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Is IKEA Heaven for Children?

IKEA, children's ikea, children's rooms, kids ikea, shopping with kids

Who needs a ball pit when you can play "Let's pretend we live here!"

You’d be hard-pressed to find an apartment in New York that doesn’t have at least one item in it from IKEA. IKEA furniture is perfect for urban dwellers who move every few years; it’s so cheap it’s practically disposable. Though New Yorkers used to have to schlep out to Jersey to get their flat-packed furniture fix, in 2008 an IKEA store opened in Brooklyn, quite near where I live now. I never expected that I’d treat IKEA like a vacation destination, but it turns out my daughter and I think of the Swedish home decor warehouse as our own private Disney World.

And why not? IKEA has everything from a playland for kids to a restaurant with exotic foods. Like the rides at Disney, each display area within the showroom provides a unique experience. The bathrooms are clean, in the summer it’s air conditioned and you can leave with a stuffed animal souvenir!

My daughter and I have stopped in IKEA twice in the last two weeks, and both times she’s really gotten into admiring their wares. So I laughed when I read Shawna Cohen’s post on Mommyish about her 2-year-old son “ooh-ing andahh-ing over every trinket and sneaking colorful, bird-print placemats” into their cart on her last trip there. She says her son “skips through the never-ending maze that is Ikea, stopping to marvel at every closet organizer, bathroom mat, cookie tin along the way.”

In her post, Cohen describes her son’s odd willingness to lay still in an IKEA toddler bed for 20 minutes, which doesn’t surprise me at all. When we’re there, my daughter wants to lay on every bed, touch every piece of furniture and imagine what it would be like if we lived in each of the mini-apartments they have set up. On our most recent trip, she was instrumental in helping me pick out a pair of curtains, and I’m sure we got some sideways glances from people watching a 6-year-old doing her best Tim Gunn impression. “I think these would look better in the living room. Then again, this other pair would match the couch… Oh well, make it work!”

Maybe fast-food places and other child-friendly destinations should take a tip from IKEA: no ball pits or playground equipment necessary. Just set up a few toddler beds and a couple throw pillows and the kids will be in heaven.

Do you take your child to IKEA? If so, do they love it?

Photo: IKEA

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