30 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers In 2018

Remember the glory days of playing outside until the street lights came on? The days of capture the flag, kick the can, and hide & seek. Sadly, those are days of the past as children today are so consumed with electronics that they don’t get the same outdoor experience as we did. They spend hours inside on their iPad, computer, or video games instead of getting fresh air. Children need to spend time outdoors. Not only because it’s fun but also because it’s good for their health and development. When the sun is shining, even on cold or cloudy days, children are still soaking up Vitamin D which is important for the body. Also, it has been proven that vitamin D makes people happier. While they’re running, playing, and getting exercise, they are reducing stress and strengthening their muscles. If they are taken outside in the middle of a school day, they burn off extra energy which helps them focus more once back inside. Furthermore, children develop and increase their social skills while playing outside with other children. They learn to take turns as they wait for the slide, they work as a team as they seesaw together, and they get creative as they come up with their own games.

Using imagination is crucial for a child’s development as it helps them with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Outside is the perfect place for children to get creative and use their imagination because they are not constrained by an indoor setting. Puddles become swamps that hold alligators, trees become forts that protect them from intruders below, and Jungle Gyms turn into giant pirate ships sailing through rough waters. By now you’re probably excited at the thought of your child’s imagination running wild, but you also might be wondering “But how do I get them outside?” Don’t worry! We’ve come up with a list of the best outdoor toys for kids that will have them putting down their electronics and running for the backyard. Many of the toys listed are portable, which means you can bring their favorite toy on every vacation or play date. In addition to the toys being portable, many of them can be easily stored. Whether they fold down or pack into a bag you can purchase them with the reassurance that your home will remain clutter free.

While there are toys listed that are great for summer, there are plenty that can be used all year around. All of the toys on this list promote creativity, stimulate development, and provide hours of fun. Get ready for your schedule to get a little more busy. Once other parents see how much fun your kid is having with their new toy, they’ll be trying to schedule weekly playdates at your place.

Last Updated: September 2, 2018
Angela
By Angela:

This page has been updated to reflect the most recent information on the market regarding the best outdoor toys for toddlers in 2018. We have added brand new products, all highly rated and with good reviews. All products have been checked to ensure they meet our criteria.

Our Top 3 Picks

Large Swing-A-Ring
  • Large Swing-A-Ring
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Holds up to 330lbs
  • Price: See Here
Tikes Jump N Slide
  • Tikes Jump N Slide
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Active Outdoor Play
  • Price: See Here
Dilly Dally Turtle
  • Dilly Dally Turtle
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 1-2 Players
  • Price: See Here

Leading the pack is the Jump ‘n Slide Bouncer of Little Tikes for the simple reason that it already addresses most of the things that were considered to be essential by both child development experts and parents especially in terms of aiding the optimum physical, mental, emotional, and social development of young children aged 18 months to 3 years old. Not far behind are 15 others that truly epitomize what toddler play is all about especially when taken in the light of their development.

Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers

When creating this list several factors were taken into consideration. Are the toys safe? Do they promote development in the child? Are they suitable for the outdoors? These were the main questions we asked when creating this list. After careful research, we found fourteen toys that are perfect for your little one. No matter what age or gender your child is, there is a toy on this list that they will love.

Safety

Safety was our top priority. While parents still should always keep an eye on their child, most of the toys listed are suitable for individual play. It is always recommended that parents look at the recommended age for the toy before purchasing. This list is composed of toys suitable for children of varying ages.

While all the toys are considered safe, some may not be suitable for the age of your child. It is recommended that you remove and throw away any plastic that the toy comes wrapped in. We also suggest that you inspect the toy for sharp edges or damages. It is not likely but certainly possible that the toy could have been damaged during delivery. Materials of the product were another safety feature we took into consideration when researching each toy.

Companies that went the extra mile with the design of the toy to ensure safety were a huge plus. For example, the Skywalker Trampoline uses stretch bands instead of springs which provides extra safety for your little one’s hand. We know little ones’ love to put things in their mouth, thus toys that can easily be cleaned were a big hit with our list. Especially since these toys would be played with outdoors. We even thought about the safety of the parents.

