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Outdoor play is a great way for toddlers to have fun and burn off excess energy. But did you know it's also a vital part of healthy development? By getting little ones moving, outdoor play gives children a chance to practice a full range of gross motor skills, and it promotes good muscle and bone development. With more to see and do, being outside also encourages exploration and imaginative play, teaches little ones the basics of risk assessment, and gives them a healthy dose of vitamin D in the process!
If you're looking for the perfect outdoor toy for a toddler but have no idea where to start, we're here to help. The BestReviews team is proud to provide consumers with honest, informative reviews about the best products available. Our reviews and shopping guides are based on extensive research, lab testing, and expert advice, so you can have confidence that they stem from an objective standpoint.
If you can't wait to get started, take a peek at our top five recommendations featured above to choose your favorite. Or read on to find out more about what makes a great toddler outdoor toy.
With a wealth of toddler outdoor toys on the market, finding the best one can be confusing. Be sure to consider these factors to help you choose the best outdoor toy for your toddler.
When selecting an outdoor toy for your toddler, safety will be your foremost concern. First, check that all toys are age-appropriate. Climbing frames, slides, and other structures should be sturdy and positioned as low to the ground as possible. Look for any gaps that could trap little hands, or even heads. Position your outdoor toddler toys in a safe area, well away from sharp rocks or other hard surfaces. And as always, never leave your toddler unsupervised during playtime.
Choose a toy that will easily fit in your yard with room to spare. If you're considering purchasing a large outdoor toy, it's a good idea to measure your outdoor area to compare these dimensions with those of your chosen product before purchasing. Remember to take pools, walkways, furniture, and other potential obstructions into consideration. Keep your toddler’s play area clear on all sides to avoid accidents and possible injuries.
Fixed outdoor climbing frames, slides, and swing sets are great, but if you don't have a lot of space – or would like an option that can be used indoors as well as out – look for something that's easy to assemble and disassemble. Freestanding toddler slides, tents, and ball pits all work well both outdoors and indoors, making them an excellent option for those who don't have an extensive outdoor area or need something that's easy to move.
Generally speaking, the larger the toddler outdoor toy, the more it will cost.
A durable plastic or wood playhouse usually costs anywhere from $100 to over $250, depending on size and features.
Tents tend to be somewhat more affordable, ranging between $20 and $50 or a bit more. Many come with attachable tunnels and ball pits.
Freestanding toddler slides start at around $30 and reach up to $100; most slide sets with one or two extras attached cost upwards of $100.
Balls can cost as little as $10 or $20 and are a surefire way to get little ones up and running.
A good toddler outdoor toy doesn't necessarily have to be complicated or expensive. As long as it stimulates the senses, encourages creativity, and gets little ones moving, you have a winner!
Studies show that outdoor play actually improves vision and significantly reduces the chance of developing myopia (nearsightedness).
Still having a hard time finding the perfect outdoor toy for your toddler? Take a look at our list of favorites below for ideas.
Tents, with or without tunnels and ball pits, are always a hit with toddlers and are sure to fire up imaginative play. What's more, a tent provides shade and is highly portable for outdoor fun on the move.
Balls are great for developing hand-eye coordination, and they offer a variety of action-packed play options.
Slides are always a favorite, and with lots of climbing, little ones get a good workout while improving motor skills.
Playhouses spark creativity, teach social skills, improve vocabulary, and allow children to play freely and safely.
Water tables are an excellent sensory toy for the sunny season that no child is able to resist.
Water guns are another example of simple yet effective outdoor toys for toddlers. With running, hiding, aiming, and squeezing a trigger, water gun play not only provides active fun, it also helps with fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Whether you choose a simple toddler toy or an elaborate one, remember to interact with your little ones to get the most out of playtime.
Q. Until what age can my child use a toddler slide?
A. Any toy designed for toddlers will have a weight limit. While most toddler slides are usually suitable for use up to six years of age, always check manufacturer specifications to ensure safety.
Q. I’m looking for a toy that will encourage toddlers and older children to play together. What's the best option?
A. If you have children of different ages who often play together, you may want to avoid outdoor toddler toys with a weight limit that won't accommodate older siblings. Other than that, as long as bigger kids play responsibly, the options are quite literally endless.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.