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To Buy or Not To Buy a Tuff Spot?

October 8, 2018  |  Claire Russell

Since starting playHOORAY! I have been singing the praises of the Tuff Spot and its potential for play. Previously a hidden gem in Early Years Settings, the Tuff Spot is becoming more popular in homes with babies and young children! Of course, I am not claiming to be solely responsible for this change however I do receive messages on a regular basis, thanking me for introducing them to the wonderful world of Tuff Spots.

 tuff spot | messy play ideas for babies & children | playHOORAY!

However, purchasing a Tuff Spot is a big decision. I know, it is. But hopefully here I can help you to decide because yes the Tuff Spot is a wonderful resource with lots of play potential, but there are also alternative options, and I would like to introduce you to these.

What is a Tuff Spot?

So let's begin, what is a Tuff Spot? It's also known as a tough spot, play tray or even cement mixing tray. Originally created for the construction world however due to its size and being made of strong plastic, the tray has become popular for use with young children. I use a Tuff Spot both in my professional life and at home with my child since he was a small baby. Due to their growth in popularity, I know offer the Tuff Spot mini packs of playPROMPTS to inspire lots of ways to play and use a Tuff Spot and I have even dedicated one day each week of my L!VE play demos to them with Tuff Spot Tuesdays being one of my most watched days.


Tuff Spots can be bought in DIY stores and here is an affiliate link to the Tuff Spots I purchase on Amazon.

Why buy a Tuff Spot?

Ok, so now we all know what the Tuff Spot is, let's chat about why the Tuff Spot is so wonderful...

  • Play Potential. The Tuff Spot provides so many opportunities for play. Because of their size and depth they are great for messy play, sensory play, arts and crafts, painting, water play, sand play, cooking, woodwork, construction, play dough .... the list goes on. You can pretty much play most things within the Tuff Spot.

  • Colours. As the Tuff Spots have become more popular, companies have developed the Tuff Spots to be available in a variety of colours making them appealing for activities or young children. I personally always choose to use a black Tuff Spot, and will explain further in a future blog post.

  • Working at different heights. I am a big fan of young children working at different heights; lying down, sitting, kneeling, sitting and standing. These can all be done with the tray by propping it on books or bricks, sitting it on the floor or a coffee table or even standing it up on its side like an easel.

  • Children of all ages. I purchased my Tuff Spot for my child to use at approximately 6 months old when he was sitting independently. They are great for baby activities, allowing them to get messy or keep toys within reach and can be used for many, many years for a wide variety of activities.

  • Relatively cheap. Tuff Spots can be found for a relatively cheap price approx £10-£20, some including delivery. I know this is a lot, but when I think about how much I use the Tuff Spot and have it out on a daily basis, it has certainly earned its price tag when compared with other toys I've bought in the past.

Why not buy a Tuff Spot?

However, it is also worth bearing in mind there are several reasons why a Tuff Spot might not be suitable for you:

  • Size. The majority of Tuff Spots are approx 1m x 1m making it a large piece of equipment to have in your home, which can be tricky if space is tight. I store mine outside because it is so hard wearing.

  • Storage. Ahh now this is a sticking point for many people when deciding whether to purchase a Tuff Spot. Due to its size, the Tuff Spot can be difficult to store. I personally slide mine behind the sofa or down the side of the shed. This isn't ideal for everyone, however I strongly feel if the Tuff Spot is not stored somewhere that you can easily access it, then would it get used?

  • Fit for Purpose? As I have previously said, the Tuff Spot is actually created for mixing cement, so more often than not the trays purchased do not always arrive in pristine condition. Trays can be warped or even become warped if not stored flat. 

  • Black Tuff Spots are very popular and I always choose to use a black tray, however when used outdoors, it is always worth bearing in mind, when left in the sun, the tray can become extremely hot and must be checked before sitting a young child on the tray. Always try to keep your tray in the shade to prevent the tray getting hot within reach of a young child.

  • Hard to empty. Yes the Tuff Spots are wonderful for a variety of activities but my goodness they are hard to empty!! Whether it's water or messy play they can be really tricky to empty unless being used outdoors and easy access to hosing down!

  • Plastic. Many people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic they buy and use in the home so the Tuff Spot would be yet another plastic purchase which some families may prefer to avoid.


Also, did you know you can purchase a stand for the Tuff Spot? This is a metal stand, allowing you to use the tray at different heights. If you are thinking of purchasing a Tuff Spot stand, I would recommend you buy it when you purchase your tray for the best deal, as buying them separately can turn out to be much more expensive. Once again this is another thing to store, however the metal stand can be bulky but it does concertina down and flatten. Watch the 12 second video below to see how it's done!




So there we are. I hope I have outlined some great and not-so great reasons to get a Tuff Spot. Now for a few alternatives for anyone still hesitant about making the leap.

  • Under the bed storage boxes work really well as an alternative. They are deeper than the Tuff Spot for catching the mess and not quite as big for anyone nervous of storing the tray.

  • Garland Gardening Tray. This is a smaller version of the Tuff Spot becoming popular due to being slightly cheaper, approx 60cm x 60cm in size and black like the Tuff Spot. Not quite as hard wearing but still suitable for a good long list of play activities. Click here for my affiliate link to the Garland Gardening tray.

  • Ikea offer a variety of different tray options for children to use and work on. Some with legs allowing children to work at different heights and still less than £20. With a few options offering plastic free alternatives to the Tuff Spot. Also look much nicer in a stylish home!! (PS this is not an ad!)

  • Small paddling pools both plastic and blow up can also be useful for messy play, sand play and water play etc. Over the Summer, lots of shops seem to have lots of varieties on offer. I often look in BM stores, The Range and Home Bargains for items like these. (Once again not an ad)

  • And finally, as I always say...one of the best places to do many of the messy play activities are bathroom spaces i.e. the bath, a shower tray or sink. All great places for getting messy and then showering down the mess and the kids!!

So, I hope that's been helpful for you and helps you to make an informed decision about the Tuff Spot!

Don't forget, you can purchase your pack of Tuff Spot mini packs of playPROMPTS here, and please tune in at 10am every Tuesday morning with a cuppa in hand to watch Tuff Spot Tuesdays L!VE play demo on Instagram and Facebook.


Happy Playing! 

Claire x

 mini tuff spot play prompts | playHOORAY!