The Different Types Of Swings For The Playground: A Complete Guide

Swings are an essential piece of the playground puzzle. Making an educated decision on which one to choose for your home or school playground is essential to ensure the safety of the children using the swings and that the swings are going to last as long as possible

Playground swings are a staple playground attraction. They’re mainly constructed for children to interact with one another while channeling their energy to make the most of their experience. Swings are a permanent fixture on playgrounds for exercise and absorb the scenery. 

Playground swings are an excellent way for children to get outside and expel some energy, both on their own or with peers. There are a few specific types of swings, including:

  • Bucket
  • Half-bucket
  • Flat
  • Tire
  • Sling

If you’re interested in learning about the various kinds of swings available or to identify the kind of swings you have on your playground, this article is for you. Keep reading for a complete guide to the different types of swings for the playground. 

Different Types of Swings for the Playground

Swings come in several different shapes and sizes and can be made out of a variety of materials. Each kind of swing has a different intended use, although let’s be honest, children use them however they please. 

Some swings are strong enough to hold an adult frame while others are light enough to hold the weight of a child. The typical attachment of a swing is two chains on both sides, which are secured to the top of a tall swing set frame. This set up allows the swing to hang down as well as move freely in any direction an individual chooses to go.

Bucket

This swing is unique and is designed to keep infants and toddlers secure. The polymer molded material is hard plastic. There are two holes in the front of the bucket, which are sized for legs to fit through. 

The hard plastic is a durable material and can withstand being frequently used but also being outside where it’s exposed to the elements. 

A bucket swing.
Bucket swings offer superb fall protection and back support for toddlers and younger kids.

One feature which is a stand-out of the swing seat is the security intended to prevent children from falling out of it. The back is a form of support and high enough to keep a child sitting in an upright position. The back of this swing seat is full-height.

Where a Bucket Swing Works Best

Concrete with rubber padding is the perfect placement for a bucket swing. The swing should be mounted high enough off of the ground, yet low enough for children to use both feet to start the motion of the swing. 

The bucket swing is standard among swing sets since you can fit more than one on each frame. Having more than one swing allows children, and adults, to engage with one another while swinging, all at a safe distance.

Suggested Bucket Swings

This swing comes fully assembled for easy set up and includes a nice plastic coating on the chains to prevent pinching. It is extremely popular among its buyers.

This swing also comes with a protective, soft plastic coating, and is great for young babies and toddlers who are in their first stages of swinging.

Half-Bucket

Like the full bucket swing, this swing has a design geared toward maintaining the safety of infants and toddlers. But what is slightly different is the lack of backing, which provides support to lean on. 

Considering the infant and toddler stages are short, and they grow relatively quickly, the half-bucket is intended to prepare them for the use of a swing, which they could remain steady without falling off. 

Although not quite like a swing, which has no support at all, including for the legs, it allows more freedom rather than restriction.

A kid on the half bucket swing.
Although half-bucket swings offer less protection than bucket swings, they can still protect the kids from accidental falls.

The half-bucket is crafted from polymer and includes galvanized hangers. While the chains are exposed, they are usually coated with plastic to prevent pinching and cutting. 

A chain hangs over the front of the swing to hold an infant or toddler in as they swing down while leaning forward. This is one of the main differences between the half bucket and the regular bucket swing, which has leg holes. 

Although this swing seat does not have a full back, it is still secure and avoids accidental falls.

Where a Half-Bucket Swing Works Best

As a bucket swing version, which is lowered in the back, rubber padding on concrete is ideal. It provides firmness for an occupant to lift themselves off of the ground. More freedom is allowed to use the legs and feet to stop the swing if needed.

Along with other half-bucket swing seats, it hangs on a swing set although slightly more complete and has more room to move around.

Suggested Half-Bucket Swings

Plastic coating on chains prevents injury from the chains themselves and the sun heating the metal too much. This swing comes in a number of colors and is great for children who have a bit more swinging ability than young toddlers.

This swing is also great for young children with some swinging experience. Unlike other swings, its connectors are made of rope instead of chains, further preventing any injury.

