How Far Apart Are Monkey Bars Spaced? (And Why This Is Important)

Cartoon of Steve in t shirt and trousers

When you’re playing on the monkey bars, the spacing between bars is probably the last thing on your mind. 

Perhaps, it’s not even on your mind at all. 

The spacing between bars of the monkey bars is actually very crucial. 

It is a matter of safety. 

Let’s find out more about the issue…

Monkey bars must be appropriately spaced at nine to 12 inches between bars. A nine-inch spacing is fitting for younger children. The appropriate spacing for older children and adults can be wider but less than 15 inches. Standard spacing exists to prevent serious injuries and head entrapment. To be clear, the spacing doesn’t prevent accidents; it merely reduces the risk of accidents and impact.

Monkey Bars Spacing – How Far Apart Should They Be?

Monkey bars are popular playground equipment, but for the uninitiated, they look like a suspended horizontal ladder that children can climb and swing on. 

It’s fun. 

More importantly, it keeps children active and fit. 

It’s a great alternative to twiddling all day on their phones and other mobile devices. 

But such active play puts children at risk of falls and other injuries. 

Ensuring bars are properly spaced is one way to prevent serious injuries and reduce the risk of falling.

How Far Apart Should Monkey Bars Be Spaced?

The bars on the equipment must be at least nine inches apart

It’s the ideal space for younger children, those around eight years old. 

Some experts believe eight years old is the best age for children to play on monkey bars

It’s the age where they have the upper body strength to safely climb and swing on the monkey bars. 

Others think that children at least four years old can do the monkey bars but must have adult supervision. 

Toddlers can play with indoor monkey bars or toddler-sized monkey bars to better prepare themselves for the real deal. 

For older children and adults, monkey bars can be more than nine inches to 12 inches apart

Adults who use monkey bars or similar equipment for exercise can have a spacing of more than 12 inches but less than 15 inches

The Importance of Proper Spacing in Monkey Bars

Playground with monkey bars

Why do you need to follow the standard spacing of nine to 12 inches between monkey bars?

Here are some reasons why:

1. Safety

Nine inches is the perfect spacing for children to get a proper grip on the next bar. 

Incorrect spacing of monkey bars could lead to children losing their grip, which would, in turn, would lead to a fall. 

Most school or community playgrounds have surface materials that could absorb falls. But it’s not a guarantee that a child will not get injured. 

According to a U.S. study:

  • Every year, 72,889 children were treated in the emergency rooms for playground-related fractures
  • 49.8% of fractures were from playing on monkey bars
  • Of the playground-related fractures that required hospitalization, 54.7% were from monkey bars

A study in Australia revealed the following details:

  • 14,167 reportedly got injured from monkey bars between 2008 and 2018
  • 81% of injuries happened among children between five and nine years old
  • More than half of the injuries happened because children tried to skip a bar/rung during play

In the U.K., a report noted that accident and emergency department doctors state that monkey bars constitute one of the six most dangerous kids’ activities

“Typically, what I see as the biggest culprit for playground injuries is the monkey bars. Kids of all ages, swinging back and forth, has a propensity for forceful falls. The monkey bars are notorious for causing supracondylar fractures, a fracture to the elbow which often requires reduction and pinning in the operating room by an orthopedic surgeon.”

Dr. Christopher Kelly

2. Better Physical Development

When you have standard monkey bar spacing, children develop their locomotor and balancing skills better. 

The movement is more natural to them, so there is no extra effort to move from one bar to another. 

Because of that, they will improve their upper body strength and coordination. 

3. Prevent Head Entrapment

The ideal spacing of nine to 12 inches will also prevent head entrapment on the monkey bars. 

Why Do You Need To Know About Proper Spacing

Note: We cannot all be as quick on monkey bars as the person in the video above!

There are two reasons why you need to know the appropriate spacing for monkey bars. 

First, you might want to build your own monkey bars. 

With such knowledge, you can build monkey bars that are just the right size for your children. 

Second, if you are ever in a public place, you can gauge if the monkey bars are appropriate for your children or not. 

School and community playgrounds usually have standard-sized monkey bars, which means they must be between five and eight feet high and have bars nine to 12 inches apart.

They are obliged to follow safety standards or they will be sued. 

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Answering the Question How Far Apart Are Monkey Bars Spaced
Click infographic to enlarge.

Monkey bars are fantastic because they are fun and they help with locomotor skills, coordination, and fitness. 

However, the proper spacing between bars matters. 

Bars should be at least nine inches apart for children. 

Older children can have monkey bars that are up to 12 inches apart. 

Adults who use monkey bars for their fitness regimen can have them more than 12 inches apart but less than 15 inches. 

Having the right spacing is a matter of safety. 

So, climb and swing safely!

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