Smaland Is a Privilege, Not a Right
Smaland — named after the region in southern Sweden where IKEA originated — is the store's supervised children's area, a forest-themed playscape equipped with a ball pit. Parents can leave their children with caretakers while they shop for as long as 90 minutes, free of charge.
But before leaving your child at Smaland, confirm that you're abiding by the rules. Each child must be between 37 and 54 inches (94 and 137 centimeters) tall and toilet-trained (no diapers allowed), and your little tyke definitely shouldn't be under the weather. Be honest about your kids' temperaments: Do they play well with others, or are they hellions who could turn Smaland into a forest-themed nightmare? Keep in mind that Smaland also has staff-to-child ratios to maintain, so don't have a grown-up tantrum if you're turned away.
And when the store-provided pager alerts you that it's time to retrieve your kids, pay attention — even if you're just about to check out. Be ready to show ID — only the person who drops off the kids may pick them up — and remember that no matter how tired you are, you can't leave the store while your child is in Smaland.
Lastly, remember that Smaland is intended for IKEA shoppers. In 2009, The New York Times explored the phenomenon of cost-conscious (i.e., cheap) parents visiting IKEA and using Smaland as a free childcare service while they relaxed without necessarily buying anything from the store. This isn't against the rules, but from an ethical standpoint, you're better off hiring a babysitter.