Mother and Baby

The best sandpits for babies and toddlers

Toddler playing in a sandpit

Get your toddler out in the fresh air for hours of digging, building and scooping in a sandpit. 

Most little ones love playing with sand. Whether it’s slipping it through their fingers or squishing and squelching it to build a sandcastle with, sand is a wonderfully sensory material to touch. It stretches the imagination too, as it can be whatever your child wants it to be.

Playing in a sandpit is also a great social activity: even children who are too young to actively play together will happily scoop, shovel and sift alongside each other. There aren’t many other toys that will entertain kids of all ages as well as a sandpit, so it will encourage sibling co-operation. There are a few things to consider before buying one, however. 

Which size sandpit will work for you? 

Because it’s fun to play together, a sandpit needs to be large enough for at least two children to play in at the same time. As your child will still be playing in it when they're five or six years old, it needs to be big enough for two older kids to play in too. Factor in the cost of filling it with play sand – the washed, non-staining sand is more expensive than builders’ sand - so work out how much it'll cost to fill the whole sandpit before you buy the biggest one on the list. 

How big is your garden? 

A sandpit needs to fit in with your garden, rather than being too big. If you aren’t sure if the one you like will suit, mark out its dimensions with chalk or string in your garden.

Where will you position a sandpit? 

Deciding on where in the garden you’ll put your sandpit before you buy it will help you choose the right model. Children are happy to spend a lot of time in a sandpit, so it needs to be in a spot where you can keep an eye on them. Positioning it in a place that gets plenty of shade in the summer is also a good idea. Sand can get very dusty if left to dry out, so you need to make it easy to sprinkle water on regularly to keep dust levels down, to ensure your child doesn’t inhale the particles.

Can you leave a sandpit out all year round?

Some families leave the sandpit out all year, in which case it needs to be durable enough to withstand bad weather. Size or weight isn’t really an issue if you're not going to be moving it. We'd recommend choosing an option with a lid on it. Alternatively, you might prefer to pack it away for the winter, in which case it needs to be fairly portable and light.

Do you want a ground-level or raised sandpit?

A ground-level sandpit offers the most scope for imaginative play, as your child will be able to sit in it. It will give them more sensory pleasure too – that lovely feeling of sand between the toes. But this means it’s inevitable that some sand will find its way back into your house. A raised table is a less messy alternative, and if you have pets, then they won’t climb in as often either. However, the fixed height of the table will mean it’s at the right level for play for a shorter time period.

How else could your toddler use a sandpit?

Think about how your child will use the sandpit in other ways. For example, if it has a lid, will that make a good surface for playing with cars? Or are the sides substantial enough for your youngster to use as a bench?

Should you choose a wooden or plastic sandpit?

Wood often looks better in the garden than plastic, but it requires more maintenance to keep it solid and looking good. Plastic sandpits can lose their colour and crack, so look for one with a guarantee against this.

Are you good at DIY?

Some sandpits are fiddly to assemble, so if you don’t have the patience for this, pick one that’s pre-made or simple to put together.

Everything you need to know about the best sandpits 2021

Editor's pick

We love the traditional style of this classic wooden sand pit. It includes four seats - so perfect for playdates - and comes with its very own underlay and a durable cover to keep the sand clean. At 1.8m, there's more than enough space for siblings to build sandcastles together, without feeling tight on space.

Review: "Excellent! Easy to put together, stable and strong and kids love it! Big enough for my three toddlers 👍👍👍 couldn't be happier! Also although some complain about the cover, I find it totally fine! Sure any cover collects water when it rains but it fits and can be tightened too."

     • Size: 180 x 180 x 20cm
     • Weight: 2.5kg
     • Made from: Natural wood 
     • Includes a cover 

Best sandpit in picnic bench

This wooden picnic bench seats two children and features a sand/water bowl recessed inside the table top, which can hold up to 14kg of sand or 10 litres of water. When playtime’s over, the wooden cover pops easily into place, converting this back to a picnic table. It’s suitable for children aged two years and older. Assembly isn't very quick, though (it took one of our testers two hours to build). 

Tested by Leanne, 32, mum to Darcie, 18 months, and Harrison, five. She says: "Even with very comprehensive instructions, assembling this put our DIY skills to the test. 

"I was sceptical about whether the picnic table/sandpit combo would be practical, but I couldn’t have been more wrong – this was a big hit! It looks fab and is exactly the right height for Darcie to sit at the picnic table and play with the sand."

  • Size: 102 x 61.5 x 49.5 cm
  • Weight: 13kg
  • Made from: Wood 
  • Removable tray
  • Tray capacity: 14.1kg of sand (Not supplied) or 10 litres of water

Read our full review here.

