involving a crawl tunnel. However, always ensure anything you buy for your child is made or imported by a reputable company. This will minimize the chance of it being dangerous in any way.
You can find crawl tunnels at various budget points, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the more you spend, the better the tunnel will be.
Instead, look at how much you can reasonably afford and buy the best option in your price range.
Consider how many children will be playing with the tunnel and how big they are if you have kids of different ages and sizes. The wider the tunnel, the better, when you’ll need a crawling tunnel for siblings to share.
Then, consider storage. Look at whether the tunnel can be folded and stored flat.
To get the most fun for your dollar, look for a crawl tunnel with added value. You can find tunnels that come with a ball pit or tent, as well as crawl tunnels that fit together to make mega tunnels or mazes.
The Best Kids Crawl Tunnels of 2020
With those points in mind, we chose the following as our ten best crawl tunnels for kids.
1. Pacific Play Tents Kids
This crawl tunnel from Pacific Play Tents is six feet long and a spacious 19 inches across, making it suitable for children up to around 10 years of age.
The outer spiral is made of strengthened spring steel, while the fabric is a 70 denier polyester. That makes this tunnel gentle on little hands and knees while being strong enough to stand up to outdoor rough and tumble play.
One side is enclosed, and the other is mesh. If you have kids who are a little fearful about being inside a tunnel, keep the mesh side up so they can see out. Alternatively, lay the mesh side down, and your child can enjoy hiding inside.
Then, when the fun is done, collapse the tunnel for easy storage.
- Connects to tents by the same manufacturer.
- The bright, galaxy pattern with glow-in-the-dark stars is fun for kids.
- Easy to wipe clean.
- Highly portable.
- If your kids get mud or food on the mesh, it can be tricky to clean the holes.
|Age Range||3 to 7 years|
2. GUS Climb-N-Crawl Caterpillar Tunnel
Gus the Caterpillar is made from heavy-duty plastic that’s not only made to last but is also Greenguard certified for minimal chemical emissions.
There are four tunnel sections that can be configured in different ways to create a straight tunnel or one with a bend or two. The sections are arch-shaped and open on the underside with holes through which kids can play peek-a-boo.
As if it wasn’t already fun enough, one end is Gus the Caterpillar’s head, and kids emerge from the crawl tunnel through his mouth. Add to that the extended tongue, which forms a mini-slide, a pair of eyes, a button nose, and Gus’s five pairs of shoes — all these elements make the cuteness factor high for this crawl tunnel.
- For indoor and outdoor use.
- Can be left outside in winter.
- Strong enough to climb on.
- Different sections are available to make the caterpillar longer or more twisty.
- Easy to assemble.
- Bulky to store when not in use.
|Age Range||3 to 8 years|
|Length||7 feet 2 inches|
3. B-Toys Toddler Tunnel
Short and sweet may be the best way to describe this crawl tunnel. It’s long enough to be fun at only four feet in length, but not so long that it’s scary for a younger child.
Predominately dark blue, with a couple of arches of color at one end, the B-Toys toddler tunnel doesn’t show the dirt too quickly, which makes it a fabulous choice for outdoor play. Having said that, it is equally suitable for use inside, especially if you don’t have much space for fun activities.
The tunnel can be used as-is, but it can also be attached to the Great OutS’mores Tent, which is made by the same company.
- Shorter design for younger kids and space-strapped parents.
- For indoor and outdoor use.
- Can be washed with a damp cloth.
- Easy and quick to fold down for storage.
- Kids grow too big for it more quickly than most other crawl tunnels.
|Age Range||18 months to 6 years|
|Length||4 feet 2 inches|
4. Kiddey Caterpillar Play Tunnel and Tent Combo
The Caterpillar Combo from Kiddey is a glowing green crawl tunnel and tent set with bright yellow accents.
The tent is the caterpillar’s head, with the tent doorway at the front, acting as a vast, yawning mouth. The tunnel affixes to the tent’s side to form the body, which comes with four pairs of floppy fabric legs and feet.
Both parts are also stand-alone play items, so you don’t have to put up both the tent and the crawl tunnel each time your child wants to play. When they are done, both pieces fold down flat and can be put away in a storage bag, which is included.
Our youngest child did point out that caterpillars do not have noses, but this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone else.
- The tent and crawl tunnel combo provides added play value.
- Easy to erect.
- Takes up little storage space.
- Highly affordable.
- The tunnel and tent do separate from time to time, which can be annoying.
|Age Range||3 to 8 years|
5. Pacific Play Tents Super Sensory Crawl Tunnel
So much bigger than the average crawl tunnel, this Super Sensory one from Pacific Play Tents is arch-shaped, with six mesh windows down each side. Two of the windows on each side are circular, two are triangular, and two are square, and they are approximately eight inches wide.
This tunnel’s unique feature is the set of removable “streamer” sections that affix to the inside roof of the arches and dangle down into the tunnel. These sections turn the inside of the crawl tunnel into a tickly ribbon-filled tube, which is big enough for several children to play in at once.
Some parents complain that the tunnel doesn’t have a soft, padded underside, but this wasn’t a problem for us. Traditional crawl tunnels do not have a padded bottom either.
- Large enough for several children at once.
- Tall arches allow kids to sit inside.
- Large enough for older kids, and larger than average younger kids.
- Doesn’t pop-up, requires more effort to erect.
|Age Range||3 to 10 years|
6. Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Tunnel
From the ever-popular Melissa & Doug comes the Giddy Buggy crawl tunnel for kids. A little longer than our toddlers’ pick that appeared earlier on this list, this option is one for the younger crowd, but it has an additional feature.
