Mother and Baby

The best garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

Children playing with garden toys

Are you looking for ways to keep your little ones entertained in the garden come rain or shine? We get that it's not always easy to keep them occupied, so we've found the best outdoor toys and activities that your babies and toddlers will love.

However old your child is, there is always fun to be had out in the garden. With a variety of garden toys to play with - whether it be a bubble machine, a swing set, sandpit, or ride-on toy - plus all the sounds and sights to be found in the great outdoors, there's no reason to be bored. 

If it's still nippy outside, then wrap up warm with wellies and a good coat - poor weather is no reason for not having fun in the garden. 

Can outdoor toys be left outside all the time?

This of course depends on the type of toy, but most outdoor toys, particularly playhouses, swing sets and climbers are built with durability in mind. However, with the uncontrollable outdoor elements, constant exposure can lead to colour fading and damage.

Keeping outdoor toys covered or indoors when not in use is for sure the best way to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

Do outdoor toys require maintenance?

Outdoor toys are built to be weather resistant for the most part and so require minimum maintenance. Basic maintenance could be oiling swing sets to avoid any squeaking and checking any nuts and bolts from time to time, to ensure the utmost safety for your little one.

Here's our shortlist of the best outdoor toys and garden toys to be enjoyed this year:

A fun, football game for your toddler which is great fun and safe enough to use both outdoors and indoors.

Shortlisted in our Mother&Baby 2018 awards, in the best toddler toys category, our mums loved how easy it was to put together and simple to clean, and many commented on how well their little ones played together.

Tested by mum Zoe Taylor for the Mother & Baby Awards 2018; she said: "I would definitely recommend this product, as it's very easy to use, got the kids up and about, and gave a different twist on football. Even though we had a few little moans about who's turn was next, everyone enjoyed using it! As a mum, I found it really easy to play with them, despite not being that good at football. It was easy to put together, not taking up too much room, and simple to clean if we got it a bit dirty outside."

Read our full review of the Chicco Goal League Interactive Football Net here.

Who doesn't love bubbles? This battery operated machine will save your arms from constantly blowing bubbles, and provides a fun sensory experience for little ones. Your babies will be glued to the bubbles floating around and toddlers will love chasing the bubbles trying to pop them. Just remember to keep stocked up on the bubble mix. 

User review: "This is a fabulous bubble machine. I can’t fault it. It’s very slimline, lightweight, making it extremely portable and less bulky than some you find in the shops. I bought it for my nieces birthday and we were all impressed with the speed and how many bubbles were produced when we turned on the machine. I would highly recommend."

Cool down from the next heatwave with this fun unicorn garden sprinkler. Your youngsters will have so much fun splashing around in the water that sprays out of its horn. Simply inflate and connect this product to your garden hose, and it's ready to go.

User review: "Granddaughter absolutely delighted with the unicorn. Can’t wait to show it off to her friend at her birthday party very soon. Arrived on time with no issues at all. Thank you."

Discover more of the cutest unicorn toys for kids. 

Are you searching for an outdoor toy that can be used in the garden and the park? This fun scooter is brilliant for zipping up and down the path while helping children develop their balance and coordination skills. 

Tested by mum Sonia Heryet for the M&B Awards 2017, she said, "I think this is a modern design, looks good and comes in great colours, making it appealing to all boys and girls. I think it should win because it is a great design, it is very durable and grows with the child. I like that leaning means that it turns automatically making it easier for the younger children to use. A great all round scooter."

Read our full and detailed Micro Scooters Mini Micro Deluxe review. 

This square table sandpit is strong, durable, supplied with a watertight liner and a weatherproof protective cover. It’s suited to children who prefer to stand while they play and aren’t so keen on sitting in a sandpit. It’s suitable for use from 18 months old and can be used for sand or water play.

User review: "We are pleased with this, more importantly, so is our son (18 months old). We painted ours grey, looks lovely. We use it as a sand table and at some point will try just water. Can't quite remember how many bags of sand it holds (think one and a half). Great if you haven't got room for a large floor sandpit."

Discover more of the best sandpits for babies and toddlers.

This fun water table is like a mini water park for your garden. With a scooping ferris wheel, water wheels and squirting character balls, your toddler will have so much fun keeping cool and developing their motor skills. 

User review: "Bought for baby’s first birthday. The main water tray part was the perfect height for little ones and our almost seven-year-old loves slinging balls in the spiral and helping her with all the activity parts. Haven’t put water in yet due to weather and they are still managing to have loads of fun with it! Really pleased with it and feel like it’s a toy with longevity!"

Bring soft play home with this national treasure that has been enjoyed by children for generations. They’ll still be trying to squeeze into it aged seven.

Not a fan of the classic red and yellow style? There's a Dino Cozy Coupe for little adventurers and a Police Car Cozy Coupe too, great for exciting their imagination!

User review: "Bought this for my grandson as my children loved it when they were small. It’s a classic design that children love. Extremely robust and sturdy."

Babies will love crawling through the play tunnel or laying in the play tent to keep cool. It's easy to assemble and pop away - you can even use it in your house for indoor fun on those rainy days. Each component can be used together or separately, making it a great option if your little one gets bored and there's a section you can add balls to for extra play.

