If you browse the House of Play website, you’ll notice that our bespoke play equipment is split into different categories. Our two most popular categories are soft play equipment and indoor play equipment, but what’s the difference?

Sometimes these terms get used interchangeably – but they are not the same. They both have different intended users, and therefore different commercial purposes. If you are considering opening a play venue or adding a play facility to an existing business, you need to read this first.

What Is Soft Play Equipment?

Soft play equipment is play equipment used by babies and toddlers. It includes things like soft play rockers, soft play shapes, puzzle games and more. Because they are made with soft padded foam, they are extremely safe for these age groups to play and develop motor skills.

Most of the individual pieces of equipment are compact enough to fit inside smaller spaces, but they can be added to larger padded structures to make a big soft play space.

We at House of Play manufacture soft play equipment at our Doncaster base. And because we make it ourselves, we can ensure every product is made with premium materials. We can even cater to any theme you need.

What Is an Indoor Playground?

Indoor play equipment could be one way to describe soft play equipment. After all, it’s play equipment used predominantly indoors.

However, this is an industry term that exclusively refers to play equipment used by older children. It typically involves a play structure with multiple levels and lots of play products throughout.

For example, the indoor playground structure could include a ball pit, bash bags, interactive wall panel games and much more.

And just how we manufacture our own soft play equipment, we also produce bespoke indoor playgrounds with all the bells and whistles in any size and theme from our Doncaster headquarters.

The Difference Between Soft Play and Indoor Play Equipment

In a nutshell, the difference between soft play equipment and indoor playground equipment is who should be using it.

The former is aimed at babies and toddlers (and sometimes people with motor skill disabilities to build confidence safely), while the latter is for older children and early teens. The difficulty level of the physical and cognitive challenges set by the respective equipment caters to these different age groups.

Do I Need Soft Play or Indoor Play Equipment?

Now you know the difference, you know which categories to browse on our website and find what you need. If you are still unsure, you can always speak with our friendly design team, who can explain your options in more detail.

But what if you’re still unsure whether to create a soft play space or an indoor playground? Both can be designed to fit small and large spaces, so you almost always get a choice.

If you are adding a play space to an existing business, you may want to consider your current target market to decide. For example, if you run a gymnastics school for children (not toddlers and babies), you might want to add an indoor playground to cater to the same crowd.

Alternatively, it could be commercially advantageous to add a play space that appeals to the age groups you don’t already target, making your venue interesting to the whole family. Doing this would serve as a progression from one to the other and maintain custom (e.g., from soft play to gymnastics).

There’s no right or wrong answer, but you should consider the wide business implications and profitability of choosing one.

Can I Have a Soft Play and Indoor Playground Together?


Our designers have worked on countless projects for clients who wanted to combine a soft play space within or adjoining their indoor playground. We’ve even managed to do this effectively for clients without vast amounts of space.

By adding both, you cater to the whole family and can increase footfall to your venue and any on-site food and beverage facilities.

Can House of Play Work with External Teams?

We are frequently asked to work with external teams associated with the client or company we create these play spaces for. And the answer is almost certainly yes!

We often work with the client’s architects to ensure no unforeseen (and costly) problems arise later in the installation. And we work with company marketing departments to make the branding of the company consistent within the bespoke play design.

And of course, we can create soft play and indoor playgrounds with the client’s feedback and preferences at the heart of our work.

Need More Information?

If you want further information on our individual play products or our complete design and installation service, give our team a call.

We can discuss your options, answer your questions and provide a free preliminary quote on your project.

We can even support you with building planning, business plans and looking for finance to fund the play space.