The tunnel comes with two discs, each of which is the same diameter as the tunnel and printed to look like the side view of a bug’s smiling face. These discs act as doors that can be affixed at the top of the tunnel, then drop down into place, turning the Giddy Buggy into a private tube.
These “doors” are soft and light, so if they fall into the closed position and onto your child, they will not be hurt.
- Cute, appealing, caterpillar-like appearance.
- Easy to collapse and store in the cardboard shipping sleeve.
- It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
- Only a two-year age range, so your kids will outgrow it quickly.
|Age Range||3 to 5 years|
|Length||4 feet, 8 ½ inches|
|Extras||Removable “doors” on each end|
7. AmazonBasics Kids’ Soft Play Single Tunnel
With its bright, primary colors and easy clean surface, this foam tunnel combo from AmazonBasics is a must-have for home daycares, grandparents with lots of grandkids, and any child who enjoys rough play.
The tunnel comes with two additional elements — a slope and a set of steps. All three pieces are used separately, together in various combinations, or with other AmazonBasics Kids soft play items.
Each piece has hook and loop fastenings, which allow you to stick them together, and they also have hook and loop fabric on the underside to prevent the tunnel from sliding.
The foam inside is polyurethane, which is certified as being made without ozone-depleting chemicals, flame retardants, formaldehyde, heavy metals, or phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Easy to clean.
- The tunnel is so small that your child may not fit through. If so, it can still be used as a tunnel for their cars, dolls, and trucks.
|Age Range||1 month and older|
|Material||Polyurethane foam covered in PU Leather|
|Length||1 foot 8 inches|
|Extras||Foam step and slope|
8. Kiddey Multicolored Play Tunnel
This tunnel from Kiddey is a strong, hard-wearing kids’ product suitable for any child big enough to crawl through it.
One half of the tunnel’s diameter is meshed for the entire length. This provides plenty of air-flow and light for those kids who may be reluctant to climb into a long dark space. Your child’s knees will get some support from the bottom of the tunnel, which offers a bit of light padding.
It has a basic pop-up design, which makes it simple to put away, and the accompanying storage bag makes the tunnel easy to store, without the fear of it popping up unintentionally.
This product is also available as a two-pack of tunnels that can be attached to each other, creating a mega tunnel that’s more than 11 feet.
- Mesh paneling for breathability.
- Easy to store.
- Super affordable.
- Pictured with ball pit balls, but they are not included.
|Age Range||2 to 8 years|
|Length||5 feet, 10 inches|
|Extras||Storage bag with zipper|
9. Playz Pop-up Play Tent And Tunnel
If you’re feeling adventurous and have space, the five-piece pop-up from Playz might be just what you’re looking for.
Two tunnels, a square-based pyramid tent, an open-top, tent-like cube, and a ball pit connect to create one mega-sized, versatile play area.
Both tunnels are half-panel and half mesh, as is the tent, which also has holes that act as windows or a place to throw your ball pit balls. There’s a removable mesh basketball hoop on the ball pit and a second hoop with a ball return funnel on the tent.
The tunnel opening panel on the ball pit is closeable so you can use each piece separately or in one of many configurations. The set does not, however, come with ball pit balls. You have to purchase those separately.
- Sturdy construction stands up to rough play.
- For use indoors and out.
- Lots of play value.
- Takes up a lot of room.
|Age Range||12 months and older|
|Length||3 feet 7 inches|
|Extras||Ball pit, tent, play cube, storage bag|
10. ALEX Jr. Learn to Crawl Tunnel
You don’t have to wait for your child to start crawling before you get them a crawl tunnel. This Learn To Crawl tunnel from ALEX Jr. is designed to encourage your baby to take their first tentative “steps” into mobility.
There is a removable pad which can be used to cushion your baby as they lay on a firm floor, without the need to use the tunnel itself. The pad also has a baby-safe mirror, at one end, that encourages your child to crawl through and discover their reflection.
Bright animal graphics decorate the thin, lower tunnel walls. A large mesh roof panel ensures you can see your baby at all times, and they can see you.
It comes with a storage bag, so you can easily put it away when it’s not in use.
- Cute play space for babies.
- Encourages crawling.
- Base doubles as a safe floor mat.
- Babies may quickly grow out of it once they can crawl.
|Age Range||3 to 18 months|
|Length||2 feet 6 inches|
|Pacific Play Tents Kids||Space-Saving||3 to 7 years||Polyester||6 feet||19″|
|GUS Climb-N-Crawl Caterpillar Tunnel||Outdoor||3 to 8 years||Plastic||7 feet 2″||20″|
|B-Toys Toddler Tunnel||Toddlers||18 months to 6 years||Polyester||4 feet 2″||18″|
|Kiddey Caterpillar Play Tunnel & Tent||Tunnel & Tent Combo||3 to 8 years||Polyester||6 feet||18″|
|Pacific Play Tents Sensory Crawl Tunnel||Large||3 to 10 years||Polyester||9 feet||30″|
|Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy||Safe||3 to 5 years||Nylon||4 feet, 8 ½”||18″|
|AmazonBasics Kids’ Soft Play Tunnel||Foam||1 month & older||Polyurethane foam||1 foot 8″||15″|
|Kiddey Multicolored Play Tunnel||Budget Pick||2 to 8 years||Polyester||5 feet, 10″||18″|
|Playz Pop-up Play Tent & Tunnel||Ball Pit||12 months & older||Polyester||3 feet 7″||18″|
|ALEX Jr. Learn to Crawl Tunnel||Babies||3 to 18 months||Polyester||2 feet 6″||20″|
Enjoy The Crawl
Kids of almost any age can enjoy crawl tunnels. They provide exercise, can stimulate the imagination, and are fun for all.
With the wide variety of styles, sizes, and price points available, you should be able to find something on our list that’s suitable for you and your family.