Active toddlers are happy toddlers and these outdoor play toys for 1, 2 and 3 year olds are the best for encouraging climbing, movement and creative play in your backyard. Here are our picks for the best outdoor toys for toddlers.
If you still need more ideas, you can find more toys that may work for your toddler in our list of the best outdoor toys for 4-5 year olds.
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Choosing outdoor toys for toddlers:
For 1 and 2 year olds I always know they’ll enjoy toys that allow them to have sensory experiences like digging, or playing in water, sand and mud. I look for outdoor toys that support them in learning to use their bodies and develop resilience through climbing and fun obstacles.
Some of the best outdoor toys for 2 year olds can last for years, becoming part of backyard fun long past toddlerhood. The trick is to choose quality, open ended toys (meaning toys that don’t have just one use, but can be imaginatively used for multiple ways to play). The classics like a sandbox, a wagon, and hand trowels for instance are great for toddlers, and continue to be good toys all through childhood.
Our Favorite Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
Toddler love these sturdy little tables. They’re a wonderful addition to a backyard, especially if you only have a small space or a balcony for outdoor play. Sand and water tables keep messy play somewhat contained and give kids a place to enjoy the sensory experience of playing with water and maybe mixing in dirt or sand.
This climbing toy for toddlers (the toy is rated for kids ages 2 years – 10 years) is constructed of lightweight plastic tubes that interlock with self locking springs. Parent reviewers say their active kids LOVE this toy for climbing and making forts. It can be used outside on a lawn, or if you bring it indoors, one mom came up with the genius idea of putting a ball pit under the structure which her kids were thrilled with.
What I love about this climbing toy with a slide is that toddlers can have fun climbing up and sliding down, but they also can use the deck as a play house, giving it multiple possibilities for play. This slide is recommended for ages 18 months to 5 years. The maximum weight recommendation is only 50 pounds, so smaller kids will do best with it. One reviewer commented that she like that it is light weight enough to easily move for mowing the lawn.
All of our kids loved their Strider bikes for learning the balance and coordination needed to ride a pedal bike. Striders are small enough for a toddler, and can last through the preschool years (ours made it through three kids).
This durable bouncy toy made our list of top indoor active play toys as well, but it’s been used in backyard just as often. Rodies get kids jumping and bouncing, they encourage pretend play, and best of all, they last. Not only are they durable, they have lasting play power. Our kids have loved their Rody Ponies from age 3 all the way up to age 8.
This is another toy that works indoors and out – five years after receiving a couple Bilibos from Grammy, these funny bowl-like toys are still in use. Currently they’re being used to transport dirt and water in the backyard, but when they’re not outdoors, they’ve also been used for rocking and rolling in when the kids were preschoolers, Barbie bathtubs, to cradles stuffed animals and as stools. These are a truly versatile toy.
Bilibo now also makes a pack of 6 mini Bilibos, which could make a fun and creative addition to a sand and water table.
Many of us can probably look back on our own childhood with fond memories of splashing around in a plastic pool during the summer. My mother-in-law taught my the trick of warming the water by laying a black piece of plastic (a big garbage bag works) over the pool in the sunshine for a little solar heating.
A few more classic outdoor toys for 2 year olds:
- A Bubble Machine – chase those bubbles!
- Tonka Trucks
- Little Shovels and Rakes and a place they can of dig in the dirt.
- Small Slide
More fun ideas of ways to play with your toddler indoors and out:
- The Toddler Years Must Do List
- Best Bath Toys to Get Toddlers to LOVE Bathtime
- Our Favorite Board Games for 2 and 3 Year Olds