This blog post may contain affiliate links. Read my full Disclosure Policy here
Thursday, September 23, 2021

Whatsie Play Couch Review: The Ultimate Guide to Australia's first Play Sofa

Have you been looking for a versatile gross motor play resource - one that's incredibly open ended and grows with your child? Maybe you've already heard of play couches, or just want to know more about the Whatsie and what it can be... If so you've come to the right place because I've put together the most comprehensive review of the Whatsie play couch to show you why it's a great addition to any playroom no matter what age your kids are. It's even fun for adults too! 

kids playing with the whatsie couch

For the last few years I constantly dreamed about owning a Nugget for my girls. If you haven't heard of them, the Nugget is America's most well known play couch, so well known that everyone here in Australia was in love with it too. However, the currency conversion and exorbitant shipping rates from the US made them unreasonably expensive for us, which is why I'm incredibly excited we now have nugget play couch alternatives in Australia that are much more affordable and readily available.

In September 2020 the Whatsie play couch was launched and was the original Australian play couch being the first of many new Australian play couches that have since come onto the market. Now we're spoiled for choice, so it took me a while to weigh up my options and decide which one was right for our family. For us it came down to fabric choices, number of pieces and versatility vs affordability. 

Ultimately, after a few months of research and deliberation, we decided that the Whatsie was the best solution for our family. Hopefully this in depth review will save you time researching and help you decide if the Whatsie is the best play couch for your family. If you do decide on a Whatsie couch, you can use my exclusive discount code FMY10 to save 10% off any Whatsie purchase.


What is the Whatsie play couch? Whatever you want it to be


The Whatsie combines traditional soft play equipment and a functional piece of furniture to create a soft and durable foam play couch. However it's more than an aesthetically pleasing piece of play furniture, it can be transformed from a couch to an obstacle course, a shop, a rocket, a trampoline, a bed, a reading nook, a ball pit and much, much more! 

The Whatsie provides kids with opportunities for gross motor movement, sensory input, imaginary play and relaxation. They can crawl, climb, balance, jump, slide and run across it as well as sit, lay down or even sleep on it {if you're lucky}. It's great for active kids who love big movements and also great for quiet kids as a soft reading nook retreat for a quiet corner. It's also a great home therapy tool for children with hypotonia and other motor skill developmental delays.

whatsie couch being used as a reading nook

Whatsie is designed here in Australia by a local Sydney mum Lisa, who was searching for something to occupy her two boys. Lisa wanted to design play equipment that would steer children away from screens and into creative and active play. Whatsie is designed to be beautiful, affordable, compact and purposeful. It's both comfortable and stylish and fits effortlessly into any home.

The Whatsie couch has six foam pieces covered in either microsuede or cotton blend fabric and is available in a range of neutral, pastel and bright colours. Each Whatsie comes with a thick base foam, thinner top foam, 2 trapezium prisms and 2 rectangular prisms which can be configured as a couch or anything you want it to be. The fabrics are soft, stain resistant and durable - perfect for playing! 


Whatsie Play couch Frequently Asked Questions


When choosing a play couch there will be many factors that weigh into your decision to make sure it's the right one for your family. These are the most common questions asked about play couches and how the Whatsie stacks up.

Is Whatsie waterproof?

The Whatsie itself is not waterproof, however you can purchase the Whatsie waterproof liner which is a set of liners for all foam pieces to put under the fabric cover. The waterproof liners protect the foam pieces from liquid spills as well as dust mites. It's essentially a mattress protector for your play couch!

How do I clean the Whatsie?

The Whatsie fabric covers can be spot cleaned with baby wipes or a wet cloth for small spills and can be washed in the washing machine using cold water. Hang the covers to dry out of direct sunlight to avoid possible sun fading.

Is the Whatsie foam safe?

Whatsie foam is CertiPUR-US® which means it's environmentally innovative and analysed and verified by independent testing laboratories guaranteeing it's made without chemicals such as ozone depleters, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and any heavy metals. The foam also has low VOC emissions.

How big is the Whatsie?

The large foam base of the Whatsie is 168cm long x 84cm wide. For a visual reference, that's about 20cm smaller in length than a single bed mattress. The image below shows exactly how big the Whatsie is when configured as a couch {the Whatsie Duo is slightly higher due to a thicker second foam base}.
whatsie play couch measurements

Is the Whatsie NDIS approved?

