The 9 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers of 2021

Guaranteed fun in the sun

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Our Top Picks

Kidzlane Bubble Machine at Amazon

"It features a 500 bubble output per minute and 10 spinning wands, making a fun addition to a backyard or party."

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk 48-count at Amazon

"Complete with 48 color options, your child's imagination will soar as they decorate the sidewalk with these thick chalk pieces."

Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table at sears.com

"Combining entertainment with motor skill development, the water table makes for summertime fun, especially on a hot day."

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper at Amazon

"Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, it keeps kiddos active while improving their hand-eye coordination and balance."

Little Tikes Indoor & Outdoor First Slide at Amazon

"Easily assembled with no tools required, it grows with your toddler as it has a weight capacity of 60 pounds."

HITOP Kids Mermaid Splash Play Mat at Amazon

"The pool is deep enough to kick and splash water but shallow enough that ensures your toddler is safe."

Little Tikes Cozy Truck at Amazon

"A re-designed classic, this ride-on truck is durable and comes fully loaded with a drop-down tailgate, gas cap, and wheels."

Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike at Amazon

"Great for beginner riders, it features quiet wheels and a back compartment that can be filled with your tot's favorite toys."

The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane at Amazon

"Kids love to dig, and this functional digger makes them feel like true construction operators thanks to its swivel action."

To encourage your kids to play outside when they aren’t at a park or activity, great outdoor toys are a must-have. The right ones can make enjoying warm summer weather fun for the whole family, and help your child build new skills. 

The best outdoor toys for toddlers are age-appropriate—they get your toddler moving, creating, or playing in a new way, like with bubbles or water. What toddler doesn’t love a ride-on car or sandbox digger? "Keep in mind that this age group is continuously growing and developing, so toys that grow with kids—physically or with skill-building—are packed with major play value," says Maddie Michalik, senior editor at The Toy Insider.

Below, we review our favorite outdoor toys. The fresh air is calling!

Kidzlane Bubble Machine

Pros
  • Easy to use

  • Portable

  • Quiet operation

Cons
  • Bubble solution doesn't last long

Bubbles have been entertaining kids for years, and this dolphin-shaped bubble machine is no exception. It’s automatic, easy to use, and has a 500 bubble output per minute and 10 spinning wands. Bring this bubble machine to the park, set it up at a birthday party or just have fun with it in the backyard. It’s adorable and sure to keep your toddler engaged for hours.

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk 48-count

Pros
  • Inspires creativity

  • Durable

  • Easy to grip

Cons
  • Some colors may stain sidewalk

Your child’s imagination will soar with this pack of sidewalk chalk from Crayola. It includes 48 color options for your little ones to choose from and each has fun color names, such as “Granny Apple” embossed on the side.

The chalk pieces are thick so they won’t break easily or run out and are easy for toddlers to grip. Reviewers rave about this sidewalk chalk because the colors stay vibrant and it’s easy to wash out of clothing. 

"Toddlers can make the driveway their canvas with a set of sidewalk chalk. Just a few simple colors will unleash a lot of design options," says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at The Toy Association.

Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table

Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Encourages sensory exploration

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Includes extra accessories

Cons
  • Expensive

A water table is a must for the summertime fun with your toddler.  They are great because they combine sensory exploration and motor skill development for toddlers. Additionally, "They also incorporate STEM play that teaches cause and effect, and promote social skills such as sharing and taking turns," says Maddie Michalik, senior editor at The Toy Insider.

This outdoor toy is great when it comes to types of play and the different skills it will spark in your child. Aside from STEM play and other social skills, your child can spark their creativity and pretend play by making the duck swim on the bottom level or pouring water over other toys. 

We like this water table in particular for its bright colors, the springboard attachment, and the extra accessories included like the rubber duck, bucket, and scoop. Kids love the sound of the rain as the waterfalls from the top tier!

What the Experts Say

"Water tables introduce children to very early physics concepts. It is early science wrapped in summer fun. Toddlers start to play with motion when they splash and learn about flowing water. Parents and caregivers can ask children to make a prediction if an object will sink or float. Invite toddlers to fill, dump, and count cups of water." — Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper

Pros
  • Can also be used indoors

  • Durable

  • Develops balance and hand-eye coordination

Cons
  • Squeaks when used

The Flybar pogo stick is designed for both indoor and outdoor use and made to withstand all conditions. It’s made of high-quality, durable foam that was built to last and won’t scratch your floors.

You can’t go wrong with a toy that keeps the kiddos active while also working on hand-eye coordination and balance. With every bounce, the pogo stick makes a fun squeaking sound and the fun characters and colors are a bonus. 

Little Tikes Indoor & Outdoor First Slide

Pros
  • Easy assembly

  • Folds up for easy storage

  • Pairs with ball pits or kiddie pools

Cons
  • Plastic edges can be sharp

Bring the park to your backyard with this 3-foot slide for beginners from Little Tikes. This slide is easily assembled with no tools required and folds up nicely for compact storage or to move and take on the go. This slide will grow with your toddler as it holds up to 60 pounds and is great to put on the edge of a ball pit or a kiddie pool. 