Flat

The sizes and shapes of flat swing seats vary. Flat swings are made from a variety of materials, anything from metal to plastic. The swings are usually complete and considered to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of a medium-sized adult.

Back support for the typical flat swing is non-existent. It’s flat from front to back and side to side. It hangs by two chains on both sides, which are attached to two hooks, suspended from a support beam. These beams could be part of a swing set, or even a tree branch. 

A girl swinging on the flat swing.
Since flat swings do not provide back support, they are meant for grown-ups who can keep themselves secure on their own.

This swing could be dangerous if not utilized with caution. Also, the surface is not cushioned and could result in discomfort as well as intense back pain. This isn’t usually an issue for children, but certainly can be for grown-ups. 

As a common choice among children and older adults, they have to be capable of keeping themselves secure without restrictions.

Where a Flat Swing Works Best

A flat swing is perfect above grass or another semi-soft surface. It is relatively low, although high enough to avoid touching the grass. Flat swings leave just enough room for feet to push it back to go forward. 

Flat swings are either installed on a swing set or can be attached to a tree using two thick ropes on both hooks on each side of the swing. Two chains can also be used but would have to be attached to two hooks hammered into a tree branch.

Suggested Flat Swings

This two-piece pinewood flat swing is sure to bring you back to the good ole’ days and provide your children the opportunity to experience them as well.

A bit of a twist on a flat swing, but nonetheless worth the investment. This platform swing has a surface area which makes it safe for children to use while providing a great amount of fun.

Tire

The tire swing is precisely what it sounds like. A thick rope is used to attach the tire to a tree to elevate it to avoid contact with the ground during use. There is no required technical assembly, nor are there chain involved. 

However, the thickest branch to hold up to a specific capacity of occupants is recommended. And, it’s essential to choose a branch that’s not too close to the trunk, to reduce the risk of crashing into it while swinging.

There is a secure version of the swing which does directly attach the chains to eye hooks to hang freely. As an alternative to the homemade version, it has been incorporated as a playground swing. Mainly because of its set up and the requirement of a swing post frame.

Kids sharing on the tire swing.
Tire swings move in a circular motion and are typically hung 8-12 feet above the ground.

The tire moves in a circular motion rather than up and down. Three chains are attached to one eye hook, which causes the tire to swing outward. If an individual is standing too close, they could get hit accidentally according to the distance the tire swings from the center. This swing seat is often hard, as the typical tire, and needs to be used with caution.

Where a Tire Swing Works Best

Grass or sand are the most common surfaces to go under a tire swing. The swing is usually stand-alone on an A-frame swing set or branch. Due to its size and centered position, it should be 8 – 12 feet above the ground. 

Suggested Tire Swings

This high-quality, reliable swing can hold up to 500 lbs. and comes with all the materials you need for easy installment.

This tire swing is equipped with the ability to swing around a full 360 degrees and is easy to set up. The company also offers a satisfaction guarantee that lasts thirty days.

Sling

Sling swings are meant to be flexible, so they can bend and adapt to every body shape. This type of swing is extra durable, so it can handle multiple uses and maintain its flexibility. 

A boy having fun on the sling swing.
Sling swings are flexible and can easily adapt to any body shape.

The swing seat is light in weight and thick as far and depth. Regarding chains, they are child-friendly and coated for protection. 

These swings are the ones that you most commonly see on playgrounds, which is why their shape is meant to fit anyone that wants to swing. 

Where a Sling Swing Works Best

Sling swings are almost always built a reasonable distance from the hardtop part of a playground. They’re not dangerous per se, but if someone were to fall out while swinging, they could get hurt if the surface below wasn’t slightly soft.

Suitable surfaces for under sling swings are:

  • Rubber padded surface
  • Pea gravel
  • Sand
  • Mulch

Either a swing set or a thick tree branch, flanked with chains and other required attachments for assembly, which it can stand on its own, provides two interchangeable options. 

Suggested Sling Swings

This is a popular seller on Amazon for it’s durability and simplicity. It’s a five star swing! Also, bonus points for this swing coming with extra hooks to replace the others when they’re worn. The chains on this are coated as a safety precaution.