Many customers have had Whatsie couches approved as part of their NDIS plan. If you're wanting to claim your Whatsie as part of your NDIS plan it's best to check with NDIS directly and contact Whatsie via email or this form to get an appropriate invoice prior to purchasing.

What age is a play couch good for?

The Whatsie is great for children of all ages from infants through to teenagers, in fact it's a great place for adults to relax too! However, like all play equipment never leave young children unsupervised.

What is the Whatsie Duo?

The Whatsie Duo is a version of the Whatsie couch which features two thick bases instead of a thick and thin base. It's available in all colour and fabric combinations.

whatsie duo play couch

Does Whatsie come in other sizes?

Yes! If you don't have room for a traditional Whatsie couch, no problem, there's the Mini Whatsie. Perfect for small spaces, townhouses and apartments. The base pieces combine to measure 84cm x 100cm when folded as a couch. It can also be transformed into a ball pit using hidden velcro tabs.

mini whatsie play couch

What fabric should I get if I have pets?

Microsuede is recommended for pet owners as there are no loops in the fabric so it's less likely to create pulls if little claws do scratch it. More detailed fabric info is included further below.

cat on whatsie play couch

What colours does whatsie come in? 

The Whatsie is available in 14 different colours between the microsuede and cotton blend options. Each colour is only available in one fabric type, see the image below for a breakdown of colours and fabrics. Please note Fairy Pink, Gingerbread and French Navy will be available from late October. Some colours are sold out but can be preordered for the next shipment, check the Whatsie website for estimated delivery times.

whatsie colour options

Can I buy separate Whatsie covers?

Yes! You can order Whatsie original fabric cover sets by themselves, so if you want a spare set or a different colour to switch things up, you don't need to buy a whole new play couch. We have flamingo pink and very violet covers and it's so fun mixing them up. This also allows you to have both a microsuede and cotton cover if desired.

Do Whatsie have an outdoor couch?

Yes, the Whatsie original and Whatsie Duo both come in an outdoor version, designed for outdoor play on grass or the deck. The fabric is commercial grade, water resistant, stain repellent, pet friendly and machine washable. You can preorder them now, delivery is expected in November 2021. 

Is there a Whatsie discount code?

Yes! To save 10% off all Whatsie items use the discount code FMY10.

Where can I buy a Whatsie play couch?

Whatsie can only be purchased at www.whatsie.com.au.



WHATSIE PLAY COUCH REVIEW 


We've had our Whatsie couch for over a month now and it's without a doubt the best piece of play equipment we own. My girls are both big sensory seekers and my youngest is huge on gross motor play and will climb and jump off basically any surface in the house - so having a soft, stable and durable surface she can move around, climb and jump on {and off} has been amazing {and sanity saving for myself!}. 

The girls will also happily play with the Whatsie together for so long as they use it to engage in all sorts of imaginary play. It's very rare with a big age gap {ours is 4yrs} to find toys and resources that they will both play with simultaneously, both together and alongside each other, without fighting. Although having said that I'm sure they would love a second play couch so they could have one each, but they'll have to settle with some add-ons in the future.

There are so many amazing benefits to the Whatsie, both in design and the developmental skills it helps promote, it would be impossible to sum it up in a paragraph or two, so I've broken everything down into much more detail below.

whatsie play couch review


FEATURES THAT MAKE WHATSIE AWESOME


Zip Safety Covers - All of the zips have fabric safety covers so they can be tucked in which is a great safety feature to ensure the zips are always flat and the slider is always covered. Nobody wants little feet to jump onto a zip that's poking upright. It's also a great way to deter curious kids from unzipping the covers. There are different zip covers on each piece, the below images show the rectangular prism and trapezium zip covers. *Some zippers currently don't exactly match the fabric colour, however this will be changing in the future.

whatsie rectangular prism zip covers

whatsie trapezium zip cover

Removeable Washable Covers - The Whatsie fabric covers can be easily removed which is great for when stains happen {which we all know with young kids is just a matter of time}. If your kids do manage to stain the covers and it's not coming off with a damp cloth then simply unzip the covers and put them in a cold wash on a gentle cycle. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to remove and clean the fabric covers.


Sewn Base Mattresses - Each of the base mattresses technically has two pieces of foam in it, however the Whatsie bases are sewn in the middle which means they can still easily fold for different building options, but they're much easier to lift and move around.

