Many parents (and pretty much all children!) love making the trip out to an indoor toddler play centre (often known as 'soft play'). If you're new to taking little kids out on trips like this, though, you might be wondering what the deal is: how much will the children interact with each other? How closely do they need to be supervised? When is it okay for you to take a little break? Like all social occasions, soft play days have their own unspoken etiquette—and here it is.

Don't expect anyone to do your job for you.

The #1 thing you'll hear parents complain about after soft play is other parents who leave their children unsupervised while they go and sit in the cafe with a coffee. This can be fine with bigger kids, but with toddlers you're essentially asking others to do your job for you: your kid will need some help and supervision, so make sure you're around to enjoy the experience with them and to give it!

Avoid being a helicopter, and encourage some independence!

That doesn't mean you need to get right in there with them all the time, however! Strike a good balance: make sure you're close enough to watch, encourage and assist without being so close that you're keeping your child from exploring alone or blocking other children from using the space as they would like to.

Make sure you're following the rules of the centre.

Whatever else you do—and however you choose to strike that balance—it's vital that you familiarise yourself with the rules of the soft play you're in and follow them. They should be clearly signposted. Even if you think they're a little over-the-top, it's better for all the children to be as safe as possible than for parents to all reach different conclusions of how their kids should behave!

Keep an eye on what the bigger kids are up to.

Many toddler soft plays are attached to ones designed for older children. Kids of all ages love these play centres, and it's great to encourage them to enjoy themselves, but do keep an eye on the bigger ones—the chances that they'll intend to cause a problem are slim, but they might wander into the toddler area, and they really do need to stay in their own section of the centre. Usually a friendly, gentle reminder every now and again is all they need!