HITOP Kids Mermaid Splash Play Mat

Pros
  • Easy assembly

  • Teaches numbers, colors, and marine life

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • Slippery

This dynamic combo of sprinkler and splash pad is sure to be a neighborhood favorite. Easily connect the hose to the inlet on the side and watch the splash pad fill while controlling the strength of the sprinkler.

The 60-inch pool is deep enough to kick and splash water but shallow enough that ensures your toddler is safe. The fun mermaid and marine life design is bright and playful and makes for a perfect game of “count the fish”.

If your child isn’t in the gaming mood, you can feel rest assured they’re experiencing different types of play with this outdoor toy. Aside from sparking their imagination, this toy turns water into a sprinkler, leading to a lot of physical activity and just enjoying the summer sun.

Little Tikes Cozy Truck

Pros
  • Durable

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Can also be used indoors

Cons
  • Expensive

A re-designed classic, this ride-on truck with a removable floorboard is durable and comes fully loaded with a drop-down tailgate, gas cap, working horn, and off-road wheels. It has a realistic front grill that will make your child feel like a true adult driving a vehicle.

From there, you can help your child tap into their imagination and go wild. They can get creative through pretend play by making truck sounds, moving their steering wheel, or even filling up their fake gas tank.  Their development of fine motor skills in a fun way makes this a neat educational toy or tie-in with an existing homeschool curriculum if that is your current reality.

You can either push the car or use the removable floorboard so your toddler can exercise their independence and move the truck with their own little feet.

What the Experts Say

"Ride-on toys help with mobility, endurance, sensory awareness, and coordination. Kids will develop strength in their arm and leg muscles as they ride around and explore their surroundings. In addition to keeping their bodies moving, ride-on toys help to develop fine motor skills as kids grip onto the wheels and handlebars and turn to steer." — Maddie Michalik, senior editor, The Toy Insider.

Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike

Pros
  • Durable

  • Adjustable seat

  • Has extra storage space

Cons
  • Wheels are plastic

The Radio Flyer is a well-loved brand that’s been around for generations, and its tricycle is great for beginner riders. It has quiet wheels and durable construction.  Fans of the product rave about the back compartment (or as their little ones call it the “trunk”) because it can be filled with your toddler’s favorite toys to take along for the ride. 

With an adjustable seat,  it is perfect for your growing child and is good for ages 3 to 5 years old

The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

Pros
  • 360-degree swivel

  • Durable

  • Easy assembly

Cons
  • Expensive

Kids love to dig, and this functional digger makes them feel like true construction operators. It has a 360-degree swivel action and a two-handed crane that reaches 33 inches when extended to dig and dump. With its 110-pound weight limit and sturdy construction, your toddler will be immersed in the construction zone for many years.

Final Verdict

The Kidzlane Bubble Machine (view at Amazon) is both simple enough for kids to use and budget-friendly. Portable and lightweight, it's an easy addition to a pool day, backyard fun, or a playdate. You also can’t go wrong with the Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table (view at Sears).

Toddlers are the perfect age for water play. They’ll be entertained for a long time filling and spilling cups, washing their toys, and splashing. Also, you can easily add variety to the play with the addition of other toys and don’t need a big outdoor space to enjoy it.

What to Look for in a Outdoor Toy for Toddlers 

Age Grading

Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at The Toy Association, emphasizes the importance of the manufacturer’s age-grading on products, "when a toddler uses a ride-on or another toy that is meant for older kids, they risk getting hurt or getting frustrated and discouraged."

She continues, "families should also consider what their child in interested in. This season’s must-have toy is only fun if it’s fun for your child."

Play Type

Toddlers like variety. If you’re investing in two or three outdoor toys for the summer ahead, choose a few different types of play. For instance, get a toy that incorporates water like a sprinkler, one for pretend play, and one for creativity.

The goal is to keep your child occupied and for them to build new skills. Changing it up will keep them engaged.

Durability

No matter where you live, your outdoor toys will see all kinds of weather and should be built to withstand rough play as well as seasonal changes. Avoid anything with small, breakable pieces or anything that tears easily. Plastic is a good choice.

Safety 

Unlike indoor toys, your child probably won’t be as careful when playing with their outdoor toys. Things slides and trikes are often played with by both younger and older children and just like at a park, accidents happen.

Take safety into consideration when choosing a toy, especially for toddlers (a sharp bike wheel or slide that is too high, for example, should be avoided) or when water is involved.

When it comes to ride-on toys, Michalik emphasizes the importance of the age recommendation set by the manufacturer, protective gear like a helmet and pads, as well as adult supervision. She continues, "parents also want to make sure they properly store ride-ons, especially ones that charge and run on batteries, to prevent damage and to keep kids from wandering around potentially dangerous situations."

Why Trust Verywell Family? 

Deanna McCormack is a freelance writer who specializes in family and lifestyle products. In her spare time, she researches and reviews the latest kid’s toys and gear. She has two kids of her own and lives in sunny Arizona, so she knows the value of great outdoor toys.

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