Handles - One of the most ingenious features of the Whatsie is the handles on the base mattress pieces. These make moving the large pieces around so much easier, especially in our two storey house where the Whatsie gets carried up and down the stairs regularly depending where the girls want to play with it. 

The only minor downside is that the handles aren't the same colour as the cover fabric, however this will be changing with shipments having handles in the same colour as the fabric later in the year.

whatsie handles

Trapezium Prism - Having trapezium pieces rather then proper triangle pieces allows for a lot more scope when building. The flat area on the top makes balancing other pieces above them easier for builds as opposed to pointy triangle pieces. They can also be used as a balance beam, or my girls favourite - a counter top for a shop.

Compact Storage - The Whatsie can be folded up quite compactly if you don't have the space to leave it out all the time. This is great for us in a townhouse as a lot of the time our Whatsie is stored folded at the end of my daughters bed. The Whatsie can also be easily tucked into wardrobes, under beds {depending on height} or split and stored in multiple rooms.

whatsie couch folded up compactly for storage

Endless Configurations - The biggest bonus of any play couch is that they're an awesome open ended resource and can be transformed into any number of configurations. The bonus for us was that the Whatsie also included the two rectangular prisms {my girls call them the hot chips} which are great as couch arms but also allow for even more building ideas.

The girls have come up with so many designs including countless cubbies, a castle, a stage, trampoline, shop and even a McDonald's drive thru window. I have no doubt they have many more designs up their sleeve. If you want some Whatsie build inspiration search #whatsie on Instagram where you'll find many out of the box ideas like this dinosaur.
whatsie dinosaur


DEVELOPMENTAL BENEFITS OF THE WHATSIE PLAY COUCH


As said previously, the Whatsie is more than a piece of furniture, it's a fusion of traditional foam play equipment used in soft play centres and by physiotherapists and occupational therapists, which means it has countless developmental benefits for young children. These include:

  • Gross motor skills - When playing on the Whatsie children are doing lots of big movements such as climbing, jumping, walking and running which are all great for physical development and building muscles. The Whatsie is also great for kids with hypotonia and other movement delays or disabilities as it provides them with a gross motor challenge in a safe environment with a soft base.
  • Sensory stimulation - The soft fabric, foam density and fabric colour provide visual and tactile sensory input. The Whatsie is also great for kids who are specifically seeking vestibular sensory input.
  • Cause & effect - Moving the individual pieces to create different builds teaches cause and effect as children try to balance the pieces and see how they move when climbed or jumped on.
  • Hand/eye co-ordination - Placing the pieces in just the right way to balance and create their visions develops hand/eye co-ordination.
  • Spatial awareness - Playing with the Whatsie pieces in all different configurations builds spatial awareness.
  • Emotional regulation - Making big movements while playing on the Whatsie makes the brain release serotonin {the happy hormone} which promotes calm. By getting their energy out playing, kids will also be able to calm down and focus on other tasks afterwards. Also when used as a reading nook or as part of a calming corner the Whatsie provides a relaxing safe space which can also help children calm their emotions.
  • Building confidence - As children manage to create the ideas they imagine and build bigger structures they'll gain confidence in their abilities.
  • Imaginary play - Whatsie allows children to bring their building visions to life and provides a platform for hours of imaginary play.
  • Social skills - When used with siblings or friends Whatsie can also promote social skills as children play together.

WHATSIE FABRIC: MICROSUEDE VS COTTON


The biggest question you'll probably have once deciding on a Whatsie couch is which fabric should I get? The Whatsie couch covers are available in microsuede or cotton blend, however each colour is only available in one option, so if you have your heart set on a specific colour then this will make the fabric decision easy. However, if you're tossing up based on fabric benefits instead of colours then these are the benefits of both fabrics.

MICROSUEDE  
  • Soft velvety feel
  • Cooler fabric to touch
  • Pet friendly as fabric doesn't loop {won't get big pulls in the fabric} 
  • Pet hair wipes straight off.
  • Easy to clean

COTTON BLEND 
  • Durable
  • Water resistant {most water will roll off but it's not 100% water proof}
  • Naturally resistant to bacteria
  • Eco friendly natural materials
  • Similar texture to a fabric couch

We've tried out both the microsuede {in flamingo pink} and cotton blend {in very violet} covers to determine which is best for us. To be completely honest before getting our Whatsie I had my heart set on a purple cover as it's my favourite colour and I wanted a darker colour so stains wouldn't show as much. However, we have 2 cats and they love to scratch our real couch so I decided microsuede was a safer option, so we ended up with the flamingo pink. We've since received cotton blend covers so we could compare both fabrics and trial both with the cats.

