Best Teeter-Totters

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
315 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best teeter-totters

Last Updated October 2019

There’s something magical and mesmerizing about a teeter-totter, also known as a seesaw, that has made it a playground favorite for decades. One of the best things about it is that it’s meant to be enjoyed with friends. Whether your own children are playing on it or your child and a best friend, a teeter-totter promotes active group play.

Today’s designs go well beyond a wooden board balanced over a log. There are four-seat models and those that rotate to multiply the teeter-totter fun. Airplanes, whales, and alligators also make an appearance and add to the whimsy.

Teeter-totters are categorized either by a recommended age range or maximum weight limit. Take both into consideration to make sure you get a model that’s both safe and durable. Of course, you’ve also got to think about your available backyard or indoor space, too. After that, it’s all about fun. If you’re ready to turn your backyard into a playground your kids won’t want to leave, keep reading to find the perfect teeter-totter for your family. Take a look at our favorites, too.

The word “teeter-totter” first appeared in 1530 and referred to an act of balancing.

Key considerations

Home vs. commercial

Home teeter-totters are what you generally find in backyards, while commercial teeter-totters are found in public parks and school playgrounds. Domestic models are less expensive, but they have a lighter build and sacrifice durability. You can purchase commercial teeter-totters for your backyard, but they can cost as much as ten times more than a domestic model, and they need to be secured permanently in one spot.

Types of teeter-totters

  • Two seats: Two-seat teeter-totters are the classic design, but you might have a hard time recognizing some of them because they’ve been reengineered to be safer and more dynamic. When you break it down, a teeter-totter is a board balanced on a fulcrum. But the board has been replaced with a metal bar and topped with seats and handles for comfort. The fulcrum used to be as simple as a log, but today it’s typically a raised bar, tripod, quad base, or, in the case of commercial models, a spring. Though designs vary, these models only fit two kids at a time, one on each end who pushes off the ground when their end of the teeter-totter lowers.

  • Four seats: Four-seat models are perfect for bigger families, in-home daycares, and for those homes where neighborhood kids congregate. Some models have two children sitting side by side on either end of the teeter-totter. Others are long enough for two children to sit one in back of the other on either end. Then there are those that place a pair of two-seat teeter-totters on the same fulcrum. These models take up more space and may be slightly heavier than a two-seat model, but it means you can add more friends to the mix.

  • Rocking chair: These models forgo the traditional fulcrum for a rocking chair design. They come in two- and four-seat versions with either a plastic or metal frame. Rather than relying on the riders to push off the ground, these are powered by a rocking motion.

Weight limit/age range

All teeter-totters have either a maximum weight limit (the total weight of both riders) and/or a suggested age range. The maximum weight limit is a more accurate measure of a teeter-totter’s limitations. Some metal models support up to 300 pounds, while molded plastic models support far less. As always, follow the recommendations of the manufacturer for the safest play.

Base

A rickety teeter-totter has no place in your backyard. Stability is a matter of physics. The base should be wide enough and the fulcrum properly positioned so that it’s nearly impossible for the device to tip over while in use. Some models are stable only when permanently secured, but others are stable whether they’re bolted down or not. Stability is also a matter of using the teeter-totter appropriately. It shouldn’t be used by people over the maximum weight limit or age range.

Size

Whether you plan to put the teeter-totter in a classroom, playroom, or backyard, measure the space carefully. Compare your measurements to the teeter-totter’s specifications to make sure you have plenty of clearance.

Some teeter-totters are small enough to be used indoors as well as out. These models make a great addition to a rec room or playroom that has plenty of clearance.

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Teeter-totter features

Materials

  • Metal: Powder-coated steel is the metal of choice because it’s strong and weather resistant. Metal frames are used on outdoor and indoor models, but they typically have plastic seats for a more comfortable ride. Metal teeter-totters are incredibly durable, but they weigh more than plastic ones and are therefore more difficult to move.

  • Plastic: Many indoor teeter-totters are made entirely of plastic. They’re lightweight, durable, and inexpensive. Plastic seats and handles are also used in combination with a metal frame for added comfort.

  • Wood: Wooden teeter-totters are few and far between these days, but there are still some on the market. These may have a special sealant or coating to protect them from the weather. They’re also coupled with plastic seats and handles for comfort.