Best small sandpit

This colourful sandpit table comes with eight accessories including sand moulds, a water can, a spade, fork and a bucket for your little one to spend hours engaging in imaginative clay and creating sand-crafted masterpieces. The table comes with a lid, meaning all the toys can be stored inside when not being used. It's available in small or large, depending on your garden space.

Review: "My nephew was so happy with the toy, got this for his birthday which was in the summer. Played with water and sand outside. The product is easy to assemble and is strong. Very good product and fun."

     • Size: (small) 42 x 10 x 28 cm

     • Weight: 500 grams

     • Made from plastic

     • Easy clip together assembly


Best sandpit for quick set-up

This fun turtle sandpit is a perfect size – there’s plenty of room for building sandcastles with friends, but it doesn’t take up lots of space. It’s brilliant value too. We particularly like the practical lid and the seats around the outside, which are designed to maximise the sand play area. It’s made from durable plastic and is suitable for use from 18 months of age.

Tested by Sarah, 33, mum to Emma, two, and Daniel, three, and expecting her third baby. She says: "Perfect for impatient toddlers – this model took two minutes to set up.

"I love that it’s completely watertight, so can be left outdoors all year round, and it withstood a typical Mancunian summer day of heavy rain with no problems! The children love sitting on the seats and burying their feet in the sand.

"Overall, it’s sturdy, and great value."

  • Size: 30.1 x 108.5 x 95.6cm
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Made from: Plastic
  • Cover included
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use

Read our full review here.

Best sandpit table

This square table sandpit is strong and durable, and is 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. It has rounded corners for safety, and its footprint is a neat size so it doesn't take up too much room. 

Tested by Sarah, 33, mum to Emma, two, and Daniel, three, and expecting her third baby. She says: "This one’s sturdy, hard-wearing and I love the design. It’s a good height for my two- and three-year-old, although they generally preferred playing in the larger sandpits.

"I like the multipurpose use, though – it’s great that it can be used as a water or messy play table. The cover fits well, although some rainwater did manage to seep through to the table below."

  • Size: 69 x 23 x 14 cm
  • Weight: 5.3kg
  • Made from: Wood 
  • Includes a cover 

Read our full review here.

Best sustainable sandpit

Suitable for use from 12 months old, this wooden sandpit is made from sustainable materials and has a height-adjustable sun canopy to give shelter from the sun. It looks pretty and would make a stylish addition to any garden. There’s no cover, though, so it’s impractical to leave outdoors, and it’s tricky to move.

Tested by Leanne, 32, mum to Darcie, 18 months, and Harrison, five. She says: "The base took 20 minutes to assemble with an electric screwdriver, and the canopy was even more fiddly to put together. Given the price, I’m surprised there’s no cover to keep the sand dry.

"There’s no base either, so the sand sits directly on the ground, meaning you can’t move it."

  • Size: 113 x 117 x 117 cm
  • Weight: 12kg
  • Made from: Wood
  • Canopy can be lowered 

Read our full review here.

Best budget sandpit

If you're looking for a budget option for your toddler's sandpit, then this is super affordable. It's got no frills, but does come as is. We love that this can be used as a sand pit, paddling pool, ball pit and more.

  • Size: 19 x 75cm
  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Made from: Plastic 

One reviewer said: "Great small paddling pool/ sandpit but don’t make the same mistake as me and misread the description - the price is FOR ONE ITEM ONLY!!!! You have to buy the lid separately or buy two if you want it as a closed sandpit."

Best sandpit sand

If you're going to invest in a sandpit, then you need some sand! This is clean, safe and non-toxic play sand - you can't just scoop up a load from the beach, you know. 

One reviewer said: "I bought this to top up my daughters sandpit - it’s lovely and soft, which means she can build the best castles - pleases her and me!"

Best sandpit toys

If you're going to play in a sandpit, then you need some great toys to play with. Get this big bag of beach toys and your little one will have hours of fun, scooping and shaping sand into sandcastles and animal shapes. Playing with toys in the sand encourages your child's imaginative play, promotes hand-eye coordination, logical thinking skills, and practical abilities.

One reviewer said:  "I ordered this for my two-year-old grandson and he loved it. There were 26 pieces in the set, all very good quality which amazed me as it wasn’t very expensive. Highly recommended."

  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing Editor

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited before moving on to write about family cars for - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, Yours, Garden News, and 

She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Sophie studied History at the University of Sheffield and has been in journalism for 16 years. 

Related Content

You May Also Like

You May Also Like

You May Also Like