PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2015, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like schedules and pricing.
If you’ve been reading our site for a while, you know that both Shawna and I are big fans of IKEA. I’ve written about how family friendly the store is and Shawna’s written about how she likes to combine an IKEA trip with some other fun activities in the New Haven area. It is a destination that we both visit often and I’ve come to realize that it can be more than just a shopping trip, it can be an entertaining family outing.
On previous visits I’ve taken advantage of some of the great family offerings found at IKEA New Haven: family friendly parking, meal discounts, play areas, and more. We usually let the kids explore the play areas located throughout the store, get some food in the cafe, and then purchase the items we need for our latest house project. But there is one family friendly feature that I’ve been waiting to try – Småland.
What is Småland you ask?
Well it might just be a little piece of heaven in the lives of busy parents. Småland is a FREE supervised play are for kids. You can drop your little for 30 minutes to an hour (more details on that in a second) and then get some of your shopping done kid-free. Now that sounds nice, right?
Here is the deal: Kids have to be between the height of 37″ and 54″ to use this area. They also have to be potty trained. These two requirements usually mean that the kids using the space are between the ages of 3 and 6, but of course it depends. Use of the service is FREE and the standard time allotment is 30 minutes. You can, however, sign up for IKEA Family and extend that time to 45 minutes or an hour.
During our recent visit, we started off with lunch in the café. They’ve actually made a few changes to the eating area since my last visit and the previous play area in the space is now gone and they have a new eating and TV watching space for the little ones. We ate our food and then my kids watched a little TV with my husband (Frozen was playing) while I quickly went to look for the items I wanted to get during our visit. I was on the hunt for new dining room chairs and just needed to find them in the showroom and get their location information so that I could pick them up in the warehouse downstairs.
Well it seemed that on this busy Saturday afternoon there were quite a few other families with the same idea as ours because when we got to Småland there was a big sign stating that it was full. My understanding is that they limit the number of kids based on the number of staff working in the space. Of course that makes total sense, but I was a bit disappointed. I decided, however, to be patient and just check in and see if any space had opened up. Well lucky for me, there were a few families ahead of me that were there to pick up there little ones and they had space for my crew. Yay!
At IKEA in New Haven, Småland, is located on the first floor, to the left of the escalator, right as you enter the building.
Check-in for the service was fairly quick but very thorough. They first checked to make sure Sweetheart, Sparkles, and Bruiser all met the height requirements. Sweetheart is just 2 1/2, but I was pretty sure she was 38″ tall and she is potty trained (at least 95% of the time) so we decided to try. She made it. Yay!
They provided us with a bin for all of the kids things (shoes, jackets, etc.). They asked me for my ID and I filled out some paperwork with their information and my contact details. The kids each received a name tag marked with the same number and then that number was stamped on my arm. They also provided me with a beeper that they would use to notify me if they needed me to return early for any reason.
They also provided me with a card that contained the rules for the play space, the number for my kiddos, and the time that I needed to return. I mentioned earlier that the time for Småland ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. Well the standard amount of time is 30 minutes, but if you want a little more time all you have to do is sign up for the IKEA Family program. You can either sign up online or at the kiosk located in the front of the store. During the week, IKEA Family members can use Småland for an hour and on the weekends the time limit is 45 minutes.
So we were all set. The kids were happy to head into the play area and my husband and I were ready to finish our shopping.
Now I know I usually provide you with all sorts of pictures of the places we visit, but for this outing, I don’t have any interior pictures of Småland. I did not want to ask about taking pictures of the space because there were several kids in the play area and I knew there was no way I could get their parent’s approval to include them in my shot (because their parents weren’t there!). I also only had my iphone camera with me for this trip, so my pictures were not great as it was.
But I will tell you that the Småland play area was lots of fun. It was a fairly large space with a ball pit as one of its highlight features. There were also other climbing structures, a craft area, tons of IKEA toys, and a loft space where kids could take a break and watch a cartoon. Below are a few stock photos from www.ikea.com which provide a little more insight.
Now even 45 minutes was going to be cutting it tight to get the things we needed from the store. I had to stay very focused as we wandered through the shopping area. Of course I picked up several items for purchase along the way (you just can’t help it there!) but we finally made it to the warehouse area, found the chairs, and loaded them onto our cart. We checked out and then I took a break while my husband got the purchased items into the car.
By then, our 45 minutes was up and it was time to pick up our little crew. They were busy watching a show when we returned and the kind people working in the area were able to get them away from the tv by offering them some Frozen-themed stickers. It worked and now I’m thinking I should be carrying Frozen-themed stickers with me at all times!
It was so nice to be able to let the kids do something they enjoyed while my husband and I picked up the things we needed for home. Everyone was happy. Now I just need to figure out how to get more stores to offer this service (Target I’m talking to you!)
Store Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Småland Hours: Sun, Tues, Fri and Sat 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Mon, Wed, Thurs 10:00 am-6:00 pm
- Stroller Friendly: YES. The IKEA store is very stroller friendly.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: N/A
- Restroom: YES. There is a restroom located in Småland for the children to use.
- Baby Changing Station: N/A. The IKEA store does have baby changing stations but they are not needed in the Småland space.
- Parking: YES. Free parking is available outside the store. There is also a family friendly lot located on the side of the store.
- Food for Sale: YES. There is food for sale in the store’s cafe, but there is not food for sale in the Småland area.
- Outside Food Allowed: I Think So. I didn’t see any signage saying that outside food wasn’t allowed and I did see families who were serving their kids snacks brought form home. No food was allowed in Småland.
- Cash Required: NO.
- Dress Code: No.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. Småland is opened on the weekends and until 7:00 pm during the week.
- Discounts: Can’t do better than FREE!
- Usage Requirements
- Children must be between 37″ and 54″ in height
- Children must be potty trained
- Time Requirements
- The standard time for usage is 30 minutes.
- During the week, members of IKEA Family can use it for one hour.
- During the weekend, members of IKEA Family can us it for 45 minutes.
- Note that on weekends and holidays, Småland can reach capacity.
- Visit IKEA on Tuesdays and kids eat FREE that day!
- IKEA is adding some new features soon including crafts on Saturdays from 2pm – 4pm and story times and movie nights. They also work with local family friendly destinations to offer discounts to IKEA Family members. Be sure to check their site for more details as they become available.
- NEW – Little Ms. Bella Beautique/Bella Beauty – Located in Farmington, this one-of-a-kind boutique is a girl’s dream that caters to your Bella for an exclusive Beauty Day, Make Your Own Spa Treats, Tea Parties with Dress Up and the Ultimate Girly Girl Birthday Parties.
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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