The soft play is located in one part of the leisure centre's main hall. Buggies are parked outside the hall and there are lockers for people's belongings. Toilets are close by though if I remember correctly, there is only one baby change!!! Upon entering the hall, shoes, coats and bags are placed by the wall if you haven't left them locked up.
The space is filled with soft shapes for babies and young toddlers to climb and jump on. My daughter had a clamber on these objects trying to avoid the babies and their mums who were sitting around the space creating an obstacle course. I had to keep a close eye on my daughter's interactions with the little ones as she doesn't always understand that she needs to be careful around babies.
There is also a big bouncy castle with a slide which clearly works best with older kids. One side is for bouncing which is an easy win with kids (and mums). The other part of this inflatable is a slide. To access the top of the slide the children have to climb up a dark and quite steep tunnel which has no room for a parent's helping hand. Young toddlers regularly attempted to climb the stairs. They would then get scared and stuck, and their mums would have to go in to coax them out. Often you would see a great big grown-up bottom sticking out of the entrance to the tunnel steps, head inside trying to persuade the nervous child to come back down.
In some cases, the kid would get out of the tunnel at the top and then decide they didn't want to go down the slide. On a normal slide, mum or dad can lean in and help their child down but this isn't so easy to do on this strange bouncy slide thing. So yes, I found myself going up the bouncy tunnel steps to persuade my daughter to slide down with me.
This slide and tunnel really works better with the four to five year old children. Those who were around had no problems, often walking over - yes over - the small kids who were crying because they were half way up a dark tunnel, not sure how to get down and they couldn't see their parent.
To sum up, everything is still sparkly and new, there are soft shapes for the very little and a big bouncy thing for the big but I'm not sure it serves the 2-3 year old children very well. It also feels overcrowded which means I'm uncomfortable with letting my child really run around.
For me, the most eventful moment was when my two year old managed to bang her head. A big egg bump started to appear and I asked the guy in charge if he had a first aid kit with a cold compress. He didn't so he went up to reception to ask. They told me to put some water on a tissue and hold it to her head. This is a leisure centre with an ice skating rink! No-one was very sure about first aid for a small child!! I really wasn't impressed with that but hope it was a one off.
I'd love to hear other's experiences of the space. Did it work better for you and your family?
Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre Information
Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre is located at 390 Streatham High Road London, SW16 6HX
It costs £2.85 a session.
The centre can be contacted on 020 8677 5758.
The opening times of the Toddlers' World are:
Monday 10:00 to 12:00pm
Tuesday 10:00 to 12:00pm
Thursday 10:00 to 12:00pm
Friday 10:00 to 12:00pm
Want to know more about soft play facilities in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:
- our review of soft play at Peckham Pulse Healthy Living Centre
- our review of soft play at Brixton Recreation Centre
- our review of soft play at Bertie and Boo Adventure Island