whatsie fabric comparison

As you can see from the image above, the texture of the fabric is very different. The cotton blend covers have very looped material which feels more bumpy when you run your hand over it {still very comfortable to sit on though} whereas the microsuede feels flat and very smooth to touch. The microsuede also feels slightly cooler than the cotton blend.

whatsie play couch with different fabric covers

After receiving the second cover I swapped over the covers on our couch so it was half microsuede and half cotton blend to see which covers the girls liked best. The girls have decided they love our couch with two different colours instead of all pink or all purple {which does drive me slightly insane, however I'm used to it now}. I was hopeful the cotton blend cover would be ok with the cats, however after 3 days they did start to scratch it and it does make pulls in the fabric.

So after trialling both fabrics I would say if you have pets who are likely to scratch, definitely stick to a microsuede cover {even if you love a different colour more like me, it's not worth the pulls}. If you have a child who's particularly sensitive to textures then I'd probably stick to microsuede as well. The only downside to microsuede is if you run your hand along the fabric in different directions it does leave lines like velvet does, however again I've gotten used to this and it doesn't bother me anymore.

It's also good to keep in mind that lighter colours show stains more easily so if you have particularly messy kids and don't want to be washing the covers all the time then choose a darker colour. Also if you're worried about toilet training accidents or kids spilling drinks on the couch then I suggest getting a waterproof liner regardless of the cover you choose, so that the foam is fully protected from liquid spills. The waterproof liners are really stretchy and easy to put onto the foam and you don't notice a difference in the feel of the couch with them under the fabric. They definitely give me more peace of mind having a 4yr old who still has the odd "accidents" every now and then.

whatsie waterproof liners on couch



WHATSIE ADD-ONS


With the Whatsie add-ons you can take your play couch to the next level with even more fun. While a play couch is most definitely a great open ended resource in itself, a few extra pieces can take building and imaginary play options a step further by allowing children to build bigger creations and different configurations. 

new whatsie add ons

The Whatsie add-ons include:
  • Rollers - perfect as pillars or rolling bases for cars, trains, trucks etc.
  • Arch - the arch is a semi circle that can be used as a rocking horse or for domed builds. It has a handle attached so children can easily move it and hold on when rocking.
  • Rainbow - the rainbow includes 3 different arch pieces that can be stacked together or used individually. Climb over or under them, or turn them upside down to rock on.
  • Flip slide - the flip slide is a rectangle that can be flipped into a slide or ramp.
  • Spots - these are perfect for stepping stones, or to use as wheels in builds.


TIPS FOR WHATSIE OWNERS & POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS


  • Remove the Whatsie from it's box asap. As they come vacuum sealed when delivered, the foam pieces are very compressed and it's best to remove them asap so they expand to full size as quickly as possible. Don't worry if the fabric covers are wrinkly, the wrinkles will drop out over time with play.
  • If you have pets monitor their interaction with it before leaving it out in an open space. When we first got our Whatsie I kept it in my daughter's bedroom as I could close the door when not in there, this way our cats wouldn't be left alone with it. Our cats definitely love to scratch and I haven't found a cure to stop them scratching, but this does help as they do their worst damage when we're not around. Once you can trust your pets with the couch {i.e. if they have no interest in scratching it} then leave it wherever. I found introducing it to them slowly helped control their desire to scratch it.
  • Move the Whatsie around to spark play. My kids are naturally creative and want to build with our couch all the time anyway, however I've noticed moving the Whatsie to different areas of the house in different configurations {e.g. a cubby in the bedroom, a reading nook upstairs, a couch in the lounge} has lead to even more imaginary play.
  • Order now for Christmas. If you're thinking about getting a Whatsie {or an additional one} for Christmas their advice is to order the colour you want asap to avoid disappointment. If you're worried about storing it before Christmas send them an email and they can delay shipping until closer to Christmas time. Also don't forget to use the discount code FMY10 to save 10%



Disclosure - We were kindly gifted a play couch of our choice from Whatsie for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own based on our experience using the play couch. We had decided to buy a Whatsie play couch prior to being offered one for review. 

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may earn a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase. All images featured in this post that are not my own have been used with express permission from whatsie.

Would you like to comment?