User review: "What a lovely and huge toy for our baby. He loves it. He is so excited when sitting inside. Also my dogs like to play in the tent. Very big. When it's summer I will put the tent into our garden. Lovely colours. Perfect for small adventures."

This bright and vibrant sandbox is perfect for any summer child. Including a UV protected, water-repellent cover, this sandbox will shade from bright sun in the height of summer. It's height-adjustable so you can tailor it to your children. 

Toys and a drain plug aren't included, so you'll have to grab those separately. 

With this outdoor house little ones will love using their imagination. They can also stay sheltered from the sun when they're playing and it's made from sturdy plastic, so it won't blow over in the wind.

User review: "We bought this playhouse for our grandchildren to play with when they visit. The design is excellent and they play very happily with it. The assembly instructions are a little tricky to understand but with a little patience and resolve they can be followed. Overall, very happy with this purchase."

This foam jigsaw mat is ideal for you to lay outside with your little ones as they enjoy tummy time or as a fun activity for toddlers. Help teach them the alphabet by fitting the letters in the correct position, then join the squares up.

User review: "Bought as we have a yard and wanted my daughter to be able to play outside. Doubled up its perfect and protects her from banging her head or cutting herself."

If your little one loves mud, then this mud kitchen might just be the perfect thing to keep them entertained. It has a removable splash tub which is ideal for mixing mud, and also a dry area that little ones can cook up a (muddy) storm.

User review: "We recently purchased this for our children (aged 5 and 2) and they both love it! It has had a lot of use already. Great quality."

Read our full round-up of the best mud kitchens here

Get the whole family involved with this fun ladder toss game! Go head-to-head against the kids as you throw the brightly coloured bolas so that they wrap around the steps of the ladder - the higher the step, the more points up for grabs! The first player to score 21 points wins.

User review: "Enjoyable. Different. Easy to set up. Rather expensive for what you get. The bolas are starting to show signs of wear already. Use on grass to protect them from damage."
Discover more of the best garden games for kids that the whole family will enjoy. 

You can't go wrong with a slide for on outdoor toy. Little ones will love climbing the small steps of the slide, then sliding down with their arms in the air.

User review: "Genuinely excellent little slide, tiny enough for a toddler to climb by himself (my 16 month old) but tall and steep enough to be an exciting slide down. I put a rug underneath it so he doesn't hit the ground too hard."

‘I’m bored of the swings’ – said no toddler, ever. Not only does this playground set provide classic fun, it's packed with extras as a 7-in-1 playground. They can practice footie and basketball skills with the side net and hoop and when they're finished, run around and get creative with the built-in table. With a splash table, slide and climbing bars, they'll be entertained for hours! Perfect for ages 2-6.

User review: "Easy to put up and my wee one loves it! Roll on summer in the garden!"

We know that kids love doing whatever their parents are doing, so why not let them give you a hand with the gardening with their very own gardening set? They'll love helping you water the plants, dig up the soil and move things around the garden.

User review: "Excellent value and perfect for 'little gardeners'. Loved by our granddaughter for helping mummy and daddy safely in the garden. Excellent play value both in the garden and in the paddling pool and sand pit. The buckets add lots of addional play value. Definitely recommend."

Related: The best kids' gardening sets

How do you keep outside toys clean?

With summer only so long, the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions we get here in the UK are not the best for outdoor toys to stay clean outside. Here are some of our top tips to ensure you get the most of your little one’s outdoor toys:

Cover up

The best way to ensure your outdoor toys stay clean when not in use is by covering them up. Garden furniture covers are a great way to ensure your toys are kept clean and dry in even the worst weather conditions.  If you’ve got the space, then of course bringing toys inside or placing them in a shed, playhouse or garage is perfect until the weather warms up again.

Cleaning solution

Are toys already dirty? No problem, baking soda is your best friend – so handy for almost any cleaning task. Baking soda is great for removing grime, dirt and even odour. Creating a paste with baking soda and water, scrub the mixture onto the surface of the outdoor toys and let it sit for a couple of hours. Then, using a clean cloth, wipe the residue and rinse with a hose – as easy as that, and works on the toughest of stains.

Where should kids store outdoor toys?

The perfect place to store outdoor toys when not in use would be a garden shed or even a kids’ playhouse. If you don’t have space for either then garden furniture covers do a great job of keeping them stored in the open, or you could store them inside your home.

Dedicating space for outdoor toys in your conservatory, garage or spare room should do the trick and help teach your children to tidy small outdoor toys away after use. However, it's worth keeping in mind that as this will be a space easily accessible for little ones to grab and store their favourite toys, you should make sure that tools, cleaning equipment and sharp objects are out of harm's way.

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  • Author: Samantha Ball Samantha Ball
  • Job Title: Freelance writer

Samantha is a mum of one, in a house full of boys. Her hobbies are long hikes, coffee tasting, and being a bit of an *obsessive* cleaner.

She also runs a blog Student Mum Diaries about what it’s like to be a student mum. 

 

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