Have you ever stepped on one of your child’s toys or tripped over them in the dark? Toys laying in the middle of the floor can be hazardous to everyone, especially if an emergency arises. We added several toys to the list that can be easily stored. Some fold down and some pack into a bag nice and neat. Whatever the method of the organization is, a clutter-free home is guaranteed.

Development

Our second priority was to make sure the toys stimulated your child’s development. Toys that encourage cooperative and social play promote the development of your child’s social skills. Brightly colored toys, toys with texture, and toys with sounds and buttons increase your child’s sensory development.

We aimed to add plenty of toys that increase fine motor skills. As your child’s fine motor skills improve so does their hand-eye coordination and balance. Pretend play is crucial to your little one’s development. Allowing your child to use their imagination in an unconfined space builds their confidence. It also expands their problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills.

Through research, we found toys that will hit several areas of development while also sparking creativity and imagination in the kiddo that plays with it. Furthermore, we made it a point to add toys to the list that allow your child to get in exercise. These toys will aid in keeping their physical and mental health in tip-top shape.

They’ll be laughing and playing without realizing they’re reducing stress and keeping their heart happy. A happy and healthy child sounds like a parenting win to us.

Suitability for outdoors

Seeing as how we decided to compose a list of the best outdoor toys, the toys chosen needed to be suitable for the outdoors. We made sure the toys could withstand the conditions of Mother Nature. Toys that provided shade were a huge plus as they ensure longer outside time during the summer.

We love toys that offer a water play feature as they will help your child stay cool when the sun is blazing. Also, we wanted to add plenty of toys that were lightweight. Toys that are light weight make it easier for parents to move them. Whether you have to move the toy to mow, or your child simply wants to play in a different area the lightweight design makes moving it effortlessly.

Even though many of the toys can withstand rain, we recommend bringing them inside during severe weather to ensure that they last longer. Not only will your toy last longer, but moving it inside will prevent rust.

Children should not play with toys that have accumulated rust as it is a safety hazard. Several of the toys listed are even great to play with indoors, so your child can still have fun with their favorite toy on a rainy day.

Toys that allow toddlers to play and pretend outdoors

Toys that encourage toddlers to play outdoors and use pretend play help their development.  They need their gross and fine motor skills challenged while also encouraging their imagination. Playing outdoors allows toddlers to explore nature around them while running, jumping, and navigating the different terrain. This encourages balance and gross motor skills. Adding toy[G30] s to encourage fun outdoor play also allows them to explore their imagination while practicing refining their skills.

Many backyard toys are specially designed to encourage and promote the skills that toddlers already have while also giving them new skill sets as well. It is important for physical and mental development for toddlers to play outside while also inspiring their imaginations as well. Water play, pretend role-playing, and using games to exhaust their energy is added benefits of outdoor play.

We know it can be hard to pick toys for a toddler. We created this list with toys that are designed to help toddlers be challenged physically and mentally while also inspiring their imaginations, allowing them to share experiences with others, and give skills that help reach developmental milestones.

The toys on this list are researched for their price, features, and age range. We also review safety ratings for each toy and we want to make sure that anything on the list is the best and safest for the toddler using them. We review parent’s feedback from many toys and only select toys that their toddlers are currently using and enjoying. We always put that into consideration when adding them to the list. We feel confident with the toys selected on our list. Each toy has an appreciate age rating and encourages the development of a toddler.

Helping toddlers pretend

When toddlers play through pretend it encourages their imagination while encouraging both their physical and intellectual development. It also teaches reason and problem-solving techniques. When a child is faced with a question or feeling during pretend to play it helps how they would deal with the issue in real life. It helps them create empathy and a way to make out their feelings. When others join in on the play it gives them a new layer of complexity. It helps to define roles, helps with communication between peers, and develops stronger social skills.

Imaginative play or pretend play introduces the ability to make-believe. This allows a toddler to learn to be something and is a huge concept for someone in this age group to master. It helps them pretend through play with encourages their social skills and gives them the curiosity to explore the world

How toys encourage gross and fine motor skills

Playing with your toddler and demonstrating a gross or fine motor skill through an activity or toy is one of the best ways to encourage your toddler’s development. When using toys like a pretend lawn mower or a water table where they are able to dump water from a cup into a funnel is a great way to practice and encourage fine motor skills. Playing that encourages the development of fine and gross motor skills are crucial to their development. Using toys to practice and perfect the control of their coordination is a great way to develop the skill set.