  • Creative Playthings Sling Swing with Chain

Creative Playthings is always a go-to for quality in children’s toys. Their swings are no different. This sling swing comes ready for action, all you need is to attach it to hooks and you’re ready to swing. 

The Benefits of Having Swings on a Playground

Swings are much more than a toy. There are actual benefits that come with this classic piece of playground equipment. Swings encourage physical developments and even have an emotional impact. 

The Physical Benefits of Playground Swings

Swings are a fantastic way for children, or even adults, to engage various muscle groups. Here are some of the different physical benefits of swings.

Encourages Activity

The feeling of not merely sitting and being unproductive is priceless. We know how important it is to get outside and move, and swinging is a means to encourage that. Swinging requires a lot of coordination and leg movement, so it is excellent for anyone that needs to burn off some energy.

Kids playing on the swing set,
Swinging not only keeps the kids active but also makes them more relaxed and calm.

On the opposite side of things, swinging can be a relaxing activity. The swinging motion itself is naturally soothing, so it can also be a calming activity. Swinging is great for children that struggle with self-calming skills. 

Promotes Physical Activity and Exercise

Strength is needed to use the legs to get the full effect of a swing. Extending the legs is the preparation to perform the exercise by merely swinging. It can also help tighten the muscles and possibly burn off extra calories.

A kid in a red shirt.
Swinging can prevent obesity by burning off extra calories.

Since sitting is the intended swinging position, the body settles in a pumping motion as the legs move in and out. The muscles are working in the same manner and gradually become stronger.

The Emotional Benefits of Playground Swings

Swings, and the act of swinging, can be soothing and relaxing. For some, they might even bring on a sense of nostalgia. Here are some of the emotional benefits of playground swings. 

Provide Stress Relief

Swinging could work wonders to achieve a calming, soothing mood. Despite any energy-consuming issues or emotional pressure, it is possible. Sitting on a swing and just being mindful of the motion can help relieve stress. 

Therapeutic for Children with Special Needs

School can be stressful for children with special needs. Having something consistent that they can count on, and look forward to, makes school more enjoyable and productive. The consistent rocking motion is soothing and helps relieve some symptoms that cause anxiety. 

Kids with disabilities playing a team sport.
Swinging can be a therapeutic activity for children with disabilities and special needs.

Many school playgrounds have gone the extra mile to make their swings more accessible for children with special needs so that every student can enjoy the playground in some capacity. Some children even have a scheduled swing time during their daily schedule.

The back and forth motion of the swinging isn’t the only part that can be therapeutic. For children that have restless legs or excess energy, swinging is a way to let some of that out in a controlled environment. 

Promotes Socializing

Swinging is something that children can do on their own, but if there are more than one swing on a swing set, children will be encouraged to chat with one another while they’re swinging. Side by side swinging is a way for children to interact, without having to be face to face, which can be uncomfortable for some children.

A kid having fun.
Swings can also be beneficial for making the kids more outgoing and sociable.

Also, for children that aren’t able to pump their legs, they’ll need a push to get going. Teachers and other adults can encourage positive peer interactions by telling children to ask a friend for help. Some children that are more shy feel better communicating with a peer when they have a goal or a reason in mind.

How To Choose Swings For Your Playground

Most of the factors one should consider before buying a specific type of swing involve the age of the child or children that will be using it. Different types of swings are better suited for different ages based on safety and how much experience the child may have with swinging.

What to Consider

There are many different considerations we have listed below that should give you a pretty good idea of what type of swing you should be looking for. This is all about figuring out what you need beforehand. After finding the right swings for your playground, it is all up to the kids using them to make the most of the additions!

Age Range

Before doing anything else, you must first figure out what the age(s) of the children using the swings will be. If this is a backyard swing for your home, the identification of the age group will be a simple project. 

However, suppose you are choosing swings for a school, church, or public playground; the age range might vary a bit more.

