I’ve always loved the concept of exploration & play as a great activity (and for expending our kids’ evergrowing energy especially) so when the chungkin started to belly his way into mobility at 8 months, I welcomed indoor playgrounds with open arms.
As much as I enjoyed bonding over evening strolls in the outdoors with the little fella as part of our exploration, the very erratic & dreadful weather often dampened our plans. Walking in the hot afternoons would often result in a cranky baby being exhausted from the heat and so I embraced the alternatives of sensory play in ‘safer’ spaces where I could let him explore on his own.
I loved how much ‘freedom’ and space I could give him at indoor playgrounds without needing to tower over him frantically as I would at home, keeping him away from edges of furniture, the kitchen, fan wires, drawers despite already child-proofing the home with safety gate, safety appliance covers, table cushion guards etc. Plus what a perfect play-date activity it often turned out to be, no needing to impose on anyone’s place or worry about our kids of different ages not being able to play together just yet.
So for my first sharing in Jus’s Friday Five, here’s 5 favourite play spaces that we’ve been to a little more frequent than the others.
1. Royce Kids Gym
By far the most expensive fee (admission fee gives you a limited duration) but also one of the cleanest, with the most extensive range of toys; Liam’s first indoor playground experience was here at 7+ months during his playdate with his older cousin Callum. The cousin suggested the venue as it was her 3-yo son’s favourite toys ground and mentioned that Liam would probably enjoy himself better at toy-land-galore as opposed to structural playgrounds which were more suited for older toddlers-kids.
The little fella was definitely every bit gleeful seeing a shelf full of toys which emitted both sounds AND lights. He didn’t fancy being on the swing as much but was happy to stay in front of the shelf of toys and play with a different one every 10-15 minutes. We went back another 2 times for playdates when he was about 11 & 12 months and he enjoyed it a lot more, being more mobile on his all-fours, managing some cruising in between.
I love that the shopping mall that Royce is located within is also fairly quiet as compared to the ones in the heart of Orchard Road, and that there’s a supermarket below for any last-minute groceries (you know how we’re always grocery shopping for the kids…) although I wished that there was a direct train access from the mall for the heavy public-transportation user that I am.
Also introduced by the cousin, my first time here was when I brought my nephew from Dubai on a playdate with the cousin’s son about 2 years ago. I loved how huge it was, and how there’s a cafe within the grounds (which means the adults can coffee+chat while the kiddos play). Although they cater for kids till 12 years old, I appreciate that there is a “baby area” which clearly states that it’s meant for kids from 0-3 years. During the little man’s first time there at 7+ months, he spent the whole duration (which was 20 minutes) on a giant beanbag starfish amusing himself by watching other toddlers roam around the area. We went back another 2 times for playdates when he was 10 & 12 months old and those times, he definitely enjoyed himself better.
The baby area is smaller than what Liam’s been used to at Royce. And recently he would crawl towards the bigger kids area, following majority of the kids who were running towards there. We went on the big slide a couple of times which is usually the highlight of those visits – sliding down on mama’s lap on a long slide. Whee.
It’s also pretty neat that you don’t have to pay entry fee if your child is below 1, considering that he/she won’t be able to do much with the structural play set-up. All you got to do is spend $10 at the cafe if your child’s under 1, and that is really easy to achieve considering the number of coffees & cakes you’ll be able to have in peace while your child is happily occupied. The bonus and lure of going there has definitely got to be the many cafes available, supermarket shopping within reach just before we head home, an well-stocked organic store for me to busybody to see if there’s any new food I would like to introduce to the little fella and retail therapy (I’m a sephora girl!)
3. Hokey Pokey
The first time we went there to check out its grounds was at it’s new relocation – Millennia Walk. Liam had just turned 1 yr old, and he was so excited the moment we stepped into the place. To be honest I didn’t think it could compete with Royce in terms of space & having a huge variety of toys at first impressions. But HP quickly grew on me and even my mom enjoyed taking the little man there on her own for a play session recently. We’ve been there about 5 times now, thanks to the very convenient circle line train which gives me direct access from station to mall in 5 minutes (which means I can pram all the way from home to HP without hassle too!).
HP’s set-up may be cozy compared to toy grounds such as Royce but…I’ve observed that Liam really enjoys himself here. I like that per entry fee gives unlimited play, and that most of the area is within my radius of vision if I can’t keep up fast enough with my quick cruiser. Lately he’s been very into pretend play kitchen sets – he would always head there first and spend about 25-30 minutes tottering between the 5 different sets before checking out the ride-on toys one by one, with McQueen being his favourite, before destroying some train tracks on the train table, banging a few keys on the Schoenhut pianos before making his way to the mega stairs to slide down to his least favourite ballpit. I also appreciate that they have a staff that supervises the play area and so far during the off-peak hours on weekdays, she’s also been a fun play companion for Liam (he would flash his signature grin at her in agreement).
Do check out one of the many cafes available at Millenia Walk post-playtime too. My tummy always has a gastronomical tea-time treat whenever we’re in the vicinity.
4. The Polliwogs
Perhaps because Liam’s still considered relatively young in age and isn’t able to walk or climb independently, I didn’t think Liam would enjoy Polliwogs when the cousin suggested a playdate at the Robertson Quay branch. I was obviously proved wrong when the little guy’s face started to light up when we ventured to the baby/toddler section. There was this water/rainbow slide thingy which intrigued him so much he went up and down it so many times wearing a glee each time.
It was also here that I climbed up structures for the first time (who? me? yes!). I always wondered why parents were gamed to climb up these structures because I never was due to my fear of heights, but now I know why! We even cozied up in a little corner for a much needed break (yes, I panted. I’m that lousy.) in-between with the cousin & nephew. Turns out Liam has so much fun just crawling everywhere without me going “no!!!!!” and I really appreciated the complimentary cuppa coffee that came with the entry fee at the in-house cafeteria (hooray to a spacious cafeteria within the grounds!).
We’ve been to the newly renovated Fidgets once (as with Tickle Tickle, Singkids Vivo, Peek-a-boo!) and I really liked how spacious the place was (which also meant a lot of walking and moving around for me to burn off some cal). While the toddler area didn’t quite appeal to Liam as much as the bigger kids’ area, I liked how I didn’t have an issue of kids potentially bumping into each other because even with some 8 other kids there during our time of visit, every child kinda had their own personal space – Liam managed to cruise back and forth to his heart’s content. I also spied a craft section for kids there…interesting.
Strangely, I was so occupied checking out the place and playing with Liam (alongside chatting with my gf on pre-schools) that I didn’t even take a picture. Hah, perhaps the next time we’re there then. Psst: the lure of omakase burger and the newly opened pasarbella will probably get us back before we finish checking out other play spaces (have some in mind to make a visit to).
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