Toys that encourage the movement of arms, legs, and head are toys that help build gross motor skills. Toys that encourage the use of their hands, feet, fingers, and toes help development in fine motor skills. Finding toys that build both at the same time are great. When selecting a toy from our list you will see in the benefits section with the highlighted skill set for each toy is.

Playing Outdoors with Toddlers

Toddlers play to continue mastering their newly-found sense of independence as they are no longer totally dependent on mum and dad for some of their needs. Toddlers also need to play to strengthen their muscles and help develop their flexibility, balance, and coordination so they will be better prepared once they reach preschool and school age.

Why Is it Important?

It is important for toddlers to enjoy playtime in an area where they can run, jump, and stretch their muscles while at the same time refining their fine motor skills. That is why playing outdoors is so much fun for toddlers. They get to live out their fantasies in a wide open space. Best of all, they can share these experiences with fellow toddlers and, of course, their mum and dad and their siblings.

Outdoor playtime activities can thus, be an excellent way to bond with your toddlers. You can foster their sense of independence and autonomy while at the same making sure that they are safe. If they trip and hurt themselves, you can always assure them that it is perfectly all right and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Your presence, while they are playing outdoors, means a lot to them. They feel you value their personhood and as such won’t necessarily interfere with their playtime. But they also know that if they need you, you will be there to support them. Of course, you and the rest of the family can join your little one in playing outdoors. And how else can you foster great family bond than playing with toys that are built to be enjoyed outdoors?

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best way to encourage toddlers outdoors?

A: Toddlers are mastering their new found sense of independence with their ability to walk, run, jump, and play. Being outside allows toddlers to explore new things while developing their sense of smell, sight, and muscles. When playing and pretending outside they are able to explore the natural world around them while practicing balance and coordination. Encouraging outdoor play helps toddlers become more successful preschool and school-age children.

Q: How do you know if the toys are challenging toddlers physically?

A: Toddlers are physically challenged when using their coordination skills, fine and motor skills. When a toddler is developing it is at a rapid rate. Being able to Encourage toddlers to pour water into a funnel, kick a ball into a goal, and balance while completing an activity are many great ways to challenge them physically. You will see them building and refine the skill set each time they are using the toys. They will soon master the skill and move on to something more challenging. It is important to encourage and play alongside with them.

Questions: How do you know if the toys are challenging toddlers mentally?

A: Understanding logic and self-control is one of the biggest challenges for a toddler. As a parent, it is your job to help them learn and experience these challenges. Using toys that encourage logic and self-control is a good way to help them develop these skills. When you see your child acting out pretend play or sharing during playtime this displays mental growth for a toddler. When you see them meet and exceed a challenge you know they being mentally challenged.

Q: How do I know if the toys are safe for my toddler’s age group?

A: To make sure that the toy is safe for a toddler’s age group you must check the label of the toy. By law, each toy manufactured must have a label that states the age group that the toy is safe to be used by. This label must be clear and easy to find. So make sure to check over each toy before purchasing. If purchasing the toy online most retailers will include the age rating in the details of the item.

Q: How do I find the toys listed on the list above?

A: The easiest way to find the toys listed on the list above is to use a search engine on the internet. Simply type the name of the toy that you are interested in the search engine and it will return the results of where the toy is sold. Many major retailers have websites and many can tell you where the toy is located in interested in buying it physically and they often make it very easy to buy right there online.

Q: How do I know if my toddler has outgrown his current toys and is ready for something new?

A: You will know that your toddler is ready for a new set of challenges or toys when the current toys are no longer being given their attention. Often toddlers will no longer play with a toy or their attention span with the toy will lessen when they are ready to move on. Sometimes more times than not, more is less. Try either removing the current toys for a couple of days or having a rotation of toys. When you see them losing interest also try and re-engage with them, maybe even showing them a new feature with the toy or playing with it in a different way. When the water table is no longer engaging, you could switch the water for sand.