Updated: 28th September 2020
A bouncy castle, otherwise known as a bounce house, is a castle shaped inflatable model. It’s typically designed for children from toddler-age upwards, and is great fun.
It has a number of benefits for their development, but there are some important watch-outs in getting the right ones. In this guide we focus on the small bouncy castles; the ones that work well for indoors and outdoors, or for a smaller number of children. Buying one of these can in some cases be much better value than renting too.
The Benefits of Bouncy Castles for Children
(image credit: yardinflatable.com)
Health & Exercise
They are brilliant and fun ways to channel the kids’ energies into good exercise. For children over 3, the repetitive nature of bouncing can vastly improve leg strength, especially as part of a varied range of activities. Even when they fall and loose balance the first time, it’s exactly this type of exercise that improves endurance – which is key to help lowering the risk of obesity over a sustained period.
Fit for a range of occasions & interactions
It’s not just for birthday parties. Bounce houses are brilliant ways for the kids to burn off that bit of extra energy, or fun for a few of their friends in the afternoon. When multiple children play in a bouncy castle, they also learn how better to interact with each other.
The priceless laughter
There’s something truly magical that happens to kids once on a bouncy castle that results in truly infectious laughter. Once they are on the bounce houses, you’ll see instantly what joy it can bring to them.
Entertainment that lasts
Being on a bouncy castle is far more active entertainment for toddlers and older children than just sitting them in-front of the TV. For something so simple to construct, a bouncy castle can keep a child’s attention for a very long time!
We’ve previously written about the vast benefits of outdoor play, and it really is vital for our children’s development. The best bounce houses don’t just have to be used outside, but they do offer a self-contained space for your children to develop in an outdoor play setting.
Best Bouncy Castle Games
There are a range of different games you can play on a mini bouncy castle, and here’s some of our favourites.
An inflatables version of the popular musical statues game. The children jump and bounce while the music is on, and then need to stop as soon as the music is paused. Those who are last to stop (or who can’t steady themselves) are out of the game.
A New Kingdom
Add some toys (not too many) into the bouncy castle and you quickly create a whole new world of play for the kids. Try to avoid too many, especially sharper toys, and always keep a watch out for smaller parts.
Image Credit: blastzone.com
Friendly 'Sumo' Wrestling
This is a game of fine balance. One of the most important principles of sumo is to hold your ground when your opponent tries to take you down. Well, in this bouncy castle game you can imagine the fun in seeing the kids try to hold their ground, but can’t because their feet are in a constant wobble!
Obstacle Course/Fun Run
For a few friends, and preferably in the small bouncy castles that have different ‘zones’ you can set up a simple obstacle course where the kids have to race against each other, or against the time, to see who is the future Olympic champion within the group.
Image credit: Better Bounce Direct
Ready, Set, Go
You don’t have to bounce to have fun in the Bouncy Castle. For any race fans out there - get the cars, wind up them up, and have a race! It’s like Scalextrics, but with a lot more bounce!
Key Factors When Buying a Children's Bouncy Castle
The lifespan of a bouncy castle is typically between 2-4 years. There are however far too many examples of manufacturers who sell bouncy castles that are beyond repair within 12-24 months. That’s why we advise NEVER to buy a second hand one, it’s not worth the risk.
Number of children
How many children do you need this mini bouncy castle for? Always make sure the one you get covers the likely number of children who will be using it regularly.
Safe set up
Whether for bigger or small bouncy castles, one of the most important factors is safe set up. Here’s our safety sheet for the key
Guarantees & Safety Tests
What level of guarantee is provided by the manufacturer? The EN71 testing standard is a set of European Product Safety standards that applies to all toys sold in the EU.
It means that all toys sold in the EU must meet certain minimum safety standards on the following areas: Mechanical, Noise, Flame retardancy, Electrical safety, Chemical composition, Sanitation, Radiation.
One thing to check is certainly the clearance space needed - height especially. The typical mini bouncy castle is 160cm in height, which should comfortably within range of the minimum floor to ceiling height for residential spaces of over 2.6 metres.
Always ensure that there’s an adult to supervise too.
The Best Small Bouncy Castles
We’ve reviewed 5 of the very best. These are typically lower in height and designed for indoor and outdoor play. But always check the dimensions against what’s available in your home / outside space.
This bouncy castle from Homcom is brilliantly designed for indoor and outdoor use, and has been double stiched for extra strength.
Those who want a great party starter, that will also last throughout the seasons – indoor and outdoor.
An all in one system from Little Tikes featuring a slide, climber, bounce area and tunnel. Perfect for long-time entertainment.
Bigger spaces in and out of home, and those with 2 children or more.
This bounce house from Wushuang is the most classical in terms of castle-like design, and has been made with a clear thought for different zones for the children to play in: a pit, bouncy castle, and slide.
Larger spaces, especially outside the home, and those who's children are ready for the finer details of life.
The Costway is a good starter bouncy castle, and has a high wall and side net for extra safety while the jumping happens. It’s known for its durability, but is limited in how many children can bounce in it.
Parents looking for a starter bouncy castle or have a smaller space available to set up.
Similar to the Costway (above), but just a bit bigger and bolder all-round. Made of durable PVC material and double laminated nylon for extra durability too.
Parents who want a starter bounce house with a little extra quality all-round.