16 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
Summer is in full swing, and we’re taking advantage of the great weather and longer days by spending as much time as we can outside. Playing outside is magical for my kids – they’re better at independent play outdoors, fight less, and are just overall happier. This, in turn, makes for a much happier Mom!
We have a small outdoor space, so we’ve been selective about the outside toys we purchase. While I would love to have an amazing playset or playhouse, it’s just not realistic for our current home. In order for us to give up valuable storage space for outside toys, they need to be toys that regularly get played with. Here are our family’s picks for the best outdoor toys for toddlers.
1. Water Table
A water table (Canadian link) is a brilliantly simple toy that has serious staying power as your child grows. My kids have enjoyed it from the time they could stand, and my 5-year-old will still play with it with his younger siblings. Two water table tips:
- Skip the combined sand and water table. As you can imagine, within minutes water will be in the sand section, and sand will be in the water section, and you’ll be left with a mess.
- Don’t feel the need to splurge on an extravagant model. Instead, go to the dollar store and buy some fun accessories for them to play with – cups, funnels, dish wand, squirters, sponges, turkey baster, etc. This will provide HOURS of entertainment.
We’ve struggled with our sandbox, as we don’t have a great place to put it. Right now it’s on our front porch (which does make for an appropriate welcome to our home!), and I’m forever sweeping up the sand that inevitably spills over.
I put up with the headache it causes me because the kids LOVE it. Ours (Canadian link) is a small one, but the kids will spend forever digging in it with their trucks, shovels and pails. This is another toy that’s great for a wide range of ages. I recommend buying a model with a lid, to keep the water out, and so that it doesn’t become a litter box for neighbourhood cats!
Construction vehicles have been a huge hit with my truck-obsessed boys. They will play with these in their sandbox, or be equally content (but much dirtier!) digging in the garden. The CAT trucks (Canadian link) have been a winner for us – big or small, they’ve loved all of them.
My husband has an aerobie (Canadian link) that dates back from his university years, and it’s been a surprising hit with our kids. Even as toddlers, they will happily toss it around, and they’ve both loved playing “catch” with Dad (well before they can catch on their own, he’ll have them stand with their arm up in the air and try to land the aerobie on their arm – they’re always thrilled when they make the catch!).
5. Cozy Coupe
We bought my younger son a Cozy Coupe (Canadian link) for his first birthday, and all of the kids have loved it. We actually keep our Cozy Coupe inside, because it allows them to play with it year round, but it’s a great toy to play with outside as well.
6. 4-in-1 Trike
The Radio Flyer Ultimate 4-in-1 Stroll ‘n Trike (Canadian link) is a new addition for us. We got it for my daughter’s first birthday a few months ago, and I wish I had bought it years ago! She absolutely loves this thing. It’s parked in the garage, and every time we go through the garage to get in the car, she will lunge for it and put up quite the fight when she finds out she’s going in her car seat, not riding her trike! Check Costco for this one – we found it at our local warehouse for a great price.
Related: 19 Best Toys for One-Year-Olds
7. Balance Bike
Around two years old, your child may be ready for a balance bike (Canadian link). Some kids take to these incredibly quickly, while others are more cautious and take their time figuring it out. Once it clicks, they can FLY on these things! As an added bonus, it makes the transition to a “big kid bike” way easier when the time comes – we were able to skip the training wheels completely with our oldest.
8. Lawn Mower
Painting is messy, and as much as I’d like to be the Mom who embraces the mess, I don’t think I ever will be! As a result, our favourite place to use our easel (Canadian link) is outside. The kids are happy because they love being outside, and I’m happy because I don’t have to worry about paint going everywhere!
I do store this inside, so it doesn’t take too much of a beating from the elements. It collapses fairly easily, so it’s a quick job to move it in and out.
If you go with the same easel that we have, I highly recommend purchasing the easel accessory kit (Canadian link). It’s worth it for the paint cups alone, which are pretty much spill proof. Even better, they come with lids that you can pop on to keep the paint useable, which means you don’t need to do a full clean up if they’re going to paint again soon anyway.
Beach ball, soccer ball, tennis ball, rubber playground ball – a ball is a must-have. I’m always amazed at how long a simple ball can entertain a toddler!
11. Stomp Rocket
If my boys could pick only one outdoor toy to play with right now (at ages 3 and 5), this would be it. This toy is suitable for older toddlers only – younger ones likely won’t have the gross motor skills to launch the rocket. We bought my younger son this (Canadian link) jump rocket for his third birthday, and it entertained a group of 8 kids, ranging in age from 3-6, for the entire two hour party. Just beware of launching it too close to the house – or be prepared to spend lots of time retrieving rockets from the roof!
13. Watering Can
Kids loving watering flowers, gardens, grass, or anything they can find! This is fun to use with the water table or on its own.
14. Sidewalk Chalk
Another perennial favourite, bubbles are great entertainment for toddlers. As ridiculous as it might sound to rate the quality of bubbles, Gazillion bubbles (Canadian link) are far and away the best we’ve tried.
Finally, the last item on the list isn’t a toy, but it is a great outdoor item for babies and young toddlers. We have one of the Lightspeed sun shelters (Canadian link), which sets up in seconds. It’s great for the beach, watching older siblings’ soccer games, or just to provide a shady spot for some relief from the sun.
I hope this list helps inspire hours of outdoor fun! Did I miss one of your favourite outdoor toys for toddlers? Let me know in the comments!