The reason considering the age range of the children using the swings is so important is because not all kids have the same experience when it comes to swinging. For example, younger children will likely not have the strength or balance necessary to keep themselves up on a swing with less support than others. 

On the other hand, severe injury or harm can be dealt with upon an older child who tries to squeeze him or herself into a swing meant for toddlers.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are not sure the age of the children who will be using the swings, it might be a good idea to either find someone who can tell you or go ahead and buy a variety of swings that can work for all ages. 

Figure out who will be using the swings, and continue from there. Trust us, and it will make things a whole lot easier. 

Much of the way age comes into play in this situation deals with how much experience the child has with swinging. Though different children develop particular abilities earlier or later than others, specific age groups will likely have similar characteristics that fall into the same capable categories.

Swing Placement

Considering the type of environment in which the swings will be is also key to choosing the right swings. As we mentioned in the previous section, there can be many different places to install swing sets. 

Some swings work better than others in the case of who is using them and what type of playground the swings are on.

If you are choosing swings for a playground at your home, the chances are that you already have a pretty good idea of the type of swings you – and your kids – want. However, age still comes into play in familiar environments. 

If you have younger children, you still might want to supervise them while you are home. This can be a plus if you want a standard belt swing with less protection. If you are outside watching your kids, or even pushing them as they swing, it is probably okay to buy a more generic type of swing set.

Typically, any school playground that has a swing set is probably going to be a school with capable kids, maybe in elementary grades or even middle school. 

In this case, you will often see regular belt seat swings because the children know how to swing, so they need fewer safety features. Also, at recess in a school environment, there will probably be adult monitors making sure everyone is staying safe. 

Of course, preschools and daycares may also have playgrounds with swings so that the swing types may be a bit more safety-oriented in this case.

Public playground swing sets are where we tend to see a more diverse selection of swings. Hence the name, public playgrounds are open to all people, including various ages of children. 

There is a high chance you will see some different swings on a public playground, ranging from belt seat swings to the safest possible bucket swing for toddlers and below.

Remember to consider the environment that will be the home to the new swings you buy. Where the swings will be can tell you a lot about what type of swings to buy.

Materials

Swings are made from all kinds of different materials. Some of these are easier to find in certain regions than others. And, along these same lines, some materials are a better fit for being outside in different regions.

For example, a swing that is made of wood isn’t ideal for an area that gets heavy rain or lots of snow. Too much moisture can lead to wood rot and an unsafe swing. Other natural materials, such as rope, are also highly susceptible to the elements of the outdoors and deterioration. 

Metal and plastic are both commonly used for swings and the structures that hold them because of their longevity and ability to withstand all different kinds of weather. 

Budget

You can add a swing to an existing play structure, or you can start from scratch and build your own. Either method will cost money. Determine what you’re looking for before you start your search for a swing. 

Safety Concerns

Swings come with their own unique set of dangers, although if children are closely monitored, most of these can be avoided. One of the major hazards is, of course, falling. This is a concern more so with sling swings, because they’re intended to be used independently and don’t have a back or a buckle to keep children from falling out.

Children also love to jump off the swings when they’re high in the air, which is not always the best choice. Getting hit by the swing is another common injury, when children do jump off while another person is nearby. Swings can fly through the air and cause serious damage, since they’re usually right at face level.

A kid playing on the swing.
Consideration of safety requirements is essential for avoiding accidents and severe injuries.

If a swing is at a school playground or a park, it’s been carefully placed in a safe area. However, swings at home aren’t always as well planned. It’s possible that swings in a backyard aren’t placed where they should be, which can lead to bumping into another part of the play equipment while swinging, or hitting another child. 

The only way to prevent swing accidents is to establish a clear set of rules and boundaries, and to make sure that these are enforced. Children should always be under adult supervision when swinging.

Mindful planning of the surface under the swing is important, as well. If there’s an area that the swing fits in, but the surface below is hard, consider putting a mat underneath, or adding sand or mulch.

Conclusion

Swings are an essential piece of the playground puzzle. Making an educated decision on which one to choose for your home or school playground is essential to ensure the safety of the children using the swings and that the swings are going to last as long as possible. 

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