Best Toddler Toys for Keeping Kids Busy Outside This Summer

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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What are the best outdoor toddler toys for keeping your little ones busy this summer?

The lazy days of summer, for relaxing by the pool, reading a book, and sipping iced tea. Right?

Okay, if you have a toddler that is likely not happening. If your toddler is anything like mine, keeping them busy can be challenging. They are on the move, busy, and ready to play.

After raising 6 toddlers I have found 5 easy, fun, summer toys that have been hits with all of my children. These things also lasted beyond the toddler years and are the most used toys in my yard all summer long. I asked my kids, too, and they agreed that these are the best outdoor toddler toys.

Ready? Let’s go so you can get a little free time!

#1. Best Outdoor Summer Toy for Toddlers – A Water Table

I had no idea how much use we would get out of a water table when we got one with our oldest child. He spent hours each day splashing, dumping water from one cup to another, washing his cars, taking water to water plants, and more.

After my 3rd child, we donated our water table only to buy another one once our 4th was old enough and it’s still going strong years later.

Features that I have found are best for this outdoor summer toy, are that it has different areas to pour water through for your toddler. I also love to get different cups, buckets, and even bath toys to put into the water table to make it more fun.

Want to mix things up a bit? Add bubbles to the water table to turn it into a car wash toy for your toddler. This one got me a solid hour of play at one time, so I could sit and work on more blogs for my photography business!

#2. Summer Toy for Toddlers – Sandbox with Sand Toys

In our old home, we had this corner by our garage where we kept trying plants and things but it wasn’t working. I finally came up with the idea to turn it into a giant sandbox and it was the best use of the space. 8 years later and every single one of my kids plays in that sandbox regularly. It would get year-round use (as long as it’s not raining, of course).

When we moved, I knew the first thing we had to add was another sandbox. This may not seem like a toddler toy, but trust me, it captivates them for hours, making it the best!

We have buckets and shovels, trucks, diggers, and things for the kids to play with. They make “cakes,” build roads, and even tunnels, and roads when they add in the water from the nearby water table.

You don’t have to have a large sandbox either. My mother-in-law has a smaller one on her deck (it’s a bit like this one here) and my kids can’t wait to play in it when they go to grandma’s house.

Good sand toys are also key. I have found it’s worth spending a little bit more for sturdier shovels and buckets as the cheaper ones break so easily. We love the sand toys by Melissa and Doug.

If you don’t have a sandbox, I highly recommend one.

#3. Best Summer Toddler Toys – Inflatable Pool or Splash Pad

As you can see, the theme for summer is water play. The first time we purchased an inflatable pool summer was made. Not only could my littles cool off, but I could sit with my feet in the water and keep cool, too. (So not just the best toddler toy, but good for mama, too!)

They are shallow so I don’t have to be in it with my kids, but can be sitting nearby watching. (If your kids are very young, you should be in it, of course). And the kids would play for hours in this little pool, splashing around, “swimming” back and forth, tossing balls in, splashing me, just playing until they were completely wrinkly and ready for their next application of sunscreen.

I will be honest, these pools only seem to last us one summer season. They are rather inexpensive so any holes that are difficult to patch aren’t worth it. However, it is something we have still purchased yearly for the ability to keep cool without leaving the backyard.

Similar to the inflatable pool, the splash pad/sprinklers that you can hook up to your hose for another great option, especially if your kids are younger. Once again, my bigger kids even loved our splash pad as a mini slip-n-slide.

Bonus Outdoor Toddler Toy for Summer:

The above are my top three toys for toddlers for summer outdoor play. However, there are a couple of good honorable mention items that are great when you’re looking for something to entertain those kids!

  • Sidewalk Chalk – They can draw, or even crush it to paint outside with water and a paintbrush. If you have a good surface for sidewalk chalk, it’s a great option. We’ve even drawn long obstacle courses with chalk to keep the kids entertained. (Think of a path of hop-scotched, twirl here, run, skip, frog jump, etc)
  • A Bubble Machine – A bubble machine is entertaining for kids and dogs alike. They can chase bubbles until their hearts are content. And the machine saves you from having to blow continuously forever. Seriously the best $10 I spent was on the toy bubble machine for my toddlers. All I have to do is refill here and there. Much better then the kids spilling their own bubble wands for the 100th time.
  • Trampoline – This is a little bigger of a summer purchase. However, there are varying options in sizes and pricing on trampolines depending on your budget, family size, and yard size. Our trampoline is another year-round favorite and is good for all ages. (Have you jumped on a trampoline lately? They are an amazing workout, though tricky after birthing a few children! HA!).

Would you add a favorite to this list of best summer toddler toys?

Drop it in the comments to share with another mom searching for ideas!

Whew, my list grew bigger than expected. I know how beneficial these things have been for my own family as we enjoyed “lazy” days of summer in the backyard.

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***This post contains affiliate links that do benefit/support my family. Every link is to something I recommend based on personal use. I would only share things we truly love and use with our own children. We do, however, appreciate your support. When you click and use the links that help us continue to share our favorite things.