Play and playgrounds provide essential experiences for young children's growth, development and enjoyment of life. However, such play experiences are now limited for many children due to excessive fear of risk, or 'surplus safety'. In this article, the authors examine the pervasiveness of surplus safety in the lives of young children. They argue that restrictions now imposed on children's play to promote safety may, paradoxically, expose children to more serious short and longer term threats of illness and limit children's life opportunities. By comparing experiences from Australia and Norway, the authors demonstrate that surplus safety is not a necessary outcome of living in a modern Western society.