Make a splash
What are splash-pads?
Splash-pads or spray-pads are water play areas that let kids frolic in fountains, water showers or pop-up sprayers. Splash-pads are typically located at shopping malls, public parks, water parks and resorts. In all cases, splash-pads have no standing water, so kids can enjoy the water even if they're too small for a swimming pool or haven't yet learned to swim. In many cases, splash-pads are free -- and in all cases, they're a ton of fun for kids of all ages.
Before you go
The more you can take care of in advance of your outing, the smoother things will go upon arrival. Have the kids wear their bathing suits so you won't have to change when you get there. Apply sunscreen at home. Chances are the kids won't want to hold still for sunscreen application when you get there, and you'll want to make sure you coat every inch of their tender skin to avoid painful and dangerous sunburns. Last but not least, have your kids use the restroom before hopping in the car, so you have one less stop to make before hitting the splash pad.
What to bring
Avoid sunburns and soggy diapers by making sure you bring what you need! Here's a checklist of everything you'll need for your splash pad outing:
- A big bag to hold everything
- Sunscreen -- reapply as needed
- Hats -- sunhats with big brims give much-needed shade
- Water shoes -- street shoes are not allowed at most splash-pads. While bare feet are usually allowed, water shoes are recommended to avoid slipping.
- Extra swim diapers for the little ones
- Plastic bags for wet diapers and swimsuits
- Hand wipes or hand sanitizers
- Healthy snacks
- Water bottles -- bring more than you think you'll need to make sure everyone stays hydrated.
- Change of clothes
With their zero-water depth and soft non-slip surfaces, splash-pads provide a safe environment to play. Make sure you take a few extra precautions to ensure your kids' safety. Tell your little ones not to drink the water -- you'd be surprised what excited tots do when they encounter pop-up water fountains! Explain the importance of taking a break to go to the restroom as needed (to avoid contamination) and change soiled swim diapers immediately. Finally, make sure kids wash their hands or use sanitizer after splashing and before having their snacks.
Splash-pads in your area
To find a splash-pad, spray-park or splash-zone in your area, just Google "splash-pad," plus the name of your city. With the rise in popularity of these "spraygrounds," you may be surprised at the places these water playgrounds are popping up.