Yesterday I was invited by a friend to check out Sprouts, a new playplace in Leslieville on Toronto’s East side. The staff was welcoming, kind and attentive. You can really tell that these people are trying to create something great and want Torontonians to consider this place like a second home for their children. In doing so, they have created a safe and fun place for kids 0-6.
Your first visit at Sprouts is free. There are no strings attached and there is no sales pitch on the way out the door to return or buy a pass. It truly is just a free opportunity to check out the space for yourself without any pressure or cost.
In many major cities like ours, you can find tiny cafes with playplaces, the run-of-the-mill McDonalds playplaces and extremely large and often daunting playplaces. Sprouts has carved out a space that falls exactly in between. The room features a wood climbing centre with slides that is not too small and certainly not as big as some of the giant plastic ones I have climbed into to retrieve my children. It also features two miniature trampolines surrounded by a lot of soft mats to fall onto to. There is a baby zone as well and some interesting play tables with Lego and Duplo.
Here is where it gets interesting. There is staff at all times inside the play area. They are not there to completely care for your children but they do a great job of engaging them and entertaining them. They also monitor safety issues and make sure everyone is having fun. One man that worked there half-way through our visit very quietly went and set up an entire Lego jungle while the kids weren’t watching and then walked away from it. Within minutes, individual children caught sight of the jungle and began playing together in an area they had previously not even noticed. He also hid little critters high up on posts and waited for children to notice them so he could engage them in a game of hide and seek.
Sprouts has not missed out on much in building this indoor playground. They have installed a high quality coffee machine which serves free coffee, tea and hot chocolate. They also have installed a filtered water tap and a GMO-free vending machine for healthy snacks. The only criticism that I found of the whole place was that some of the items in the vending machine like Snackimals cookies are not actually made in peanut-free facilities so parents do need to be mindful that even though Sprouts is a nut-free facility there are some potential dangers to look out for.
Parents are free to consume drinks within the play area but there is also a nice sitting area with adorable little seats for babies to be entertained in. A nice touch is that the music played at Sprouts is a mix of child-friendly adult music. It is not an annoying elevator track or radio loop and is a nice break for parents who don’t want to hear the Frozen soundtrack another 30 times a day.
The facilities at Sprouts are spotless and adorable. There are men’s and women’s washrooms with each featuring a tiny adorable toilet for toddlers as well as lower sinks for hand washing. There is also a really well designed nursing room and a nice change table area. I do want to mention that there were women openly breast-feeding in the playground and this is completely welcome at Sprouts. The nursing room is an option if you or your baby need privacy or peace and quiet. I swear I almost locked myself in there a few times it looked so welcoming.
Sprouts isn’t just a playground but also a learning centre offering classes in baby yoga, arts and crafts, reading and song, movement and dance and early enrichment. You can enrol in classes without buying a membership for the playground.
Admission to the centre, once you have used your free visit, is based on a membership option of $95 a month for all day access, $50 a month for holidays and weekends and $55 for a 6 time pass. The great news is that membership and the pass apply to the whole family and not a single child making this a great deal if you have more than one child.All in all if you are anywhere near this facility with toddlers or kids up to 5 or 6, you will likely be glad you found it. And hey if you don’t like it, your first visit was free anyways. There is street parking available directly outside of Sprouts and the centre is very TTC accessible being just north of Carlaw and Queen. If you do decide to visit, maybe this Solo mom will see you there.