Rotation

Some teeter-totters can rotate at the fulcrum. This feature adds a whole new dynamic to the fun, but it can be scary or unpleasant for some kids. With most designs, the rotating feature cannot be stopped or turned off; it’s simply part of the design. However, in that case, children can learn how to push off the ground without causing the teeter-totter to rotate.

Portability

Most teeter-totters made for home use are fairly portable. Some may have attachment points for permanent placement, but they’re generally not hard to move. Plastic models are the easiest to transport from the playroom to the backyard and back again. You might need two people to move them simply because of the size, but they’re not heavy.

Seats

With a backless seat, there is an increased danger of falling off the teeter-totter. Reaching for the handles usually puts body weight far enough forward that there’s not a great risk. However, if younger children will be riding the teeter-totter, seats with backs give them better stability and you greater peace of mind.

Footrests

You’ll usually find footrests on rocking chair teeter-totters, but they’re also found on some commercial models that have a spring fulcrum. As you can imagine, they’re generally not found on models that require riders to push off the ground.

Bump stop

Bump stops extend down from under each seat to prevent the riders from hitting the ground too hard. If the teeter-totter will be used indoors, a bump stop can prevent scratching the floor. It also keeps the rider in a natural seated position for comfort and ease of use.

Color and shape

Teeter-totters come in all kinds of fun colors and shapes. If the teeter-totter needs to match or fit in with other outdoor play equipment, you’ve got some choices. Models shaped like alligators, boats, and planes can add to a fun theme in a playroom or preschool.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some four-seat teeter-totters can rotate, making them a cross between a teeter-totter and a merry-go-round.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some teeter-totters are made in fun shapes like animals or vehicles. Others have more than one function, such as those that can be flipped and used as a bridge.

Teeter-totter prices

Inexpensive: Teeter-totters start at about $40 to $80. At the bottom of the price range, you’ll find both plastic and metal/plastic models. Bump stops are common, but these models don’t rotate or have any way to permanently attach them to the ground or a base.

Mid-range: In the $80 to $150 range are four-seat and rotating two-seat models. This is where you’ll see the largest variety of designs from rocking teeter-totters to those shaped like sea creatures. There are also wooden models at this price point.

Expensive: At over $150 are models designed to be permanently fixed outside either with stakes or a ground post. You’ll start to see commercial models in the $300 to $400 range and these go up to well over $1,000.

Tips

  • Make sure the riders are close in weight. While riders don’t need to be exactly the same size, the closer they are in weight, the easier it will be for them to teeter-totter together.

  • Go for grips. Handles with grips help children hang on when the teeter-tottering gets fast and furious.

  • Wipe it down. Most teeter-totters are easy to clean and maintain. A quick wipe with a wet cloth may be all you need. Both plastic and powder-coated steel can withstand outdoor weather, so it’s a matter of how often you want to wipe off any built-up dirt and grime.

Other products we considered

Our top five represent the best of the best, but the competition was tight. Here are a couple that were edged out but are still worth considering. The Nova Swivel Seesaw has a 300-pound total weight limit and rotates 360°. The adjustable frame can be raised or lowered as kids grow taller. The Costzon Kids' Seesaw has a lower maximum weight of only 144 pounds total, but that’s enough for its recommended age range of three to seven years old. Rotation adds an extra dimension to the hours of fun.

Teeter-totters are a feat of physics. If you make a teeter-totter out of a board balanced on a log, you can adjust the fulcrum and the position of the riders so that two people of drastically different weights can easily use it.

FAQ

Q. Can teeter-totters be stored outside year-round?

A. Many models are made to withstand all seasons. However, any teeter-totter no matter what material it’s made of will last longer if it’s protected from rain and snow.

Q. Are there teeter-totters that are strong enough for adults to use?

A. Who can use the teeter-totter depends on the combined weight of both users. Many commercial models can hold an adult without any problem. Teeter-totters built for home use, however, may have lower weight limits. You can find some with a maximum combined weight limit of around 300 pounds, which is enough for two smaller adults. However, exceeding the weight limit could result in a bent or broken teeter-totter.

Q. Can teeter-totters be used by one child alone?

A. For most models, the answer is no. However, the exceptions are some rocking chair teeter-totters. Some smaller models have a middle seat that can be used by one child to rock the teeter-totter like a rocking chair.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer
  • Stacey
    Stacey
    Writer

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